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Mór Irish Gin

'We tripled the number of bottles': How this Irish gin distillery uncorked growth with Lean

The Lean for Micro programme helps businesses increase effectiveness and efficiency.

“I WOULD HAVE thought that we were always quite frugal and on top of things, but when we actually started following the principles from the Lean for Micro programme, it all started to add up.”

For Eoin Barra, director of Arderin Distillery, finding ways to improve the production line for Mór Irish Gin was an unexpected necessity in 2019. 

Handcrafted in Tullamore, Co Offaly, Mór Irish Gin was founded in 2015 and went on sale in 2016. Within three years, the company found itself growing so quickly that its production facilities couldn’t keep pace.

“It grew from Ireland to the UK to other markets and then it became a problem,” says Eoin. “We struggled to keep up with demand.”

Having previously worked with his Local Enterprise Office, an advisor recommended the Lean for Micro programme to Eoin. The programme aims to maximise effectiveness and efficiency in your business – from cost to productivity to quality – and involves a Lean consultant visiting the business to establish areas for improvement. 

“A consultant was sent down and they recorded our production line,” says Eoin. “We thought we were in pretty good shape, but they identified bottlenecks and areas we could improve. 

Screenshot 2022-04-27 at 11.21.55 Lean for Micro helped Arderin Distillery keep up with demand. Local Enterprise Office Local Enterprise Office

“Firstly, we did an exhibition where we did what we normally do, and the consultant timed the entire exercise and identified the weak points. He identified that the bottles were taking longer to fill, which we didn’t think was an issue,” he says.

“We’d fill the bottles and label them afterwards, which was a pretty quick process, but it wasn’t quick enough. So we changed it to a two-part process, where we had one line for labelling and one for filling. That gave us a huge boost in productivity.”

This change lead Eoin and the team from bottling 500 bottles per day to 1500 “without increasing headcount or using automation,” he says.

“Lean changed our perspective on how we were bottling and we became far more efficient.” Since working with the Lean consultant for three weeks, Eoin learned approaches and principles which he could also transfer to his new business, Tipple. 

“We basically looked at all of the processes, from warehousing to logistics to sending things across borders, and built that into the software,” he says. “Lean is good for people of all stages – people who have been in business for a couple years and people who are just starting out.”

For Padraic McElwee, Chair of the Local Enterprise Office Network, the Lean for Micro programme is more useful than ever for businesses. 

“At its simplest, Lean is about looking how you run your business day to day. Are you running your business efficiently from a cost perspective? This is really critical in the current climate as inflation takes hold and, particularly, energy costs,” he says.

shutterstock_1447457060 (1) Shutterstock Shutterstock

“Are there other places in your business that you can achieve cost savings to offset those increased costs? It’s about maintaining, if not improving, your profitability.”

Having a consultant come in allows someone to have an external view of your business, to assist you to stand outside your business and “take a look at what you’re doing day in, day out” and to identify opportunities for optimisation. 

“Quite often, it could be a very simple thing,” says Padraic. “It could be packaging waste, or the way a product moves around the factory floor. Maybe you’re using electricity when there’s actually nobody there for half the day.” Padraic recalls visiting a business with a Lean consultant which went on to save €30,000 per year after completing the programme. 

“It’s about delivering your product or service at the most cost efficient manner that you can.”

Want to discover how your business can be more effective and efficient? Start your application via your Local Enterprise Office here.

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