Mannok, a sustainable plastic food packaging manufacturer in Ballyconnell, County Cavan, features in ‘Heated’, a new RTE documentary that highlights people and organisations with remarkable, innovative solutions aimed at benefiting the planet and addressing climate change.

The six-part climate series is broadcast on RTÉ One and Mannok features on episode five. During the first part of this episode, presenter Rónán Ó Dálaigh visits Novelplast and Mannok to explore how two Irish companies are transforming the plastic packaging industry to increase plastic recyclability and reduce the amount of plastic that goes to landfill.  

While visiting Mannok, General Manager, Mark McKenna, takes Rónán around the manufacturing facility, showcasing the innovation used to improve recyclability and establish a true circular economy. Mark explains during the show,  

“We manufacture 2 million units of plastic food packaging annually, this includes meat and poultry trays, mushroom punnets, and dairy spread containers for major Irish & UK supermarkets.

 All of our PET (polyethylene terephthalate) products have 90% recycled content; while we do have 100% recycled products, at times, we need to add colour to trays and a small amount of virgin plastic, accounting for the remaining 10%.   

Not only are we using recycled plastic to create our products, but we have also done a lot of work in recent years to make our products more easily recyclable. All our products can be infinitely recycled. We have streamlined our products to consist of mono materials, containing only one type of plastic, and we have eliminated the need for absorbent pads in our Turloc meat tray range.”

Mark also explained in the episode that Mannok is a zero-waste manufacturer and has a closed loop system. For every tonne of raw material purchased, there is the equivalent quantity of material in trays leaving the factory.

Mannok is a client of Novelplast, a company in County Meath leading the change in how polyester material is recycled and repurposed. Novelplast transforms post-industrial plastic materials into innovative, sustainable products which are used by companies like Mannok to create new products. Its technology, developed in partnership with Starlinger, is the first of its kind in Europe and it recycles 20,000 tonnes of post-industrial Polyester fibre and other forms of Polyester material from landfill per year.

Novelplast, CEO, Neil Skeffington, concluded on the episode, “plastics aren’t bad; it’s how we deal with plastics after we have finished with them that is the problem.” Watch the full episode on RTE Player: https://www.rte.ie/player/series/heated/10002421-00-0000

During National Tree Week, Mannok and 16 students from St Aidan’s Highschool planted around 1000 native trees at the company’s Packaging facility to benefit biodiversity and enhance the surrounding landscape. Almost 10 different types of native broadleaf trees were planted, such as Oak, Birch, Sycamore and Hawthorn, helping the Packaging facility achieve its tree planting target defined in the Packaging Sustainability Strategy to “establish forestry onsite with 1000 trees.”

Mannok’s Environmental Team invited Year 9 pupils from a local high school, St Aidan’s, one of the four secondary schools the company has an educational partnership with, to join them in planting trees during National Tree Week.

Joining the week-long celebration to raise awareness of the importance of trees to the environment, which had a theme of ‘Biodiversity Begins With Trees’, the 16 students, Stephen Linden, Mannok’s Environmental Manager, and Oisin Lynch, Mannok’s Environmental Advisor, rolled up their sleeves to plant a small forest at the rear of the packaging facility in Ballyconnell, Co. Cavan.

Commenting on the importance of having local students involved, Mannok’s Packaging General Manager, Mark McKenna, said,

“It was important for us to have local students involved in this project as working in partnership with local groups and schools to raise awareness of biodiversity and the importance of conservation is a commitment within the protecting nature pillar of our sustainability strategy. We are very grateful for the help from the students, we hope they enjoyed learning more about nature and getting involved in a project to protect and develop the local environment.”

Mannok has a Packaging Products’ Sustainability Strategy, which has a key focus on “protecting what matters” and provides a roadmap to help the company achieve its sustainability goals over the next three years and continue as leaders in sustainability.

Protecting Nature is a key pillar within the strategy as the company aims to protect nature globally and locally, with the reduction of carbon emissions and the planting of trees to absorb carbon from the atmosphere and enhance biodiversity being a focus.

