Andrew Pearson, site manager at the Lake District Cheese Company, is finishing the third module of a Professional Certificate in Dairy Technology at Reaseheath College, Cheshire. Before joining First Milk, Pearson previously worked as operations manager for packaging company DS Smith and plant manager for plasterboard company British Gypsum, where he developed expertise in world class manufacturing techniques.
“Historically the dairy industry has developed its own staff from within but First Milk recognised that people from other sectors could bring different skills to help the business improve efficiencies,” says Pearson.
“While I’m familiar with all of the manufacturing techniques, the Professional Certificate has helped me develop a greater knowledge on the specifics of the dairy industry. I now have a better technical understanding of cheese-making and whey processing, which means I can talk to my staff at a more informed level, helping them to improve the efficiency of our plant and, ultimately, the quality of the final products. I am also using this information with our farmers and customers to give them a greater awareness of how we make our cheese.”
Each of the three modules required just a single day at the college for formal teaching with the rest of the course delivered via the internet and through assignments carried out at the creamery.
“The assignment work is based on what the creamery does, so everything I am researching has a practical benefit, which adds value back into the business,” he says. A good example of this is Pearson’s recent engineering assignment, which looked at process control in the plant. “I’m currently writing a 4,000 word essay on an evaporator for concentrating whey. I have to understand how it runs, looking at all its process, environmental and health and safety parameters. Then work out how to improve its efficiency,” he says.