E R O M the R E I R R E M e h t I
t would be difficult for a distillery to survive on just one product alone. Diversity in Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) not only expands your potential market reach, it can also provide a means to generate revenue when faced with regulatory environments that limit the volume of alcohol sales directly from the producers to the consumers. From a production standpoint, however, generating multiple product types when your production lines, capacity, and man-hours are limited can be a nightmare. Shutting down production to switch lines from one product to another can eat up precious time and resources that you would rather spend processing products or filling bottles. So how can you make the most of your available capacity by carefully scheduling your production runs?
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR CAPACITY WHILE MANAGING MULTIPLE SKUS. WRITTEN BY SHANNON O’NEIL
REDUCING CHANGEOVER TIME
Minimizing the number of changeovers and the time required to perform a changeover can easily increase your overall efficiency and reduce the total time required for each run. To start, find the baseline for what it takes to perform a changeover between each of your products, in all possible combinations (for example, vodka to gin, gin to whiskey, whiskey to gin, gin to vodka, etc.). From this data, you should be able to determine which changeovers take the shortest amount of time and then group those shorter changeovers together. If you have two products with similar bottle sizes, for example, it probably requires fewer equipment changes between runs to bottle those products. So, by placing those runs back-to-back in your production schedule instead of making a significant change to a different product in between those two, you would create a more efficient run overall.
LENGTHEN PRODUCTION RUNS Are there any low volume products you run just a couple times a week? It could be more efficient to extend your production run so that you produce your weekly volumes with just one long run per week versus two shorter runs. This is especially beneficial for products with long changeover times, short runs, or unique packaging. Just going from two runs a week to one eliminates two full changeovers between products. Of course, you’ll have to make sure your warehouse has the capacity to meet this change in production.
SCHEDULE FLAVORS in ASCENDING ORDER of STRENGTH Typically, products with added flavors require additional cleaning steps between each changeover to reduce any potential crossover contamination. This is especially critical when switching from a flavored product, like a spiced rum or flavored vodka, to a non-flavored product. Simply by ordering your schedule to start with the non-flavored items and then progressing from flavored products that are lighter in strengths to the heavier, stronger flavors, will reduce the amount of time spent on cleaning and rinsing your systems between production runs. This also applies when producing anything that might have a common allergen. Though that’s not a typical issue in the distilling industry, there are some flavor additives that can create an allergy
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