Brammer partnership bears fruit for Heineken

The world’s second biggest brewer and the UK’s leading beer and cider producer, Heineken, has optimised its procurement and stores management process at one of its sites through a strategic partnership with Brammer, a leading Europe-wide distributor of industrial Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) products.

Hereford Cider Mill is one of five Heineken sites in the UK, manufacturing and bottling around 6.5MHL of cider each year. With strict production schedules, the Hereford facility is responsible for manufacturing products for some of the UK’s best-known brands including Strongbow and Bulmers, and the loss of just a few hours through downtime could result in reduced production output.

As with most onsite maintenance teams, particularly those that operate in the food and beverage sector, maintaining the smooth operation of machinery and avoiding equipment failure is a top priority. For the Hereford team, tasks such as stock management and procurement were secondary in their remit. With no real stores optimisation or supplier consolidation process in place, Heineken recognised the opportunity to streamline the range of MRO products stocked onsite, and realised that significant cost savings could be made in the process.

After previously working with Heineken, Brammer was initially selected by the maintenance team to manage the procurement process and help optimise the MRO stock held onsite. Due to production demands and the size of the facility, Brammer recommended the implementation of InsiteTM, effectively a dedicated Brammer branch housed within the Hereford facility. Each InsiteTM is headed up by a member of Brammer staff who has experience in branch, and the technical knowledge to advise on products and their capabilities.

By handing over the responsibility of procurement and stores management to Brammer, the maintenance team onsite were able to focus on their specialism – overseeing and repairing onsite machinery and equipment, and essentially guaranteeing the smooth operation of the facility.

As well as overseeing procurement by consolidating stock and reducing suppliers, the InsiteTM team worked closely with onsite staff to redesign the layout of the stores unit. This not only involved stocking it with recommended products and removing stock that wasn’t used, but also optimising accessibility by rearranging products so that fast-moving consumables were more accessible than lower usage items. This helped to reduce the time spent by technicians when searching for parts.

Since InsiteTM was implemented in 2010, the time it takes technicians to access MRO products has been significantly reduced – less than 40 seconds, in comparison to between 2-4 minutes previously. A huge benefit for the facility has been the time saved procuring the stock; with ordering, delivery, stocking and charging all managed through Brammer.

Working as an extension of the maintenance team, Brammer’s knowledge of the product inventory means its InsiteTM team has not only been able to advise the best items for the job, but also recommend an alternative if it’s not available.

One important way in which the Brammer Insite™ is contributing to increasing productivity and reducing downtime is through the ‘kitting up’ process. Here, Heineken maintenance planners create itineraries for planned and reactive jobs, which are passed over to the Insite™ team who assemble individual work kits for each task, containing every spare part the engineer requires to complete their task. Heineken’s engineers simply collect their job sheet and kit box, allowing them to spend the maximum amount of time on value-adding maintenance tasks around the plant, with Brammer responsible for equipping them for the job.

The InsiteTM team’s knowledge of the inventory has meant they have been a valuable point of contact for the maintenance team when identifying parts. As well as the time and labour savings that have been made, introducing the InsiteTM service has also helped the Heineken facility make huge product savings, through product rationalisation and supplier consolidation.

Josh O’Connor, Maintenance Planner at Heineken, explained: “We approached Brammer as we needed to find a suitable way to free up the time of our maintenance team, as often, vast amounts of time were being spent on managing and procuring stock. Downtime in our facility is extremely costly, so we needed to make sure all our engineers were easily available at any time to deal with issues.

“We have developed a brilliant relationship with our InsiteTM Manager, and he has proven to be a valuable extension to our team – helping to streamline our costs and also freeing up time for  our engineers so they can focus on the work they specialise in, which is maintaining and repairing equipment onsite.

For further information about Brammer’s Insite™ service, please visit