“It allows us to base our buying decisions on fact rather than marketing hype”
Kerry Stevens, Group Personnel Manager, Alliance, NZ
Dispelling Myths and Re-establishing a Lost Craft
Kerry Stevens is Group Personnel Manager for Alliance, second largest meat processing company in New Zealand exporting quality product throughout the world. Kerry instigated the use of the KST200e Sharpness Tester in several of the Company’s plants three years ago. He says the Tester has helped Alliance establish the facts around which sharpening techniques truly work.
“Being able to sharpen and maintain a knife is a vital skill our people require to perform their slaughtering and boning jobs successfully. However, prior to using the Sharpness Tester, we found there was as much myth and folklore around knife sharpening as there was science.
“Each plant had their own anecdotes about which sharpening techniques created the best edge. Alliance needed to pull all those anecdotes together, dispel the myths – separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak – and determine the facts around what sharpening techniques really work. The Sharpness Tester allowed us to do just that,” says Kerry.
Re-establishing a Lost Craft
Kerry says equally important as dispelling myths, using the KST200e Sharpness Tester has allowed Alliance to re-establish knife sharpening as a respected skill.
“Ten to 15 years ago, most of our knifehands would have worked in various non-knife jobs for several years and then, after working in an apprentice-type situation with experienced slaughtermen and boners, would step up into a knifehand position. This is now rarely the case.
“With the labour marketing being so tight, we now have people walking in straight off the street into knife jobs. This has forced us to radically improve our education programme, and we’ve incorporated the Anago KST200e as a ‘scoreboard’ in these revised training regimes.
“The result has been that we’ve re-established a lost art – using the Sharpness Tester has raised the profile of this foundational industry skill. In turn, our people are experiencing the pride and status that comes along with honing this vital craft,” says Kerry.
Kerry believes Alliance is sure to realise other benefits as a result of raising the profile of the knife sharpening trade.
“Because we’ve used the Sharpness Tester to raise the profile of knife sharpening and re-establish this lost trade, we expect other benefits to follow including: decreased health and safety incidents, increased staff retention, decreased costs and increased yield and efficiency,” says Kerry.
Knife Brand Evaluation
Kerry says an additional benefit Alliance has realised from using the KST200e Sharpness Tester has been the ability to objectively evaluate various knife brands.
“Our annual investment in new knives is quite substantial, so it’s important we purchase only those knives that are best for our operation. Alliance has begun using the Sharpness Tester to evaluate different knife brands, which allows us to base our buying decisions on fact rather than marketing hype,” says Kerry.