Unplanned Downtime in the Poultry Industry

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Like any growing or manufacturing sector, the poultry and egg industry in North America is challenged by unplanned downtime, which can lead to lost revenue, wages, inventory, as well as remedial labor costs and penalties from not delivering on customer and service agreements. Operations struggle to understand the root causes of downtime, which may include human, machine, and natural events, affecting system availability, performance, and quality.

Although barn, grading, and processing operations typically have a clear understanding of system reliability annually and can project the cost of unplanned downtime, it is much more difficult to identify specific downtime threats and to gather supporting data for root cause analysis and downtime reduction.

The difficulty lies in the semi-automated nature of these operations, which presents a unique investigative challenge that combines human, machine based, and environmental elements.  These elements can create unplanned downtime singularly, or they can converge to create more complex scenarios.

Taking a continuous improvement approach to understanding and reducing downtime is an efficient way to make an impact, as compared to a holistic, systemic change immediately, based on a variety of assumptions.

To get started:

  • Work with a specialist to gain a full understanding of your process, potential downtime threats, and opportunities that may lead to performance improvements.
  • Scope out specific, time bound, investigative opportunities that can be managed by a small number technicians and managers to understand a specific downtime threat.
  • Deploy a semi-automated, human enabled technology solution that is embraced by floor or field and supervisory personnel alike to collect data over a defined period of time.
  • Work with your specialist and your team throughout the project to analyze the data in real-time, and to identify opportunities to change or influence behaviour or process.

To find out more about how SITEFLO customers in the poultry industry are using the product to understand and reduce unplanned downtime, email us at info@xiplinx.com.

Creating Value by Monitoring Employee Activity in Poultry

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Remote monitoring technologies for locations and employees are critical in the agricultural business, with operations increasingly being observed from a distance by management. This style of management involves frequent visits to the remote locations or time consuming reviews by onsite supervisors to meet verification requirements and reporting demands. Visits to simply review employee activities and oversee operations over the short term can run counter to goals for continuously improving agricultural processes and therefore drive acceptable margins.

This approach, by design, typically leads to the implementation of reactive measures towards potential issues that may have already impacted company quality, brand loyalty and significant amounts of money. With the technology available today, there are more effective ways to identify potential issues and solve problems as soon as they arise.

By deploying software for effectively monitoring your operation, using handheld devices, supervisors can efficiently measure, monitor and manage employee performance and behaviors to ensure standard operating procedures and company protocols are being met on a consistent basis, and activities are available for viewing in real-time.

Consider how such a software solution could be deployed in a poultry operation. These operations are typically located in rural areas. On a daily basis, a poultry operation has critical conditions being monitored by their employees that mean the difference between a profit or loss in a rapid period of time. High input costs related to feed or the critical reaction a flock can have to a change in environmental conditions makes the case that significant value can be created by notifying employees and management immediately if the data being measured falls outside of allowable limits. Deploying cost effective technology can mean the difference between a healthy profitable flock, or a potential loss and lengthy claims process.

Software can be configured to capture values such as the quantity of feed, temperature ranges, water consumption and other critical values, and if these values fall outside of specifications, they can be shared in real-time to provide organizations with actionable intelligence, increased efficiency and peace of mind.

Further, information on building conditions, equipment inspections and quality checks that may or may not be collected currently, can be available to supervisors to monitor trends, add comments, run reports and to provide historical data for analysis.

With the variables that have to be taken into consideration on a daily basis in the agricultural industry, both offsite and onsite supervisors can benefit significantly from the insight provided when you enable your team with mobile devices and flexible software. Incremental improvements to employee training and the knowledge being captured by a properly trained employee can lead to productivity increases throughout an operation, protecting overall margins and quality.

Using solutions like SiteFlo, operations in this industry have the insight required to know in real-time, precisely how an operation is functioning. Measure, monitor and manage your way to consistent quality, margins and profits.

David McNally
Director of Sales

Get Creative with Continuous Improvement

Structured, comprehensive continuous improvement initiatives have created tremendous value for manufacturing organizations. Creating an organization that invests in initiatives to improve performance through lean, six-sigma, Kaizen, and other methodologies while useful, can also prove to be a consuming exercise in change management and cultural evolution.

Continuous improvement doesn’t have to be cumbersome for organizations. Operational excellence can be achieved with great intelligence, and a variety of tools exist to retrieve information from the people who know your operation the best, including management and technical personnel, as well as operators. These exercises can be an engaging and fun, and experimentation and creativity can be encouraged to drive efficiencies and new approaches to manufacturing.

