Case Study: Manufacturing Change Project

Case study: a leading food manufacturer builds the foundations for successful manufacturing change with the Skillogy PERFORM® development programme for manager-leaders.


To improve manufacturing process efficiency and output through a radical reorganisation of first line supervision, trained to lead and supervise well motivated shift teams.


The programme was rated a considerable success. In the opinion of senior management no other training programme had ever had such an impact in terms of its effectiveness in producing results against objectives set.

Participants in the programme favoured the blended learning approach and the practical nature of the knowledge delivery. Specific mention was made regarding the flexibility of the programme and how this greatly assisted in balancing learning with workplace commitments and demands.

The overall results taken over the two year period showed that:

  • The key underpinning skills for the roles were developed effectively with comparative changes in knowledge gained averaging 50% across all 24 line leaders (comparing average baseline scores of 25% at the start of the programme to 75% at the final assessment review stage
  • Measurable increases in productivity were gained at all levels, based on calculations taken from action plans and log samples at individual levels, team production output reports and manufacturing performance reports at organisation levels
  • Information and communication flows were improved
  • Innovative ideas initiated through team briefings and discussions were introduced and implemented through production engineering, resulting in manufacturing process improvements
  • Job rotation was introduced among shift teams
  • The programme was extended into other functions and management populations both at this business unit and within other European group operations.
The Objectives
  • Remodel the supervisory role into the newly created position of line leader and recruit 24 applicants
  • Restructure the manufacturing organisation to reduce the number of middle management positions and focus increased responsibility at  the line leader interface with production
  • Reduce manufacturing waste by 25%
  • Reduce sickness and absenteeism from the current level of 20% to 5%
  • Reduce production worker attrition rates by 50%
The Starting Point

This production unit occupies a site that has been modernised and refurbished over the years, since the first day that biscuit production took place there, some 90 years ago. The factory produces a range of household-named brands.

The business unit was faced with a number of issues within their manufacturing process and two of these were critical in achieving production targets. The first related to wastage through incorrect mixing, spillage, variable oven temperatures or breakage during the pack and wrap stage. The second related to problems associated with shift working due to high absenteeism and sickness levels, high employee turnover and low job satisfaction and motivation within the shift teams.

Strategy and Planning

Before the Skillogy PERFORM® programme had been considered as a solution to the problems, a senior management task force had been engaged in preparing a major change plan, aimed at addressing the key manufacturing issues.

Fundamental to the success of the manufacturing change strategy was the need to restructure the manufacturing organisation and first line supervision was considered as the starting point.

The task force looked at the requirements of the role of the supervisor in terms of what was required to address current issues, as well as developing high levels of productivity within shift teams to achieve output and quality targets.

The decision was taken to completely redesign the role into leaders of semi-autonomous shift teams, with team members trained to carry out rotational activities between the mixing floor, bake and pack and wrap.

The Skillogy PERFORM® programme was presented to the senior management group and was selected from a shortlist of three final companies. The programme was selected because it met the following criteria:

  • The Model of Abilities™ was a very effective blended learning solution that provided a comprehensive selection of integrated performance skills specific to needs
  • The programme focused on applied management practice and provided an ideal solution, through its flexible approach, to accommodating the varied working patterns of the new line leaders
  • The structure of the programme enabled the task group to set measurable objectives for ROI measurement and to track and monitor learner development

The task group had taken the decision that, as a precursor to the introduction of the new line leader role, to advertise the 24 supervisory positions and to appointment new job holders from both new applicants and those that had previously held the supervisory positions. By this means they could select those specifically suited to the new role.

Process and Roll-out

The implementation process was divided into two stages. Stage one was primarily the responsibility of the senior management task force. The key elements of this stage involved:

  • Identification of competencies and design of the line leader position from the transition and level 1 grouping
  • Restructuring of the manufacturing organisation
  • Structure of the Skillogy PERFORM® programme and roll-out timetable
  • Establishing the key objectives of the programme
  • Selection of suitable candidates for the line leader role

The Skillogy learning consultant was involved in structuring the blended learning elements and planning the timetable. The second stage focused primarily on the implementation of the Skillogy PERFORM® programme. This involved:

  • Identifying the key performance skills to develop the line leader competencies
  • Planning the launch announcement, delivered by the General Manager of the business unit
  • Preparing and scheduling the introductory workshop.

As part of the blended learning process, the learning consultant prepared, in conjunction with local training managers, a number of case studies and projects that would be included in individual learning plans, specific to the objectives of manufacturing process improvement.

Fourteen performance skills were selected to form the backbone of the programme, run as an eighteen month programme. The development programme provided a combination of self-managed, online learning (ideally suited to fit in with shift patterns), self-regulated learning cohorts designed to provide peer group support as well as facilitated workshops delivered by the learning consultant.

Skill Composition

The performance skills were selected on the basis that they had to meet the three key areas of development for the new role:

  • Structure and process
  • Productivity and output
  • Leadership and motivation

The following fourteen performance skills were selected:

From the Managing SELF performance area –

  • Creativity and Originality (problem solving)
  • Personal Organisation
  • Personal Communication
  • Personal Contributions

From the Managing PEOPLE performance area –

  • Delegation Management
  • Motivating People
  • Teamwork
  • Transforming Leadership

From the Managing WORK performance area –

  • Change Management
  • Decision Management
  • Information Management
  • Job Knowledge
  • Objective Setting
  • Time Management

All of the 28 modules in the ability model have been designed, written and developed around the characteristics that were identified from the research project undertaken in 1996 by James Noon and Michael Bolam, as underpinning management and leadership performance.

Many of the performance skills share common characteristics and it is this aspect of the model that provides its effectiveness in changing behaviour and improving performance. It is also this aspect that makes the model unique and differentiates it from other approaches to management development. The performance skills combined into ‘clusters’ to address the three key developmental requirements for the line leader role.


The development structure involved:


The support structure involved:


The tracking and monitoring structure involved:


The Outcomes

The delivery of the modules covered an eighteen month period but the programme is designed to make extended learning a continuous process.

Performance metrics were taken at 24 months when the following results were calculated:

  • Manufacturing waste had reduced by 50%
  • Sickness and absenteeism levels had been reduced to 7%
  • Employee turnover amongst production workers had reduced to 8%
  • Employee Attitude Surveys taken at before and after sampling points indicated that there had been an 80% improvement in key response areas, especially in employee involvement, communication, job enrichment, satisfaction ratings and motivation
  • Production output had averaged 97% of target due to a reduction in machinery downtime and improvements in shift rotas
  • Return on Investment showed a 1200% improvement over the two year sampling period, representing a financial gain of £1,200,000

A leading food manufacturer

Food production

Part of a major group
Production site – 800 employees
Rotating three-shift system with 12 production lines

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