Industry Forum

Supporting the company’s vision to be the premier manufacturer of polythene packaging, Industry Forum has been brought on board to help replace outgrown systems with robust, standardised manufacturing processes.

Siva Group has become a stand-out success in the exceptionally competitive world of flexible polythene-packaging manufacturing. It operates the a very modern blown film extrusion printing facility, and most of the nation’s toilet paper is wrapped in Siva packaging – as well as a large proportion of our frozen foods, animal feeds and horticultural products.

Siva was founded by husband-and-wife team Gurjinder and Neelu Mehta in Southampton in 1979. Now, with three generations of the Mehta family working in the business, 360 employees spread over four different sites and a turnover of £110m, its international client base includes major supermarkets and other global household brands.

The company’s identity as a family-run enterprise is central to its success. “The owners care so much about the business. People can see how much it means to them and that makes us feel proud to be part of it,” observes Operations Manager Mark Parslow, who has been with the company for 13 years, working his way up through the ranks of shift manager and print manager to reach his current role at the start of 2021. “The employees feel like they’re part of the family.”
This sense of belonging helps to engender a powerful team spirit that manifests itself in a can-do attitude and ambitious appetite to grow and innovate. “If we have any issues, we overcome them as a team,” says Parslow. “When we’re dealing with new technologies and materials, we find our way through together. We’re always adapting and learning. It’s exciting.”

And it seems they’re often dealing with new technologies and materials, as they extend their ever-growing product range and develop new approaches. Another benefit of being owner-run is that decisions can be made fast. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, for example, Siva was quick to adapt. As a critical link in the food supply chain, it has been able to operate its factories throughout. It made sure its sites were COVID-safe very early on, with testing for staff at the start of every shift. Then it rapidly began manufacturing PPE and clinical waste bags. To date it has shipped hundreds of millions of units.

Siva takes its commitment to the environment very seriously. Zero pellet loss through their process is an example of the proactive attitude to wastage and with the packaging tax in April 2022, it is well positioned to offer PCR (post consumer recyclate) in many of its product offerings to offset the tax for its customers.

They are also continuously evolving their manufacturing processes and incorporating more end of line automation. This agility, combined with strong relationships with machinery manufacturers, mean it’s not unusual for Siva to be the first in the world to deploy leading-edge equipment.

“We’ve invested tens of millions of pounds in technology in the past few years,” Parslow continues. “We have the best machinery on the market, and we can do everything in house, including recycling. That means we can offer very short lead times compared to our competitors, while still providing the best quality products. We can print in a week what takes others several weeks to do. We always deliver good quality, on time. That’s our recipe for success.” Eighty per cent of Siva’s printing output is for major supermarkets, who are notoriously particular about quality.

Replicating a winning formula

It’s this impressive combination of quality, speed, agility and passion that has propelled Siva to become the success it is today. It’s crucial, then, that the company can replicate its winning formula as it continues to grow. Recognising this, the management team reached out to Industry Forum for help in January 2020.

“We’d been growing so fast that we had some work to do to catch up with ourselves and make sure we had all the necessary systems in place to standardise our processes,” explains Parslow. “When you’re a family business, everyone does a bit of everything to help out, with direction coming from the top down to the shopfloor. But we’ve grown beyond that now, and we need the optimum structures in place to support our future growth. We wanted to clearly define what we call ‘the Siva Way’, to implement it consistently across all our sites and activities and then transfer it to new areas. A lot of it was already there, but we needed to go through it again to streamline it and optimise the process flows. That’s the work we’ve been doing with Industry Forum.”
The Siva Way covers everything to do with people and process and draws on Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), lean management and 5S. Industry Forum has also helped the organisation to clearly define people’s roles and develop leadership skills, particularly within the lower management tiers, where rapid organic growth had led to some idiosyncrasies and ambiguities.
It didn’t take long for the transformation to be implemented across the enterprise. Says Parslow, “We piloted 5S in certain areas, but it very rapidly spilled out into other activities. It happened almost automatically. We’ve taken on what we learned from Industry Forum and now we’re running with it ourselves. It’s part of my new role as Operations Manager to see what improvements we can carry on making. We still check in with Industry Forum on a weekly basis, but they’ve basically handed over to us now to do the work.”
The impacts of the changes are already apparent. “The workplace organisation is a lot better in the factory now so we’re seeing even better rates of on-time delivery,” Parslow reports. “And our reporting has improved a lot too, with the implementation of daily visual management on each machine. Because of that, and because we now have the right management layers in place, it means direction doesn’t need to be from the very top to the very bottom anymore. We take information up as needed.” All of this makes the factory more responsive and effective, while also freeing up senior management time to focus on the longer-term strategy and growing the business.
So, is Siva now ready for the challenges that might lie ahead?
“We’re definitely in a good place,” reflects Parslow. “But we’re not complacent. There are always issues to overcome, always something new to learn. It’s busy and rewarding. For example, we planned well ahead for Brexit, so it hasn’t affected our exports, but we are starting to see an impact on recruitment. We’re struggling to find the people we need. But we know we will find a solution as a team. We always do! It’s the Siva team that makes this such a strong place to be.