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Frozen Food Supplier Leverages Tulip to Improve Visibility and Increase Throughput

Woman with a tablet in a factory

About the frozen food supplier

This company is a leading supplier of frozen bakery solutions to the food service and in-store bakery business segments. The company combines the most advanced bakery technologies with a collaborative business approach to create and manufacture on-trend bakery concepts for leading global, national, and regional customers.

Dealing with Paper-Based Processes and a Lack of Visibility

While the frozen food supplier’s facility is a highly automated one, it relies heavily on its operations team to ensure the equipment runs efficiently throughout production runs.

Bread Factory

Whenever a machine goes down, the team would prioritize getting that machine back to an operational state to avoid additional bottlenecks within the facility. Once the technical staff resolved the issue on the machine, the team would record, on paper, information that caused the downtime and the amount of time that the machine was down. Given the fast-paced nature of the process, this information was often inaccurate and difficult to aggregate to provide high-level visibility into the plant’s metrics. As a result, line supervisors and plant management didn’t have the critical information they needed to prioritize and address the causes of issues that impacted throughput.

The second issue that the frozen food supplier faced was the cumbersome and time-consuming audits that they needed to perform to comply with the stringent requirements that are present in the food and beverage industry. The audits range from PPE audits, pre-production checks on the equipment to ensure they’re ready for upcoming batches, and periodic checks on the metal detector to ensure no foreign debris enters the production line.

These problems combined resulted in a lack of visibility into how the plant was performing and the issues that needed to be mitigated.

Moving to Digital Machine Monitoring

To address the issue of lack of visibility, the team at this frozen food supplier developed a uniquely simple, yet effective solution with Tulip to help the team identify and drive improvements.

Two things trigger Tulip to start recording information machine errors or malfunctions that cause downtime: 1. Machines connected to Tulip output a fault code via the OPC UA server or 2. An operator manually stops a machine connected to Tulip with displays mounted around the facility. Both of these events trigger a downtime state within Tulip, which alerts operators and allows them to swiftly address and fix the problem. Once the downtime event is resolved, the machine will go back to a running state and operators can record the downtime code live or retroactively from a list of configurable reasons.

The solution also allows team members to report scrap whenever material fails to meet quality standards. In a similar procedure to tracking machine downtime, operators can simply use a Tulip app to record the amount of scrap and the reason code associated with the scrap.

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These simple solutions provide detailed and insightful information on machine downtime and reported scrap. This information is aggregated into visual and real-time dashboards that the line supervisors and plant managers can use to make data-driven decisions for continuous improvement opportunities. The team also built a top-down view of the facility, with clear visuals indicating active machine states, to allow for the team to identify real-time issues on the floor.

Woman with tablet in Food and Bev Factory

Replacing Paper-Based Audits with Guided Apps

With regards to the audits, the team built an array of digital audits that the team performs from their tablets. These apps are composed of intuitive and user-friendly checklists that can be performed on predefined schedules. As the team member progresses through the audit, the data is synced in real-time, alerts are sent to teams when areas have been released, and all the past audits are securely stored in Tulip Tables to be accessible for future reference.

Tulip leverages the scalability and agility of the AWS cloud to support this food manufacturer.

The Benefits of Moving to Tulip

These solutions, in tandem, provide visibility into the plant’s operational state that was not possible prior to Tulip. The team now has a real-time, detailed view of the entire plant and its operational state. Furthermore, historical data is aggregated to provide the team with trends on the performance of equipment across the plant. The team can view which issues cause the most time-consuming faults so that they can prioritize their improvement efforts.

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This insight is enabled by Tulip’s analytics engine. By aggregating and displaying in visual charts and information recorded in Tables, the team can configure a suite of analyses to display metrics from the plant overview and drill down into data on specific pieces of equipment.

Looking Ahead

The team is currently in the process of integrating Tulip with Netsuite. This will enable the team to pull data from the work orders that are scheduled to further augment the app suite. Pulling work order information will enable the team to better schedule and plan production runs. The team has already created the connection and is in the process of creating the workflows using Tulip’s Connector component of the platform.

Operating in the food and beverage industry means manufacturers must face stringent HSE regulations and because of the high-throughput nature of the plant, keeping machines running is critical. With Tulip, the frozen food supplier was able to gain insightful and actionable insights on the state of the facility, to enable data-driven decision making on which issues to prioritize and to schedule preventive maintenance.