Friday 22 July 2011

Dough quality takes the biscuit!

Bolletje, a Dutch baked goods manufacturer with 500 employees and three plants in The Netherlands, needed to solve a production issue: variation in the quality of its dough from batch to batch due to inconsistent process execution. The company turned to long-time partner, GE Intelligent Platforms, for a solution that would help them to not only improve quality, but also achieve better line of sight into inventory and have a way of tracing its products from the bakery to the store.

The selection and implementation of the Proficy® solution was initially driven by the company’s Information Technology group who were looking for an integrated implementation with one interface and easy and actionable access to information. As the potential gains became clearer, Production took on overall project management, and engaged additional stakeholders. Management’s goal was to make sure that they could bring new operators on board quickly and efficiently without a loss in productivity or quality. Shift leaders wanted less waste and more throughput.

The company started with a small production line that mainly produced the dough for specialty seasonal and holiday-themed products and then expanded to three additional lines that were involved in making dough for pretzels. Working with Novotek, GE’s long-time partner in the Netherlands, Bolletje chose the Proficy Software platform, because it provided an integrated platform for Batch execution, MES automation and visualization. The combination of Proficy iFIX, Historian and Plant Applications has now become the standard manufacturing platform for Bolletje, giving the company better control and visibility into the whole manufacturing process.
In 2010, the company introduced the Proficy solution as it installed new production lines used for baking crispbreads, or crackers, and rusks, or biscuits. Proficy made data collection much easier enabling capitalization of the information that was available via the lines.

In addition to quality, Bolletje’s plans include improving inventory accuracy. The current system is based on an accounting practice called backflushing, where the company accounts for material usages based on counts of finished product. This approach can drive incorrect scheduling and production decisions. The company plans to use more visibility into the actual use of raw materials to improve materials planning, and get more a more accurate understanding of material costs for each product line. Thanks to Proficy’s integrated solution, inventory accuracy can be achieved while also enabling end-to-end traceability of ingredients, processing conditions and quality data – all linked to each production lot.

“We are still implementing elements of the solution, so the full results are a bit down the road. But already, shift leaders are very enthusiastic about the solution,” said B-J Hudepohl, Production Manager for Bolletje. “They see less waste and new workers are being trained faster ensuring the expertise of seasoned operators is captured. In fact, there has only been one bad batch of pretzels since the system was installed on that line.” 

“Bolletje started their journey with a focus on batch product quality, with a clear plan to address OEE and traceability as the whole solution is deployed.” said Seán Robinson, Global Industry Manager for GE Intelligent Platforms’ Food & Beverage industry segment. “Exposing the information they need for quality and enabling their stakeholders to focus on consistency is a different starting point than many processors who focus on OEE first. This approach is rapidly creating appreciation of how information can drive measurable improvement very quickly.”

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