CRF Colac, Victoria, Australia

“It’s a real advancement within the industry”
            Rebecca Michalik, GM Corp. Culture & Employee Dev., CRF, Australia
Rebecca Michalik is General Manager of Corporate Culture and Employee Development at CRF (Colac Otway) in Colac, Victoria, Australia.
CRF is a state-of-the-art, fully integrated lamb processing facility handling 6000 head per day.  The Company employs approximately 350 people and its primary customer is one of Australia’s largest supermarket chains.  CRF exports directly to Europe, Asia, American and the United Kingdom.
In July 2006, CRF began a six-month knife sharpness study utilising Anago’s KST200e Sharpness Tester.  The study is collecting safety and production data and comparing different ways to sharpen knives.  Results from the study will be shared throughout the Australian meat processing industry and will help companies improve knife sharpness measurement, training and policy setting.
Ms Michalik says taking part in the Anago study fits with the Company’s commitment to leading industry innovation.
“CRF is distinctive in our industry and is recognised as a company that does things differently – such a being the first meat processor in Australia to utilise three robots on our processing floors.
“In addition to being technically advanced in our operations, we also strive to be at the forefront of health and safety, employee training and development.  Taking part in Anago’s ground-breaking knife sharpness study fits our culture,” explains Rebecca.
Ms Michalik said the Anago Sharpness Tester provided some eye-opening revelations during the initial study set up.
“While we were setting up the knife sharpness study, we took a random sample of our process operators’ knives and found 52% were under 8.0 on the sharpening machine ”“ 8.0 is considered a minimum level of adequate sharpness.
“So we took the knives away and steeled them again.  However, when they came back the second time 48% were still below 8.0.  This showed us that even when our people are very conscious of their steeling techniques, there is still opportunity for targeted training and improvement.
“Having a quantitative measurement will help us be more consistent and fair in our future knife sharpness training and evaluation programmes,” explains Ms Michalik.
Rebecca outlines how utilising the KST200e Sharpness Tester is a real advancement within the industry.
“In the meat processing industry, traditionally people test knife sharpness in very subjective ways.  We’re a progressive company that wants to do things objectively.  I am confident the Sharpness Tester will help us ”“ and other companies – progress this critical area,” says Ms Michalik.
She says CRF is looking to minimise OH&S issues and has some aggressive health and safety targets.
“Ensuring our people are working with the sharpest knives possible is a critical factor in achieving our health and safety objectives.  Until the KST200e Sharpness Tester, there was no tool available that could quantitatively measure knife sharpness. Although it is still early days, we’re already realising benefits from using the tool.
“At CRF, safety comes first.  We believe if we can get our processes right and use equipment properly and safely, productivity and profitability benefits will follow,” says Rebecca.
Rebecca also comments that Anago is great to work with and very flexible.
“Sometimes in our industry you need to be very flexible and Peter Dowd at Anago has been great.  He’s able to quickly change things to work within our requirements for the study,” she says.
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