Marketing Communications Manager
July 28, 2022
min read
How Eat My Lunch reduced overproduction and the time needed for quality checks by digitising their manufacturing process.

Founded in 2015 with the vision that no Kiwi kid should be hungry at school, Eat My Lunch delivers one free lunch to one school kid for each product bought. After almost seven years of operation, the passionate team has given away more than 1.7 million lunches to children in need.

How to reduce production costs and improve process efficiencies as a social enterprise

As a social enterprise, Eat My Lunch continuously tries to find ways to improve its operations to keep the costs as low as possible. The team identified digitisation of the paper forms needed for production and quality management as an opportunity to improve process efficiencies and reduce production costs.

“We wanted to go away from paper, as this involved higher costs due to inefficiencies and manual recording errors”, says Brett Pearson, National Operations Manager at Eat My Lunch. “Those manual practices and paper recordings also impeded full visibility of all operations across our different sites.”

Digital manufacturing software as the single source of truth

The team was, therefore, on the lookout for a cost-effective and flexible solution to digitise all paper forms and provide visibility across the whole business.

With the help of iMonitor, Eat My Lunch has removed most paper forms from the factory, reducing costs by ensuring consistency of product quality and accelerating quality check processes.

Eat My Lunch digitised and refined their Quality Management & Food Safety Plan, making it more secure and visible. “We wanted to have one central source of visibility that gives us instant access to all quality and production data at any given time”, states Brett.

The Problems: Lack of visibility and slow data flow

No visibility due to data trapped on paper

With more than 15,000 lunches produced daily over three different locations, Eat My Lunch had little visibility of what was happening on the different production floors: “By relying on paper and different digital channels we had no single source of truth, which made it incredibly difficult for us to identify any trends or potential process improvements”, states Brett.

“What is common in the hospitality and food industries is relying on paper means you can only identify gaps in the system at the time of audit”, states Brett, “What we wanted to see was a clear, visible landscape across the whole business from one application. To uncover process improvements and reduce costs.”

Process inefficiencies due to slow communication between departments

The use of different communication channels also slowed down the data flow between the different departments, leading to process inefficiencies: “The production team filled out the quality paperwork, took pictures of the product, and those files were then uploaded to different systems like Slack or Dropbox where it sat for a while until a supervisor came to sign off the quality checks.”

Eat My Lunch wanted to find a food standard application that eliminated the risks, managed production, stored all production and quality data and sent out alerts and notifications in case a task is due.  

Misinterpretation of data due to a lack of standardized forms

The kitchen chefs of each production facility had different practices in interpreting the paper forms they were required to fill out, to meet the food safety and quality standards of the different meals.

“These were simple variations like slightly different steps in the process of cooking and chilling down chicken, for example”, explains Brett. “We wanted to take digitisation as an opportunity to create standardised factory processes that would be used in the same manner across all facilities.”

The Solution

With the help of iMonitor, Eat My Lunch digitised and refined its Food Safety Plan and made it more secure, visible and user-friendly. In addition to all food safety and quality documents, the team digitised other site processes such as cleaning, inwards goods and logistics documents.

iMonitor now provides one source of visibility and control of all production and quality data across Eat My Lunch's three production sites.

Currently,30 staff across all facilities are using the iMonitor tablet app to record quality and production data. “iMonitor is used by all teams involved in production, from procurement all the way through to account management”, says Brett.

The iMonitor system now instantly alerts team members if something is wrong, when a recorded temperature passes a certain threshold, for example. “If corrective actions are needed, supervisors get instant alerts so that they can get back to the production team immediately to fix the issue. That saves us a lot of time that the team can use for other tasks.”

The Results

Process improvements with digitized meal evaluation sheets

By digitising their quality checks into one central platform, Eat My Lunch was able to cut down the time needed by their dietician to sign off quality checks by 40%. Production staff now record meal evaluation data and take pictures of the product with the iMonitor app. The app informs the dietician instantly about the need for a sign-off.

“This has now given us eyes on the product in real-time. And it is not just the dietician. It is several other people who have been given access, who are to review the product, the quality of the product through production.”

Lower production costs by avoiding over-and under-portioning

By digitising the paper forms for quality checks, Eat My Lunch reduced overproduction, over-portioning and under-portioning. With hourly quality checks, the team tried to be as accurate as possible to meet the weight requirements of ingredients for each meal. “You can never be 100% accurate, especially when you are using a manual recording and calculation system. With iMonitor, we can now guide our kitchen hands in a user-friendly manner to portion the ingredient seven more accurately.”

“The biggest benefits for us are around cost savings and production management“, says Brett. “By eliminating manual recording and calculation errors, we can better ensure that our quality standards are met consistently and controlled all the way through production.”

User-friendliness improves staff engagement

The user-friendly iMonitor tablet app enhances user engagement of Eat My Lunch’s staff. “iMonitor helps getting not just supervisors, kitchen managers and leaders to use the application but all production staff”, says Brett. “It made it easy for us to get user engagement across the business and all levels as tablets are much more convenient to use than scribbling notes on various pieces of paper.”

All 30 team members feel comfortable with using the app, making iMonitor a valuable operating tool. The drop-down menus and the choosing process is just a matter of a click, saving the operators time on their end to fill out a form.

The iMonitor tablet app even increased the use of non-essential forms like waste tracking forms, making it easier for the business to track wastage during production.

Faster preparation for audits

iMonitor’s cloud-based manufacturing software also facilitates Eat My Lunch’s preparation for upcoming audits: “Now that we have all the data stored in one place, we do not need to search for the required food safety data before an audit. This makes us audit-ready 24/7, and enables us to continuously improve our operations”, says Brett.

About Eat My Lunch

Eat My Lunch is a social food manufacturing enterprise that has already given away over 1.7million lunches to children in need as part of their “Buy One Give One” programme. In addition, Eat My Lunch is an official supplier of the Ka Ora, Ka Ako government healthy school lunches programme.

Founded in 2015 by New Zealand entrepreneur Lisa King, the business has grown to 130 employees plus a network of volunteers, producing more than 15,000 lunches daily at their three production sites.

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