Packaging Innovator Achieves 23% OEE Uplift with QAD Redzone
Optimize operations by moving off paper-based processes, increasing staff engagement, and streamlining compliance.
Deployed the QAD Redzone Connected Workforce Solution at two plants and implemented new processes.
Increased productivity by 20%.
Enhanced staff engagement by 70%.
Achieved 23% overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) uplift at one plant and a 13% uplift at the second.
Drove daily throughput by 68%, bringing two additional hours of partial production back online across two shifts.
Completed 28,000 compliance checks in five months.
Able to conduct mock recalls in just 45 minutes.
Why T.H.E.M. Is A Leading Contract Packager
T.H.E.M. (Technical Help in Engineering and Marketing) is a second-generation, New Jersey-based family business that is thriving in the ultra-competitive industry of contract packaging. According to CEO Neil Kozarksy, a major reason for the company’s ongoing growth is tied to a founding principle of the company.
“We view packaging as a strategic weapon for our clients,” Mr. Kozarsky said.
Back in 1996, T.H.E.M. entered into a partnering relationship with Japan-based Sanko Machinery Co. to bring Stick Packs to the North American market. T.H.E.M. worked with global food and beverage brands to reinvent low- and non-calorie powdered drink mixes such as Crystal Light, Propel, and 4C. “We supported our clients by providing the materials, technology, and packaging machinery to launch and mass-commercialize a new business model around the single-serve format enabled by Stick Packs,” added Mr. Kozarsky.
T.H.E.M. has since ridden the wave of single-serve and single-use packaging to even greater success, partnering with brands to deliver new products that support consumers’ desire to eat on the go and dispense their own daily supplements anywhere conveniently. According to Mr. Kozarksy, “Consumers are looking for products that are hygienic, pre-dosed, easy to open, and tamper-resistant. We’re able to deliver on that.”
Continues Mr. Kozarksy, “Brands are a profit center. Everything else is a cost center.” That philosophy has influenced the way T.H.E.M. does business. T.H.E.M. works with brands, technology companies, material and label stock providers, and others to develop and qualify new solutions up to 60% faster than competitors and deliver better measurable results in the marketplace. In addition, T.H.E.M. seeks to optimize its own operations: reducing risks, increasing throughput, and improving product quality.
A Search for Process Control Solutions that Led to QAD Redzone
The T.H.E.M. leadership team began searching for a new solution that would help the company improve operational processes. T.H.E.M. packages products for food, consumer packaged goods, and drug manufacturers at two plants. About 80 full-time and 300 temporary workers oversee 13 assembly lines, packaging liquids, powders, and pharmaceuticals.
“We wanted to move off paper-based processes and increase operational efficiencies,” says Amy Sena, Vice President of Quality Control. “Our supervisors and operators were tracking critical production data by hand, including how many sticks and units we produced per hour, our yield loss, and product quality. As a result, answering customer questions about production and conducting mock recalls could take two to three days.”
While the leadership team looked at a range of solutions, only QAD Redzone was able to deliver on the promise of 100% paperless processes. “Our inspectors and auditors expect a certain level of compliance. We need to be able to access critical data in seconds, not days,” says Ms. Sena. She had launched QAD Redzone at a previous employer and understood the solution’s capabilities. In addition, a trusted partner and customer also recommended QAD Redzone. As a result, the T.H.E.M. leadership made the decision to deploy the QAD Redzone Connected Workforce Solution.
Launching QAD Redzone with a 90-Day Sprint
QAD Redzone works with all of its customers to achieve five measurable Lean journey goals during an intensive 90-day sprint. These goals include:
Creating a visual factory, which includes OEE measurements that are visible to all workers, factory-wide, and in real-time.
Coaching operators and supervisors to adopt Lean production techniques and collaborative problem-solving skills.
Improving OEE by at least eight points by the end of day 90.
Achieving cost savings of $500K+ for smaller factories and $1M+ for larger factories, as verified by their finance functions.
Sustaining all gains made in the first 90 days and improving on them in the months and years to come.
T.H.E.M. committed to this path, deploying QAD Redzone at its two plants and working with coaches to implement new processes. As a cloud-based solution, QAD Redzone automatically collects real-time data about production and waste directly from production lines, making it instantly available to teams. In addition, teams can share tips and strategies for improving processes with each other and across functions.
Our coaches were determined to help us succeed. They know that getting our frontline workers comfortable with QAD Redzone and paperless processes was critical to driving lasting change.”
The coaches met with workers one-on-one and in teams, helping them adopt new processes and conducting mock scenarios where staff practiced new skills. Teams are able to review QAD Rezone data and messages on overhead TVs, iOS iPads placed at workstations, and on their iPhones, making it easier to respond to changing production developments.