Mannok has already completed a number of targets within its strategy to enhance and protect nature, having planted half a million pollen and nectar rich flowers and native trees, uses 100% green electricity in the manufacture of its products and it has established three beehives housing 150K native Irish honeybee colonies at the front of the packaging facility, cared for by two beekeepers in the Packaging team and during last year’s honey harvest all 150 employees in Packaging received a jar of honey.

For more details on what Mannok has done to date to protect nature and what it has planned, download and read its Packaging’s Sustainability Strategy.

St Patrick’s College, Cavan becomes the first cross-border school to join the leading building and packaging materials manufacturer’s award-winning Educational Partnerships Programme

Mannok has launched a new partnership with St. Patrick’s College, Cavan, which has become the fourth school to partner with the company, and the first from the Republic of Ireland, making the company’s award-winning Programme a cross-border initiative.

The Mannok Futures Digital Innovation Hub will focus on providing the school’s students with career insights and blended learning opportunities in the area of Computer Science, and was fittingly launched at the school’s Computer Science Week on 14th October.

Pictured at the launch event (from left) Niall Monaghan, St Patrick’s College Teacher, Dara O’Reilly, Mannok’s Chief Financial Officer, Councillor John Paul Feeley, Cavan County Council, Christopher Rowley, St. Patrick’s College Principal, Brendan Smith, TD, and Brendan Jennings, Chairperson of Cavan Digital Hub, Cavan County Council.

The five-year partnership includes a financial commitment from Mannok which will allow the College to invest in its Computer Science facilities, in addition to a comprehensive programme of practical learning opportunities, which will bring real-life learning into the classroom and help provide both students and teachers with a broader understanding of workplace application, ensuring the curriculum is closely aligned to industry needs.

Guest speaker at the launch of the new partnership, Brendan Smith, TD, spoke of the benefits for the college following its collaboration with a large company like Mannok, saying,

“I’m delighted St. Patrick’s College has this new partnership with Mannok. Mannok is a hugely important employer in our county, it’s a company that all of us who live in County Cavan are proud of and we wish you continued success in the business and the great employment you provide in so many immediate counties in this area. I am delighted you have chosen Cavan as your first partnership school in this state, and I have no doubt that the school, the students, and Mannok will derive great benefits from this partnership going forward.”

The launch event included a series of workshops to give students a flavour of how Computer Science is utilised in the workplace, and attendees heard from two of the school’s Computer Science students about their experiences having recently enjoyed a work placement in Mannok. Luke Hand and Ahmed Cheema spent four weeks working across four areas of the business earlier this year to gain insight into the practical application of some of the theory-based learnings they have gained in their classroom studies.

Mannok’s Chief Financial Officer, Dara O’Reilly, spoke of why such experiences are an important part of the company’s Educational Partnerships Programme, saying,

“We’re extremely pleased to provide these opportunities for local students, and have been very impressed by both Luke and Ahmed, who are a credit to their school.

This type of workplace learning is invaluable for students to bolster their academic learnings and help understand the needs of industry; they’re an important element of all our partnerships, and we look forward to welcoming more placement students from St. Pat’s in the coming years.

The continued future economic development of our local region is a fundamental element of the approach we at Mannok take to operating our business. Key to this being a success is a focus on business succession planning. Our Educational Partnership Programme provides an important aspect of this approach and facilitates collaboration and knowledge transfer opportunities in a focussed and structured way with local schools. The goal of this, from our perspective, is to provide local students with an opportunity to see the highly skilled and varied roles that exist in businesses in our local area, giving real-life experience and employment opportunities in the future. This then provides a self-fulfilling result, not only for the schools involved, Mannok and other local businesses, but most importantly for the prosperity of the local region as a whole.”

The new Mannok Futures Digital Innovation Hub will provide St. Patrick’s College students with a broad variety of practical learning experiences, which can be applied to a range of careers in businesses such as Mannok, covering topics such as data mining and analytics, process automation and robotics, information security and IT asset management. Exposure to such future-focused themes can open a wide range of potential career pathways, enabling the attainment of knowledge and skills which are highly desired by the industry.

