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Production Supervisors Go Mobile

Using an iPad on the production floor at MLF

Building a digital future is one of the six core strategies at Maple Leaf Foods to help fulfil our vision to be the most sustainable protein company on earth.

What does building a digital future mean to Maple Leaf Foods? A great deal.

A prime example of our digital strategy coming to life can be seen through a new pilot program that was recently launched in select manufacturing facilities. Production supervisors on our plant floors were finding that they had to spend a lot of their time away from the production lines and back at their desks – an inefficient process. We wanted to find a solution and bring production supervisors back to the floor.

Quality assurance specialist in a plantMaple Leaf Foods partnered with SAP and Apple to create a user-centred iPad application that would enable production supervisors to perform their core responsibilities from the plant floor.

Andreas Liris, Chief Information Officer, speaks to the goal: “We had a vision to give production supervisors the ability to do their jobs right from the plant floor. And we knew that, together with our partners at SAP and Apple, we would be able to develop a solution that would meet our needs.”

Before we implemented this new technology solution, if a supervisor discovered an issue with a piece of equipment, for example, they would have to inspect the issue on the plant floor, write down the details on paper, take a photo with a cell phone, email that photo to themselves, leave the floor, change clothing, go back to their office and retrieve the photo from their email to create the notification in SAP, change clothing again, and go back to the plant floor.

Now the production supervisor can inspect the issue and create the notification right on the plant floor electronically, taking a photo directly with the iPad to show the maintenance team exactly where the issue is. This new process has resulted in:

  • Increased production supervisor time on plant floor of up to 20 per cent by eliminating desk-bound transactions, and thus resulting in a 15 to 25 per cent boost in productivity;
  • Faster, real-time data entry directly from the plant floor;
  • Improved quality of notifications reporting; and
  • Reduced use of paper, supporting our sustainability goals to reduce waste.

Checking production codeThe response from the pilot plants has been overwhelmingly positive. “Supervisor Mobility has allowed my leadership team to remain on the floor, where the action is, instead of in an office,” said Kyle Berdan, production manager at the McLeod plant. “The ability to quickly access SAP, emails, etc., on the go has resulted in improvements at the facility.”

Production supervisors and their teams now spend a greater percentage of their time together on the plant floor, allowing for more coaching and support. Maple Leaf Foods has already rolled out this technology to 10 plants and is now considering ways it can deploy the tool and app to even more sites.