Most processing plants in New Zealand have each staff member responsible for the sharpening (honing/stoning) and the maintenance (steeling) of their own knives. The implementation tips below are for meat processors using this system.
1. Each day take a selection of knives from a number of staff (maybe multiple people at a time or 1 at a time depending on production constraints)
2. Test a knife they have freshly sharpened and let them see the results on the computer screen. Give them the opportunity to improve the weak areas on the test (eg the tip area may be dull and the heel sharp etc) and then re-test the knife to confirm the improvement. Tip: We recommend letting staff have some freedom to experiment with sharpening methods and using KST for feedback until they can consistently achieve sharp knives with their technique.
3. Continue this until all workers have been tested and achieved a bench marked sharpness level for freshly sharpened knives. This level will need be set by management (our recommended minimum score for a freshly sharpened knife is 8.0, and is a good starting point). Once this is done, we can now confirm that all staff are capable of making their knives suitably sharp before the start of each shift.
4. Now we need to focus our attention on blade maintenance (steeling). To do this, take before use (freshly sharpened) and during use tests to determine how staff can maintain sharpness, and the level that sharpness drops during the shift. Any staff who have large drops in sharpness levels can be refreshed on steeling technique and re-tested to confirm the improvement.
5. Continue to repeat these steps to ensure that the initial improvements made to sharpness levels are maintained.
Note: Only with consistent monitoring and education using the objective feedback of sharpness tester as a tool, can the average sharpness levels on site be significantly improved and maintained. Many processors using the KST have more than doubled their sharpness levels (halved cutting force requirement).