Teamwork behind Barkath Coro’s productivity in Malaysia

Barkath Coro Manufacturing Sdn. Bhd., a 50-50% joint venture between Barkath Stores Sdn. Bhd. from Malaysia and Coro Food A/S from Denmark, recently received the productivity award given by the National Productivity Center (NPC). Dato Seri Rafida Aziz, Minister of International Trade and Industry presented the award to the Danish General Manager Mr. Erik Lund and Chairman Dato Barkath Ali at a ceremony in Kuala Lumpur.
      The NPC award is an annual award where the winner is selected based on benchmarking against the best practices in that particular industry on quantitative as well as qualitative aspects. Barkath Coro was judged as best in the group of companies with a yearly turnover between MYR25 – 200 million.
      While Barkath Coro may not be widely known, their cordial products certainly are. Their brand Sunquick is available in 105 countries with 10 different flavours in the retail market as well as in the catering markets. Sunquick is the market leader in Malaysia with a 45% market share.
      The main reason for the honour is that over the last 2 years Barkath Coro has reduced their stock rotation from 1 month to 1 week because of teamwork and creative thinking. General Manager Erik Lund who is the only expatriate working at Barkath Coro explains:
      “We started some years back by focusing on creativity and incentive programmes, basically with executives and management involved. We used creative tools such as ‘The Six Thinking Hats’ which is a very interesting way of getting our local management engaged. We work with colours: White for establishing what information we already have. Red for the feelings we have and want to create. Yellow for defining the benefits we are seeking. Blue for the thinking and what we need to think in future. Black is for judgement where we look at our scenarios including worst case scenarios. And finally green for feedback and discussion about what new is possible. And then the process starts all over again.”
      From this process came a set of plans which were implemented in the production in the relatively small Barkath Coro Manufacturing which only employs 32 people.
      “We managed to detect and eliminate bottlenecks in the system by improving our process-, filling and packing systems thereby reducing the time it took to change from producing one bottle size or flavour to another,” Mr. Erik Lund explains.
      “We also trained our operators, warehouse and maintenance staff to become multifunctional so each now can operate more than one machine. Obviously, our Productivity Incentive Program also contributed in a simple but effective way but for the long term our Preventive Maintenance System is a great improvement. We continuously adjust this according to new experiences,” Mr. Lund says.
      Side by side with the stock rotation program Barkath Coro also implemented an incentive programme for the sales and merchandising team which all together has reduced the returns from the market drastically with savings directly on the bottom line.
      According to General Manager Mr. Erik Lund the whole organisation of 32 employees has been very focused on the process. All are proud of having contributed to the results and getting the NPC award as well as ‘The Best Joint Venture’ award given by the Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry in June this year.
      The process continues, says Mr. Erik Lund, especially on the team building front. Each weekend all staff including me joins our compulsory training as next year we will be climbing Mount Kota Kinabalu in Sabah as an extraordinary teambuilding week.
      Mr. Erik Lund has been working for Coro Food A/S, the Danish part of the joint venture, since 1984 and been in Malaysia since December 1999. He praises the factory staff for their cooperation and willingness to do changes.
      “I love living on Penang where our factory is and so does my wife, Gitte and our youngest son, 7 year old Johannes. We love hiking trips around the island, the good food and the small community where everybody knows everybody. We hope to stay forever!”

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