Manufacturing Performance Software Brings Big Gains

May 21, 2014
What happens when a fifth-generation family-owned business goes shopping for real-time manufacturing performance software?

In the case of Knoxville, TN-based Bush Brothers, the answer is improved Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) and maximized utilization of existing assets. Bush Brothers’ Operations Area Manager Anthony Peterson talked about how these benefits were gained in his May 20 presentation at The Automation Conference, sponsored by Summit Media Group and held May 20-21 at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare.

The software selected by Bush Brothers is TrakSYS from Parsec. According to Peterson, every 1% improvement in OEE meant an increase in capacity at the firm’s Augusta, WI, plant of 198,800 cases. At its Chestnut Hill, TN, plant, the annual capacity increase was 404,900 cases. As for maximizing asset utilization, every 1% improvement in OEE meant a savings of $149,261 at Augusta and $244,977 at Chestnut Hill.

The selection team responsible for specifying which one of six software suppliers had the right system for Bush Brothers had a number of criteria in mind as they did their research a little over four years ago. The software selected would have to be cost effective and easy to use for operators, and it would have to automate data collection in a way that made it easy to get reports without shuffling through reams of paper or Excel spread sheets. But almost as important as anything, said Peterson, “We wanted a cultural fit. We didn’t want a vendor who took the position that this is the one and only way that OEE can be defined. We wanted a program our internal resources could grow with and, in time, troubleshoot if need be.” With TrakSYS, said Peterson, Bush Brothers got a program that is now completely interwoven with the business, one that continues to grow and evolve.

Shift reports, Sunday start-up reports, downtime reports, single-event trending, top five performance loss events—all this and much more is now available in real-time and easily-generated reports thanks to communications monitors in the plant. “It’s a great communications platform,” said Peterson. “The information is consistent and nonbiased. We can put action plans into place so much more quickly and efficiently now. Employees can even see if they’re in a position to break a productivity record for their shift. They don’t need a manager to tell them there’s a record to be broken. It’s there on the display panels.”

The real-time data acquisition system can even help build a case for new packaging equipment. For example, when an existing can coder stopped printing without warning and was requiring a lot of attention from the maintenance technicians, Bush Brothers created a Journal Entry function on TrakSYS so that the techs could neatly and methodically log the printer issues in one location. This organized and revealing report was sent to the printer vendor, and then after the printer vendor’s service tech made adjustments to the printer, the Journal Entry feature made it possible to continue tracking the printer’s performance. In short order it was clear that a new can coder was what was called for.

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