St. Patrick’s College Principal, Christopher Rowley, explained why Computer Science was selected as the theme of the partnership and how it will benefit the students,

“St Patrick’s College introduced Leaving Cert (LC) Computer Science in 2020. From seventeen initial students, forty-three students will take LC 2023 in Computer Science. This burgeoning area of education and careers was easy to identify for an Educational Partnership, as it is mutually beneficial. Mannok offers real life, realtime and local exposure for our students in this area and Mannok get access to a fantastic pool of talent that may ultimately benefit their workplace, but at the centre of the partnership are the students, the partnership is very much about providing opportunity for them and they will benefit in a vast range of ways.” 

Enhancing the employability of students is another significant element of the partnership, which will include practical careers-focused activities beyond Computer Science, such as interview skills development activities and careers insights events, as Mannok’s HR Manager, Caroline McCaffrey outlined,

“It’s very important for the local labour market that industry and education work together to ensure the future workforce is equipped to meet the needs of local employers and excel in their chosen field. The ever-changing requirements of industry are often not reflected in the curriculum, so these close working relationships aim to provide valuable insight into real-life workplace requirements and enable our educational partners to shape their classroom-based learning to suit the variety of future-focused career pathways available in the region.

We’ve worked very hard with local schools to develop what we believe is a leading example of an educational partnership framework, which in this case includes financial sponsorship of the school’s Computer Science department and an award for its highest achieving student, access to the expertise of our teams in relevant areas of the business to support students and staff at the College, exposure to real-life case studies and site tours, in addition to our comprehensive Careers support and a summer placement programme. Every element is tailored to the needs of the school and the business, aligned with the curriculum and in keeping with the theme of the partnership. The framework very much focuses on ensuring both the business and the school benefit, but most importantly, the students gain real value to help guide their career choices and give them an early advantage as they begin carving their career paths.”

Pictured at the launch event (from left) Bronte Fitzmaurice, St Patrick’s College Teacher, Ahmid Cheema & Luke Hand, St Patrick’s College Students, Dara O’Reilly, Mannok’s Chief Financial Officer, Gwendoline Brady, St Patrick’s College Deputy Principal, Niall Monaghan, St Patrick’s College Teacher, John O’Shea, St Patrick’s College Deputy Principal and Caroline McCaffrey, Mannok’s HR Manager.

St. Patrick’s College joins three other Mannok-partnered schools on the Programme, which has been recognised in multiple awards ceremonies, most recently achieving Highly Commended status at the Business in the Community’s Responsible Business Awards. Each partnership focuses on a specific career-related area, with established partnerships including a construction technology partnership with St. Michael’s College, Enniskillen, a business insights partnership with St. Aidan’s, Derrylin, and the more recently established partnership in sustainability with Mount Lourdes, Enniskillen.

THE OFFICIAL PARTNERSHIP LAUNCH PHOTO GALLERY

Mannok has introduced new screens across the facility displaying real time production information through dashboards for every line, providing every member of the team with information on manufacturing levels and increasing production efficiency to help meet customer demand across Ireland and the UK.

The five new production dashboard screens, which have been carefully installed in the most beneficial areas of the facility, have significantly improved operational efficiency and reduced downtime. With everyone in the facility having access to live information for the various stages of production, the team is fully engaged in their shift’s production levels which enables quicker responses to resolve any potential issues.   

While working directly with BMS Vision, the system which monitors production at various stages on each line, Packaging’s Management Team and the company’s Business Change Team have transferred the production line information into easy to understand, colour-controlled dashboards displayed on screens throughout the plant.

Commenting on the new Production Dashboard Screens, Denzil Kerr, Packaging’s Production Manager, said,

“While we were adopting Lean Manufacturing principles across our facility to maximise our productivity, it was apparent that displaying live production data throughout a manufacturing area has significant benefits to operational efficiency.

Prior to our manufacture information being displayed digitally through dashboard screens, BMS Vision provided our management team with end of day reports, so we would have been focusing on production from the previous day, whereas now everyone across the business is continually improving present manufacturing levels to meet the displayed KPIs.” 

The new digital production dashboard screens are one of a range of Lean initiatives introduced throughout the Packaging facility as part of the company’s Operational Excellence Programme, Leading Excellence.

Leading Excellence is a multi-facet programme, which provides a transferable framework based on four core pillars of Lean, Sustainability, Skills and Development and Continuous Improvement. It focuses on embedding these elements in everyday work throughout the organisation to support the long-term sustainability of the business while ensuring optimum efficiency and added value for customers. 

