Brewing competitors join forces

When Australia’s two largest brewers needed help in continuing to reduce the high risks associated with handling beer kegs, they joined forces and asked CHEP for assistance.

Foster’s Group and Lion Nathan are significant competitors supplying beer, wine, ready-to-drink spirits and mixers, cider and non-alcoholic beverages to the Australian market, as well as a range of related services including bottling and distribution. Between them they account for approximately 97% of the Australian beer market.

Both companies had identified a risk associated with the storage, transportation, delivery and collection of 50 litre draught beer kegs. The shape and weight of the kegs combined with transport methods used, and the sometimes problematic access to the available storage at the destination, affect the potential risk of injury. Those at risk of injury include company employees, third party logistics service providers, venue staff (those employed at pubs, restaurants and clubs) and the general public.

The brewers joined forces and issued a challenge to CHEP to lead an initiative utilising 6Sigma methodologies to help reduce this risk. This was the first joint safety project the two companies had undertaken and the first time they had been exposed to the 6Sigma approach utilised by CHEP.

6Sigma methodologies draw on proven statistical and quality improvement tools to achieve operational excellence by reducing variation and defects in processes.

CHEP’s Wyn Daniel, Perfect Trip Project Manager, and his team worked together with the brewers over a nine month period to develop a number of short-term recommendations.

“These recommendations were either implemented or tested immediately and several concept designs for lifting devices and containers for storage, transportation and dispensing of kegs were also developed and are now being investigated further,” Wyn says.

“This project started off as something of a test to see how CHEP could utilise the 6Sigma and project management tools at its disposal to bring together two significant market place competitors to work on a project of mutual interest,” says Lion Nathan’s Logistics director George Bearzot.

“We were very pleased to see how successful the project has been and are very appreciative of the leadership and management resources provided by CHEP.”

The project team also produced the National Guide for Safe Handling of Beer Kegs, a comprehensive guide that will form the basis of training for all venue staff.

“Many projects tend to lose focus, run out of steam, or fail to deliver significant benefits,” says Fosters Group general manager supply chain James Houston.

“It’s refreshing to see how a difficult project, the first joint project between our two companies, has delivered real results in a timely manner using the 6Sigma methodology and tools. I’m very appreciative of the resources and leadership provided by CHEP.”

CHEP is continuing to work with the brewers to provide further assistance and technical guidance as they implement these recommendations and standards.

“By working collaboratively, CHEP has gained invaluable insight into the issues that critically impact on these customers and is able to make a real and positive difference to their business.”

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