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Laura Broome Alra secondment

My secondment at Arla Foods, Leeds

Laura Broome Alra secondment

On the 7th July 2014 I started my 7 week journey working at one of the world’s leading dairy facilities. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to work at Arla to gain industry experience in all the different aspects of the organisation.

Before I started my secondment,  someone said this statement to me, “be a sponge Laura, just soak up all the information’” – and I can honestly say that is truly what I did.

My first week consisted of an induction programme covering all of these areas listed below:

Milk Intake

Milk Process and Production

Cream Process and Production

Cottage Cheese

Despatch

Quality and Laboratory

Supply Chain

Lean

Environment, Health and Safety

Engineering

The remaining 6 weeks of my secondment was split by spending 2 weeks working in milk process, 2 weeks in cream process and 2 weeks in the cottage cheese. At these times I worked closely with the technicians based in each of the areas. I gained an insight to the day-to-day processes from start to finish, establishing how products are made to meet customer needs. At times I operated the machines via the control rooms and other times I was out in the factory doing manual work e.g. mixing in powders to make flavoured milk or testing the cottage cheese pH levels.  I learnt about new technologies which included systems like Tetra Plantmaster, Master Production and Alfast. I also became familiar with SAP (systems, applications and products).

As well as working in the dairy I also had the opportunity to see other aspects of the food supply chain. I went to collect raw milk from farms for an afternoon, which was very interesting for me to see where the process of production starts. Also, I saw the other side of the process by delivering milk to supermarkets from 4am in the morning! This was very worthwhile for me.

alraArla supply all main stream supermarkets such as Asda, Tesco, and Morrisons. To be given to opportunity to work for a company making products seen on supermarkets shelves was very rewarding for me.

I have to be very thankful to Reaseheath and to Arla for making my secondment an amazing experience and one I will not forget.

Laura Broome

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Reaseheath College’s dairy technologists celebrate first year success

EDEN Adam-Brazendale-Shaun-McKenzie-Mike-Reid-Darius-Barkunas-and-Nick-Blakemore-1030x656Twenty four trainee dairy technologists reached a significant career milestone when they completed the first year of their Eden training programme at Reaseheath College in Nantwich, Cheshire, earlier this month.

The technologists work for leading companies in the dairy industry and attend the Eden International Dairy Academy for block release training, spending the rest of their time in their workplace. They will graduate with a globally recognised foundation degree in dairy technology on completion of their three year course. The education initiative is supported by key players in the dairy industry and is aimed at producing world-class staff. There are currently 75 trainees on the programme.

While at college, the technologists gain hands-on practical experience in Reaseheath’s industry-standard, food and dairy processing plant. The facilities enable the students to see food production from start to finish and also to carry out new product development.

Three of the first year cohort were in line for special honours as they celebrated completing their initial year of study.

Darius Barkunas, who works for Arla Foods, was selected as the Best Practical Student. The 27 year-old began working for Arla in Settle, Yorkshire, six years ago as an agency worker and has progressed to becoming a process technician. He was selected for his practical skills and for his ability to explain his practical knowledge to others.

He said: “Being offered a place on the Eden programme was like winning the lottery and I cannot thank my company enough for supporting me. Coming to Reaseheath is brilliant. The lecturers are totally dedicated to their job and the facilities are wonderful.”

Mike Reid, 29, a Dairy Crest employee, received the Best Academic Student award. for consistently achieving outstanding exam and assignment results and for his exceptional attention to detail. Mike has worked for Dairy Crest in Gloucester for 11 years and has immersed himself in the academic content of his course despite having done no serious studying since his ‘A’ levels in 2002.

He said: “Coming to college after such a long break was a big cultural challenge but everyone at Reaseheath has been extremely friendly and helpful. I am delighted that my company has chosen to support me through this qualification.”

Shaun McKenzie, 18, from Muller Dairy was voted the Dairy Culture Student of the Year after receiving the student vote for the way he supports his colleagues. The former apprentice is now a permanent staff member at Muller’s Market Drayton base and is mentored by Eden graduate Mitchell Tullett.

