Collaboration with North America’s largest chocolate manufacturer
North America’s largest cocoa processor and ingredient chocolate manufacturer selected Vistrian’s FactoryLOOK as their tool to monitor and manage operations effectiveness and key production processes in its manufacturing operations.
This implementation has successfully been completed for one of the four manufacturing plants, with plans to roll out FactoryLOOK at the other plants in the next six months.
Initial Implementation: The customer started with an initial implementation at one plant to connect all production tools. The primary goal was to provide visibility and accountability using Vistrian FactoryLOOK system in managing the performance of the process and equipment operations. Based on the customer’s requirements, the average number of parameters extracted from each of the production tools was 20 at a frequency of about 1 reading per second.
While the customer had a functioning SCADA system from a leading supplier already implemented, its reach was limited to engineering personnel at the plant. FactoryLOOK was selected to provide the higher-level access to all stake-holders within the enterprise by utilizing data from the SCADA as well as other software applications, and bring it to one platform for universal access. Dashboard views tailored for each department, and reports containing accurate real-time data were made available as a result of the project.
Results from Initial Implementation: After FactoryLOOK was released into production, the FactoryLOOK software was able to provide efficient access to critical information and help detect previously unknown and unseen behaviour from both the production tools as well as the process. Specific examples were:
1. Some tools (called refiners) were critical for the customer, since they constituted a bottleneck in the operation. It was essential that utilization of these critical tools was maintained at a high level in order to maximize the plant throughput. The “Processing Rate” in the process of refining had variability driven by “batch ingredient ratio” as well as equipment set-up.
With FactoryLOOK implemented, customer was able to obtain continuous real-time visibility into the actual equipment utilization numbers. Since FactoryLOOK can be configured with complex rules to determine equipment productivity, accurate and realistic numbers for OEE were obtained by the customer, without human input.
In addition, the customer’s engineering department was able to definitively determine that the chief bottleneck to the plant’s output was the plumbing between the refiners and subsequent holding tanks, instead of the refiners as was suspected by old timers at the plant. This determination was used to effectively avoid wasteful capital spending of over USD 1 million, and instead spend a fraction of the amount on plumbing improvements.
2. The customer had problems obtaining accurate and timely reporting of production throughputs in the factory at each process step because of dependence on human data collection.
Since implementation of FactoryLOOK, the operations managers are now able to obtain accurate production throughputs including clear demarcation of shift and day boundaries.
3. Customer had received complaints that the temperature of the liquid chocolate product was out of the accepted range at delivery at destination site. The suspicion fell on the temperature of the product in the liquid holding tank prior to shipment.
FactoryLOOK historian data that continuously records the temperature and provides real-time alerts of violations in temperature range was able to verify process compliance and eliminate expensive recall costs.
4. A brand new robotic packing line had been recently installed at the factory. However, equipment performance was below expectations.
Using FactoryLOOK’s online access to Event and Alarm Pareto charts, the equipment engineers were able to monitor and compare behaviour of the robotic line over different days and shifts and come to a resolution of concrete steps they could take to improve productivity to expected levels. The ability to monitor robot events, and generate reports quickly was key to getting productivity improvements in a matter of days.
Based on the positive outcome and contribution of the first implementation, the customer plans to roll out FactoryLOOK across their remaining North American plants.
Subsequent Implementation: Customer’s top management have decided that having process and equipment data in real-time will help them improve OEE by over 20%, based on the preliminary results obtained above.
Moreover, the idea that investments in information technology solutions will provide the added capacity without having to expand physical plant capacity has been understood and embraced by the experience with the first plant implementation.