Production Manager
Salaries from: £32,000 to £35,000

As a Production Manager in the Scotch Whisky Industry, you will be responsible for managing all aspects of the production process, including raw material sourcing, production planning, equipment maintenance, quality control, and safety.

A key role in the plant leadership team, you will be responsible for driving the facility’s strategic priorities, including safety, environmental, morale, quality, diversity and inclusion, continuous improvement, and cost containment, that contribute to the long-term success of the operation.

Role Description

Main duties and responsibilities

You have overall responsibility for health & safety, continuous improvement, innovation, cost improvement, efficiency and product quality initiatives across the distillery.

In addition, your duties will typically include:

  • Supporting the Plant Director in the preparation and administration of annual operations budget for staff and other overheads. Actively participating in identifying and evaluating cost savings opportunities.
  • Develop and oversee the operational budgets, capital budgets and raw materials inventory to minimise costs and seek cost reduction opportunities. Continually monitor and review performance vs budgets, to ensure that all costs associated with production are carefully managed within budget.
  • Manage day-to-day operations and production teams within distillery to achieve safety, environmental, quality, productivity, delivery, and cost objectives; ensure team members are working efficiently and effectively whilst ensuring a safe and clean work environment.
  • Establish accurate production forecasting, monitoring and adjustments to production planning to deliver a ‘just in time’ basis for supply to customers.
  • Assuming overall responsibility for planning, coordination, and scheduling of production, considering sales forecasts, customer orders, and cased goods annual targets for the business and ensuring that all resources are efficiently utilised and ensuring daily work schedules are communicated across departments.
  • Develop and implement continuous improvement, quality control and standardisation of production processes to ensure consistency and high standards of the final product, efficiency gains, cost savings and a drive towards zero loss. Identifying areas for process improvement and recommendations to increase efficiency and reduce waste is an ongoing aspect of this role.
  • Implement and maintain safety and compliance with relevant health and safety regulations and maintaining high standards of environmental responsibility.
  • Reporting regularly on production performance, including yield, efficiency, and quality metrics.
  • Working alongside operations management and logistics to ensure continuous improvement. Supporting maintenance and engineering by utilising work order processes, preventive maintenance programmes, and equipment downtime tracking.
  • Oversee the department’s role in NPD, particularly in recipe development and production techniques. Whilst supporting the research and development team to identify new processes or products that could be developed.
  • Evaluate, develop, and implement standard operating practices and procedures (SOPs) to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of production, warehouse and processing.
  • Work alongside HR and finance teams to project required staffing needs, including internal and external requirements, coordination of supplemental staffing services, and related payroll-reporting requirements
  • Building, coaching and mentoring a strong team of motivated and educated staff in all aspects of day-to-day operation of the milling, yeasting, mashing, fermentation, distillation, and barrelling to produce top-quality whiskies. Develop, implement and evaluate job specific skills training for each individual employees and work teams.
  • Ensure consistent application of company policies and procedures for personnel, including administering and/or reviewing disciplinary actions.
  • Develop, create and maintain an effective, accessible record keeping system, completing due diligence and all records, including those for bond compliance, in a timely manner.
  • Coordinate partnerships with vendors of on-line products and systems to identify and report raw material quality problems, including charge-back of related personnel costs to the appropriate parties when problems occur.
  • Stay up to date with industry trends, regulations, technologies, regulations and best practices, to improve your knowledge and skills and implement continuous improvement changes as necessary.

Overall, the Production Manager is responsible for overseeing the production process from start to finish, ensuring that quality standards are met, safety regulations are adhered to, and costs are kept under control. Effective leadership, strong communication skills, and attention to detail are critical in this role.

Skills and experience

The Production Manager is responsible for overseeing the production of high-quality Scotch whisky, managing all aspects of the production process, and ensuring efficient and timely production while adhering to strict quality control and safety standards. The role requires a bachelor's degree in a related field (ideally with a BSc in Brewing and Distilling, although degrees in Engineering, Chemistry or Biology are suitable), several years of experience in the whisky industry or a related field, proficiency in production equipment and quality control processes, and excellent communication and leadership skills.

