Modernization without major interruptions
The implementation of the MES system was part of a larger modernization project that also included changes in the physical building and higher level of automation in the logistics operations (eg, connecting the high rack warehouse to the production and automated guided vehicles). The major challenge for the parties involved was to maintain the production and logistics operations without major interruptions. The constant changes through the individual projects required optimal coordination and fine-tuning. The high standards of product quality, hygiene and service delivery also had to be adhered to at all times.
New silos for raw and bulk products play a key role for optimal production processes. It is now possible to control material flows and to track production processes, thanks to an accurate and automatic data acquisition of the MES. Manual and paper-based pre-production steps, such as pre-weighing of raw material, are now also supported by the system. Operators are guided through the weighing using ergonomic workplaces and barcode scanners, thereby ensuring an accurate and efficient process at all times.
The new system now controls the work order picklists of the individual products. When the production order is downloaded from the ERP system, the MES system starts the batches and calls the necessary raw material, which is delivered via a driverless fork lift (AGV) from the high rack warehouse. Another part of the raw materials comes from the day silos. The required ingredients in the dry mix are then combined, mixed dry or wet depending on the recipe, and then dried, granulated and bottled as a dry mixture.
The system thus controls the overall formulation — from the weighing of raw materials to the actual mixing process, including automatic dosing of all components supplied. With automation, error rates are reduced as the system instantly detects and interrupts the weighing or mixing process when any deviations are detected.