News; May 18, 2008 CET

Snus varieties require production flexibility

Increased competition and an increasingly rapid product launch schedule. The demands are numerous but the snus plants in Sweden are coping brilliantly. The road to success requires first rate operations.

With the right mix of employees, modern technology and the right conditions, there are no limits to what we can achieve. We set distinct production goals. To meet them, we structure the work, create certification procedures for employees and lift the entire organization by working cross-functional,” says Torbjörn Åkesson, Production Director at Swedish Match North Europe Division and responsible for all snus production in the Scandinavian market.

In 2002, we had 22 products. Today, Swedish Match has approximately 180 varieties in its portfolio and launches up to 14 new products per year.

“As competition increases in Scandinavia, so do the demands for an increased pace of product launches and new packaging formats in a rapid and efficient production process.” This requires continuous development and involves finding a balanced production technology that reduces costs while enabling the management of several types of snus cans.

“In one of our two plants, we have developed a production model that we call the pilot plant, in which we can develop, test and verify new products without major production interruptions. We also shorten lead times,” Åkesson says.

Improved procedures and new work methods are the keys to achieving increased production flexibility.

“To guarantee quality, one of our new procedures is to continuously follow up on results. It’s all about rapidly identifying a problem, defining it and devising long term solutions” says Kristian Lindfors, Production Manager at the snus plant in Gothenburg.

Improvements must be permanent and communicated throughout the organization so that employees can learn from each other.