NxG Award 2017 Finalist
Bruno Leone Jimenez
Project description: Initially a project that went bankrupt in 2015, the pelagic plant originally was designed to sort fish, freeze them in 10kg blocks and then packed in carton boxes. The plant was redesigned in 2016 in order to diversify the array of products and give added value to customers such as HGT (Fish with no head no tail and no guts) and fish fillets IQF (Individual Quick Frozen).
Year initiated: 2016
How does your project provide a solution to a problem or satisfies a specific need?
Opened a new market supplying local canneries of sardines and small pelagic fish (pelagic is a term to define fish that have skin instead of scales), canneries have logistic issues since the fish is caught in different areas of the coast of Ecuador and not all the canneries are located close to a port. Our factory is located in Posorja, a small town 120km to Guayaquil, this town has the highest volume of unloading of sardines and small pelagic fishes in Ecuador. Furthermore, not all the canneries have a cutting line, so before bringing the fish to the cannery they have to take the fish to small coastal towns that have the skilled labor to cut the fish manually. This represents for them logistic problems and costs such as transportation, labor and ice consumption. Regarding frozen products we offer a service of co-packing giving our clients a one stop solution instead of outsourcing in different places the services needed to provide the product presentation their client desires. Since we have our own ports their suppliers can come to us and deliver the raw material and since we have our cold storages they have more time to retrieve the product making it easier for them to coordinate with their final client. We also supply fish as bait for long liners (a type of boat that uses long nylon string to which is attached hooks and bait string to catch big fishes such as mahi mahi and swordfish) we store product before their fishing season begins and they can ask us to deliver the product when they need it.
How do you create customer value?
By reducing the canneries cost in ice and transport since we deliver only the loins to be used (if they buy whole fish they transport parts of the fish which they will not use, Head and tails for example, leading to more truck trips to the cannery) in the cans. Also, several times due to having the cold chain broken they lose product due to quality. Furthermore the scrap (Head tails and guts of the fish) are sold to our sister company which produces fish meal, since this project started our sister company was able to enter a premium fish meal markets. The scrap (head tails and guts of our cutting line) provided by Janec has more protein content than what our sister company usually recieves, this opened a market in China for them which pays per unit 30% more of what they used to sell the fish meal for. Furthermore, we also have a whole frozen packing line which has gained a contract so supply Chinese clients with butterfish and have exported product to this market. Also, we do co-packing for local customers and serve as a one stop solution instead of them using labor and services in different locations. Finally, we provide goods and services to our suppliers such as selling them ice before they go back to sail.
How is your project innovative?
In Ecuador people still rely on large amounts of labor, our project is focused on having a lean and fast operation. The production line works roughly with one third of the amount of people other similar Ecuadorean factories use. We have encouraged our employees to come up with innovative ideas to make the plant run faster and improve the working conditions of the employees. For example we used to weight the product tray by tray this required labor and people writing down every tray weight. Now we use automatic weight which record the weight in small batches and sends the production data directly to our production office. This way the contrast between our final hgt product and the automatic graders info we have a clear number of how much is our yield, which is probably the most important number in our hgt line.
How do you plan to grow, scale, and expand the impact of your idea?
Our production line is very competitive in comparison to our Ecuadorian peers. The idea is to add more automatization to our process and more installed capacity to dilute the cost. Also, our plan is qualify to Europe to be able to reach that market and eventually provide higher added value products such as mackerel and bullet tuna skinless precooked loins. The main barriers to enter the EU market are sanitary which at this time we comply, but we need to have the EU delegates audit us in order to get our permits. However, our idea is to differentiate from our peers by being audited by MSC and ensure our clients our practices are sustainable making our product easier to sell for them.
What is the most valuable mistake that you have made, and what did you learn from it?
I would say keeping quiet about problems for the fear of picking a fight with relatives who work in the same company. Usually regarding businesses is better to say it as it is rather than trying to avoid confronting while keeping a problem unsolved. I learn that is imperative for a good manager to take the time to listen to the day to day problems of workers of all ranks. Walk the floor of the factory on a regular basis, listen twice than what you speak that is why we have two ears and one mouth. A lot of the times your coworkers and people working for you have the solutions for the big challenges of the business, you need to take the time to hear them.