Healthy Cooking was revolutionized in 2016 when Verso Food Oy launched bean products as raw material for all types of cooking. From the factory in Kauhava, Verso Food wanted to create a world-class food production facility with the highest possible quality and a standardized production process. After starting up the production, issues related to safety and product quality typical to new factories were identified, which have since been solved one by one. We have talked to Anna-Maria Andrews, Supply Chain Manager of Verso, and Juhani Vuola, Interim Manager with expertise in production development.
“We needed a person with experience and expertise in implementing LEAN production processes. As we had previously used the services of an interim professional, we felt that an interim solution was a good option to implement our development project. The aim of the project was to ensure that we do the right things both in terms of plant maintenance and its development.
As we were searching for the right candidate through Nordic Interim Oy, we especially emphasized LEAN expertise. Within a week, Nordic Interim Oy’s presented three highly qualified candidates, of which we chose Juhani Vuola. With 30 years of experience in various production development projects and management positions, he fits our needs perfectly.” Anna-Maria says.
“The Interim Manager helped us lead the production more analytically at the same time as he worked hands-on”
Juhani explains: “I brought the data management mindset to the organization. It essentially included an analysis that guided us to thoroughly look over the overall production process and to search for the root causes of the various challenges. The analysis ensured that the real underlying causes were found and that the right measures could be taken.”
Anna-Maria continues: “Juhani worked hands-on from day one and acted as my right hand when I was not in the factory myself. This is exactly what we needed, someone who did not only set the strategy, but also lead by example and helped the staff to immediately implement the solutions. Juhani was like one of the team, and together we took things forward.”
Leading the development process, Juhani worked consistently with competence development:
“One team had been responsible for setting up the factory and starting up the production, and when this was done, the maintenance and development of the production had been transferred to another team. The staff needed support, and by involving them in the production processes, they improved their skills.
We wanted to ensure that the employees would be able to independently maintain and develop production after I had completed my assignment. As their competence improved, so did their confidence in their own skills. I also implemented a culture of decision-making. I involved everyone in the decision-making processes and helped them, where necessary, to take a position and justify it. An absolute prerequisite for this type of development process is the support from the management. Both the CEO of Verso Food and Anna-Maria Andrews strongly supported my work to ensure a good outcome.”
“By accelerating the learning curve, we created a competitive advantage”
By engaging an interim expert with long experience from similar assignments, they reached their goals in time and with great results:
“The goals of the assignment of the Interim Manager were exceeding our expectations, and we increased both our know-how and the quality of production. As a result of the technical development, water consumption was reduced by about 50%, among many other positive effects.
When the water consumption was halved, it naturally had a positive effect on the costs of the production. The quality also improved significantly in many steps of the process, at best up to 90%, which in turn improved the product flow.
In addition to technical solutions for the production, we were also able to improve the management culture. This is very significant as achieving high quality requires not only high technology, but also committed employees. Juhani quickly helped us create the right tools to maintain and develop our production processes. Independent learning would have taken much more time. By using an Interim Professional to develop our own skills, we achieved a cultural change in our company. We were able to quickly build a competitive advantage, and we are enjoying the benefits for a long time”, Anna-Maria concludes.