Insight: The Importance of Real Time Data in Food Manufacturing

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Real-time data and well-run processes will help factories to excel in both food safety and efficiency. Consumers and retailers expect food safety and quality, therefore, Henry Ford’s definition of "Quality means doing it right when no one is looking" is a thought provoking sentiment. As part of a large ERP system or stand-alone operations, some quality checks and record keeping are still paper based (regardless of the fact we are firmly in the 21st century!). Paper recording of events and checks are naturally susceptible to discrepancies. Just like when trying to recall what happened yesterday, or what you were doing when JFK was shot, we naturally lose accuracy to our answers. There are a wide number of cognitive factors that influence an individual’s recollection but ultimately to maximise data accuracy, checks should be recorded in real time.

OEE OAL Factory EfficiencyRecording information when it happens is essential, in order to provide an accurate understanding of efficiency and downtime losses. Realistically paper systems are always recorded post event and have inherent accuracies. OAL recognise this and have proactively pushed the paperless recording of data, be these quality checks or downtime reasoning in real time. OAL Autocoding customers have reaped the benefits of the real-time paperless checks on the system. The system forces operators to input required information at the time of the event or management is notified and the line stopped. Caroline Smales, technical manager at Greencore explains:

“As well as peace of mind the system removed all the paperwork from the factory floor and became a showpiece for the site.”

For ease of use in the factory, the system has a touch screen interface and two-way communications. Automating this process is simple with two elements, having an administrator to manage the check creation and an operator console to capture the results. Once the quality inspections are defined they can be scheduled to automatically remind the quality operators when the checks are due, which allows an instant reaction to missed inspections.  With a touch screen, the results process can be quick and easy.  The operator just touches the value measured.  Ideal and fail values can be clearly displayed.

OAL OEE Factory PerformanceLikewise, the same concept can be applied to improve efficiency and OEE. OAL’s Factory Performance module ensures information is recorded accurately so Continuous Improvement teams can make decisions based on accurate data. In our view, assigning all time to an unknown reason code doesn’t deliver the data needed to improve. The system directly links assets so for downtime events operators use the touch screen to identify the reason code, an image of the machine, before the line restarts. In this way, the system ensures a solid structure whereby downtime reasons have legitimate reasons and locations.

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InsightsJake Norman