Proof Of The Pudding

proof of the Pudding

Smart technology delivers much more than a paper-free factory

Operating 24/7 and based in Beeston, Freshcut Foods make a diverse and ever changing combination of raw produce and cooked vegetable and pasta recipes. They supply an equally diverse customer base of food manufacturers, food service providers and retailers.

Freshcut have invested significantly in technology over the years believing it to deliver a competitive advantage for them. They have integrated Vision For Food to provide production and technical visibility without paper, delivering better control over the entire operation from intake to despatch:

What is the point?

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“Raw material prices have the biggest impact on margins throughout the industry and this is no different at Freshcut Foods, so it is key for us to monitor process yields, reduce waste and pinpoint giveaway. Our ERP system gave us weekly variances but investigation required a trawl through the paper traceability – which was too slow to be useful. Vision has replaced all the factory paperwork and the information we collect is complete and immediately available so we can use it to improve our performance. Variances, waste and even our labour costs are down while yields, accuracy and quality are up. For us the system has brought all the elements together so we have the visibility we need across all our processes and we are now around 1% of turnover better off year on year.”

Adam Clarke Director Freshcut Foods

“Our existing systems worked fine for the business everywhere except where our margins are achieved or lost: in the factory itself. We wanted to find a package to “plug in” that would collect the critical data around material use, quality and compliance so management could be alerted when necessary and access the data in order to improve performance.”

Nick Houghton General Manager

“We collect over 8,000 records every day on the new system. The masses of paper forms that we used to use have been completely removed. My chief concerns were that Vision For Food should not slow things down, and whether the team would take to the new technology but in fact we are far more efficient, accurate and operator acceptance has been universal”

Dominic Gilman Factory Manager

What is the solution?

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  • Production operators enter works order, quality control and compliance data at IP rated browser terminals located in the factory.
  • “Base” processes are set up containing all necessary production checks for each product type. Each recipe is linked to the correct “Base” process as are instructions, tolerances, alerts and corrective actions.
  • Freshcut use Excel based planning that automatically calls creates works orders across each line. Production volumes automatically adjust the recipe quantities and all checks required for each production job are presented to the operator in order.
  • Tolerances for recipe inputs, outputs, critical temperatures, chemical concentration, etc. are automatically policed at operator level
  • Throughout production batch traceability is managed by the operator selecting input batches and generating output batch codes for WIP or customer product according to the production schedule
  • At intake Freshcut pre-assign batch codes to each purchased ingredient (or packaging item) before it arrives. Vision For Food then handles the required vehicle and product checks and a further web-service retrieves the batch number from the specific purchase order line in the business system when the operator selects the “generate batch number” button on his screen.
  • All items and their use-by data are maintained on the business system and automatically imported into Vision For Food
  • Technical use Android Tablet computers to record daily checks including organoleptics, random weights, seal and label checks, metal detector checks, scale and probe calibration etc. in addition all routine weekly, monthly, quarterly checks are completed.

What multi line processes are scheduled?

  • Goods Intake: Timed daily deliveries
  • Pre-Prep: Bunk Processing in variable batches producing WIP outputs
  • Prep: Hand preparation of variable batches of produce with WIP outputs
  • Machine Room: Machine dipping, machining & mixing of variable batches with individual & mixed WIP outputs
  • High Care: Packing raw customer products
  • Blanch: Cooking of produce & carbohydrate recipes with fixed batch sizes per cook and WIP outputs
  • Chargrill: variable batches of chargrilled recipes with up to 12 inputs. WIP outputs
  • Roast: Roasted recipes with up to 17 inputs, variable batch sizes and WIP outputs
  • Packing: High risk packing lines for cooked customer products
  • Routine Production/ Technical: Food safety/ H&S pre-start checks
  • Routine Technical: Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annual checks

Were there any problems?

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“There were many challenges to overcome but relatively few considering we went “big bang” with an implementation across all departments from the off. Most of the issues were not with the system, but with the disciplines that the new system imposes on internal processes and the way we used to operate. As a result we have re-engineered some of our processes and Vision For Food have also develop some of our suggestions into their standard software.”

Nick Houghton General Manager

What else?

All operational data collected in instantly available for enquiry and analysis using standard Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS).

“We have refined batch sizes in many of our cooking process as a result of the data returned from vision For Food. This and the enforces disciplines around quantities and life on inputs and outputs means we are seeing improvements in our material yield and significant reductions in waste by up to 80%. Production accuracy has steadily improved so we experience far fewer shorts and overs. Traceability is available from a single report and we can drill down to show the full detail of the production checks involved including who recorded them, as a result operators are accountable and the system helps them to record accurate information.”

Dominic Gilman Factory Manager
Vision for Food interfaces to core business systems preserving and reinforcing existing investment in IT systems.

“From my experience of systems in the food industry, what Vision For Food has accomplished is remarkable, a way to plug the holes in management information from the factory floor by interfacing rather than replacing business systems and avoiding much of the huge potential costs and risks that this otherwise involves.”

Nick Houghton General Manager
Quality Improvement

“Freshcut’s internal product specification is effectively incorporated into the process checks generated for each works order. As a result, the quality of product produced has generally improved in terms of adherence to specification throughout the factory. Some of our customers require different levels of quality control such as routine sieving of ingredient and Vision For Food instructs the operators to handle such requirements automatically.”

Dominic Gilman Factory Manager
Compliance improvement

“Technical has followed production with a full implementation of the new system across all shifts. Using Vision For Food, we are saving a lot of time now and are more confident than ever that Freshcut can demonstrate the highest levels of food safety and health and safety compliance. This view is supported by feedback from recent customer audits.”

Dominic Gilman Factory Manager