Pass the pasta in Winkler

Rede-Made Noodles kneads growth

A little automation might go a long way to getting more Manitobans eating pasta made in Winkler. It also stands to boost employment and lower the risk of workplace injury for Rede-Made Noodles.

Currently selling its pasta in about 60 stores in Manitoba, the company has interest from more retail outlets including in Saskatchewan. That has led Abe Fehr to look at ways to increase production capacity.

Fehr recently purchased new machinery that automated some of the noodle dough making process for his company's pasta. Under the cost sharing Growing Value-Commercialization program, he brought in a number of new machines including ones that knead and cut the dough into wider sheets. The program's investment was nearly $81,000.

The new equipment has both improved efficiency and boosted the production capacity at the plant. Another added benefit of the automated sheeting machine is that it maintains a steady consistency for the product.

While automation reduced human error, it also cut down human fatigue and the risk of injury. Kneading the dough by hand to create the noodles was very hard physical work. Rather than doing that hard physical work, the employees can now focus on working on other processes such as sheeting, cutting and packaging the noodles.

"We expect to add one or two employees over the next year depending on our company's growth," said Fehr. "With minimal manpower added, we have made a huge difference. Instead of a person standing at a machine eight hours a day, now they can spend part of their day helping out different processes. That makes a huge difference."

Even as the cost of raw ingredients such as eggs and flour is going up, Fehr said he expects his cost of production to drop due to the efficiencies brought about by this new equipment, which will further help him keep his costs to retailers as low as possible.

"Rede-Made reached a point in its success where it had to increase production and automate more," said Jeff Fidyk, business development specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (MAFRD).

Besides helping with funding, Fidyk and the MAFRD team were also able to provide advice to Fehr on how to win new sales and listings with larger retailers.

"We're thankful that our government is investing in small to medium sized companies with funding like this," said Fehr. "It was only a matter of time for us to expand, but this sped everything up. We had been on a three to four year plan to do this expansion, but we were able to get it done sooner and all in one shot."