MORE STORIES

GOING PAPERLESS: MANNOK’S NEW APP ELIMINATES 30,000 PIECES OF PAPER ANNUALLY

Mannok has developed a new digital solution which has made the picking and packing process of customer orders in its consumer packaging facilities paperless. The new app for picking and packing customer orders has removed around 30,000 pieces of paper per year from the process and is saving up to 400 hours of non-value-add activity. READ MORE

MANNOK AIMS FOR BEST IN CLASS OPERATIONAL STANDARDS THROUGH “LEADING EXCELLENCE” PROGRAMME

Mannok has launched a new Leading Excellence Programme, which will be implemented in every area across the business, to achieve and sustain the highest operational standards through the core principles of teamwork, problem-solving, innovation and leadership. READ MORE

Mannok recently hosted NEXTLOOPP for trials of its new recycled post-consumer polypropylene (PP) material.  The trials, which were a world first, represented a major milestone for the NEXTLOOPP project as it aims to close the loop on PP food packaging.

Mannok joined the mission to develop food-grade recycled PP packaging in 2021 when it became a member of NEXTLOOPP along with several industry leaders. The company has been a key participant since, and was selected to run the first full-scale production trials of NEXTLOOPP’s unique PPristineTM.

Professor Edward Kosior, founder of Nextek and NEXTLOOPP and Dr Jon Mitchell, Nextek’s Projects Manager, travelled to Mannok’s facilities in County Cavan, Ireland recently to trial the new material. During a full day of trials, a range of different products were produced, including injection moulded dairy spread tubs and lids with in-mould label, and conventional extruded sheet and thermoformed products.

Dr Neil Martin, Mannok’s Quality Process Engineer, who led the trials, commented,

“We’re proud to be involved in the development of a product that will contribute significantly to closing the loop on PP food packaging. PP is one of the most valuable polymers and we are privileged to be selected for these trials.

 As detailed in our five-year Sustainability Strategy we are committed to protecting the limited resources of our planet and producing food packaging which is truly circular, manufactured using recycled materials and can easily be recycled back into food packaging products.”

Mannok Packaging Products Sustainability Strategy is a roadmap to help the company achieve its sustainability goals over the next five years and continue as leaders in sustainability. The strategy carefully considers the meaning of “Protecting What Matters” and is focused on three pillars of protection: protecting resources, protecting nature and protecting people.  

Dr. Martin also added,

“To date, we have made great progress on our own industry leading, circular designed developments. We have created a range of brands including Detecta, Orbital, Signum and Recur. Each of these product brands were designed to tackle a specific recyclability issue, or to maximise recycled content, and we’re delighted to be involved in this project which is tackling a major sustainability issue for our industry.  

Having witnessed the successful production of NEXTLOOPP’s PPristineTM production trials, it is evident that the project has excellent potential to allow recycled post-consumer PP to be used again to make food grade packaging, while meeting standards set out by the European Food Standards Authority (EFSA).”

By providing a solution to the recyclability issues of food-grade PP, PPristineTM will contribute to a sustainable future and benefit the environment. The production of 1 tonne of recycled PP will save approximately 1.7 tonne of CO2 emissions.

NEXTLOOPP is now finalising the dossiers for its application to achieve food-grade accreditation and is working in conjunction with industry bodies to advise on new design guidelines for Food-Grade Circular Recycling based on their findings from these trials.

Mannok has been shortlisted for two Responsible Business Awards in the 2022 Business in the Community NI awards in the Climate Change and Educational Partnerships categories. The awards are widely recognised as the most prestigious and respected awards championing responsible business in Northern Ireland, which is evident in the calibre of finalists in each category.

Commenting on the announcement that the company has been shortlisted in both categories at this year’s awards, Mannok Chief Operating Officer, Kevin Lunney, commented,

“We’re extremely pleased to be included among the very impressive businesses shortlisted for both awards this year. Both categories are reflective of the three foundational pillars of our recently published Mannok 2030 Vision, which are People, Planet and Partners. We have worked very hard to develop a strategy which centres around these pillars and ensures we will continue to focus our efforts on priorities which will benefit all three and ensure the long-term sustainability of our business.

