A cut above

For over 25 years, Cutting Edge has been providing its customers in the food industry with the quality products, expert advice and innovation services needed to obtain the competitive edge

When David Mook saw a need in the market for a butchery knife-edge rental service after seeing a similar food service concept in the United States, his answer was to create a business of his own, which would go on to become Cutting Edge Services (CES). With the knife service becoming an almost immediate success, other exclusive products and services were added to create a portfolio of world leading butchery equipment brands, consumable lines and food industry PPE to sit alongside its sharp edge services.

“It has long been our vision here at Cutting Edge to be the natural partner to the food processing, production and preparation industries across the UK and Ireland,” begins Managing Director, Sam Tinsley. “What began life within a specialist knife sharpening service facility, which to this day sits at the heart of our premises in Chorley, has since grown into a pioneering business serving customers from across the food industry landscape. We take the machines and equipment of these customers and provide them with the services needed to keep them working to the highest possible spec, achieve the best yield and reduce their labour costs.”

Sam joined the business in January 2017 and one of her first major tasks was to spearhead what she describes as a ‘real value proposition reflection’ to properly identify what it stood for and how to ensure that the customer remains at the heart of everything it does. “Among the big outcomes of this exercise was the official rebranding of the company from CES to Cutting Edge Services, giving it the strapline of ‘Sharp, Innovative and Reliable’, the appointment of a new Board of Directors and the launch of a full ecommerce site,” she explains.

Real revolution
For Sam, the industry she is now a part of shares a number of similarities to that of the automotive sector some 20-to-25 years ago, in that she believes it is on cusp of change, and the rebrand of Cutting Edge is certainly a reflection of this. “From an internal point of view, the rebrand has helped to bring the whole of the business together and to align everyone involved in understanding just what Cutting Edge is all about, which has had a massive impact on our customer base,” she continues. “From their perspective, they can see a real revolution taking place within our business and one that is wholly designed around giving these customers the edge they need to win their own business going forward.”

The cornerstone of Cutting Edge is undoubtedly its knife and machinery blade sharpening services, with its facilities hosting a skilled team of men and women who process over 5000 knives and blades each day. It is they who are responsible for helping their customers to improve production line efficiency, product yield, meet legislation requirements and provide full traceability back to source. While the importance of said activities is not in dispute, Cutting Edge has also been increasingly turning its hand to delivering innovative new solutions and products.

“When it comes to innovation we are putting our money where our mouth is, so to speak, by making it a key objective to have 20 per cent of our future turnover generated from new product sales,” Sam states. “It is for our NPD team to identify gaps in the industry and working with our global supply base, respond with innovative, unprecedented solutions to our customers’ problems. To date we have made excellent strides in various diverse fields, from creating solutions such as our new Guardian Bandsaw system, to products such as UVC Disinfection systems to help eradicate bacterial contamination in food and a pioneering new electric stunning system, which is a really dependable alternative to existing CO2 products, offering great reliability without compromising on animal welfare standards.”

Increasing automation
One particular development that Sam is extremely excited about is the company’s recently established partnership with ABB Robotics, one of the leading suppliers of industrial robots and robot software, which has so far installed more than 400,000 robots in 53 countries. “At present, this industry is very labour intensive and is one that in our opinion is screaming out for robotics and automation,” she reveals. “Together with ABB’s vast experience, we are using our own niche specialisms to identify the opportunities on offer to our customers to devise bespoke robotic solutions to solve their challenges.

“The UK is currently only placed 22nd in the global rankings when it comes to robot density, with only 71 robots to every 10,000 workers, and that is in large part due to a resistance towards automation. We want to address this matter head on, not only be working with ABB, which has been a fantastic partnership to date, but also by encouraging greater technological investment across our industry by offering things like flexible financing options.”

Embracing automation does not, however, mean the abandonment of human capital, and for that reason Cutting Edge has also been investing heavily in internal training and development. This has included the introduction of its own virtual learning environment and the continued growth of its apprenticeship programme. “Hopefully it is clear that we are an ambitious company with substantial objectives for the next five years, and we know that to achieve our goals we need to have the best people in our team,” Sam says.

Over the course of the next five years it is the belief of Sam and the rest of the Cutting Edge team that they can at least double the company’s turnover. “We are literally just scratching at the surface of what is possible, and we will be spending the next several years developing a range of new solutions that will help to move the UK food industry as a whole forward in the right direction,” she enthuses. “Underpinning this is a desire to ensure that we retain the right culture here, making sure that our staff lead from the front and remain as passionate about what we do as our customers do about their own businesses.”