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Seasoning manufacturer solves packaging problems with CDC Factory Express

Wixon, Inc., a St. Francis, Wis.-based manufacturer of seasonings and flavors for the food and beverage industry, prides itself on applying advanced science to the development of unique products.

Yet the company struggled to boost efficiency in its packaging operation.

"It was our lowest margin business, and the one which gave us the most issues in terms of efficiency, utilization, and visibility into what was happening on the factory floor," explains Peter Gottsacker, CEO and co‑owner of Wixon. "We needed a culture-changing initiative to make a break from the past."

After looking at some shop floor control systems offering high-level "dashboard" information, Gottsacker concluded, "What we needed wasn't so much information on performance, but rapid information that we could act on-information that links cause and effect."

He says Wixon got just what it need from the CDC Factory Express package from CDC Software. This package is a streamlined, prepackaged version of the solution that CDC Software sells to large manufacturers operating multiple plants.

CDC Software president Mark Sutcliffe says the solution combines manufacturing operations management and enterprise manufacturing intelligence capabilities into an easy-to-install application that offers the ability to not only run a plant, but also includes 75 pre-defined key performance indicators (KPI) that help with efforts at improving plant performance.

Before purchasing the system, Wixon submitted to a three-day audit, conducted by CDC personnel, which indicated the system could boost the packaging plant's efficiency by 13 percent. Sutcliffe says larger companies typically see 10 percent to 12 percent improvement in areas such as labor efficiency and material utilization within three months after installing the standard CDC Factory solution. 

The audit numbers convinced Wixon management to proceed with its own implementation. Though it's too soon to provide actual numbers related to improved efficiencies or cost reductions, Gottsacker said he's pleased with the progress to date.

The most noticeable change so for, he says, is that the system has uncovered specific issues for the production staff to address in order to improve overall plant performance. 

For instance, raw material utilization is being improved as filling machines are tuned to minimize ‘product giveaway'-the element of overfill added to each packet to ensure that random variations in the quantity tolerance do not result in individual packets containing less product than stated on the packaging.

"The initial ROI we calculated when purchasing the system was based solely on labor dollar savings-but the material savings should be even bigger," Gottsacker says, adding that CDC Factory Express is also helping Wixon measure the effectiveness of its lean programs.

"I see significant opportunities for us in at least being able to objectively measure our lean initiatives," he says.  "We started 18 months ago, but it's proved difficult to determine if-say-we've made a meaningful reduction in setup and changeover times."  Now, he concludes, CDC Factory Express will make that crystal clear.

Source: Manufacturing Business Technology

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