Presenting the awards, Adam Brazendale, Business Development Manager for the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink said: “Eden students are at the forefront of an exciting future for the UK dairy industry. This is a unique training programme aimed at supporting and developing skills within the dairy processing industry.

“The Eden programme is an excellent qualification and we are proud to have Reaseheath as our Dairy Champion for Food and Drink.”

Read more about the Eden programme here.

Karen Betts

A day in the life of… Karen Betts

 

Karen BettsReaseheath student Karen Betts chatted to staff at Reaseheath Food Centre and gave us an insight into a ‘typical day’ as Retail Technical Manager for Greggs PLC.

Here’s what she had to say:

 To give you a little background, as the a Retail Technical Manager for Greggs PLC, I currently manage four Food Safety Managers, with the primary purpose of my role being to coordinate the Food Safety Team and systems management within over 800 shops. I look after the North & Pennine Regions covering all of Scotland, Cumbria, the North East down to the Hull and North West including North Wales. As well as our own delicious cakes, we also make sandwiches fresh in store every day –  over 30 million across Greggs stores per year! We also provide freshly baked savouries, as well as preparing other hot snacks and drinks.

Now on to the day…

7:00am – Mobile phone alarm wakes me, I automatically grab my phone from under my pillow and press the off button. I contemplate going back to sleep.

7.30am – Kids all ready to go, packed lunches, P.E. kits, diary signed, kiss on the cheek, out of the door they go. Quick piece of toast with chocolate spread.   Hot shower and teeth, fresh start to the day. Glad I ironed my suit the previous day.

7:45am – Check emails at home to see what has come in overnight, customer complaint, power cut, break in, never a dull moment! After checking in and seeing that there’s nothing crazy going on, I then leave to visit a new shop opening, checking the shop has a calibrated probe, essential food safety and hygiene log books, the correct contract and documentation for pest control, that the shop has been registered to the local authority as a food business and standard procedures are being operated to the standard required.

9.00am – Arrive at the bakery to go through my emails and catch up on daily correspondence – understanding what people need and getting back to them with a resolution for their issues. I spend about an hour scanning e-mails asking and providing deliverables.

10.00am – I contact the four Food Safety Managers by telephone to check what they are doing, asking questions regarding budgets, customer complaints and environmental visits.  Communication with the team is an essential element of a Technical Manager’s role. The team needs to feel they are being looked after.

11.30am –The phone calls are continuous through the day and the questions keep arriving…

The Environmental Health Officer from the local council has been into my shop; what do I do with the report?

The electricity has gone off in my shop; should I close?

Can I bring my own hand cream into the shop as my hands are starting to hurt?

I have sent a member of staff home as they have reported sickness, when can they come back?

Where do we get blue plasters from?

12.15pm – Time for lunch, we are encouraged not to eat at our desks so it’s off to the staff canteen.  I try to sit on my own and read a good book, whilst I eat. Slightly unsociable.

12:45pm – All shops need to have all products microbiologically tested, this is a bit of the job I really enjoy.  Bacteria will naturally be present in foods. Looking for different types of bacteria and then assessing the levels is a process used to ensure that hygiene standards and quality criteria are being met.  The presence of specific types of bacteria can indicate differences in handling and storage conditions in an establishment, so a little bit of detective work is sometimes needed.

1.30pm – I am now putting together a power point ready for a presentation for the Senior Team for one of my Regions, explaining the recent changes in roles and what level of service my team can now provide.

2:30pm – Phone conference to discuss Greggs & charity donations.

3.30pm – Phone call from an Environmental Health Officer asking about details regarding the contact time for our sanitiser on a prep bench surface.  Discussed our procedures and explained how these link to our HACCP system.  The EHO is more than happy with the explanation.

4:00pm – Check through all KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for my shops, review the figures and compare with previous years.  Actually quite like figures and graphs!

5.30pm – I leave the office, look at my phone which says the word “bread”, which is my prompt to bring some bread home, hubby is not one for texting!

6pm – It’s been a long but successful day – plus tomorrow, I have a busy schedule packed with interviews, meetings, presentations and maybe some time to study for my advanced HACCP qualification. Love my job!

Karen Betts

Karen completed her Certificate in Higher Education Food Industry with Management at Reaseheath and we look forward to welcoming her back to the food department in when she will begin her FdSc  in Food Manufacturing with Business Management.

