OAL Connected to launch at PPMA Show 2015


Food manufacturing is a high pressure environment. On one side, there are ever greater demands for compliance and traceability from retailers and consumers to ensure food safety and prevent product recalls. On the other hand, cost pressures and financiers want to see returns and are demanding further efficiency gains. Food manufacturers in response are doing the right thing, they are demanding complete process control and visibility of operations. They recognise, in order to be successful it’s important that food processing performance is highly visible and that each step in the process is pro-actively measured, verified and controlled, from the first feed of raw materials right through to the final writing of the radio frequency tags for finished goods.

Food manufacturers are using OAL Connected to become more efficient by combining paperless traceability with real time visibility of operations as a whole rather than isolated parts of a process. Officially launching at the PPMA Show 2015, OAL Connected is a suite of software products that delivers food safety, traceability, real time operational performance & productivity, recipe management, Autocoding, ERP links and MES functionality.

OAL Connected

OAL Connected

With over 25 years’ experience in food processing, we understand the demands of 24/7 operation with tight deadlines and short shelf-life products. Major food groups already use OAL touch screen panels on over 723 production lines to secure product to packaging and use by dates.

One of the key deliverables of OAL Connected is to make food manufacturing paperless and in doing so significantly enhance food safety and traceability. The airline industry has transformed itself from using reams of paper to electronic systems. Travel agents used to post a 6 page ticket pack, now we can scan a 2D barcode image on our smartphones.  Yet day after day food factories produce large quantities of paper documentation for “traceability.” Everyone knows the pain of trying to find “that” piece of paper the auditor has asked for.

Food manufacturing needs to go paperless.

OAL Connected GIF

OAL Connected GIF

How does it all work?

Many food manufacturers already have OAL industrial touch panel PC’s in key process and packing areas. They can be used to ensure control, improve performance and go paperless in so many ways.

A leading fresh potato supplier chose OAL Connected to increase capacity and provide greater production flexibility.  The system controls complex product routing in case of equipment failures, allowing operators to automatically re-route conveyor systems to get around failed equipment.

The system validates raw materials against an enterprise resource planning (ERP) application, to ensure the correct ingredients are used, to perform the weighing process and be used as display monitors. The monitors show operators which raw materials to select, the time they have before that product is needed, and to alert to any issues downstream.

The site like many other food manufacturers uses OAL Autocoding to prevent date code and packaging errors. OAL Autocoding can control the scanning of every product and take direct control of every date code printer to remove the risk of operator error, and ensure that every product leaving the site in is the correct packaging. For example, every film impression on a flow-wrapper can be scanned to ensure that all products match the packaging with any error causing a line stop which requires supervisor intervention. If an error occurs an automatic email is sent to the technical manager so that he is aware and able to initiate effective counter-measures.

Paperless audit trails

OAL’s quality assurance module can schedule unlimited quality assurance checks and provide a full audit trail. As well as frequent on-screen quality checks, this process helps remove shop-floor paperwork and the associated difficulties of validating paper based control documents. The system increases the level of control by making the checks critical to operation, if they are not completed at prescribed intervals the line can be stopped until supervisory intervention is provided. The system can trigger unlimited quality checks on start-up, end of run, shift change, after an alarm, or by time.

To reduce product ‘giveaway’ direct links to in-line check-weighers display live ‘giveaway %’ values to quickly alert the operations team to any weight deviations. Check-weigher values can also be stored against each product run to generate yield.

Where major retailers require radio frequency identification (RFID) tags an OAL module can write and verify every product tray prior to despatch to support product recognition within the retailers’ distribution system. In addition a products made by hour values can be made available to mobile devices and live finished good values can be passed to ERP systems.

OAL Factory Performance GIF

OAL Factory Performance GIF

Food manufacturers are making significant efficiency gains by using OAL Factory Performance. Adams Foods, the largest cheese packer in the UK monitors all 24 packing lines using OAL Factory Performance. The site has been able to reduce unplanned stoppages by 22% whilst increasing output by 2%. The application monitors the production process in real-time by recording live product counts every second, accurately measuring product changeovers and production stoppages. To provide instant reviews of performance to target, and to alert management instantly to operational issues, real-time mobile performance status is displayed on tablets, mobile phones, large display monitors, shop-floor touch screen and desktop PC’s.

OAL Factory Performance Countdown

OAL Factory Performance Countdown

Real-Time adherence to plan via Short Interval Control (SIC) reports are displayed across mobile devices, including mobile phones to alert the management team to potential delays by including time to finish for each order. Every second of unplanned stoppages is recorded and product changeovers feature colour coded count-down timers to give visibility to every changeover. Blue when the operator is within the target time, red if that time is exceeded. It’s a simple way to measure every changeover, in real-time.

If you want to see how ‘OAL Connected’ can secure your processes and achieve big reductions in unplanned losses please contact us here and visit our stand D20 at PPMA 2015.