These days, great taste isn’t the only thing that consumers want in the foods they buy. Increasingly, issues like food safety and product traceability matter a lot, too.
Such concerns aren’t lost on the folks at Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited – a global dairy company owned by around 10,500 New Zealand farmers.
“Fonterra’s vision is to make a difference in the lives of 2 billion people worldwide by 2020,” says Andrew Longwill, the information services manager for Fonterra’s Australia operations. “To earn consumer trust, you need the ability to track and trace all the ingredients that go into your milk, cheese, butter, and other dairy foods.”
Looking for process perfection
Two billion is a big number.
But Fonterra already has customers in more than 140 countries around the globe. In fact, this New Zealand co-operative is responsible for approximately 30% of the world’s dairy exports.
Fonterra helps ensure both the taste and safety of its products by using only the highest quality ingredients – like fresh milk from grass-fed cows – and by maintaining a global view of traceability data across its extensive supply chain. This rigorous oversight extends to the company’s milk processing facilities as well.
When milk arrives at the various Fonterra sites, it is transformed into dairy foods under individual process orders.
“There are a lot transactions needed to complete just one process order,” says Longwill. “And to ensure product quality and safety, there are confirmations to perform and data to collect all along the way.”
Recently, Fonterra implemented a custom app designed to streamline some factory operations that once relied heavily on paper production information (PI) sheets.
“The PI sheets we used were old and clunky,” says Simon Crowley, chief enterprise architect at Fonterra. “We’re looking to digitize the plants and offer our people a more consumer-like set of process interfaces.”
The project started with a design thinking workshop that gathered the input and ideas of the factory workers. Then the team provided operators and production supervisors with a mobile interface featuring a simplified user experience covering more than 200 individual process order management tasks.
Churning up quality
Fonterra has implemented the new quality app at its Cobden processing plant in Victoria, Australia.
Cobden is home to the award-winning Western Star Butter brand. This facility processes more than 295 million liters of fresh milk a year. Fonterra workers here churn out dairy foods with instant visibility into process order progress and a simplified method for capturing critical production and quality data.
As Rob Howell, general manager of manufacturing operations for Fonterra Australia, observes, “We want our operators and production supervisors to spend their time on what they do best – concentrating on the machinery, the output, and the quality of our dairy foods.”
Fonterra now intends to roll out the custom app to an additional six facilities in Australia by the end of the year. Eliminating the manual data input associated with the paper PI sheets will be an especially welcome change for all the Fonterra employees working the processing plant floors.
Learn how to innovate at scale by incorporating individual innovations back to the core business to drive tangible business value by reading “Accelerating Digital Transformation in Consumer Products.” Explore how to bring Industry 4.0 insights into your business today by reading “Industry 4.0: What’s Next?”
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