Local teachers help Rosina associates streamline operations.

When Rosina sold its two Verona, N.J., plants and moved all pasta and entrée processing into a renovated former bagel factory in Buffalo, N.Y., all former Verona plant associates were offered a position at the new facility. But not one person made the move to Buffalo, says Roger Palczewski, chief operating officer. This meant a new team of associates had to be trained to process Rosina's line of Celentano pasta and entrées.

"We had never done pasta here at all. We had to send some associates to Verona to learn the process. It was a major challenge to train everyone," says Vice President of Operations Viren Sitwala.

To facilitate and streamline the process, teachers from the University of Buffalo were brought in to educate associates about lean manufacturing.

The teachers worked with associates in groups and conducted activities that got them thinking about ways to be more productive, Sitwala says. The groups then presented their ideas to management.

"For example, the eggplant parmigiana line decided what kind of containers we should buy, where we should put the equipment, where they are going to put the parts, how they are going to set up in the morning. They wrote it all out and presented it to management," he explains.

The lean program has been so successful in improving production that the company plans to implement it in the other plant.

"We will move the program into the protein plant and then we will look at bringing it into the sales force, management and support staff to cut and improve processes," Palczewski adds.