Hey Everybody! I’m Nicole Medway, reporting to you for this week’s blog. I’m originally from the New York suburbs, but I attended Northwestern University and have decided to stay in the wonderful Chicagoland area. I studied Manufacturing & Design Engineering and minored in Business, and I’m excited to combine my passion for product development and design with my love of food to drive innovation at Kraft Heinz.
This week we dove into operations at the company. We spent the first half of the week learning about logistics, procurement, supply chain, S&OP and manufacturing. The second half of the week we had the opportunity to visit two plants, the first in Champaign and the second in Davenport. To kick off Operations Week, we heard from multiple members of the Operations team and worked on a case study regarding a new product development launch. In this case study, we saw the benefits related to cost and capacity that a co-manufacturer can provide, as well as the benefits of repatriation in the future. Before we headed off to the plants we sat down with our new CEO and got to hear firsthand about his vision for the company, as well as do a rapid-fire Q&A session.
Thursday morning the trainees hit the road bright and early to arrive at the Champaign plant. They produce meals and enhancers there, so we got to see a lot of mac and cheese, dressings, mayo, and more! This plant manufactures one billion pounds of food a year, and it is one of the largest plants here at Kraft Heinz. My design capstone project in school worked with robotic arms, thus the most interesting part of this plant, for me, was seeing the automated manufacturing equipment. Before we left we made sure to climb the giant noodle and get a group picture!
After checking into our hotel in Davenport, we made sure to find a group dinner spot that had Heinz ketchup!
Davenport is one of our newest facilities, so it was interesting see the differences from Champaign. Davenport produces OSCAR MAYER products, and when we were visiting they were making turkey deli meat. While I was overwhelmed by the raw meat, it was still an amazing experience to visit this plant. We were able to work the production line for over an hour with line workers. I worked directly with a woman who had been working at this plant for 26 years. She showed me how to properly package sliced turkey.
I’ve taken manufacturing courses at Northwestern, yet it wasn’t until I was at the plant and working the line that I could really bring theory to practice. It was an unbelievable opportunity to see these plants and know how the production side operates. Plus, if I do say so myself, we all pull off the lab coats and helmets pretty well!