Karen Betts

trolley Marks and Spencer - issue 3

Students visit Marks and Spencer Head Office

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Recently, we had the great opportunity of visiting the Marks and Spencer head office. On arrival we were greeted by Barbara Ross, who works closely with the New Product Development and Buying side of Marks and Spencer. We also met other members of the team, these included, a graduate Product Developer and a graduate Technologist.

After a number of really interesting talks we attended a particularly exciting  meeting that discussed current trends within the industry. In addition to this, we met with buyers and suppliers and we were able to taste and give our own opinion of the new products that would be launched on Marks and Spencer’s shelves later on this year… unfortunately all the products were top secret so you will just have to wait to find out what they were!

After all that wonderful tasting of new products it was time to head off to meet a few more team members.

After a thoroughly enjoyable and informative day it was time to return home, luckily we got one of the last trains home otherwise we might have been stuck! It later transpired that fortune had favoured our timing as later that day adverse weather conditions caused massive train delays.

This opportunity gave us a small  insight into the workings of Marks and Spencer and a great insight in to how we can further our career in an ever evolving industry.

Imogen Johnson, Charlotte Reed and Abigail Brown

From Further to Higher Education

From Further to Higher Education

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Have you applied for a higher education course through UCAS? Are you thinking about studying for a foundation degree or degree? It can be quite a big jump in studying from further education (FE) to higher education (HE), and for some students, it can take a lot of getting used to.

Whether you decide to study at Reaseheath or another Higher Education institution, the challenges are the same.

Firstly, deadlines really mean deadlines. You might have been given a few extra days by a kind module tutor in FE. If an assignment must be submitted by 5pm on a certain date, failure to submit may mean you get a big zero for that assessment at HE. And then you have to pay to resit it…

Self-motivation is really important at university. If class sizes are large, as they are in some universities, lecturers may well not know who you are, yet alone chase you up if you don’t attend lectures or submit work. Being able to sit yourself down to complete coursework on time can be a challenge, but it is a skill that can be developed.

We’ve all been guilty of putting away classwork and then not looking at it until the next session, or even not until exam revision time. In higher education, though, it is expected that you read around the topic.

Not all of the information will be given to you in  class – there are recommended reading lists to help you widen your knowledge. You’ll only get high marks if you show that you’ve studied independently and used a wide range of sources of information, referenced correctly.

Ah yes – referencing.  Even we lecturers are bored by it, but it’s not us who could be chucked off the course, or at least fail a module, if you don’t do it properly. You don’t have to memorise all the details, just know where to check. Course handbooks will contain information on the correct way to reference – follow it. Interpret and develop information you find, don’t just type in out word for word. Most universities nowadays use software to check for plagiarism (using someone else’s work and passing it off as your own). Plagiarism isn’t just copying someone else’s work, it’s using information, even a sentence, and not changing the words to interpret it into your own words.

Finally, make the most of it. Have fun, but study hard too – you’re paying for your education, so you should make sure you get your money’s worth out of it! You wouldn’t spend thousands on a car and then leave it on the driveway. So why spend much, much more on an education and then not turn up for lectures, or not hand in work?

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Consumer Studies and Market Research

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Our recently validated Foundation Degree in Food Manufacturing with Business Management has an exciting new module that I will be lead tutor on.

‘Consumer studies and market research in the food industry’, is a subject that is close to my heart, having worked in a number of fields within the manufacturing and retail sector. I have experienced the benefits of having a comprehensive knowledge of your industry market first-hand.

Small changes like altering meal size can have dramatic effects on sales.  Whilst working for Asda Walmart, I took the decision to change all Italian Ready Meals from a weight, which was neither a one nor two person serving, to a more robust and sizeable two person offer.  This was largely based on observations that I had done in store looking at who was shopping and analysing the frequency of purchase.  Overnight sales of Italian ready meals soared, and obviously efficiency of production did too – which was an added bonus to end margin.

The new module will introduce students to various concepts, including buyer behaviour, the influence of packaging, colour, importance of price points as well as effective quantitative research methodologies.  Consumer studies has a degree of psychology pertained within it, and the module will explore topics such as pester power, use of sense to drive sales, effect of lighting on mood, speed of shop etc.

