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A day in the life of a hygienic furniture team

03 January 2017

Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at your suppliers? Food Processing found out more about the people and their responsibilities at a designer, manufacturer and supplier of hygienic furniture and equipment for the food processing industry. 

At its base in Norwich Teknomek creates the ideas for its bespoke hygienic furniture and equipment solutions. We caught up with five people who help the food industry to ensure that it always has the right hygienic plant furniture to meet its needs.

Craig Mickleburgh is a sales engineer and much of his time is spent on site with new and existing clients. “The purpose of my visits might be to discuss bespoke furniture designs, or to look at how to best furnish and equip a completely new room. It could be about a single item, such as a table or a bench; a factory floor or a whole building. 

“Site visits are fascinating, as each factory differs in the level of automation and layout as well as what they produce.  However, they all have the same priorities that I need keep in mind when making recommendations –budget, timings, hygienic design, ease of keeping clean and robustness for future audits.”  

Mickleburgh’s job can be very fast paced because BRC and retailer audits are often announced at short notice.  “It’s not uncommon for a client to need something on the factory floor within 24-hours,” he said. “Today I am based in the office, writing up my recommendations from a recent site visit. This customer should be able to save time in the long run, via more efficient cleaning processes. I’m also showing them that adherence to HACCP guidelines can be easier than ever, with furniture and equipment that aids compliance.”

Lead design engineer
Chris Nobbs is a lead design engineer and his role is to ensure that every Teknomek product made in Norwich supports the operational and hygienic demands of customers. “As well as catalogue products, we have many commissions for bespoke work. Every day brings new challenges, which I love; always thinking about how to intelligently design the product so it supports both the functional specification, satisfies hygienic controls and is efficient to manufacture. There can’t be any dirt traps or ingresses for food to get in or spaces for insects to reside. I also make recommendations on the best materials for the job – usually 304 or 316 grade stainless steel, and the kind of finish on the item that will work best for the customer. Bearing in mind foods that they work with and how rigorous their cleaning or sterilisation requirements are.”

Steve Szerencses is a production team leader. He oversees the laser, bending and welding team; ensuring consistent manufacturing standards, quality control, reliable and rapid production. “If an item is not in stock, we offer a six-day turnaround for most items, so managing the production schedule is a big part of what I do. I need to know exactly what items are on which piece of machinery at any time, and at what stage in the production process they are at. Food production lines could be at risk of being stopped for non-conformance, so we all take our work very seriously.” 

HACCP trained
Karen Moore is head of factored business and her role is very product-focussed. She has HACCP training and is a member of the Society of Food & Hygiene Technology so has a good understanding about different hygiene levels, British Retail Consortium (BRC) and supermarket requirements. “I’m often out and about at seminars and exhibitions; meeting and listening to customers, or sharing product information with colleagues in our sales, warehouse or marketing departments,” she said. “Today, I am sourcing products and components, making sure that items for the food industry are anti-microbial, autoclavable and fit for purpose. I am also mentoring a new product manager; introducing her to the systems and processes that are essential for our ISO9001 accredited status. I also oversee the product improvement and development programme, which is based on responding to customer insight.” 

Paul French is the warehouse team leader and he oversees the warehouse team who are responsible for getting goods finalised and sent off on time. “As we hold over 1000 different products ready to ship, I start each day checking orders that can be fulfilled direct from stock.  As soon as we receive an item from the welding team, we clean it, wrap it and package it ready to be sent out at the end of the day. Even though stainless steel is tough, we work hard to make sure it arrives in perfect condition,” he said. 

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