AarhusKarlshamn UK (A.A.K.) is Europe’s leading innovator in the production of vegetable oils, the company was formed in 1982 with the express aim of marketing palm oil and its products in the UK.
With a uniquely flexible production capacity the product range is extensive and designed to meet the needs of the baking, food service, food manufacturing and health and beauty sectors. A.A.K also produce a wide range of own brand and private label oils, condiments, dressings, marinades, salsas, dips and spreads for the retail market. A.A.K. has the ability to deal with the widest range of customer demands in terms of volume and product, it’s success is built upon it’s ability to provide value added solutions. Additionally, the company has a truly comprehensive refinery based at the strategic port of Hull, which facilitates the easy import of raw materials and the dispatch of finished goods.

What did we do, and what was achieved?

Overview: A.A.K. experienced their most successful year in 2009 as did many food related companies during the recession. As part of their business strategy they have identified significant threats coming into the U.K. from their competitors increasing their capacity significantly in the palm oil sector. This had been the traditional product produced at Hull but with trends in consumer health away from saturated fats and concerns for the environment the palm oil nuts are harvested in, A.A.K. have been developing a strategy to move into higher added value sustainable products.

Process: Due to the recognition of the need to change and perform processes both in manufacturing and administration more efficiently the A.A.K. U.K. board engaged Lean Business Solutions to help change the culture and create a “Lean Thinking” organisation. The majority of the organisation have in excess of 10 years service and the business is perceived as very successful so the major challenge was to engage people and develop the understanding for the need for change. The AAK board together with Kerry Cochran of Lean Business Solutions Ltd. Developed the strategy for the culture change and a pilot program was established with the middle to senior management team in the food services sector. Eight managers undertook the leading organisational change Licentiate with a key output of developing organisational teams based on the shop floor. This was very successful with savings of > £100,000 and improvements in O.E.E. and reduction of scrap.

Achievements: Following quickly behind the success of this pilot the A.A.K. Board working in conjunction with Lean Business Solutions Ltd implemented a Lean thinking strategy to roll out across the whole business. There are currently 7 key projects running as part of the Licentiate qualification. To date the projects have identified significant annualised savings in excess £560,000 in less than 6 months and has started to create the culture change to a Lean Thinking organisation.

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