Ultimately, for any student working or planning to work within the food industry, an understanding of what drives consumer purchase habits and how to optimise performance of brands is crucial to business success. This is a common thread through all operations, be it production, research and development, logistics and planning as well as technical.

I look forward to teaching what I am sure will be an exciting, thought provoking topic to all foundation degree students next year.

Toni-Anne Harrison

Andrew Moule alumni issue 2

Where are our students now? – Andrew Moule

Andrew Moule Graduate QandA - Copy
Andrew Moule

Production Manager – Muller Wiseman Dairies (Droitwich)

What attracted you to this job?

I have been working at Muller Wiseman Dairies for nearly eight years and had experience in nearly all areas of the  company’s production & logistics departments, so to manage the key production area of the business seems to be the most logical step to boost my experience, knowledge and provide me the key ingredients to step forward and progress within the business.

What does your typical day involve?

There are four roles which I undertake as Production Manager, these are Early Shift Duty Manager / Back Shift Duty Manager / Early Support Manager or Days. As duty manager I would oversee the sites milk process & production which is 5 milk pasteurisers, 3 cream pasteurisers, six standard milk filling lines, two ESL (extended shelf life) milk filling lines & 3 cream fillers. As support I would assist the Duty Manager on the early shift & on days I would concentrate on my department (Polybottle Filling) and address staffing issues for my 49 staff who report to me, health & safety & quality issues, performance improvements & general admin.

What gives you the most job satisfaction?

I would say, knowing that because of mine & my teams hard work everyone can have & their enjoy their milk every day with their tea, coffee & cereal.

Tell us more about your environment in terms of work-life balance…

Due to the nature of the business the shifts range from (04:30am to 14:30) or (14:30pm to finish) (Monday – Saturday) if I am duty manager on early or back shift. If I’m working days it’s Monday – Friday 7am – 16:00.

My Girlfriend works away in the week so most weekends I spend with her. This means working the shifts in the week isn’t an issue for me.

How did you get to where you are today?

I left school at 16 and took a part time job while I looked for full time work. My Dad who was working at Wiseman’s as a Driver told me about vacancies in the logistics chill loading vehicles. I was successful in getting the job and worked for 4 ½ years in the logistics chill doing various roles before in Oct 2010 I applied for “Project Eden” which was a course run by Wiseman’s to develop staff by sending successful applicants on a 3 year foundation degree course which consisted of blocks of around 4-7 weeks per time away at Reaseheath College.

Coupled with the companies positive attitude & support towards the course I was able to gain experience in most areas of the production side of the business, develop my skills, knowledge and connections & with the knowledge & skills learnt at Reaseheath I could work with the site teams on projects and support the site teams with my acquired skill set.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of following your path?

Gaining experience in a production environment would be a key benefit to anyone looking to go into production management.

Working or applying to a company which offers work based learning schemes such as “Project Eden” is a very good way to gain academic skills as well as practical “hands-on” skills which is what I believe employers look for.

How well is your job compensated? What is the starting salary for someone in your field, and how much can this be expected to rise?

Salaries are negotiated on experience & length of service so can vary.

Further to this, there are a range of opportunities within the business & industry to provide me a very secure & promising career in Dairy.

What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax?

My main hobby is cars, I own a high performance car (Toyota MR2 Turbo Import – currently 300bhp) & enjoy very much all the work that goes into maintaining it.

Apart from that I enjoy the usual things, films, socializing with friends, computer games, spending time with my girlfriend etc.

Before taking the job as Production Manager, I worked for 5 years part-time as a Special Constable for West Mercia Police, which was an amazing experience. However, due to the nature of the role, I had to leave the police to fully commit to my new job as it was infeasible undertaking two highly demanding jobs.

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Kathy Merrett: Programme Leader and Lecturer in Food

Each month we will focus on a different person, showing how their career has developed from their education choices to their current job.

Kathy_DSC4553 This month we look at the route Kathy Merrett, our Programme Leader and lecturer, took in her studies and career.

