Meat industry zeros in on visual learning
Published:  01 April, 2016

A pictorial-based training company has proved a hit with meat products firm TMI Foods and aims to win others in the meat processing sector over to its methods.

BulRushess uses diagrams and pictures to teach staff at manufacturing plants about technical aspects such as health & safety and hygiene. The company was set up by Peter Bushnell, who has extensive experience working in the food processing industry for businesses such as Bakkavor and ABP.

Bushnell told Meat Trades Journal the firm’s “language-neutral” methods suited multi-lingual groups and those for whom a more text-based training style was less effective. He also claimed courses conveyed major lessons more quickly than more literal approaches and were therefore more efficient.

In addition, he tailored modules to individual plants, because terminology for machinery differed from factory to factory, presenting problems for standardised written tests, he said. “Everything we do is bespoke. Employees see pictures of what they are working on.

“For task-based work, pictorial training is quicker and cheaper.” For this reason, the approach worked best with production line staff, rather than senior management, who were more focused on ideas than tasks, he explained. “We have saved one company £2,000 worth of production costs a day by teaching them how do make their clean-down process more understandable and efficient.”

“What I and my company are very good at is taking a complicated system and making it very simple, so it can be understood very quickly. When people go through a task in broken-down sections they can understand how it works. Then they can apply the learning and relearn it.”

TMI Foods, which is part of Dawn Farm Foods and supplies cooked bacon, roasted vegetables, and protein-based party and snack foods to customers across Europe, already drew on BulRushness training, said Bushnell. “We are in talks with other major meat companies.”

He said comparable text-based inductions took up to four hours at the moment and he suspected trainees didn’t understand everything. “Our induction takes 30 minutes, with a five-minute assessment at the end that is documented proof a person understands what you have just told them. That puts the person on the shop floor food safe, technically safe and health and safety safe.”

As a trainer, Bushnell holds a qualified diploma from the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety & Health (NEBOSH) and is a member of the Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH).