Meat+Poultry - July 2018 - 22
Arkansas City and back in the morning with
another in the evening running back down to
Arkansas City and back to Wichita.
DRIVING THE BUS
carcasses grade higher than
many beef processors' beef.
and poultry processing industry. Beef packing
facilities have yet to catch up with the pork and
poultry industries in terms of implementing
automated processing systems to offset the
industry's labor shortage.
Currently, automation in the beef
processing industry consists of material
handling, palletizers and robotics that run
on PLC (programmable logic controllers).
Manufacturers are experimenting with
automation for the line. Mathew Trowbridge,
director of operations at Creekstone, mentions
a split saw from Jarvis that uses 3D imaging to
hit the same spot on a carcass every time, but
that technology has yet to hit the market.
"After it's in a box, putting it away and then
picking an order, you can do some automation
on that side of it," Rogers says.
With no real automation available to
apply to actual production of the animal,
Creekstone sought and found alternative
ways to deal with labor issues it faces in beef
processing. Similar to the way it handles the
ever-changing daily fabrication schedule, the
company works hard on innovative ways to
incentivize employees, make its workers'
lives less complicated and make the company
easier to appreciate.
According to a Creekstone report, 15
percent of Creekstone's fabrication team lives
in Wichita, Kansas. Creekstone worked with
the city of Wichita, and starting on Feb. 26,
a charter bus began to run from Wichita to
MEAT+ POULTRY | 07.18 | www.meatpoultry.com
The city of Wichita used the addresses of
Creekstone's fab team members in a GPS
simulation to figure out the best bus routes for
pickups and drop offs. Creekstone educated
team members prior to the start of the project
so everyone involved could be on the same
page once the bus started running.
"From the first day it started, it was sold
out," Trowbridge says. "We have another bus
coming online over the next couple of months
as well and that one will be sold out too."
Christine Tanner, marketing and brand
manager at Creekstone adds, "It's an advantage
to us too that those team members were
already driving, but a lot of times they were
carpooling. So, if the person driving the
carpool was sick or wasn't going to work that
day, then you might have six people not show
up instead of one. This helps that continuity of
labor as well."
This program not only helps Creekstone
and its employees, but also serves a need in
Cowley County (Arkansas City and Winfield,
Kansas). Once the bus from Wichita drops off
in Arkansas City in the morning, it then travels
to the Walmart in Arkansas City for a pick up,
and then another in Winfield before heading
back to Wichita. This serves a need for Cowley
County residents in need of transportation to
Wichita for medical appointments.
"Because of Creekstone they now have a bus
that goes up to Wichita in the morning and then
comes back in the evening," Trowbridge says.
Creekstone subsidizes some and provides
bus vouchers to team members before taxes.
The bus program from and to Wichita
provides a value to Creekstone employees that
transcends a monetary raise. While employees
always welcome a raise, sometimes other
options and benefits provide a greater value
and more incentive to stay with the company.
"Everybody is paying more money. Money
is a short-term solution," Rogers says. "We
have to look at doing things different or
offering services that have a greater perceived
value to that team member than a dollar an
hour pay raise does."
The executive team at Creekstone makes it