Premier Foods – What an experience! (14th – 25th June)

Based in Wales, (Newport) at the first site, RF Brookes, I had the opportunity to work alongside a dedicated team in an intense environment producing ready made meals for Marks and Spencer. Working and talking alongside food technologists was a very interesting experience. Uniquely, I came into the environment holding a different perspective to packaging design than the rest of the team. As this type of industry is a very fast moving environment due to the consumer demands, I had the opportunity to design numerous packaging for ready made meals analysing from a creative perspective.
I also gained the opportunity to have a tour of their on site factory of ready made meals.

Avana Bakeries is another site producing desserts for Marks and Spencer.
Here I had the opportunity to work with further food technologists creating and producing cakes at very high demands.
At this site, I worked on a problem solving issues and gained a new project from the company.
I also had the opportunity to have a tour of the on site factory of how celebration cakes are produced.

Below I have provided an in depth progress log of my days in working within Premier Foods.

Monday 14th June 2010

First day of RF Brookes, I had an introduction to the packaging technologist and developing team and were briefed on what I am going to do. I was given a number of packages to look at, which I can try and re- design.

So here I started sketching from current forms I had available, completing many thumbnail sketches as possible.

Tuesday 15th June 2010

Today I continued sketch working and completing secondary research, which helped me with thumbnail sketches. I had the chance to speak to employees about the working environment within RF Brookes. Many people do say it is a stressful job as many issues and implications occur. I also had a discussion with one of the development specialists and discovered that the heat film seal applied to packaging is actually recyclable. When viewing information on the package it states that the film is not recyclable. Why? because councils do not have facilities to recycle the PET film.

Wednesday 16th June 2010

Today I decided to conduct primary research by visiting Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco Express petrol station. With this research and photographs I have acknowledged that all supermarkets have adapted to a specific manner of presenting the ready made meals. All have the PET trays presented with a slide on and off sleeve. When looking over the findings, I started to sketch further looking over previous ideas and attempting to develop them.

As short of time, and completing this within one week, I had to make a decision of which design which I think are capable of going on the shelf or even be developed further by Premier Foods.

Thursday 17th June 2010

Today was an exciting day as I had the opportunity to visit their on site factory. The tour of the factory allow me to gain an understanding of how the process actually work and how it goes down the production line. Hygiene is one important factor as all jewellery and shoes have to be removed. This is followed by applying appropriate food wear, head cap and helmet supplied by the company followed with washing hands properly. Then I had to walk over this machine with the appropriate footwear which cleans the boots from beneath, and again washing the hands and applying on a protective coat.  One of the key features is the metal detector which is based at th end of the line, if the machine detects and sort of metal the line stops completely, in that time workers then have to check all machinery equipment on the line. Another feature is the the weight detector, if under weight workers leave them till last and re- check them before sending out. A disturbing cause to the production is because the lines move so quickly, sometimes food is wasted and found on the floor which is collected up by workers and either thrown or recycled.  continued working on ideas, creating forms on Solidworks as well as completing renders in Photoview.

Friday 18th June 2010

Last day at RF Brookes, I continue to work on one last idea which was the indian meal for 2. Once I completed this I showed and explained my ideas to Rebeca, gaining positive feedback.

Monday 21st June 2010

Briefed and met Tracy and the rest of the team. Worked on solutions and problem solving rather than re-designing. Much more of a challenge and interesting to see how particular Marks and Spencer are with changes to packages.

They have no TIME for innovation as this type of production moves very quickly.

Was shown their portfolio of packages they produce last year.

Was shown the shop where food is sold for a much cheaper rate (food that does not meet Marks and Spencer presentation requirements).

Christmas packages are prepared throughout the whole year, each year Avana offer new themes, mainly shown in graphics for customers.

Tuesday 22nd June 2010

Continued to work on problem solving the current issues and offering proposed issues.

I had the opportunity to have a tour of Avana Bakeries factory to see how cakes are made from ingredients to cooking to packaging to dispatching and then transportation. It was an experience that allowed me to understand and gain knowledge to how much effort is put into production. It has allowed me to understand the types of limitations and what can be achieved with the current type of machinery available. During the tour, on the production line was a Tesco Finest cake. When baked the top of the cake rises causing an uneven surface top, and as it is a layered cake the tops must be flat. When going through production line, it first goes through a machine that cuts off the top in which it is then thrown away making it a total waste of food.  (40- 80 tons of food waste each month?)

In discussion with Tracy, learnt how supermarkets work in terms of layout, especially Tesco. They have a dedicated team that spends many hours and money analysing customer behaviour within stores. There is a fact that customer look at a product on a shelf of no more than 5 seconds. In which case, supermarkets must apply something to the shelf which grabs the attentions of customers.

Wednesday 23rd June 2010

Today I have been given a new and interesting brief which relates to celebration cakes by re- designing the current packaging which is used for transportation. The package currently is a simple package of corrugated card board, and air bubble wraps at the bottom of the box to soften any unexpected gravitational falls. An issue that can be expected is cakes being damaged during transportation as workers can not see through the corrugated and misjudge that cakes can be quite fragile. As the packaging is quite large, cakes have to be put into a pallet rather than a crate which increases cost by £15 per pallet that can fit on 6 wedding cakes that are stacked on top of each other then are wrapped for stability. When presented to customers they are presented in a simple plain box with a round window at the top, showing the top view only of the cake. Another feature which  is part of the brief is to make the cake more visible and appealing packaging showing the quality that is expected from customers from Marks and Spencer. The main challenge is to have all tiers in one crate. If I do manage to design the package where all tiers can fit in one crate, this can reduce the amount of misplaced tiers.

As a mould they se silicone as this type of material is flexible enough to allow the shape to form and allow workers to bang the shape out of the mould. Looking at the cake component making it can be very labour intensive care as they are constantly working at a fast pace in order for them to meet customer orders.

With Plan A, Marks and Spencer are not using natural ingredients in the icing such as kiwi for green and beetroot for red.

This is an opportunity for me to collaborate this with my business partner, Toni, for our studio Zero Degrees Design.

Thursday 24th June 2010

Today I collected all boxes that I can use for reference and are currently being used in production when packaging the cakes. For the wedding cakes they are packaged in corrugated cardboard boxes, including the pink & white sponge/ milk & white chocolate three present stack cake.

Talking to the workers within the factory, they stated to me that when packaging the wedding cakes it is very difficult to package as they have to package them in corrugated cardboard boxes plus tie them with plastic string, very much like a present which is then transported to supermarkets. During this transportation delivery workers are quite rough and quick when unloading goods. Not having that visual view of the cakes can be a disadvantage as cakes can get damaged.

Friday 25th June 2010

Today I did a view over the two weeks at Premier Foods with Rebeca and discussed how much I have learnt. It has allowed me to understand this type of industry further and knowledge that I will take with me and may help me in my third year and during my career in product design.

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