In Kathy’s own words:

“Studied a BSc (Hons) in Nutrition at Kings College, London and then spent over 20 years in the food industry in a variety of roles including Nutritionist for Good Housekeeping Magazine, New Product Developer for Birds Eye Wall’s, Buyer for major retailers including Somerfield and Morrison’s  and Marketing Manager for Hazlewood Foods. Started my own business in  2002, helping small food businesses with marketing advice and how to get listed in retailers, and then after the recession of 2007 decided to go into teaching …and haven’t looked back!”

 

Chris Budd alumni issue 1

Where are our students now? – Chris Budd

Each month we’ll look at past students and give you some information about what they’re doing in the food industry.

This month starts with Chris Budd. Chris was with us for six years – he studied his Level 3 National Diploma here, and then went on to study his Foundation Degree and graduated with a 2:1 in his BSc (Hons) Food Technology. Chris made the most of his time in College, and took a year’s paid work placement in industry to gain further experience.

Here’s his experience:

Where-are-our-students-now-Chris-Budd“I studied at Reaseheath College for 6 years in total, beginning with a National Diploma in Food Manufacturing and Nutrition, and leaving with a BSc Hons Food Industry with Management.

During my time at Reaseheath, I gained valuable experience working in creameries, working with retail and own label products, including frozen and ambient.

I also gained additional qualifications such as Level 3 Food Safety and Level Auditing and Inspection Skills, which have helped my C.V. standout when I was looking for employment.

Reaseheath College, in conjunction with Harper Adams University College, are well recognised within the food industry and are known to deliver high quality courses as well as graduates that are prepared for employment.

When I left Reaseheath, I was actively seeking employment, and it didn’t take too long before I was offered interviews.

I successfully landed a job within the Samworth Brothers Group in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, as a Process Development Technologist at Kettleby Foods.

In my role, I support all departments in the concept, trialling and launching of high quality ready-meal’s for retail.

Working in the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) arena has its challenges, and my role offers great variation, from attending customer panels, to managing factory trials, to visiting suppliers.

I believe that I had the best preparation I could have from Reaseheath, and I am confident that the skills and knowledge gained has set me up for a long and prosperous career in the food industry.”

Chris will shortly be moving to a new job with greater responsibilities, working as a New Product Development manager for the Covent Garden Soup Company.

Issue 2 Mini UHT Plant_DSC5344

Food Trials

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The commercial team have been busy with trials and development work over December and January, working with industry partners and associates to develop innovative products and techniques.

December trials

Jenny Newell reports: “December trials included concentrating waste material using the evaporator and spray dryer making it in to a food ingredient. This would be of use to the company concerned as it provides profit from what was previously a waste material, as well as reducing the cost of waste product being disposed of.

A second trial in December involved producing reduced fat cheese. A customer has been using our facilities and staff support to carry out a trial on blue cheese in the food innovation rooms.

January food trial – AMT Ltd

Advanced Microwave Technologies Ltd (AMT Ltd) are global leaders in the use of microwaves to heat and condition liquids, suspensions and semi solids.

AMT Ltd has developed a unique method of delivering microwave energy into flowing liquids, suspensions and semi-solids on a continuous basis.   This technology uses conventional magnetrons, but is innovative because of:

1) the increased penetration of the microwave energy

2) the industrial scale of the process (continuous processing at up to 4 tonnes per hour)  

Termed ‘Microwave Volumetric Heating’ (MVH), it is associated with significant technical, practical and economic advantages. Early adopters of the technology have come from within the UK food and drink sector.

In January AMT Ltd undertook a 3 day trial at Reaseheath utilising the  APV UHT plant to test the technology for the first time on milk.Derek Allen (Senior Technologist) project managed the trial to a very high standard of delivery and the customer acknowledged his expertise and dairy industry knowledge together with the team in the Food Centre.

Dr Sue Gordon, Technical Marketing Manager, AMT Ltd commented:  “We have really, really enjoyed our time working with you, and we have covered a lot of ground in a few days.  Please also pass on our thanks to all at Reaseheath who have helped make this happen; we do appreciate the time and effort that was put in to make everything run so smoothly.”

AMT are now actively looking to engage with Reaseheath on future trial work and student placements.