We have invested significant resources in both our Educational Partnerships and our Sustainability in Action Programme, and it is very rewarding for all the teams involved, and our numerous partners, to be announced as finalists in the relevant categories.”

EDUCATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS AWARD

The Educational Partnership Award is awarded to the organisation that best demonstrates how its actions have helped raise the aspirations and achievements of young people (aged 4-19) through a solid business education partnership. Caroline McCaffrey, Mannok Human Resources Manager, explained why the company has been shortlisted for this particular award, saying,

“We’re very proud of our Mannok Futures Programme, which is a very comprehensive framework for career long learning and development, and includes a significant number of partnerships with the region’s educational institutions. This particular award focuses on our work with the young people in this region, through our partnerships with multiple schools, colleges and universities. It is an area we have worked incredibly hard to develop to address issues such as brain drain and really showcase the calibre of opportunities available for young people here on their doorstep. We’ve built very strong, mutually beneficial relationships with our partners which, most importantly, bring significant benefits to those post primary students who will be the future workforce and industry leaders of this area.”

The company’s flagship schools’ partnerships have played an important part in earning a place on the shortlist alongside the Lyric Theatre, Price Waterhouse Cooper and ABP Food Group. Mannok now has a total of three well established schools’ partnerships in the region, with plans to bring the number to five by 2025. The partnerships’ framework has been previously recognised with awards success when Mannok established its first partnership with St. Michael’s College, Enniskillen, back in 2016. Since then, new partnerships with St. Aidan’s, Derrylin and Mount Lourdes, Enniskillen have proven that the best practice framework can successfully be adapted and transferred.

In addition to the schools’ partnerships, the Mannok Futures Programme includes successful partnerships with numerous higher level educational institutions, including South West College, Ulster University and Queen’s University.

CLIMATE ACTION AWARD

The Climate Action Award is a new category at this year’s awards and will be awarded to the organisation that best demonstrates a significant commitment and contribution to climate action in Northern Ireland.

Mannok joins the impressive shortlist for this award alongside Hughes Insurance, Habinteg Housing Association (Ulster), McLaughlin & Harvey, JP Corry, Translink, SONI, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and Shoosmiths LLP. It is the company’s Sustainability in Action Programme, which incorporates a varied and comprehensive range of sustainability initiatives, which earned its place on the shortlist, as the company’s Sustainability Manager, Paul Monaghan, explains,

“Our Sustainability in Action Programme includes a huge range of activities centred around the Planet pillar of our 2030 Vision. Our priorities outlined in our strategy include decarbonisation, waste reduction, biodiversity and resource efficiency, so each of the initiatives directly contribute to our ambitious targets. We’re very proud to be shortlisted for this category, and as well as the many employees who deserve recognition, a great deal of credit must also go to our partners who have helped us achieve significant progress in our climate action efforts.”

The wide range of initiatives which form Mannok’s Sustainability in Action Programme include the development of the Mannok 2030 Vision, the sustainability strategy for the entire business and it’s Packaging division’s Sustainability Strategy which outline environmental targets focused on decarbonisation, biodiversity and resource efficiency.

On the decarbonisation front, Mannok has significantly advanced its extensive decarbonisation programme, including the introduction of new zero emissions electric vehicles in its first moves to decarbonise its large fleet, and a number of internationally collaborative research and development projects to develop innovative cement decarbonisation solutions, some of which are at a very advanced stage.

A number of achievements in the biodiversity space include the introduction of a new Biodiversity Policy; the development of Natural Assets Action Plans in partnership with Ulster Wildlife to preserve, restore and enhance circa 2,000 acres of Mannok-owned land and double its carbon sequestration rate; the very popular and innovative Kestrel Cam project; the achievement of Silver accreditation in Business in the Community NI’s Business and Biodiversity Charter.

The judges for Business in the Community NI’s Responsible Business Awards look at a number of criteria in the rigorous judging process, including leadership and strategy, activities and processes, stakeholder engagement, measurement and reporting, innovation and transferability, and benefits to both the business and the community. Winners will be announced at gala event to be held at ICC in Belfast in September.

