News | September 9, 2013

Adams Food Benefits From Olympus Automation Autocoding solution

Adams Foods, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of retail pre-packed hard cheese, is optimising the performance of its modern, highly automated plant at Leek in Staffordshire under its continuous improvement (CI) programme, using OEE as a critical performance measure.

Adams Foods holds 30% of the retail pre-packed hard cheese in the UK and over 50% of the private label sector. The company was formed in 2010 as result of the merger between the Kerrygold Company and North Down Dairy, both wholly owned English subsidiaries of the Irish Dairy Board.

Following Investment of £30 million by the Irish Dairy Board in a new state of the art factory and office complex opened in 2009, the Leek site is one of the most efficient and environmentally friendly cheese packing facilities throughout the UK and Europe. The Leek facility produces over 200 million packs of cheese a year.

The Adams Foods cheese portfolio includes branded cheddar in the form of Pilgrims Choice, and added value private label cheeses. Adams Foods also sells and markets Kerrygold butter, the premium Irish butter and leading consumer brand in the UK.

Continuous Improvement

Adams Foods has been able to improve the performance of its Leek factory by combining the security of package verification with the ability to make sound CI decisions based on accurate real time information.

Adams Foods has deployed an Olympus Automation PDX Autocoding system at the new cheese packing facility which guarantees packaging security by continuously scanning 2D barcodes and secures date codes by writing directly to line printers. To further increase payback on the investment, Adams Foods is also now using the same shop floor touch screens to capture and report real-time OEE and accurately measure each second of performance.

Of course, most of Adams Foods’ products are sold by fixed weight so it was crucial that the Olympus Automation solution could provide live giveaway percentages and pack weights directly from the checkweighers.

“Whilst reporting the averages ‘giveaway’ at the end of shift allows lessons to be learnt for future shifts, higher savings come from displaying live giveaway values in real time ensuring critical adjustments can be made,” points out Dave Shepherd, Continuous Improvement Manager at Adams Foods. 

Overall Equipment Effectiveness

The variety of add-on modules available with the Olympus Automation PDX Autocoding system have allowed Adams Foods to include OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) reporting and live checkweigher links to meet the growing demands of the business.

OEE is a hierarchy of metrics developed in the 1960’s to evaluate how effectively a manufacturing operation is utilised. OEE reduces complex production problems into simple, intuitive presentation of information in order to systematically improve the process with easy to obtain measurements.

Combined Solution

The Olympus Automation solution at Adams Food combines the security of PDX Autocoding with the ability to capture and report OEE through the PDX Performance software module. Packaging control ensures the correct film, label and date codes are used to meet the high demands made by major retailers. PDX Performance provides real time information that Continuous Improvement teams need to ensure that decisions are based on accurate information.

To prove the advantages of a combined solution, Adams Food initially ran a pilot installation of OEE on a single line. As product information was already recorded within the packaging control system, the only additional signals required were products counts and stop signals.

In addition, as most products are sold by fixed weight, it was decided that Olympus Automation solution would link its software directly to checkweigher values in order to be able to provide a real time giveaway percentage on the touch screen and to record those values by product run.

Successful Outcome

After several months of careful evaluation the pilot proved successful by providing real-time visibility of performance to target and accurately quantifying all lost time, especially losses due to product and web changeovers. Operators can now clearly see giveaway values for the current production run and quickly react when adjustment is required.

Adams Foods has now commissioned Olympus Automation to extend the PDX Autocoding and PDX Performance OEE system across all 24 lines at the Leek production site.

According to David Shepherd the installation of a touch screen PC on each line will improve the hardware investment by allowing the measurement of OEE, reducing downtime and giveaway.

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Source: Olympus Automation Ltd.