Automated packaging verification solution results in increased productivity

01 December 2020

Find out how a seafood company gained a 50% improvement in productivity since installation of an automated verification solution to protect its packaging lines.

Following recent growth, the leadership team at Joseph Robertson, a seafood company based in Scotland, looked into new ways that it could safeguard its retail packaging lines to prevent product recalls. 

Initially the company set out to tighten up its label & date code verification system to ensure full security at higher volumes and compliance with retailer codes of practice. This search led the company to OAL who explained how the company could automate what had previously been a manual process, using its OAL Connected solution. Following successful implementation, the OAL Connected system was upgraded to enable it to measure the plant’s performance and this allowed the company to achieve a 50% improvement in its overall equipment efficiency (OEE) and go paperless. 

Primary objective
The primary objective of the project had been to find a label & date code system to prevent product recalls and protect the company’s packaging lines. The product quality checks and production data at the manufacturing site were largely paper-based, leaving the company open to human error. 

Because Joseph Robertson supplies a variety of retailers, a flexible, automated system was required to ensure the right products left the facility in the right packaging with the right date code every time. 

By applying 2D codes to all packaging and linking the OAL Connected label & date code verification system to the printers, Joseph Robertson is able to scan every product and compare them to the pre-entered job information on the master database to make sure that the right packaging, label and date code are present, automating the process and eliminating human error. 

Following installation of the system, the company decided to invest in a further system upgrade to take advantage of the OEE capabilities to measure plant performance and boost productivity. Because the system is in place to check date codes, it can also provide an accurate view of OEE because the start and the end of the product run must be entered, capturing the entirety of operational time. Any stoppages must be accounted for, with operators obliged to enter a reason code for each interruption. This allows stakeholders to see exactly what happened on a particular production run without having to sift through mountains of paperwork. 

Real-time data reports can be accessed from anywhere, allowing key stakeholders to view pressure points in the process and immediately rectify any causes of downtime, solving the problem at the source to improve future performance and transforming productivity levels.

In addition, paperwork has been eliminated as all checks are now carried out digitally, increasing accuracy by removing the element of human error, enhancing traceability, reducing storage costs and making everyone’s life easier, from those having to complete the forms to those trying to gain meaningful insights from them. 

Key results
Not only has Joseph Robertson been free of product recalls since installation, the company was also able to achieve payback on the system in under three months thanks to the productivity gains that it was able to make.

Commenting on the system, James Robertson, director at Joseph Robertson, said: “What was originally brought in to prevent product recalls has now become an invaluable tool to improve our production efficiency while also eliminating paperwork from the factory floor. By highlighting ‘invisible’ problems, the system has transformed our operations and helped to position us for future growth.”

Using the OEE functionalities, Joseph Robertson has increased its productivity by 50% through a range of activities designed to eliminate short stoppages that quickly add up. The system has also given the company the confidence to set an even higher OEE target as the team continues to drive further improvements based on the data generated by the system. The next stage in its journey is to roll out the OAL Connected system to other areas of the facility to bring further productivity gains and remove any remaining paperwork. 

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