John Healy, The Prince’s Responsible Business Ambassador Northern Ireland, explained the significance of the awards, saying,

“These Responsible Business Awards are really important. The judging and the criteria are really difficult and that makes it all the more exciting for companies who put themselves forward; it makes it all the more of an achievement whenever people get shortlisted for these awards. That in itself is an achievement because we know that the Responsible Business Awards are the premier awards to compete for. We get the opportunity to look in and see what other companies are doing and then to build networks and be able to go and have conversations and see how we can bring some of that into our businesses as well. So they are super awards to be part of, it’s a great opportunity to celebrate success for the businesses which are shortlisted.”

READ MANNOK PACKAGING PRODUCTS SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGY

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Mannok has recently supported local school Mount Lourdes with the launch of a major recycling drive which will see designated recycling stations in every classroom, office and communal area of the school as part of its wider sustainability drive. The initiative has been implemented as part of Mannok’s Partnership in Sustainability with the school, and the company is working with the staff and students to promote a culture of zero waste.

The school has purchased a total of 100 new 50l recycling bins from Galgorm Group to set up the recycling stations, and has collaborated with local firm, Skip Services Enniskillen, to ensure the waste segregation aligns with local recycling facilities. Waste recycling has been in operation in Mount Lourdes for some time, but has been limited to cardboard and food waste until now. There was a clear desire amongst both staff and students at the school to do more to divert the school’s waste from landfill and contribute to a more circular economy in the region. Following discussions with Mannok on its similar recycling initiative, School Principal, Sinead Cullen, along with Head of Geography, Gerard Quinn, worked with the students, staff and local service providers to establish a much more comprehensive recycling structure.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative, Mrs. Cullen commented,

“We are delighted to launch a whole-school recycling programme as part of the Mount Lourdes and Mannok Partnership in Sustainability. Whilst the school already recycles cardboard and food waste, this project will see recycling bins in every classroom, office and communal area of the school, marking a major step forward in the school’s sustainability drive. As a school community, we have an obligation to care for the environment by reducing waste and landfill pollution as well as promoting environmental conservation. We aim to inspire greater environmental awareness and values in our students generally and we really appreciate Mannok’s support in getting this sustainability project launched so successfully. We look forward to working on further projects with Mannok in the future to fully realise the potential of our working partnership, for our students as well as for wider society.”

To create further awareness of the importance of recycling and the considerations to correct segregation of recycling waste, the school is running a competition which will see Year 9 students tasked with recycling waste to create their own works of art, which can go on to be recycled again, giving important consideration to the different components of their new designs, right down to the types of adhesive, to ensure every part of their creation can be fully recycled.

Mannok is sponsoring competition prizes for the best entrants, with judging to be completed by the company’s Sustainability Manager, Paul Monaghan, who commented,

“I am delighted to be invited in my capacity as Sustainability Manager at Mannok to attend the official launch of the school’s recycling initiative. I would like to acknowledge and thank the Student Council, the Principal, Mrs Sinead Cullen, and Head of Geography, Mr. Gerard Quinn, for the excellent work done to date.

Mannok recently developed a long-term sustainability strategy built on the three foundational pillars of People, Planet and Partners. Under the planet pillar, one of our main priority areas is resource efficiency and the circular economy and Mannok is delighted to support this new and worthy initiative in partnership with Mount Lourdes and help raise awareness amongst the students and staff alike of the importance of recycling by diverting valuable resources away from landfill and towards their continued or alternative use in a variety of circular applications.

I’m looking forward to seeing a host of creative entries in the competition and hope that the students will be inspired to give careful consideration to reusing and recycling waste wherever possible.”

The Mannok and Mount Lourdes Partnership in Sustainability was launched in 2021, and has seen very strong working relationships develop between the two parties in its first year. It is the third partnership of its kind established by Mannok under its award-winning programme, which involves comprehensive, themed collaboration with each school, and which will be extended to add new partnerships in the coming years.

The Mount Lourdes Student Council and the Year 13 REAL Environmental Group were at the forefront of promoting recycling as the partnership’s theme for the 2021/22 academic year, so the establishment of such a comprehensive recycling scheme throughout the school is a great achievement for all involved, as Mr. Gerard Quinn commented,

“This project represents an excellent gain for Mount Lourdes as a school community as well as for the environment more generally. Our students have strongly communicated their desire to improve recycling within the school, through the Student Council and the Year 13 REAL Environmental Group. This project will leave a lasting legacy to those students.  It is extremely rewarding to see the Mannok and Mount Lourdes partnership work so effectively to benefit the school and wider community. To promote the renewed recycling drive within Mount Lourdes, The Geography Department is currently running a Year 9 Recycling Competition, with prizes kindly sponsored by Mannok.”

