The networking of production machines is one of the most challenging projects in the digitization of food companies. The potential is enormous. A southern German sausage producer is connecting the filler lines to its ERP system. The goal, absolute transparency of the filling process.
By networking the machines from supplier Handtmann with the ERP software from CSB-System, much more information about the filling process will soon be obtained and used intelligently. “We want to tap this potential for our operations as it is far from being fully exploited,” says Managing Director Jan Seidel. The communication between machines and software is being expanded. The existing orders in the ERP system are transmitted directly to the Handtmann Communication Unit (HCU) of the filling machines, while the machines return the filling levels.
Permanent Dialogue between machine and software
In the current project, the interfaces to the HCU have been in such a way that the information about item and quantity, data are transferred concerning the individual fillers, the sequences, the number of operators and the required set-up and filling times. The HCU controls additional tasks like the limitation of adjustable parameters and the weight regulation. Quality data, for example the quality of natural casings, can be keyed in at the HCU and incorporated directly in the vendor assessment. Maintenance Management will be integrated as well. In the future, malfunctions can be reported directly at the filler to trigger a central documented workflow for the repair process.
Details of the workflow:
1. Planning on department level is accomplished in the ERP-System. The plan is transferred to the HCU.
2. Within the HCU, the planning can be adjusted, for example through detailed planning or in the case of ad-hoc activities in response to operational requirements. All adjustments are directly synchronized with the data in the ERP system.
3. The HCU communicates online with the filling systems. Order details as well as necessary additional information are displayed and queried at the filler display.
A further important step towards OEE
The interaction between machine software and ERP system facilitates monitoring of the department as well as on-demand target-performance comparisons of planned and actual data. The result, another step towards the determination of OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) measures. In today’s competition, this is one of the most important production indicators as it measures the efficiency of equipment or of the entire department, establishing the basis for objective statements and comparisons.
Better control over departments, machines and margins
Connecting the filling machines with the ERP system is the first sub-project launched with Handtmann and CSB. Other projects, also on an international level, will follow. The networked production has many economic advantages for meat producers, such as the optimization of resources and comprehensive quality management. The actual quantum leap is the improved control of the single departments, machines and margins.
Digitization as basis for a successful business
Digitization projects are nothing new for meat producer Wolf. More than 20 years ago, the medium-size enterprise implemented the first ERP system at its four locations. Their far-off target back then: A paperless factory. Today, the company uses the CSB software for production scheduling and recipe optimization, as well as for cutting transport costs and ensuring traceability. By analyzing the machine data, Wolf makes a big step forward. In the future, data is expected to become an enormous factor of success – a competitive advantage over their competitors, as many of them are not yet able to use these data. Jan Seidel: “We are a successful sausage and meat manufacturer, but we want to achieve world-class level when it comes to digitization. For us this is the basis of a successful business.