Success through managing quality, safety, customer service and cost
A Walkers case study

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Page 3: Quality

Walkers imageQuality, in the eye of the consumer, means that a product must provide the benefits required by the consumer when it was purchased. If all the features and benefits satisfy the consumer, a quality product has been bought. It is consumers, therefore, who define this.

Walkers prides itself on the quality of its products and is aware that if its crisps do not meet consumer expectations, people will buy an alternative product. As Walkers make and sell 11 million packs per day, a drop in demand is one indication of a lack of quality in the Walkers product. The company is committed to working to maintain and improve standards at all times.

Walkers maintains a comprehensive approach to quality known as TQM (total quality management). There is a 'quality chain' involved with potato crisps. From the first basic ingredient (the potato) through to all of the procedures involved in creating a single crisp, processes are there to 'assure' quality. This is 'quality assurance' - doing things that are most likely to build quality into a product.

Walkers' approach to quality involves looking at the whole supply chain, starting with the farmers who grow the potatoes. The company supplies the seeds to ensure quality - only the very best potatoes go to make crisps. The farmers' payment is measured against a quality scale, as the best potatoes with lower water content earn more.

Quality assurance requires that a supplier offers only the finest raw materials. Walkers specifies the exact potato it needs and deals only with the best suppliers. The company policy is to trust suppliers and not to inspect every delivery.

In the factory, potatoes undergo washing, peeling, slicing, cooking, flavouring, packing and loading. Checks happen at each of these stages to make sure nothing goes wrong. This is called 'quality control'. Representatives from the farms work within the factory to manage the processing of the potatoes. Each potato is sliced to a specific thickness, with each crisp automatically scanned and those that do not meet a specified standard are rejected.

Throughout the processing, a team of trained laboratory technicians take samples and measure them against a predetermined 'Gold standard' to ensure standards are rigorously maintained. Additionally, random checks are made on competitors' crisps to see how they measure against the Walkers brand.

In any manufacturing business, getting the quality right is vital whilst operating as cost effectively as possible. Production methods must be well organised with wastage monitored closely. Waste costs money.

Walkers | Success through managing quality, safety, customer service and cost