Taking this award is a stamp to the quality of not only BRALIRWA’s end products but also of all other processes including human resource skills and capability, environmental friendly and sustainable operations among other standards evaluated by the Heineken Group within its various plants. The award was given to BRALIRWA through a competitive process involving close to 40 other Heineken Group plants in Africa. Speaking during an event to celebrate the tremendous feat at the plant, an elated Jonathan Hall, BRALIRWA’s Managing Director, said the award is a vote of confidence that the group believes in not only the Rwandan beverage sector but also the country as a whole.
“It is not the first time we have won this award, and it certainly will not be the last as we continue to innovate and improve our services and procedures. Nonetheless, winning such a highly competitive award, that is sought after by all Heineken Group’s beverage plant’s in Africa is a great achievement on our part.” BRALIRWA’s brewery in Gisenyi was the Heineken Group’s best plant of the year in 2011. For this achievement, Mr. Hall had his staff at the Kigali based soft drink’s plant to thank who he said had not failed to utilize the state of the art production facilities on which the company has spent over US$40 million worth of investment over the past three years.
The award is part of the return on investment for BRALIRWA and an indication of the dedication and commitment of staff to giving the best to Rwandan consumers. Regarding the significant sums Heineken Group has injected into its Rwandan operations over the last three years, Hall reiterated that is a demonstration of their confidence in Rwanda’s present and future. “We have invested in Rwanda’s future and well knowing that it is going to pay off,” he echoed.
What areas did the Award consider?
To win the award, a number of parameters were evaluated including the plant’s operational efficiency, environmental friendliness and quality.
With regards to the quality standards, the score was at more than 99% thanks to the most recent investments in among others the automation of the packaging line which certainly eliminates human errors that compromise quality. “This is not only one of the best Coca-Cola plants in Africa but in the World” BRALIRWA’s top manager revealed
adding that “it should be a source of pride for the whole country and more reason to continue enjoying our soft and alcoholic beverages”. On areas that saw BRALIRWA scoop the award, the Technical Director Sander Bokelman explained that in addition to investment in new state of the art equipment especially the automated assembly
line, the milestone resulted from significant improvements in the knowledge and skills of the plant’s human resource particularly the supply chain department which as a result made the production and logistics units’ work swifter and seamless. Also, the award evaluated environmental friendliness and sustainability which is equally a strong efficiency point within the group’s operations and on which BRALIRWA scored convincingly. “We improved a lot with regards to efficient consumption of utilities,” Bokelman explained. For instance, water usage compared to the past reduced and given its scarcity, it is a very important environmental friendliness parameter for the award.
Bokelman further noted that there has been significant reduction in electricity and thermal energy consumption in production thanks to the new equipment and efficiency of the people running the site. “People running the plant have more skills to do faster changeover of the packaging lines which if you do in a day enables us to produce more than what we did before.” He added, “We have also improved tremendously on quality hence the high 99% score during the evaluations for the award on this parameter.” As for safety, the plant reportedly experienced zero accidents in the past two years
“The award is a weighted average of all the aspects. Our Operations Performance Indicator (OPI) shows us how efficient we are working, by not only looking at how good our packaging lines and operators are but also taking into account our inputs. Also the logistics team behind it has to make sure that we have the right bottles on the packaging line at the right time. We run this plant at 40,000 bottles per hour so we have to be very fast, meaning every department has to be at its best all the time,” he noted.
Maintaining the award
Bokelman noted that maintaining the award will be challenging but was confident they will do it again in the near future. “Bralirwa has been investing in new equipment and a few months ago the firm launched its new plastic packaging line so there are now 15 PET products in the market, which means that the business has become more complex and sophisticated and demands more from our machines and people. It will be extremely challenging for us to maintain that number one position but am definitely sure that we will be number one in the near future,” he closed.
Challenging the company’s brewery in the Rwanda’s Western Province district of Rubavu (formerly Gisenyi) to win the next prize, Hall said, “We have also invested over US$ 100 million in the Gisenyi plant and certainly given input from all our colleagues at the facility, we can maintain our standard as the best plant in the Heineken Group by taking the next award.”