“Since 2011, there has been a stronger emphasis on promoting innovations. We have proactively made efforts to ensure quality compliance, and our kitchens are now ISO 22000-certified. This has, in fact, has built the foundation for the adoption of the industry's best practices,” Muralidhar Pundla, general manager, quality and process excellence department, Akshaya Patra Foundation, informed FnB News via e-mail.
“Akshaya Patra has tied up with DNV for the certification and the surveillance audits. In compliance to the guidelines, Akshaya Patra has also established a food safety policy and nominates one employee as a food safety team leader,” he added. The Kaizen projects are primarily small improvements with very low investment. The continuous improvement (CI) projects involve medium level improvements led by supervisors.
While the Six Sigma projects primarily involve trained staff belonging to various departments, Kaizen, Lean and 5S involve employees in all departments, from maintenance to those in-charge of the end-to-end operations in the kitchens. “All these methodologies result in customer satisfaction, financial benefits and operational excellence,” said Pundla.
Improvisations of the cooking cycle time, route optimisation and reduced manual effort are some examples of the Six Sigma projects that have had a very positive impact. These methodologies also aid in improving food safety related systems and processes. But the most vital impact has been empowering its employees to think and act beyond the necessities of the daily routine work.
The ISO 22000 is a food safety management system (FSMS) that lays guidelines for ensuring that the processes at the kitchens are systematic and ensures effectively; the primary purpose however is that it covers all aspects of food safety. The certification mandates for an external audit once in every six months to guarantee compliance to the guidelines.
On the kinds of efficiencies ensuing from these practices, Pundla said, “The most visible impact is on the reduction in defects, rework, over-runs and reduction of scrap. The underlying impact has been reduction on retro-fit cost due to design defect, minimising unnecessary procedures and excess inventory, and also rewriting operator instructions and inappropriate job specifications.”
Pundla said that through its foundation, Akshaya Patra was able to supply safe, tasty and nutritious food on time and every time. He added that this sustainability was reflected through the training and documentation undertaken by its personnel.
As part of the Knowledge Management initiative, all the best practices, food safety metrics' performances, improvement actions and continual improvement project details could be shared online to all employees as required.
“It provides an integrated platform to identify, capture, evaluate, retrieve, and share databases, documents, policies, procedures and previously uncaptured expertise of an individual. Multiple audits are done to ensure complete adherence to best practices,” Pundla said.