MEPCA found out how PlantRun, a production monitoring solution from industrial automation software specialist Tascomp, is helping food and beverage manufacturers achieve manufacturing excellence.
In today’s highly competitive food and drink industry, delivering exceptional products efficiently is the ultimate goal. Achieving improvements hinges on data, and while manual data collection methods have been the norm, they have inherent limitations due to their time-consuming nature and potential for inaccuracies. Enter PlantRun, the production monitoring solution that transcends traditional OEE and downtime monitoring systems by seamlessly integrating live machine data with production information. Developed by Tascomp, an industrial automation company based in Teesside with over 40 years of software development experience, PlantRun has been quietly transforming the industry.
The key to PlantRun’s success in achieving manufacturing excellence lies in its ability to collect data directly from machines and make it readily accessible to everyone in the most suitable format. Whether it’s through integration with third-party systems or triggered notifications displayed on TV screens or sent as text messages, PlantRun offers a range of practical features to suit the unique needs of each user.
PlantRun has successfully served numerous companies in the global food and beverage industry, from monitoring sparkling wine bottling lines in Turin to overseeing sandwich sealers and flow wrappers in Croydon. Each system is meticulously tailored to meet specific customer requirements, with a variety of optional features available. PlantRun’s in-house programming team can also create bespoke functionalities for users seeking unique solutions.
Closer to home, a sausage and burger manufacturer in Thirsk implemented PlantRun for production monitoring and continuous improvement. In addition to standard functionality, the company requested various features, including on-the-fly translations, foreign body alerts, and a banger counter.
Visualisation plays a crucial role in Lean techniques, aiding in the identification of areas for improvement. PlantRun introduced a “Time of First Pack” Key Performance Indicator (KPI), which highlights the time elapsed from the start of a shift to the arrival of the first product in the packing area.
In the food production sector, product quality is of utmost importance, given the stringent requirements that can lead to product rejection for issues such as underweight products or the presence of foreign bodies. PlantRun enables real-time tracking of scrap costs throughout a shift, allowing for proactive resolution of emerging issues. Notifications through email and priority messages on TV screens facilitate faster responses from key personnel.
By delving into the data collected from their production processes, a local bottling plant is now reaping the benefits of implementing PlantRun on their site. When questioned about how PlantRun has streamlined its operations, the manufacturing manager offered insights: “Initially, in the early rollout of PlantRun, we were unaware of the lost time that issues with line build back, and constant stop-starting of the production line were amounting to. PlantRun enabled us to see that short stoppage was the main driver. By analysing and utilising this data, we found that achieving an overall balance in the production line was crucial to minimising short stoppages.”
Examining the optimal run rates identified by the data collected by PlantRun, they successfully synchronised the speeds of the filler, labeller, and packing machines, resulting in a substantial reduction in downtime. The manufacturing manager added: “Immediately, we witnessed improvements in output, and short stoppages dwindled from hours lost to minutes per week.”
Looking ahead, the bottling plant is expanding PlantRun’s functionality to focus on changeovers and ensure visibility across all key elements. Thanks to its seamless integration with the site’s ERP system, SKUs are automatically imported, and PlantRun uses the works order data to notify relevant staff about upcoming changeover events.
In a landscape marked by intense competition, PlantRun stands as the essential tool for achieving excellence in the food and beverage industry, bridging the gap between data-driven insights and tangible operational improvements.