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Post at 24 Aug 2017

North American leader in dairy processing uses manufacturing intelligence to drive continuous improvements

A Moo-dern Dairy Industry

Cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream, protein shake, and of course milk are the snacks and refreshments that turn a ho-hum meal into something more. Even lactose-free milk options can splash life onto dry cereal. Everybody can find a dairy product to their taste.

Agropur Cooperative works with over 3,367 dairy farmers who rely on 37 facilities across North America. Each year, Agropur transforms over 1.5 billion gallons of milk into numerous dairy products, resulting in $5.9 billion in sales.

The organization’s Don Mills, Ontario facility is its largest and has long been responsible for turning raw ingredients into various types of milk and ice cream mixes. Each day, the facility pasteurizes, processes and packages enough dairy products to fill at least 30 trucks.

Udder Lack of Data

Throughout its more than 50-year history, the Don Mills facility collected an assortment of industrial technologies. While the various machines and controls kept production running, they could not produce the seamless data necessary to continuously improve operations.

“Transforming data into information was a completely hands-on process,” said Headley Hamilton, industrial process manager at Agropur. “All the requests from operators and managers throughout the year required 2,500 hours of manual, post-shift data entry. And demand was growing. When I considered the future of the facility, I knew we needed modern technology.”

Data collection was not the only problem. Some of the automation technology was nearing obsolescence. Hamilton received calls nearly every day from operators reporting equipment issues or downtime. Rather than focusing on automation improvements, he needed to respond to current production issues.

And in case a system ever did crash, Hamilton needed to reboot from the latest backup.

The only question was: Where was the latest version of the system?

“With seven maintenance laptops across the facility, there was no way to know whether or not you were rebooting with the most recently modified program. Not only did that take time, but so did calling every contractor to make sure you had their changes,” said Hamilton. “Our old system was only backed up once a quarter, which took an additional 48 hours each year. You can’t optimize a plant when playing catch-up.”

Challenge
  • Milk processing facility with manual data collection and hardware near end of life
Solutions
  • Asset Management Software – Single tool for managing, versioning and tracking automation asset information using FactoryTalk AssetCentre
  • System backup in case of failure
  • OEE software – provides access to machine performance data and benchmarks for production capacity on new lines using FactoryTalk Metrics
  • FactoryTalk VantagePoint software – offers a centralized data source that automatically provides reporting and dashboards based on user needs
Results
  • Improved OEE – Discovered over 33 hours of additional production time per year, eliminating need for investments in new equipment
  • Increased Workforce Utilization – Avoided 2,500 hours per year of manual data collection and reduced 48 hours per year of system backup and version control
  • Assisted Continuous Improvements – Reduced lube consumption 30 percent