How we optimise the production flow in food companies

More and more food companies are asking themselves how they can increase production speed without sacrificing quality. Sirris is ideally placed to help them, thanks to our extensive experience in the field of smart production. For instance, we helped the Colruyt Group supermarket chain to develop a new meat processing factory. The factory production had to run extremely smoothly so that he company could keep lowering the price.

“Of course, to know how a food company can manufacture optimally, we first need  to know how their production lines work at the moment. Either the customer has already gathered the relevant information, which was the case with the Colruyt Group, or we start with a comprehensive study of the current processes”, says Advanced Manufacturing Specialist Filiep Vincent.

Re-drawing production lines

If the processes are fully known, our specialists get to work drawing up the ideal production line. Their starting point is often a blank sheet of paper, on which, working with the customer, they draw up an optimal floor plan for the factory. In other cases, the company has already done that itself. "In this case, the Colruyt Group had already done a lot of thinking about the ideal way their production floor would be laid out. We went through the plans together, step by step, to be sure that the company was on the right track”, says Vincent Filiep.

An important principle, which was naturally followed with the Colruyt Group, is that the production steps have to follow each other logically. "In an ideal situation, the raw materials enter at one side of the hall, are processed as they go through the building and roll off the conveyor at the other end. If a product is returned to a machine that is earlier in the production line, precious time has been lost”.

"In addition, the machines must not create any bottlenecks, for example because they stop too often. This can happen if they make several types of products and have to be cleaned at every changeover. But if the customer wants that, we can look for a solution”, said Filiep. “It might be cheaper to bring in a second machine”.

Optimal control by digitisation

Automation of the production steps is also possible. “Operations that don’t add much value are ideal for outsourcing to robots. These include moving products from one machine to another.

If the company wants to take things further, there are many other business processes that can be automated. With the integrated software packages now available, manufacturers can plan and invoice the orders, control production and manage the warehouse electronically. “For this, it’s crucial that the IT applications communicate with each other. That not only saves time, it also reduces the risk of errors”.

Are you interested in our guidance?

Please contact our specialist Filiep Vincent by telephone (+32 491 34 53 92) or e-mail Filiep.Vincent@sirris.be.

You might also like to look at the Food Factory of the Future website, which is an initiative by Sirris, Agoria and innovation Flanders' FOOD. Together, we help to turn food companies into factories of the future.