There are a number of ways to simplify your continuous improvement approach and to deploy appropriate technology to support them:

Consider how little intelligence you have today and get more: In some cases, you have good data on production volumes, inventory levels, and other processing activity. Automation and your control systems give you powerful, albeit limited operations intelligence. In a variety of cases, no clear understanding of continuous improvement project based or operations based workflow exists, and good data that can become actionable intelligence is buried in paper forms or stays with technical personnel. To run an improvement project, an understanding of your baseline state is critical, and tracking operations activity and data relative to that baseline is also crucial. Challenge your assumptions and find out what you don’t know first, and consider gathering more data to inform your project before you start.

Keep your technology approach to continuous improvement simple: Initiatives to drive efficiency or cost out of an operation don’t have to be complicated, and can be supported with modern technology that is cost-effective, and simple to deploy. With the right partner and an understanding of your continuous improvement goals, systems supported by mobile devices in a field-based environment can be configured to meet your project based needs. Technical and management personnel can be trained efficiently, and projects can start immediately after. With the right solution, you are only weeks away from the real-time intelligence you need.

Experiment and gather actionable intelligence before taking next steps: Most of your continuous improvement projects are experiments in the most traditional sense, that will either prove out a hypothesis about a potential improvement, or not. Run creative experiments that are time bound and focused on one part of the operation, and then engage your labor force with simple technology to support the project. Collect data, and then decide to implement solutions or invest in more costly experiments based on what you learn from the data.

To learn more about how SiteFlo customers are leveraging our solution to support their continuous improvement initiatives, please contact us at info@xiplinx.com.

Measure. Monitor. Manage.

If you work in manufacturing, you have likely heard the adage that “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”.  This statement, conceived by Charles E. Deeming, continues to resonate today and this thinking is at the core of our product development and belief system at SiteFlo. With our technology, you truly can measure, monitor and manage manufacturing initiatives to continuously improve performance while making informed decisions, reducing overall costs, saving time and money.

Keep reading to find out more about how our solution fits with a measurement and continuous improvement approach to manufacturing.

Measure: Stop wasting time filling out paper checklists only to have to manually enter data into a spreadsheet or other electronic format days, if not weeks, after the data was collected. With a paper-based approach, teams and divisions are disconnected and resources are overloaded trying to track manufacturing processes and ensure operating procedures are being followed correctly, creating inconsistencies and delays. Start measuring the data in real-time and make it actionable. In today’s globally competitive environment, with accessible technologies like SiteFlo, there is no excuse for allowing human error to cause costly shutdowns due to a delay in reviewing or entering information into a database, or because a breakdown in communication.

Monitor: Manually tracked processes can lead to a lack of real-time information throughout your organization therefore affecting the ability to recognize root causes of failures in process. Critical production decisions are routinely based on assumptions instead of accurate information due to the inherent nature of paper based data collection or rarely used information in accessible digital formats. By getting instant alerts when data falls outside of acceptable parameters, data becomes intelligence that is actionable, allowing you to make better decisions that have a positive impact.  Real-time supervisor reviews, following trends and proactively monitoring employee activities are just some of the features of SiteFlo.

Manage: Give your managers all of the information that they need to make better decisions. Connect data from sources such as critical control points or high-risk zones, analyze employee and/or shift performance, and enforce standard operating procedures effectively with real-time information. With improved communication, supervisors can assess and predict efficiency or the probability of downtime at single or multiple sites, comparing that information against broader corporate or supplier expectations. This way, a plant can standardize processes to optimize consistency and employee performance.

Having real-time information readily accessible improves technician performance and behaviors and empowers managers with enhanced insight into their operations.

In today’s complex and fast paced manufacturing environments, actionable, real-time data is needed to help you efficiently measure, monitor, and manage your business.

Ashley Abernethy
Sales Development Manager

Real-time Monitoring of Critical Conditions in Aquaculture Environments

Monitoring and responding to environmental conditions in the highly competitive, global aquaculture industry is critical to creating an optimal growing environment for fish and running a profitable operation. There is little room for error when managing temperature and oxygen levels, and proactive approaches leveraging real-time monitoring of data are required.

With the advent of modern mobile devices, there are now cost effective monitoring solutions to help transform what was once static data collected in the field, into actionable intelligence to monitor conditions. The result of deploying new technology can lead to greater returns, and a complete understanding of how temperature and oxygen levels correlate with feed conversion ratios and fish health.