Experience managing a team of people is crucial to your success in the role, accompanied by excellent time management and organisational skills, with the ability to cope with multiple projects at any one time.

In addition…

  • Strong leadership and management skills to motivate and inspire your team to achieve the production targets.
  • Experienced at working in an environment with high standards and accountability.
  • Experience using Orchestrated Business Management Software is an advantage, as is SCRUM methodology or AGILE project management experience.
  • Great team player with a positive, can-do attitude and ability to work autonomously and under your own initiative.
  • Excellent interpersonal, communication and analytical skills. With the ability to identify trends and patterns and make data-driven decisions to improve the production process.
  • Enthusiastic, driven, with superb attention to detail and an analytical mindset.
  • A self-starter with exceptional organisation and project management skills.
  • A strong understanding of safety and compliance regulations, including health and safety, environmental regulations, and industry standards.

Qualifications Required

The qualifications required to become a Production Manager vary depending on the employer and specific job requirements. However, typical qualifications may include:

  • Bachelor’s degree in science or engineering with a minimum five year’s operational management experience
  • Several years of experience in the whisky industry or a related field.
  • Experience leading process operators and support staff in a processing and packaging/manufacturing facility and/or experience in the alcohol industry.
  • Proficiency in using production equipment, quality control processes, and production planning software.
  • Demonstrated leadership and vision in managing groups and major projects or initiatives.
  • Strong interpersonal skills; ability to develop and maintain effective working relationships with all levels of the organisation.
  • Excellent communication, leadership, and interpersonal skills.
  • Certifications from relevant professional bodies, such as the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) or the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), are advantageous.

To become a Production Manager you will need a relevant degree, relevant experience, technical skills, certifications, knowledge of regulations, and interpersonal skills.

Did you know?
  1. A significant portion of the world's Scotch whisky is produced in Scotland. The Scotch Whisky Regulations require that all Scotch whisky must be produced and aged in Scotland.
  2. The production process for Scotch whisky is highly regulated, and there are strict rules around the types of grains, water sources, and casks that can be used.
  3. The production of Scotch whisky involves a lot of waiting. Whisky must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years before it can be legally sold as Scotch whisky.
  4. The role of a Production Manager in the Scotch Whisky Industry involves a lot of attention to detail, as even small variations in the production process can impact the final product's taste and quality.

Here are some resources that can help you become a Production Manager in the Scotch Whisky Industry:

  1. Consider pursuing a bachelor's or master's degree in a related field such as chemical engineering, food science, or distilling. This will give you a strong foundation in the technical aspects of whisky production.
  2. Joining professional associations such as the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) or the Scottish Whisky Association can provide you with valuable networking opportunities, access to industry news and updates, and training and development programs.
  3. Visiting whisky distilleries can help you gain insight into the production process, learn about the different types of whisky, and network with industry professionals.
  4. Tasting and evaluating different types of whiskies can help you develop your palate and understanding of the nuances of different whisky flavors and aromas.
  5. There are many online resources available that can help you learn more about the whisky industry, including industry news and updates, online courses, and forums for industry professionals.
  6. Consider seeking out internships or apprenticeships with whisky distilleries or other relevant companies to gain hands-on experience in the industry.
  7. Reading books on whisky production, history, and tasting can provide you with a deeper understanding of the industry and the product.
  8. Find a mentor who is experienced in the whisky industry and can provide you with guidance, advice, and support as you navigate your career path.

Pursuing a relevant education, joining professional associations, visiting distilleries, tasting whisky, utilising online resources, seeking out internships and apprenticeships, reading books, and finding a mentor are all useful resources to help you become a Production Manager in the Scotch Whisky Industry.

Related Case Studies

The Scotch Whisky Association

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