Rye River Brewing Company

Case Study 3 – Forecasting Racking

This employee identified an issue with forecasting free racking.  By way of background, when QC stock has been checked and verified, the staff need to move it to racking. Currently, racking is chosen on a first come basis.  However, this can lead to racks overflow.  Furthermore, stock is only seen on the day it is to be put away.  As a result, this has led to a sense of urgency.

Most importantly, time has become a major factor in this issue and tends to be eaten up by choosing spots for stock on the go.  Finally, the company had no set standard on how to do the job.

“Our mission is to make great beer. We strive to make every drop of it just as good as the last.”

Key Challenges

The aim of this Lean project was to reduce the amount of time spent putting away quality checked stock from 4.3 hours to 2.3 hours per day.  Consequently, this would allow the team to work smarter and make more process improvements for the business.

8-Step Problem-Solving Process

In trying to solve a particular problem, we advise using the 8-Step Problem-Solving Process:

  1. Problem
  2. Current State
  3. Target
  4. Root Cause Analysis
  5. Select Countermeasures
  6. Implementation
  7. Evaluation
  8. Standardisation & Learnings
Rye River Racking

Key Actions

First of all, we collaborated with the company to set up a Kaizen Event.  Next, the team presented the problem statement and current process.  Then, we asked everyone in the event (Production Manager, Line Operator, Warehouse Operative and Shift Line Manager) for their opinions.  They wrote their ideas (big and small) on post-it notes.

Then, we put all these ideas on an Impact/Ease Chart to assess the potential impact or benefits they will have on the company.  The result is a visual representation of where best to assign time and resources.  We don’t discard any issues as their assessment may change over time as other problems are resolved.  Therefore, we can summarise these four activities as follows:

  1. Just Do It– these ideas have high impact and are easy to do now.
  2. Why Not?– these issues have low impact and are easy to address.
  3. Projects– ideas that have high impact but are difficult to address.
  4. Not Now– issues that have low impact and are also difficult to address.

Key Outcomes

  1. First of all, the company identified that it was taking on average one hour to check the quality of three shifts. Consequently, they asked the Line Supervisor to quality check the previous shift’s stock.  It now takes the Line Supervisor 15–20 mins to complete the previous shifts work.
  2. Next, they found that only two members of staff had reach forklift training. To counteract this, the company saw that they need to train more staff.
  3. Then, they discovered that some forklifts were left uncharged. So, they ensured that forklifts were fully charged every night.
  4. Another issue was the time being spent waiting for the line to be finished with wrapper. Subsequently, the company introduced a second wrapper for Quality Check.
  5. At present, racking is chosen on a first come basis. However, this can lead to racks overflow.  Now, all available spaces are chosen a week in advance for a week’s amount of production.  In addition, this has minimized the amount of time looking for racking.  They have mapped all the spaces available.  Consequently, this has proven to be very useful when forecasting spaces for the week ahead.  It is also extremely important when doing export orders.
  6. Finally, they identified an issue with not knowing what product was coming out or where it was going. The team decided to plan what stock was coming out.  As a result, this would free up necessary racks in advance.


  • The idea of change can be difficult for some members of staff.
  • Ideas can come from many different places.
  • We needed support from other team members.
  • Asking questions is important.
Rye River Process Map


We firmly believe that the expertise to develop business process improvements already exist in every organisation.  This has clearly been the case in Rye River Brewing Company.  Through their employees’ Lean projects, the company has made significant continuous improvements to their business.

ETAC has worked with Rye River Brewing Company to streamline their business and improve their processes.  We. hope you enjoyed reading about this case study on Forecasting Racking.  You may be interested in reading the two other case studies featured here: Case Study 1 – Wasted Time and Case Study 2– Inventory Cycle.  All our case studies are available here.