VIDEO EXPLAINS THE MANNOK AND MOUNT LOURDES PARTNERSHIP IN SUSTAINABILITY WHICH LAUNCHED IN 2021:

Mannok has launched a new Leading Excellence Programme, which will be implemented in every area across the business, to achieve and sustain the highest operational standards through the core principles of teamwork, problem-solving, innovation and leadership.

The programme provides a transferable framework based on four core pillars of Lean, Sustainability, Skills and Development and Continuous Improvement and will help the company achieve best in class standards across its entire operations.

By engaging all employees at every level in the business, the Programme will ensure each individual gains the necessary skills and knowledge to continually improve every process, making operations more efficient and sustainable and building a culture of continuous improvement.  

Explaining how the Programme will benefit the company and its people, Operations Director, Kevin Lunney, said,

“Continuous improvement and getting the best out of all our resources is key to the business success. Our industry is going through unprecedented change. We have a focus on lifetime sustainability of our products and a continuous need to innovate. We know our people have the ability to meet these challenges and we want to put in place the framework to support that.

We will equip all our people with the skills required and provide the most appropriate training and support to achieve operational excellence and achieve their career goals.

We will look at every task, every role, every process and rethink it, challenging ourselves to improve it, to make it more efficient, more sustainable, and safer wherever possible.

As we strive to achieve operational excellence the net result will be a highly efficient business with greater productivity and a multi-skilled, motivated workforce and significant benefits for our customers and people as well.”

Lean  

Mannok is focused on creating a work environment which maximises productivity whilst minimising waste and has already seen how the adoption of Lean principles can result in performance improvements and waste reduction. 

Through the rollout of the new Programme, the company will build on these successes by honing and progressing Lean activities in these areas, and go on to establish Lean principles in every area of the business.

By removing inefficiencies and streamlining services right across the company, aided by cutting edge technology and data analysis, the company will reduce costs and environmental impact, and ensure it consistently delivers the highest quality products and services to its customers. It will also create a positive, more engaging work environment for all employees.   

Sustainability  

Lean is designed to reduce waste, much of which will help improve how Mannok operates from an environmental perspective, such as reducing material waste, energy and water usage.  

As the company integrates Lean and Continuous Improvement throughout the organization, it is also committed to embedding sustainability considerations at every point. Every time a task, process or role is assessed for improvement, sustainability considerations will form an important part of the review to ensure improvements will also reduce the environmental impact where possible.  

Skills & Development  

Mannok aims to provide a clear developmental pathway for each employee under the Programme, to enable them to become confident and competent within their role and achieve their career goals.

The company already has a strong foundation in place, having established its award-winning Skills Development Programme in four of its core manufacturing facilities and introduced, a structured Lean training programme. The Leading Excellence Programme will interlink and extend the existing training initiatives to enable all employees to become multi-skilled and provide structured development pathways with all the necessary support to help achieve career progression.

Continuous Improvement  

To achieve true operational excellence, it is not enough to make improvements once. It must be an ongoing process, where the business continually strives to improve how it operates and seeks to do everything better.  

Through the new programme, Mannok will build a culture of continuous improvement whereby all employees at all levels are engaged in actively ensuring the improvements are sustained and constant review is an integral part of daily working life to find ways to further improve processes through continual review and incremental change.   

Conor Baxter, Operational Excellence Manager at Mannok, who has developed and is leading the Programme, commented,  

“We have built a comprehensive framework which will challenge us to rethink everything we do and will be transformative to the way we operate. There is no area of the business which will remain unchanged and all employees will benefit from the Programme, which will bring with it a wide range of new opportunities.

We want to get to a point where continuous improvement is everyone’s responsibility, and we have an engaged workforce which is fully equipped to achieve and maintain best in class operational standards in every area of the company. Our goal is to ensure maximum value for our customers by eliminating all non-value adding activities, whilst ensuring the long-term sustainability of our business for the benefit of our people and our local region.”