The Connected Workforce Solution also provides real-time language translation capabilities, enabling all workers to participate equally. At T.H.E.M., that means providing content in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese.
Achieving Impressive Gains in Just 90 Days
After 90 days, T.H.E.M. drove measurable business and operational results, including:
Achieving a significant OEE uplift: T.H.E.M was able to achieve a 23% overall OEE uplift at one plant and a 13% uplift at the second.
Reducing the company’s carbon footprint: The company now uses 100% paperless processes, consolidating data gathering and reporting and making it easier to search and find critical data.
Improving production safety: Teams, including members of production, quality, and maintenance functions, hold huddles before beginning work, to review production requirements and safety updates and share ideas. Anyone can enter a safety issue into QAD Redzone, which then sends the safety manager an alert. The safety manager then provides a timeframe for addressing the issue.
Making plays to help others: Any team member can create a play, a video tip on how to execute a process or solve a problem. “Our maintenance team is the most involved function in creating plays. They were doing the work before, but now they’re gaining visibility for how they’re improving equipment uptime,” says Ms. Sena.
Driving production throughput: All T.H.E.M. teams used to take meal breaks at the same time, idling production lines. “We knew this was happening, but we didn’t know what it cost in terms of throughput,” says Ms. Sena. With data from QAD Redzone, T.H.E.M. production leaders decided to stagger meal breaks, so only part of the team is offline at any time. That single decision has driven daily throughput by 68% by bringing two hours of partial production back online across two shifts.
Strengthening partner relationships: With QAD Redzone, T.H.E.M. captures actionable insights from production team members about potential operational improvements that can be readily conveyed to the source. “We regularly talk to our partners at Sanko about the specific needs of our customers. The data and inputs we are capturing help them engineer and fine-tune our filling systems,” says Mr. Kozarksy.
Performing compliance checks: One of the greatest gains T.H.E.M. has achieved is with compliance. As the company transitioned from handwritten to software-driven checks using QAD Redzone, its staff completed 28,000 compliance checks in five months.
Amy SenaVice President of Quality Control, T.H.E.M.
“If you’re a quality manager, QAD Redzone will make your life a lot easier. You can make your company more compliant and successful during audits and retrieve data in seconds.”
“Before, our teams had to weigh products and log data manually,” says Ms. Sena. “Now, workers can place products in Bluetooth-enabled scales, which automatically upload data to QAD Redzone. It’s a huge time saver for teams and also shows which workers are doing their checks at the right time.” Workers missed fewer than 3% of all checks and were able to rectify all of them using the QAD Redzone app.
Improving communications on the floor: T.H.E.M. teams take photos of products, UPS codes, and packaging to avoid mishaps, such as products getting mislabeled or multiple flavors being placed in one package. Workers can then scan UPC codes to learn more about each product.
“Our customers are vigilant about product quality. We are too. Our processes have just gotten a lot more efficient since deploying QAD Redzone,” says Ms. Sena.
Enhancing staff engagement: T.H.E.M. conducted an anonymous culture survey before and after deploying QAD Redzone. Staff engagement has increased by 70% and productivity by 20%, in part due to the new processes and positive culture enabled by QAD Redzone.
It’s great to see how excited our workforce is to use QAD Redzone. It’s made production a fun, challenging team experience. It’s also helped reduce tension between teams, because production, quality, maintenance, and safety are now all on the same page.”
Supervisors recognize great ideas and performance by offering digital high fives and good catches to staff using QAD Redzone. In addition, QAD Redzone encourages companies to create a culture of celebration, recognizing workers at digital and in-person town halls and keeping motivation high.
Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement
The T.H.E.M. leadership team couldn’t be happier about what they’ve been able to achieve thus far and plan to extend gains by deploying two new modules in the near future.
The Reliability module will help the T.H.E.M. maintenance team implement paperless processes and identify and fix issues before they harm production. Meanwhile, the Learning module will enable T.H.E.M. to streamline worker onboarding and train new hires on equipment, by providing instructional videos in their own language. QAD Redzone timestamps video sessions and captures worker signatures, providing proof that T.H.E.M. can use with regulators to demonstrate safety compliance. The Learning module will also help existing workers progress their careers, by providing a real-time digital skills matrix and learning packs staff can use to master the most in-demand skills.
In addition, T.H.E.M is using QAD Redzone data to work with suppliers and gain access to single lots of material, to reduce changeovers. When asked about their favorite aspect of QAD Redzone, Ms. Sena says “efficiency” and Mr. Kozarksy says “communication.” Both are recommending the solution to others in their industry.
In fact, says Ms. Sena, “When we show our auditors what we can do with QAD Redzone, they tell us they’re going to recommend it to their other customers.”
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