Capitalize on Big Data to Drive Operational Excellence in Food and Beverage Manufacturing

Posted: May 7, 2019

Achieving Operational Excellence is on every food and beverage manufacturer’s wish list. Survey results consistently show world class businesses who have achieved operational excellence consistently outperform their competitors, but what does operational excellence practically mean and how can you go about achieving it?

The Driver is Data

Operational excellence can be pursued across many different areas in a business; energy usage, EHS, quality, maintenance or operations or in some combination, and every company may have a different set of metrics or outcomes that measure their journey towards excellence. However, whatever the definition of operational excellence may be, the path is always about making improvements; both in near real time and through sustained improvement to processes. The tool needed to make those improvements is data, and the pace of progress is set by visibility and access to that data.

For some manufacturing companies, this means looking at digitizing manufacturing operations, from whiteboards and excel spreadsheets to digital data systems, while some companies could be at a more advanced stage in the manufacturing operations digital maturity journey. There are broadly four phases in the digital maturity model:

  • Opportunistic – where there is no consistent digital strategy, and a company makes opportunistic and tactical investments
  • Digitize – manufacturers are investing in technology and automating their existing business processes
  • Digitalization – in this phase there is a company-wide strategy around the optimization and improvement of their operational processes
  • Digital Transformation – where there is a cultural change, with a focus on data security and new operational models and processes

Over time as companies mature, they increasingly look to a transformational approach to drive operational gains, but even companies on the low end can leverage data to drive improvements.

The Approach is Improvement

Visibility into operational data is an enabler of short interval control, a lean approach where operators can see progress on their critical KPIs during their shift (or other short interval) in near real time, allowing them to take corrective actions immediately. A classic example is Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE); when operators and supervisors can see this metric and its drivers (faults causing OEE to drop during the shift) and can respond to the most impactful issues first rather than tackle things on a first come first served basis. Similarly, classical continuous improvement project such as the “Plan-Do-Check-Act” is always data driven, but sometimes collecting the data to formulate the “Plan” stage can take more time than the other stages as green belts search for data from a broad array of sources. Where valid data is readily available, this stage can be rapidly compressed leaving more time to “Do, Check and Act” to deliver improvements.

One of our food and beverage manufacturing customers, New Belgium Brewing, is a classic example of how they were able to leverage both visibility and access to data to drive significant improvement to their bottom line.

New Belgium Brewing Improves Performance

New Belgium Brewing started out as a beer brewing hobby in 1991. As customer demand grew over the years, New Belgium Brewing’s operations management team started to review its bottling line and measurement of cases produced based on the equipment’s capability. Results revealed the existing lines were only producing about half of what the product line was truly capable of. New Belgium Brewing further conducted an audit of the production lines and performed analytics with the data gathered from system operations. It was determined that valuable packaging time was lost during downtimes (both scheduled and non-scheduled), and the manual data recording process was laborious and could not keep up with the level of bottling production.

With the implementation of AVEVA MES, data collected by the system enabled New Belgium Brewing to increase overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) from 45% to 65% in just over 2 years. New Belgium Brewing decreased downtime by more than 50% and is now consistently producing 190,000 to 200,000 cases per week, an increase of over 30% from before the implementation.

Use Big Data to Compete and Innovate

The use of big data to analyze and address performance gaps is fast becoming an industry norm as manufacturing companies seek to achieve operational excellence to compete and innovate.

In a manufacturing plant with multiple heterogenous processes, applications and systems, the volume, variety and velocity of data can be overwhelming. On the other hand, with a mature approach to digital transformation, big data and analytics, the results in reduced costs and increased revenue can be more easily achieved.

To learn more about how driving operational efficiency through digital transformation of manufacturing operations, join our webinar on June 5 with Food Engineering.

Furthermore, at the AVEVA World Summit in Singapore, I’ll be discussing these topics as I meet up with industry peers in the manufacturing space. I encourage you to join me at the event from 17 – 18 September 2019.


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