AMPIs Dawson plant waste reduction team saved the company $60,000 in its first year of problem solving.
The Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) plant in Dawson knows making decisions as a team can save money. The 155-employee plant specializes in milk receiving, cheese processing and drying, and aseptic packaginga food packaging system that can keep food fresh for several months. The Dawson plant needed to reduce water use and cut the amount of solids in its wastewater. After talking with MnTAP food processing specialist John Polanski, a waste reduction team was formed.
Developing the Team
The Dawson plant recruited team members based on their willingness to participate and ability to make sound decisions for the company.
We tried to get one person from each department in the plant to participate. We also had one office person whose untrained eye was able to point out things the rest of us missed, said Dave VanEngen, Dawson plant loss control coordinator.
They did a great job bringing together people with different backgrounds and experiences, said John.
Once the team was created John educated members on how to effectively function and make decisions as a team.
Team Decision Making
The waste reduction team routinely toured the plant floor looking for areas to reduce waste. At team meetings the group developed and selected waste reduction strategies using the tools John had presented such as prioritizing tasks, brainstorming and answering the five Wswhat is the waste, where is it created, why is it created, when is it created and what can be changed.
Waste reduction opportunities were prioritized based on the amount of waste created, how much it cost the company to manage and the cost of improvements. When strategies required new equipment purchases or a large investment, the team carefully evaluated all associated costs before deciding how to proceed.
Problems like bad leaks were fixed right away. So were other things that could easily be done by our maintenance department, said VanEngen.
The Dawson plants waste reduction team saved $60,000 in its first year. The team decided to install a holding tank for food by-products. Now, rather than going down the drain, 30,000 to 50,000 pounds of by-products are pumped out of the tank daily for farmers to use as livestock feed. Reclaiming vacuum pump water in the cheese and drying departments cut water use.
Many times you walk through the plant and dont notice things that need to be fixed, youve got blinders on, said VanEngen. With Johns help developing a team, we were able to see things we had been missing.
For more information about pollution prevention teams see:
- Building a Strong Pollution Prevention Team
- Schroeder Milk Saves $400,000 through Product Savings and Water Conservation
For more information about feeding food by-products to livestock see:
- Restaurant Cuts Disposal Costs by Reducing and Recycling Solid Waste
- Livestock Producers Accepting food By-products
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