Firstplay was established in 1993 by Steve and Linda Fletcher to help people living with PKU, an inborn error of metabolism which affects roughly 1 in 10,000 people in the UK.
Over the decades the business has grown steadily, innovating its product range to include dried pasta, flavoured pasta sachets, breads, baking mixes, snacks and soups, for an increasing global market.
With ambitions to target emerging markets in China, the Middle East and America, Firstplay needed to address its manufacturing productivity and efficiency challenges.
A key bottleneck in the production process was the manual weighing and packing of certain products.
“We had two full-time staff performing that role. While they were very fast and efficient at what they did, they were limited to a certain productivity of about 600 packets per day, and occasionally there would be errors and waste.
“The motivator for us, as with many SMEs, was to do more with what we have got, and that means using our small team of 12 in the most efficient way and using their skills on much higher-value tasks.”