Sugar company beating recession

IPSWICH: A sugar plant is enjoying sweet success after a review of its operations led to “staggering” savings.

Sarah Chambers

IPSWICH: A sugar plant is enjoying sweet success after a review of its operations led to “staggering” savings.

Recession-busting Billington's Sugar has made �800,000 worth of efficiency savings - without making a single member of staff redundant.

The company, which has its main packing plant in Europa Way, Ipswich, and is part of the Silverspoon family of companies, worked alongside the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) to see if there were ways to improve how it operated.

MAS, which is funded by the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), has supported more than 500 businesses in the region over the last year, and identified more than �100,000 worth of savings for those companies which have taken part in its scheme.

It mapped out Billington's processes, looking at how it was handling, storing and processing its materials - and found a tangled web.

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Les Blair, head of cane sugar operations at Billington's, said: “It ended up looking a bit like spaghetti junction, which was a real eye opener.”

MAS highlighted some simple changes, such as cutting its bloated goods inventory and ways to speed up production times, and worked with the firm to implement them.

“We actually managed to reduce our changeover times between production lines from just over nine minutes when we started the project, to five minutes and eventually right down to just one minute - it's been an incredible transformation,” said Mr Blair.

“Because our production lines are now more nimble, we have the confidence to effectively produce and deliver to order - raw product comes in, it's processed and we send it straight out to our customers.”

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