Starting in 2021, the greenhouse complexes of ECO-Culture agricultural holding became participants of the “Productivity and Employment Support” national project.
The long-term goal of the project is to form a new production culture in Russia, increase the competitiveness of domestic goods and services, as well as increase the efficiency of companies in every region of the country. The project facilitator, the Federal Center for Competencies in Productivity (FCCP), offers targeted support to managers and employees of organizations by providing them with specific knowledge and skills. The employees receive training in lean production methods, participate in training sessions, master effective approaches to improving work efficiency such as charting, production standardization, etc. The peculiarity of the program is that the experts conduct their work at the enterprises directly, at the same time performing a comprehensive audit, offering individual solutions to increase labor productivity and improve the in-company ecosystem.
Through their participation in the national project, the greenhouse complexes of ECO-Culture put into practice the principles of cost-effective production and study different ways to optimize their working processes. “Solnechny Dar” and “Ovoschi Chernozemya” complexes were the first to join the efforts within the framework of the national project. Meanwhile, other facilities of the holding also enrolled in the federal program to increase labor productivity in 2021: “Krugly God”, located in Leningrad Oblast, as well as enterprises of Stavropol Krai, namely “Mariinsky”, “Ovoschi Stavropolya”, and “Eco-kultura”.
“Solnechny Dar” greenhouse complex, located in Stavropol Krai, is one of the largest projects of the holding. Its area amounts to 83 hectares, and the 4th stage of the complex is still under construction. With over 50,000 tons of tomatoes grown per year and about 1,500 employees involved in the process, increasing labor productivity, and optimizing work processes is extremely important. The pilot site for the implementation of lean production principles was the station where the main greenhouse product – medium-fruited tomatoes – is harvested, packed, and shipped. The working group analyzed the production flow selected, identified losses at the site, and proposed a number of innovations to be incorporated.
The FCC experts picked internal trainers from the complex’s employees to train and certify them according to the project’s programs. This practice makes it possible to prepare in-house specialists with the necessary knowledge and skills who then will be able to train the rest of the employees. Vitaly Torgovin, the vegetable-growing team leader, and Ulyana Litvin, the training specialist, were the ones to pass the selection process. Yulia Shkamratova, the Deputy Director of the HR Department, will also become an internal trainer.
On September 15, Employee Awareness Day was held at “Solnechny Dar” greenhouse complex to summarize the intermediate results of the implementation of the tasks set within the project. The facility managers gave reports on the work done and voiced the upcoming plans to achieve the established goals. Preliminary calculations show that the introduction of new methods of work proposed by the FCC experts will significantly reduce labor costs while increasing production profitability.
The Awareness Day took place in “Ovoschi Chernozemya” complex as well. The enterprise located in Lipetsk Oblast is considered to be the key project of ECO-Culture in the region. On an area of 86 hectares, more than 45 thousand tons of vegetables are grown annually. The number of employees, at the same time, exceeds 2,000 people. “Ovoshchi Chernozemya” is an example of a full-cycle production: it is here and here only that tomatoes are grown, sorted, packaged, and shipped to retail chains.
As part of the national project, the process of “Packing of tomatoes on plastic sheets using an automatic line” was optimized. In cooperation with the FCC experts, the working group conducted a comprehensive diagnostic of the production line and proposed a number of solutions to improve its efficiency.
During the Awareness Day, the results of the preliminary phase of the work were summarized with the first results of the introduction of lean production methods into practice being presented. In particular, simply changing the location of the equipment within the shop has reduced the product transportation costs by 40 per cent. The CEO of the complex Sergey Stolyarov awarded the most active participants of the project team with letters of gratitude.
The holding’s executives decided to make the conduct of Awareness Days within the national project a regular event so that employees could see and appreciate the improvements in working conditions and performance. Besides that, the process of operational improvement should become a permanent practice at all ECO-Culture’s enterprises.