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Lamb Weston / Meijer: Creating a sustainable continuous improvement culture leading to significant results

Case study LambWeston/Meijer
The challenge

Managing stability and cost

Lamb Weston / Meijer is together with Lamb Weston Holdings Incl, the world’s number 2 frozen potato company. The LWM company has 6 production plants in three countries. For this project we focused on the two biggest plants of Lamb Weston / Meijer, Bergen op Zoom and Kruiningen as they needed to gain a competitive advantage.

To satisfy this new demand, the reliability of the production process needed to be improved, whilst simultaneously reducing the cost price. The latter result being achieved by reducing operational costs in the production processes on both sites and by improving the potato planning process.

The client calculated the potential reduction in cost price for their production sites within Europe, by drafting an initial high-level business case. The challenge was to deliver the business case for the two biggest production sites (part of the fee was related to the success of the business case) in combination with training and mobilization.

Firstly, the client freed up a team of young potentials from different production sites to form a trained central improvement team who would be leading the required changes in the future. Secondly the teams of both sites needed to be mobilized and trained to build and sustain an autonomous continuous improvement culture. EFESO was chosen because of its approach to improving focused areas, combined with developing an improvement culture and structure. An important lever in achieving the results was the installation of a Performance Control System (PCS) that is directly linked to an improvement loop, all supported by a solid layer of Human Dynamics (HD).

Together with EFESO Consulting a 6-month, per site, boost programme was designed and set up over separate 8-week result-oriented waves. This included the plant management team members presenting to the steering committees on a regular basis.

The solution

Anchor standards by using PCS and Human Dynamics

The boost programme started off with a boot camp, which served to train the central young potential team in methods and tools shared by EFESO (e.g. root cause analysis, improvement teams and routes, PCS, HD). This was followed by a holistic analysis of the total site system: the current PCS, OEE, material losses and HD status. As a result of this, the first improvement wave was designed and executed, followed by a second improvement wave.

In the analysis phase, bottlenecks and losses were identified and the initial high-level business case (that the client drafted in advance of the project) was transformed into a detailed business case. To eradicate the losses and bottlenecks, multiple improvement teams were initiated along with HD activities, such as: workshops, 1-on-1 talks with operators, dialogue to understand resistance, clarification of roles and responsibilities and training on how to give and receive feedback.

The installation of the PCS (shift handovers, Gemba walks, performance meetings, drafting a clear KPI structure together with responsibilities in reporting those KPIs) served to anchor the newly created standards from the improvement teams. Losses were found and improvements were made over a wide array of topics, such as the over usage of oil, water and batter to create the product, unplanned stops on equipment caused by the lack of cleaning, inspection and lubrication- standards, quality defects in the product and shorter cycle times by reducing the time needed for sanitation and maintenance.

During the entire project, an intensive collaboration with the site team (management and employees) was established to ensure ownership was taken of the implemented improvements. Also, weekly communication about progress and achievements increased engagement.



Launched in 1960, Lamb Weston® is a world leading brand in high quality potato products which are sold in over 100 countries around the world in a collaboration between Lamb Weston (US) and Lamb Weston / Meijer.
Bert Jan Maris, Plant Manager of Bergen Op Zoom says: “We have chosen EFESO, because EFESO is focussed on sustainable anchoring of continuous improvement. Hereby EFESO is, in close cooperation with the plant, realizing structural performance improvement and cost control”.
Michel de Lepper, Operations Director Frozen says: “The human dynamic capability EFESO used in the projects at the two sites, was a real differentiator. Our operators have always been proud to work for LWM; to channel that positive energy towards results in savings and make it a part of normal work was possible only via human dynamics. Focus on savings only could never have delivered the results.”