Scaling Production with Precision

manufacturing machine for beverages

By: Kris Bohm of Distillery Now Consulting

Many beverage businesses start off with the owners or the founders serving in production manufacturing and in sales roles. As the business grows it is no longer feasible for the founders to serve in many of these roles as the needs of the business change with growth. One of the challenges many founders face in scaling their business is maintaining consistent manufacturing practices when they are no longer the person who is responsible for those practices. Training for new employees in small businesses can sometimes be inconsistent or informal.  When training is not implemented cleanly enough that a newly hired employee can fulfill their responsibilities fully it can be frustrating for all involved. Lets take a look at some easy to implement solutions that can help your employees do the best job possible.

  One solution to this problem is creating Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). When you detail in writing each step of the manufacturing process in a document that is readily available to those performing the task, you should get more consistent results. Standard operating procedures can be tedious to create but will save you time in the long run and give your employees the confidence to perform complex tasks with ease. In the process of beverage manufacturing there are many complex steps. Without a set of standard operating procedures it can be extremely difficult for a new hire to fully grasp their roles and responsibilities.

  The optimal steps in training a new hire are the following. Create a written set of operating procedures that are clear and easy to follow. Review the SOP with employees and discuss the steps with them as well to confirm understanding. Once an employee has a basic understanding of the operating procedure the person training the employee along with the new employee should go through the process detailed in the SOP together. By having the trainer first complete the process while following the SOP it will fully demonstrate for the employee how the steps are done. This on hand training will often bring up questions from the employee being trained that might not otherwise come up. Once the employee being trained has seen the process completed following the SOP it is best for them to then complete the procedure outlined in the SOP in the presence of the trainer. It is critical at this step that the trainer does not work hands on with the new employee but is there to only observe and answer questions. If the trainer at this point feels that the employee grasps the SOP and is able to complete it then it is time to move on to additional training. Although this method of training can feel arduous and redundant for an employee, training like this will build their confidence in performing a task that may seem difficult for them. Training this way will also ensure that the manufacturing process will continue to be performed to the correct standards. Implementing a training of this type for all complex tasks will give the creator of the SOP trust in the individuals tasked with completing the process in the SOP.

 Let’s take a look at what a standard operating procedure looks like for a process in a business and talk about some of the key points that you will find in an SOP.

  Let’s go through the practice of generating an SOP:

1)   Go through the process yourself of completing the task that needs a SOP.

2)   Write down all steps and processes required to complete that task.

3)   If there are certain measurements critical to completing the task such as volume temperature or time, include this info in the steps.

4)   If there are complex controls or tools in the process include pictures to help further clarify the written steps.

5)   Place notes in the SOP if there are any hazards in the process or safety concerns.

6)   If there are many steps it can be helpful to add a checklist to accompany the SOP.

7)   Once the SOP has been written, seek feedback on it. Have another person read the SOP ask if they could perform the task.

8)   If the feedback is positive implement that SOP by training your employees.

9)   Put the SOP in a binder or place where it is nearby the location where the task is performed.

  This process of putting in the work to create easy to follow operating procedures, will make work better for everyone. An SOP will guide your employees as they do tasks and give them the confidence that will require less oversight by you. This does not mean that an SOP can replace a manager. The true purpose of an SOP is to provide a resource to ensure complex activities can be done correctly by all who perform it. As a business grows and scales new employees will need to learn how to do their job. The better SOP program you have the faster a new employee will be able to work independently.

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