Consider the early growing cycles of fish, which require a significant level of monitoring, as fish growth can be extremely variable when fish weigh less than 1 kg. During this time, fish are particularly vulnerable to environmental factors and even as fish mature and gain weight, continuous monitoring, adjusting and verifying of environmental factors influence growth and health. Environmental data tracked should be shared immediately, so that management, technical, and scientific employees can adjust operations as necessary.

By proactively managing temperature and oxygen levels with real-time tools, product can get to market faster, early stage feed cost can be reduced, and the right saturation rate for growing fish can be achieved. There is ample evidence to support that temperature increases can greatly increase the metabolic rate of fish1, increasing requirements for oxygen and food and driving up costs.

Studies on both Halibut and Tilapia growth support a requirement for effective, real-time monitoring of conditions. The Southern Region Aquaculture Centre (SRAC) found that growth was optimal for Tilapia in warm water recirculation systems with dissolved oxygen levels above 60% saturation2. In contrast, for colder water systems the optimum oxygen saturation levels for a species such as Atlantic Halibut are between 80 – 120% 3. Levels that fall below these values are tolerated for periods of time, but the overall health of the fish can be affected, leading to potential diseases or other costly consequences at a later stage.

Studies on both Halibut and Tilapia growth support a requirement for effective, real-time monitoring of conditions.  The Southern Region Aquaculture Centre (SRAC) found that growth was optimal for Tilapia in warm water recirculation systems with dissolved oxygen levels above 60% saturation2. In contrast, for colder water systems the optimum oxygen saturation levels for a species such as Atlantic Halibut are between 80 – 120% 3.  Levels that fall below these values are tolerated for periods of time, but the overall health of the fish can be affected, leading to potential diseases or other costly consequences at a later stage.

Adopting and implementing handheld technologies that your employees can use to report on environmental factors and the overall process to manage fish growth and health in real-time are available, and have been proven to drive significant value across aquaculture operations.

Sources:
1) Jonsson, Arnar. Fiskey Ltd. General Manager. “Halibut Farming in Europe.”
2) Masser, Rakocy, Losordo. “Recirculating Aquaculture Tank Production Systems: Management of Recirculating Systems.” Southern Region Aquaculture Center.
3) Mallya, John Yovita. “The Effects of Dissolved Oxygen on Fish Growth in Aquaculture.” Kingolowira National Fish Farming Centre.

Capturing Expert Knowledge

Expert knowledge in highly technical working environments is difficult to capture and expensive to lose as workforces age and highly trained personnel exit organizations for other opportunities. But, knowledge in domains of interest can easily be captured and used to train employees, and to inform the development of new procedures and workflow. Performance can be measurabily improved if technicians are using the right tools and if management has insight into their day to day activities and decision making process.

SiteFlo can be configured to capture expert knowledge and the expert can be trained rapidly to use the system. That data can be migrated into other systems to fill in logic gaps, or reviewed on its own to inform operations planning.

SiteFlo is also structured to allow for data capture from multiple experts in different locations. Data can be captured, time stamped, and compared with data from other locations and operations, providing insight into how work practices may differ and how they affect performance.

Other SiteFlo features can be leveraged to provide experts with the ability to identify reasons for choices they make while they work, giving management insight into the choices made by technicians that contribute to an optimal operating environment.

To find out more about how SiteFlo helps our customers capture expert data to improve performance, contact us at info@xiplinx.com

Meeting Auditor Expectations

If you operate in the food and beverage processing and packaging sector, you’re familiar with the substantial requirements large retailers ask you to comply with. This includes food safety requirements, which ultimately affect quality, maintenance, building management, personnel management, and nearly every aspect in your environment.

Inevitably, these requirements translate into a significant number of personnel based monitoring activities to prevent food safety issues, activities that auditors will evaluate compliance with regularly.

Deploying the appropriate tools to deal with prevention activites can have a measurable impact on whether or not your comply. By providing technicians with access to digital information on their workflow, operating procedures, and activities, compliance can be observed in real-time, and by providing the right system to technicians, non-conformities can be kept to a minimum. This can lead to reduced downtime, improved quality, protection of key contracts with retailers, optimized workflow, and a variety of other tangible benefits.

The most common issues (commonly referred to as non-conformities) observed by food safety auditors who audit to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Standard for Food Safety include the following:

  • failure to execute on appropriate plans
  • building fabric issues not identified due to improper monitoring
  • poor pest control
  • poor housekeeping and hygiene
  • improper plans in place to identify and control hazards to prevent food safety issues (commonly referred to as HACCP plans)

SiteFlo continues to have a quantifiable effect on the prevention of food safety issues, helping to address each one of the items noted above by advancing monitoring, reporting and management activities.

