Status quo in disguise

These are the challenges the food and beverage industry is struggling with! A contribution by Axel Davila Lage, industrial engineer, consultant in the food industry

Pain Points

Every successful company in the food and beverage industry can proudly look back at their achievements, after all, they manage to produce a high-quality product day by day. However, this very expertise can often times act as ideological blinker when it comes to identifying problems. The many typical challenges in the food and beverage industry lay hidden behind the busy daily business and are disguised by the acceptance of the status quo.

Those who manage to tackle these challenges, can not only increase the flexibility, but can also boost the efficiency of the business. We will explain these three pain points in the following:

When talking about the existing status of the company, more times than not the question pops up: When it seems to work, why should we change a running system? Many production processes have proven themselves for years, if not decades, making them an integral part of daily business.

Surely this is not wrong, after all, there are reasons why one’s company is so successful in the first place. However, there are certain aspects that speak not to follow the old English motto, but to consider some changes – especially then, when it is necessary. Sounds easy, however is one of the most difficult challenges for every company. Since this means, that every company has to take off their ideological blinkers and investigates all their processes using the following guiding questions:

  • How can efficiency be increased?
  • How can we avoid waste?
  • How can we optimize our value creation?

Staying with figure of speech we can say, that those who only do, what they have always done, will also get what they have always gotten. This means, then again, that everybody, who dares, to respond to the innovations on the desired market with effective changes, can open up new potential.

Scrap is produced day by day by the food and beverage industry. Those are foods that cannot be processed further due to various reasons and are therefore thrown away during production.

It is difficult to imagine, but with an example it will become clearer. An ice machine continuously produces ice cream. Now the packaging machine has some issue and must first be fixed. The ice machine, however does not stop during this process and keeps running. Since the qualitatively perfect ice cream cannot be packaged, it turns into so-called “rework”, which can usually no longer be used and ends up in the trash. This process or rather this procedure is this industry’s daily business, no matter what they produce. Scrap is inherent to this industry and plant efficiency of 60% is not uncommon.

This, however, possesses an unbelievable potential, if we become aware that waste is a major problem. Those who are able to reduce losses, logically gain more products in the same time or get more time to produce other products.

However, not only waste, also sustainability should find its place in the company’s mission statement. This also entails to not tolerate such waste but to instead take on the position of the innovative leader of the industry and thereby no longer condoning it in the business.

Modern plants are characterized by their technology, because every industry needs specific and sophisticated machines to manufacture its individual products. Nevertheless these machines hardly ever run on full speed, the overall plant efficiency often evens out below 60 percent. There are a variety of reasons for this:

  • unscheduled machine downtimes/malfunctions
    • immediately causes waste
    • employee costs increase, due to post-production
    • repair costs
  • adjustments/change of flavor
    • causes capacity losses
    • causes waste
  • cleanings
    • cause capacity losses
    • cause waste
  • employees work according to their own experiences
    • systems do not operate in their optimum range
    • changeover times take longer
    • unscheduled machine downtimes caused by operating errors
    • worst case: causes material losses

In order to balance this unreliability towards the customer, gigantic warehouses of finished goods are filled instead of taking a closer look at the individual factors that actually impact the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) of the system.


First steps have been made

These three pain points are just some of the typical obstacles, which cost a company many valuable resources. This is why it is so important to improve one’s own awareness of the problem. And to not deny, as it is important in all other areas, that there is a problem. Only those who recognize and acknowledge, that there are problems in the company, can take on the challenge.

Of course this is only the first step of many to identify the pain points. Therefore we will, in a further blog post, show the necessary requirements and which stumbling blocks have to be moved during the implementation. Those who want to tackle these challenges in a targeted manner learn the necessary tools in practice-oriented further training. We want to impart substantial knowledge and always act according to our motto: In every company there is an even better one – including yours!


Portrait | Axel Davila Lage

Industrial Engineer (University of Applied Science, Kiel) | Year of birth 1976

  • 14 years of lean experience in Food and Beverage and Process industries 
  • Operational background on plant and corporate level (Nestlé) implementing the Excellence program
  • Strong lean consulting expertise in food, packaging and FMCG
  • national and international certified coaching trainer

Axel Davila Lage is an Industrial Engineer and has been working as a Principal for the Staufen AG since 2019. Prior to his time at Staufen, he gained numerous professional experiences at renowned companies in the food and beverage industry as well as in consulting firms, such as Performance Solutions by Milliken, Nestlé and Efeso.

His core competences include:

  • Lean / TPM in the food industry
  • Introduction of production systems
  • Shop Floor Management
  • Policy Deployment / Hoshin Kanri
  • Coaching
  • Trainer
Your Contact

Axel Davila Lage

Food & Beverage

Phone: +49 7024 8056 0


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