Two days ago, I had the opportunity to visit and tour the flight catering operation of ADIFC. This unit currently produces around 40,000 inflight meals a day, although the building was only originally designed to cope with 28,000 meals. Not surprisingly the operation is under severe pressure, which is why it is about to double in size and increase its capacity up to 80,000 meals. This should ensure it has sufficient capacity to cope with the forecast in demand up to 2018. This is a very good example of capacity lagging, and then capacity leading expansion (see page 192).
The pressure on space means that the operations management team have been looking very hard at how best to organise processes. One process they have modified is the stripping of dirty trays and trollies prior to the equipment being processed through the flight washup machines. In most flight kitchens, each washup machine would have an in-line table or belt on which the stripping would be done. ADIHC found that this was not efficient, in that the speed of stripping was not fast enough to fill all the spaces on the washup conveyor – so the washup machines were only operating at 80% capacity.
Hence they have set up three ‘stripping belts’ at right angles to the washup machines, and designed these so that the equipment (ie cutlery, crockery, glasses, etc.) is stripped on these belts into separete bins. These bins are then taken to whichever washup machine has space and tipped onto the conveyor, prior to them being correctly positioned. This ensure that that each washup machine is operating at a higher level of utilisation.