Mannok has launched a valuable, online health and fitness platform for its employees by partnering with the fitness and nutrition company, RITE Fitness. Through the new Mannok Online Health & Wellbeing Platform, every staff member at the company now has access to fitness classes, meal and workout plans, training programs and a variety of informative tutorials and seminars to support their physical and mental wellbeing.    

Following a staff induction day, where RITE Fitness hosted informative sessions for all the company’s employees to drop-in at their own leisure for a virtual tour around the platform, each staff member was provided with 24/7 access to the platform.  

The application has a range of resources to support staff both physically and mentally including:  

Commenting on the launch of the new health and wellbeing portal, Caroline McCaffrey, HR Manager of Mannok said,  

“We are delighted to launch the Mannok Online Health & Wellbeing Platform which provides a resource for all our staff to have access to exercise classes and information to support their physical and mental health. 

The safety and wellbeing of our workforce is our most significant priority here at Mannok and given the recent challenges of the Covid pandemic, we recognise now more than ever the importance of supporting our employees’ mental health. Our investment in this portal will benefit both the mental and physical wellbeing of all our staff.  

We encourage all staff to avail of the platform which has carefully planned content which can be tailored for each individual to suit a variety of wellbeing needs.” 

MANNOK’S PLACEMENT STUDENTS WIN TOP OF CLASS PLACEMENT AWARDS

Mannok’s two most recent placement students have received Innovation In Placement awards from Ulster University, Lucy Curran received the first place award and Jodi Curtis collected a second place award for their innovative placement experiences at Mannok. Mannok employed the two local students from Ulster University, Magee Campus, from September 2020 – September 2021, during the student’s third of their four-year degree courses.

Lucy who is studying Information Technologies, and Jodi, who is studying Software Engineering, were each assigned mentors, Conor Baxter and Ryan Doherty respectively, from the Business Change department of the company. The individual mentors ensured both students had their own bespoke development plans focusing on different aspects of the business to gain an invaluable, diverse and practical experience at Mannok.

Over the course of their twelve-month, full-time, paid placement, the students worked in various divisions of Mannok and were involved in a number of projects as they were studying different degrees and had different interests.

Lucy had a keen interest in organisational change and project management, therefore, a natural fit with the company’s Operational Excellence Programme led by Conor. Conor carefully planned the placement for Lucy to compliment both her interests and degree and included a timeline of key projects, targets and skill development.

Throughout Lucy’s placement and following Conor’s strategic planning and daily meetings, despite working from home for the most part of the placement, Lucy was able to gain experience in a range of the company’s departments including packaging, IT and finance, where she assisted with implementing of Lean manufacturing initiatives to improve productivity and efficiency and became certified in Lean & OpEx to a Yellow Belt standard as part of company’s partnership with IT Sligo.

Like Lucy, Jodi also had a varied and valuable experience at Mannok and gained a Lean & OpEx to a White Belt standard certificate. Jodi was interested in learning more about business analysis and solutions through software development. Ryan being the company’s Solutions Architect planned Jodi’s placement and included interesting and contemporary projects which provided real-life solutions for the company.

Jodi actively participated in the development and rollout of a paperless picking app for the company’s packaging division as well as extensive testing and analysis to ensure the business could adapt to new Brexit protocols.

Caroline McCaffrey, HR Manager of Mannok, commenting on the importance of supporting young people in the local area and the value of a placement year for students, said,

“I am delighted for both students and congratulate them on their awards, they have really excelled during their twelve-month placements. Their level of work has been excellent and they have developed so much as professionals in their fields of interest. I have no doubt that once they start their career paths this experience will stand to them.

I would also like to commend Conor and Ryan in the Business Change department, despite Covid-19 restrictions, they provided the students with supportive and tailored placements through regular virtual meetings and strategic planning, which led to each student’s personal and professional development.

Placement experiences are so important for both the students and Mannok as a company. We have a number of opportunities available for young people including our graduate, apprenticeship and degree programmes to suit anyone who wants to start their career at Mannok. It is our ambition to retain talent locally to help build a sustainable, skilled workforce in this region for the future.”

More details on how to start a career at Mannok: www.mannokbuild.com/careers/