Transforming meat and baked goods packaging and distribution
A large membership-based wholesaler decided to digitalise the production and distribution of both its bakery and meat-packing and distribution operations in North America and implement a comprehensive Manufacturing Execution System (MES) based on the ISA-95 standard. The ISA-95 standard is a mature Manufacturing Operations Management standard that allows complying solutions to be interoperable allowing for exchange of information between the shop-floor systems, the operations applications, and the enterprise software.
As meat-packing and baking facilities are high-speed operations, the MES solution needed to allow fast data entry by operators, with intuitive, friendly user interfaces. The wholesaler had several key drivers for the project:
- Optimisation of inventory on the shop floor — both products and packaging materials.
- Optimisation of inventory in the warehouse and throughout the supply chain.
- Complete traceability throughout the production and distribution process.
- Procedural standardisation using an unambiguous recipe-based approach.
- A transparent and well-controlled verification process.
The solution chosen was ATS Global’s SIMATIC IT MES which allowed the wholesaler to pack and distribute from multiple facilities to more than one thousand retail locations across the USA, Canada and Mexico.
While SIMATIC IT MES provides the core functionality of the MES, the front-end is completely customised to the user’s business. With a strong focus on high-quality user experience, task-oriented screens accessed through a web client allow operators to quickly interact with the MES.
Applying the Industry 4.0 concept of the Digital Twin, all the production processes were simulated using Siemens Tecnomatix allowing those processes to be verified. In the virtual space, MES software and warehouse control systems were analysed and validated before any commitments were made to development and deployment in the real world.
This MES implementation means that product registration, planning, product tracking, shipping and performance management are now all paper-less. Digitalised information is immediately available to the rest of the business and supply-chain stores now have visibility of not just consignments, but the products and genealogy contained within them. Production requirements and material planning are converted to production schedules using the finite-capacity scheduling capability of SIMATIC IT PREACTOR, which exchanges recipe data, sales demands and inventory levels with the MES.
Both meat and bakery goods have short shelf lives and consequently, the MES ensures that the customer can implement a quality-assured First Expired First Out shipping process.
Direct integration with the shop-floor equipment ensures that, where possible, there is automatic registration of all consumption and production transactions into the MES. That same shop-floor integration allows for visibility of in-process inventory levels and machine performance data (OEE, downtime).
The MES solution has delivered a digitalised paperless shop-floor and information stream for the supply chain. And, importantly, resource allocation is now optimised to suit the dynamic demands of the market. All these factors have led to significant direct and indirect cost savings for the customer.
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