Producing quality goods at the lowest possible cost is a major concern. Manufacturers are responding by identifying opportunities to improve production efficiency by using information systems that monitor operations and provide the capability to analyze results and determine the root cause of problems. The performance of assets is being improved as maintenance regimes are stepped up with improved support and better management of spare parts. And, you are reducing utility costs by installing information systems to monitor utility usage and identify opportunities to reduce costs.
Multiple & Varied Products
We live in a mass-customized society – one where consumers want it their way, with the quality and cost levels that they have come to expect. This creates significant pressure on food manufacturers who have the difficult task of meeting the ongoing evolution of consumer demand. Today’s consumers run the gamut ― from those who want healthier choices to others who want more convenient packaging and unique flavors. This increased volume and diversity of products is causing plants to design their lines based on shorter production runs with more changeovers. Meeting these demands requires operational flexibility. You must be able to easily add new products to the mix, change recipes on the fly and quickly implement new operational procedures. In addition, you must execute these changeovers while meeting high sanitation and environmental requirements. All of this has to be done smoothly to reduce time-to-market and limit the impact on operations.
While speed and flexibility are crucial, plants must also take the steps needed to ensure the highest quality possible. The key to maintaining brand equity, which is paramount in this industry, is product consistency — not only batch-to-batch, but facility-to-facility. To meet these consistency requirements, companies need advanced automation and information technology. This technology will help ensure that each batch and each operation is performed the same as the previous one, while simultaneously allowing operators to compensate for process changes and raw material variability that can impact the finished product.
Product Safety & Security
As concerns over food safety and transparencycontinue to grow in the minds of consumers, youare required to improve the processes you havein place that monitor quality and track materialthrough the facility. At each critical control pointof the production process, systems are beinginstalled to monitor operations in order to verifythat operations have been properly executed.Systems are being implemented to track all rawand in-process material through theentire facility to meet regulations andprovide information if a product recall is required. You may be looking at the vulnerability of thenetworks, automation and information systems andimplementing changes to protect your systemsfrom intruders.
Supply Chain Integration
Distribution is another key challenge. Many plantshave evolved from make-to-stock operations to ademand driven model where the completed productis shipped directly to retail outlets. Products nolonger sit in a distribution center after production.Each order passing through the plant is for a specificcustomer, and has a defined delivery date. Thismeans you must manage operations to ensure thatproduction orders are scheduled and executed ontime, and delivery requirements are consistently met.