While BBPCo has invested in its machinery and its workforce to process increasing demand, the company recognises it needs a root and branch revamp of its processes to achieve its ambitions of becoming a much more automated factory.
“Until a few years ago Industry 4.0 was just a phrase I kept hearing,” Richard explained. “I was too busy getting on with the job to investigate how it applied to our business. When I finally took some time to see how we could benefit from digital tools and technologies it was a lightbulb moment and I’ve never looked back.”
After upskilling his management team and developing a digital transformation strategy, Richard established a set of key objectives including: system integration to capture and display real-time data; analytics to identify potential efficiencies; increased automation to reduce human intervention; increased production and capacity to build stocks for seasonal sales spikes; and improved accuracy and reduced waste.
Richard said: “Over the years we have developed an in-house method of collecting and collating the data from every area of the business into what we call our factory flow spreadsheet. Without it we couldn't operate. But the process of analysing it with a view to understanding how the business is doing and what can be done to improve it, is very time consuming and onerous, plus it can take place weeks after the event. What we need is an automated solution to capture the data, analyse it and display in real-time.”
BBPCo also identified an opportunity to improve production of its main stick and chub consumer packs.
The company currently uses a manual method of checking the mean weight of a product run, which is then recorded on paper and analysed for anomalies.
“Employing a manual system to double or treble check accuracy or identify mistakes, and adhere to legal mean weight requirements, is very costly,” Richard said. “With digital tools we could streamline the process, improve accuracy, give our sales department complete oversight of availability for customers, and reduce waste.”