case study

Gemba’s software fundamental to drive for operational excellence

Originally established in the 1970s, Barfoots is an award winning family business, growing, processing and packing a range of semi-exotic vegetables. Customers include the major supermarkets in the UK, and leading national restaurant chains, and the company has operations in the UK, Europe, Africa and South America.

Barfoots have an holistic approach to their business, successfully balancing a sustainable, eco-friendly farming system with a commitment to using cutting-edge technology to improve efficiency and quality. This focus on efficiency led Barfoots UK Operations Manager, Tom Spragg, to begin working with Gemba Solutions.

"Prior to our involvement with Gemba, we used a very basic manual process to measure our production efficiency,"
Tom Spragg, UK Operations Manager

The Barfoots team wanted to improve the accuracy and speed of data capture so that they could really get to grips with asset performance and begin to make improvements.

Working with Gemba


The relationship between Barfoots and Gemba crystallised immediately. In an effort to get some consistent data and be able to turn that data in to meaningful production reports giving some baseline metrics, Barfoots began by using Gemba’s on-line OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) service.

Access to the data and the ability to drill-down to the root cause of problems using the Gemba system enabled Barfoots to secure a 10% uplift in availability fairly immediately (equating to around 2 hours/day of extra production time).

"Gemba has great products and services, with people who are really experienced in manufacturing"
Tom Spragg, UK Operations Manager

Barfoots was quick to realise that they would be able to exploit the benefits of the system if they utilised Gemba’s CI (Continuous Improvement) services offering. Gemba’s CI Manager began a program of improvement activities at the Barfoots site, working closely with their team to analyse data and run CI projects based on what they found, and linking activity to Barfoots key business objectives. In order to automate the data collection activities, to increase accuracy and make data available in real-time, Barfoots also upgraded to Gemba’s connected software solution.

The Benefits


Gemba’s CI Manager worked with the team, analysing data regularly and setting actions and goals for improvement. With Gemba’s facilitation, the team ran various CI projects, one of which identified a potential 38% reduction in non-value-added work. During this time, the system identified that one of the packaging lines was running at a significantly lower performance rate than the other (48% as opposed to 65% performance). It was initially thought that this was due to problems with the machine. The CI project identified that in fact it was due to a lack of raw material feed to the line. The team then ran a trial that forced all the raw material down 1 lane which removed this bottleneck and saw an increase in performance on the slower line to 70-75%.

Engaging Gemba’s CI services also helped Barfoot’s management to embed a sustainable change in culture, with the team now becoming self-sufficient, more data oriented and keen to continue the process of improvement. 

"Data from the Gemba system enables us to have efficient daily reviews of our top issues and their causes, and allows us to allocate resources appropriately"
Marcin Szalina, Training & Production Systems Supervisor

Barfoots has continued on the CI path, securing an 11% increase in overall OEE, and a cycle time reduction of 8.3%. "Gemba’s software and services are highly recommended," commented Tom. "The Gemba system is fundamental to our drive for operational excellence."

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