War Memorial Gary Trouton

From the mill*

February 2005

The first of our monthly Newsletters from the Grampian Mill

Following an initial suggestion from the Editor this column will try and keep local residents informed of news from the mill, and hopefully provide answers to some of the questions that people ask about what happens "beyond the feed mill gate".

To begin by introducing myself, my name is Alastair and I'm the Safety, Health and Environment Manager for the business located here at Stoke Ferry. My telephone number appears inside the front cover of the Village Pump and I can be contacted at the mill or via the Editor for any questions you wish to put to this column. I've been with the business for seven years, starting out as a trainee in January 1998.

The business itself, Favor Parker that is, has its origins in 1922 as Favor Parker and Son. At that time the business was an agricultural merchants. In 1962 the feed mill was started, and by 1976 was already producing 4,200 tonnes of animal feed per week. From the mid-1970s the company expanded into poultry production at sites throughout East Anglia as Sovereign Chicken. In 1996 the Sovereign Food Group, including Favor Parker, was bought by Grampian Country Food Group.

Favor Parker employs 107 people, and 22 employees live within 2 miles of Stoke Ferry.

Production News

The Christmas period has been busier than ever with the seasonal increase in demand for feed that required running at weekends to meet orders. As I write this at the end of the second week of January we are now in the post-Christmas lull, and production is significantly reduced from just a few weeks ago.

In the last week you may have heard our number 1 boiler (we have two steam-raising boilers) receive its annual inspection. As part of the safety inspection the boiler is taken up to its test pressure and the excess steam must then be vented through the safety valve.

The 48-hr Working Time Directive

The industry standard working week for a lorry driver is approximately 60 hours. From 22nd March 2005 the Working Time Directive will apply to the haulage industry and a driver's working week will be capped at an average of 48 hours. The immediate effect of this directive is that 20% more drivers are now required by the industry in order to carry out the same amount of work.

The effect of implementing this directive will lead to a shortage of qualified drivers. Despite extensive advertising across East Anglia the Company has been unable to recruit enough drivers locally. Our Transport Manager, Chris Gale, visited Poland earlier in the year to conduct interviews which has led to a small contingent of Polish lorry drivers being recruited. At this time it is intended that ten drivers will join the business, all selected for their driving experience and language skills. I sincerely hope that everyone will make them feel welcome.

One consequence of changes necessary to implement the Directive is that at Favor Parker the vehicle fleet will be reduced.

Looking ahead

Investment and maintenance programmes for the coming financial year are now being finalised and in the next 6-months the following improvements are being made:

* Replacement of dust cyclone on press line 6 (this should have been completed by the time you read this, the installation occurring over the weekend of 15th/16th January requiring a large crane to lift the unit and lower it through the roof of the mill)

* Replacement of number 2 boiler. This is the last to be replaced of the two boilers installed in the mid-1970s. This boiler has given sterling service over the years and was of an almost uniquely efficient design for its time in this country (four-pass dry-back for those who like to know such things).

* Replacement of number 2 weighbridge. There are two weighbridges on the Mill site used for weighing of finished feed deliveries. A third weighbridge at Furlong Store is used for weighing raw material deliveries.

I hope this first article has proven useful, if you have any questions about the mill that you would like answered please direct them to me via the Editor.

Alastair Inskip

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