Ensuring that production capacity will meet demand is crucial for food manufacturers. Effective capacity planning helps companies make sure that they are maximizing efficiencies at every corner, from worker processes and equipment operation to compliance and product quality.
Capacity planning sounds complex and challenging because it is complex and challenging. There are many systems and policies to balance, and most companies think this means they need to spend capital to increase capacity, but that’s not always the case. Food manufacturing companies can take a few steps to increase capacity by making the most of what they have—but to do so, they must use data.
If you have a granular view of what is going on in the factory, existing facilities and processes can be improved to ensure companies have the capacity they need to meet demand. Here are three places to start:
- Preventative maintenance
- Worker training programs
- Workflow and processes
Preventative Maintenance Helps Food Companies Improve Capacity
Managers know that when their food processing equipment breaks or overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) isn’t at the level it needs to be, both quality and productivity in your operational efficiency can suffer. That’s why having a solid preventive maintenance strategy is crucial. It protects equipment from failure and prepares for downtime.
Unexpected downtime has an enormous impact on productivity and profitability. In food manufacturing, unexpected downtime brings a significant product risk—food is left exposed which leads to spoilage and failure to meet required temperature controls. This is one of the types of manufacturing waste that eats away at profits and makes it impossible for plants to increase capacity.
There are many components of an effective preventative maintenance plan. If your plant is creating a preventative maintenance plan for the first time, fully understanding all of the plan elements will help you balance them correctly, and help you meet capacity goals. Achieving that balance means making decisions based on the right data so you can get a clear understanding of all downtime events, including whether the equipment is not performing, or if the equipment operator isn’t following processes.
Processing failures can be traced to their source so you can eliminate them. With a clearer idea of what areas are underperforming, you can take action to clarify employee training or to improve, repair, or replace equipment. All of this will solidify capacity planning and help increase capacity as a result.
Take a Critical Look at Worker Training
The workers on the plant floor are the ones who are ensuring plans are put in action to make production lines as efficient and profitable as possible. They’re the ones making sure defect numbers are minimized and waste control is maximized.
But if you’re implementing training programs and then walking away, expecting everyone to perform as planned, your training efforts might be falling short and you might not be getting the whole picture. There are so many places in food manufacturing where “small things” can turn into big problems.
One huge problem is poor food handling, which usually comes from subpar training programs. This isn’t just wasteful; it’s also a major compliance risk. If you’re unsure of individual worker performance on the line, the right software can give you data that shows you who is complying with proper processes and equipment operation. Data that helps you track line effectiveness can help pinpoint who needs more training.
Lean manufacturing practices can also help with this. When manufacturers have a human performance issue, it can usually be traced back to poor communication amongst all company stakeholders. Lean methods can help managers and line workers alike prioritize goals and identify where they’re falling short.
Having both a solid preventative maintenance program and stronger employee training means your capacity planning can improve even more.
Use Data to Improve Workflow and Processes Efficiency
A food manufacturing company’s processes directly impact production capacity. If technologies and workflows aren’t as efficient as possible, a manufacturer will never have all of the information necessary to plan and increase capacity. Before deciding to replace equipment or change certain processes or workflows, first get a better understanding of how current processes are actually working. Start by evaluating machines, packing material specifications, and all parameters for all packaging design.
Start with taking an objective look and doing a complete analysis of all existing workflows and processes. Lean manufacturing practices can also help with mapping out and measuring your workflows so you can optimize production lines by identifying areas of improvement. To accomplish this effectively, you’ll likely need to deploy automation software in place of manual tasks.
Many food manufacturing companies have realized in recent years that artificial intelligence and robotics can also help build flexibility into line and production processes, making it easier to increase capacity even when there needs to be a line change to meet demand. These types of Industry 4.0 advances can truly help a food manufacturing company do more with less.
Smart Factory Software Helps Food Manufacturers Increase Capacity
It may feel like increasing capacity is a heavy lift. However, using the right technology and becoming a Smart Factory can not only help you increase capacity, but it can also improve the way you operate overall. Worximity’s Smart Factory digital management systems can help companies increase capacity and become more competitive. Our solution gives organizations the right data to analyze operations and increase capacity.
Worximity’s Smart Factory solutions capture real-time data such as downtime, feed, and speeds. Data is stored in the cloud and analyzed for customized company reports. Armed with real-life data, companies can bolster their capacity planning and meaningfully increase capacity.
Find out more about how Smart Factory analytics can improve food manufacturing production and operations. Check out our free Smart Factory Analytics E-book.