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Friday, July 19, 2024

Process mapping expertise helps dog treats manufacturer increase production

Engineers at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) North West used their process mapping and factory layout improvement expertise to help a dog treat manufacturer meet an unexpected surge in demand for canine treats due to the demand for pets during Covid.

Blackpool-based The Barking Bakery creates hand-baked and decorated cupcakes, cheesy biscuits, pupcorn and its signature personalised ‘pawty’ cakes, exclusively for dogs, with its products distributed online and through national retailers.

When business owner Michelle Turnbull relocated The Barking Bakery to the Blackpool Enterprise Zone in 2019, she had a clear plan to take her doggy treats to national success. But she did not anticipate the puppy-buying boom brought about by the Covid pandemic which has seen 2.2 million pooches being purchased in the UK – leading to an enormous increase in demand for her products from companies including Pets at Home, The Range, Booths and Fetch.

To help meet this unprecedented increase in demand, Michelle contacted Blackpool Unlimited’s Growth 4 Business (G4B) service who commissioned the AMRC North West research team to work with partners to undertake a process mapping and factory layout improvement exercise.

The support was funded through a European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) initiative, aimed at assisting Lancashire’s small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Melissa Conlon, Commercial Director at AMRC North West, said: “It was a tremendous collaboration between Blackpool Council, AMRC North West, Made Smarter, The Barking Bakery, Manufacturing Growth Fund, Boost Lancashire and Blackpool Unlimited.

“Working together, we helped The Barking Bakery deal with its growth aspirations by developing and implementing plans to increase its manufacturing capacity, with the additional benefit of better process flows throughout the factory.

“At AMRC North West, we specialise in utilising our manufacturing expertise and world class technologies to help Lancashire SMEs explore and de-risk the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies such as robotics, additive manufacturing, virtual reality, digitisation and machine learning to improve their processes. Our fully funded ERDF assists are there for manufacturing businesses across Lancashire to take advantage of and benefit from.”

Michelle was delighted by the overall results. She said: “By being able to access various funding sources, including AMRC North West’s ERDF-backed initiative, Blackpool Council grants, Made Smarter and other bodies, it has allowed us to purchase much-needed equipment, enabling the bakery to up production, improve drying time and employ another four members of staff.

“The supporting partners’ help has been invaluable. It not only ensured we were able to meet demand this Christmas, but the changes we’ve made and the strategy we’ve set should ensure we’re well positioned to continue our growth aspirations, including creating new jobs.”

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