Manual factory systems encumber business processes
Snack Brands paper-based documenting process was slow and error-ridden. They needed a better solution. For many years Snack Brands used a paper-based process and manual data entry to record transactions and document production quantities at their factory. It was slow, cumbersome and inaccurate.
Problem: Operators were required to enter data by hand
Operators were required to enter data by hand onto pages which were then taken to an office and entered into Dynamics AX. Recording of production for a carton of chips could take up to 36 hours.The lack of an automated system also led to an inaccurate recording of transactions, limited product traceability, non-compliance with trading partners and slow delivery of information to make decisions. With increased growth in sales and production, the problems associated with this old-school process began to seriously hold back the business. So Snack Brands approached Walkerscott in search of a solution.
Solution: Custom touch screen application to the rescue
Walkerscott were engaged to review the manual processing problem and create a replacement. The initial brief from Snack Brands was to solve the problem of paper-based manual recording of shift-based production receipts within the factory. After engaging with business and operational users through several workshops, we designed and developed a custom .NET and SQL Server web application that was deployed on the factory floor via industrial touch screens. This application replicated how the operators worked with their paper system but allowed them to utilise barcode scanning and integrated label printing to improve efficiency and accuracy. In order to keep things simple, consistent and maintainable we took the production receipts and integrated them into the ERP system in real-time by reverse engineering an existing interface.
Walkerscott, also developed a suite of SSRS reports providing real-time production reporting for all users, from the executive team to production supervisors.
Outcome: A scalable solution expands to further improve efficiency throughout the company
The automated solution has now been deployed across the business, resulting in many improvements. As a result of Walkerscott’s solution, a task that used to take up to 36 hours to complete manually is now done in five minutes. There have been many other wide-ranging improvements including:
- Real-time production visibility across all production sites at pallet level granularity.
- All pallets produced are labelled with a fully compliant GS1 SSCC label that conforms to Snack Brands trading partner requirements.
- Full traceability of all pallets in their supply chain including at 3PL and outside warehouse locations.
- Reduction in unexplained stock losses resulting in executive team confidence in systems, processes and transactions.
- Improved QA processes resulting in far less risk of defective products going to market due to electronic QA hold and release integrated across all systems.
- Automated product recall reporting by customer, product, batch and pallet.
- Real-time shift productivity reporting of planned versus actual raw material and labour utilisation.
As a result of this success, Snack Brands have engaged us to continually improve their custom solution to meet their needs by replacing more and more manual systems within their business. This has involved RESTful API development and integration with Operational Technology such as PLCs, scanners and labellers. Additional functions within the business such as warehousing, inventory and quality management have been brought onto the system to provide greater visibility and efficiency. Snack Brands continue to reap the benefits of this enormous improvement to their operations.