To find out more about how SiteFlo helps our customers meet stringent auditor expectations and reduce non-conformities, contact us at info@xiplinx.com.

Think like a technician when choosing a mobile solution

Modern mobile devices can have a dramatic, positive impact on technicians managing their workflow and tracking data in advanced food processing and manufacturing environments given the opportunity for improved user experiences using new technology. Choosing the right solution for quality, maintenance, operating procedure, or other purposes, can lead to improved compliance, site reliability, and more efficient operations, but it’s difficult to make the right choice.

Historically, a technician’s user experience has been an afterthought in environments where poorly designed and rigid human-machine interfaces are the norm. Often, a typical digital data tracking experience involves a technician viewing data on a dull wireframe as an interface, using a static pen to interact with hardware, and typing on a small physical keyboard.

Ultimately, how often and effectively technicians use the solution you implement will dictate the value an organization can drive from a mobile system. So, properly evaluating a technician’s users experience is a good first step to understanding potential user engagement after you implement a solution.

Remember, it is possible to design experiences technicians enjoy, so don’t settle for less. When searching for a solution provider to help you manage technical workflow and to provide personnel with tracking devices, look for the following:

  • Configurable applications that you can update easily, with a minimal professional services component.
  • Well-designed, easy to use interfaces. It should be possible to train technicians in minutes, not days or months.
  • Cost-effective hardware that can be ruggedized with protective cases easily. In most cases, avoid hardware that costs over $500 / device.
  • Make sure solutions can scale to multiple applications and uses in your environment.
  • Get a full demo of the solution and select providers who allow for pilots before purchasing.

At SiteFlo, we’ve designed our solution alongside technicians, leveraging modern mobile devices that many of our users learn to use within minutes. With their honest feedback, we’ve crafted something that technicians genuinely enjoy, and a solution that provides management with critical insight in their day-to-day operations.

To find out more about SiteFlo and our high levels of technician engagement, please reach out to us at info@xiplinx.com.

Using SiteFlo to Consistently Apply Operating Procedures

Standard operating procedures are a must in technical environments to ensure that the behaviors exhibited by technical personnel and the interventions made in processes are consistent with product and organizational requirements.

Problem: Industry is challenged to train and mobilize an often transient workforce, and to ensure the consistent application of standard operating procedures site to site in accordance with internal, regulatory, or other third party requirements. Without SiteFlo, our customers cannot effectively manage personnel activity, or provide the appropriate real time aides to technicians to help manage complex workflow with real time activity based instructions.

Solution: SiteFlo is being implemented in a variety of industries to make it easier for technical personnel to accomplish work tasks and to report back to management on their activities. SiteFlo enabled technicians can view simple work instructions on a mobile device, accomplish their work tasks, submit data, and report back to management all on one screen.

By providing technical personnel with SiteFlo, organizations get insight into employee behaviour and whether or not it is in accordance with operating procedures. Sharing that behavioural based data throughout an organization in real-time provides powerful insight not currently available with existing solutions. Management can easily identify Root causes of issues, and technical personnel can be held accountable.

Benefits:

  • Meet and exceed operating procedure requirements.
  • Significantly reduced operating costs with the ability to identify personnel, team, and shift issues that ultimately affect plant efficiency and output.
  • Standardization of employee behavior in multiple plants with different operating conditions.
  • 30% time savings associated with digitizing what is currently a paper based process.

Using SiteFlo to Create High Performance Teams

Optimizing the performance of individual technicians, shifts, and roles in technical environments is difficult without appropriate data on employee behavior and shift performance.

Problem: Retrieving analytics on technicians behaviour and activities in manufacturing environments is nearly impossible for plant management given the dynamic nature of a technicians or operators role and the lack of suitable technical tools. Insight into the day-to-day activities of employees is required, and needs to be aggregated on a per shift or role basis to optimize teams in a way that maximizes productivitity and drives profit.

Solution: SiteFlo is being implemented in a variety of industries to monitor personnel activities and provide analytics on groups so management can optimize teams within their operation, while similtaneously troubleshooting critical personnel issues. The activities of a SiteFlo enabled technician can be tracked by management, providing real-time aggregated or disaggregated insight into employee behaviour and whether or not it is in accordance with expectations. Root causes of issues can be easily identified by management, and technical personnel can be held accountable.

Benefits:

  • Create high performance teams on a shift-by-shift basis.
  • Step percentage increases in efficiency and reductions in operating costs (which can correlate with $1M savings in medium sized plants).
  • Ease of management of large technical teams, and an increase in available time on the production floor for supervisors and management.
  • Clear identification of employees who do not behave in accordance with operating procedures.