Create efficient operational processes that will scale with business growth.
Deployed the QAD Redzone Connected Workforce Solution, deploying all four modules between 2021 and 2022.
Acquired real-time visibility into production conditions compared to using reporting that was 2-3 weeks old and provided lagging indicators.
Reduced production lead times from 10 to 3 weeks over 9 months.
Drove production output by 33% and achieved an overall equipment effectiveness uplift of 48%.
Reduced overtime to 0%, saving $360K.
Increased staffing by 20% to handle business growth.
Offered a popular four-day week, reducing staff turnover by 13%.
Completed 775 total maintenance activities, reducing closeout time from 16 to two days.
Decreased equipment downtime from 3-4 monthly breakdowns to zero over the past 3 months.
Reduced food safety audit timeframes from three to 1.5 days while providing inspectors with all data and reports during the audit.
Decreased customer complaints from 3-4 a week to 3-4 a month.
Received an A rating from a large customer due to a 99.92% service level for never-out stock-keeping units (SKUs).
Utah-based Confectionary Company Unlocks a Winning Strategy for Driving Production
Taffy Town is a fourth-generation candy company based in West Jordan, Utah. The company is renowned for its saltwater taffy, available in over 80 standard and seasonal flavors and shipped globally. Its 75-person workforce includes 60 shop-floor staff who work two full-time shifts across three departments. Operators cook the taffy in two departments, while in the third, they assemble and wrap products for shipping.
While the company has strong family ties, employing siblings and cousins, Taffy Town’s leaders are unafraid to break with tradition. During the pandemic, the company experienced an ongoing sales boom that strained production processes. Lead times doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled past historic norms. As a result, President and CEO Jason Glade knew he was losing sales.
“One of the important things that the pandemic revealed to me is that we can’t keep doing the business the way we’ve always done and expect growth to happen,” said Glade. “Although we make great-quality products, I felt we had to return to the drawing board and say, ‘What do we do best? Where are our gaps? What do we need to address to grow as a company?’”
Glade knew the path forward was to adopt lean manufacturing processes. He invited some consultants to the plant to evaluate how production teams could become more efficient. One of the team’s recommendations was to adopt software enabling employees to initiate and drive process improvements.
“I’ve told the sales team at QAD Redzone that their customers are the best sales people. From talking to my peers, it was clear that QAD Redzone checked all the boxes we were looking for on our journey to becoming more efficient and effective,” says Glade.
Taffy Town deployed QAD Redzone in October 2021 and never looked back. Taylor Windatt, Operational Excellence Lead Coach, worked with the team to deploy the first three modules, Productivity, Compliance, and Reliability, while QAD Redzone Senior Director of Product Management Blake Washington spearheaded the Learning deployment.
“Taylor was instrumental in helping us understand that QAD Redzone isn’t just a software solution: It’s a tool to drive culture change with transparency, communication, and tools that empower each worker,” says Glade.
Launching QAD Redzone with a 90-Day Sprint
Windatt worked with Taffy Town leaders and teams to achieve five standard measurable Lean journey goals during a 90-day sprint:
Creating a visual factory, which includes OEE measurements that all workers can see 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 the sprint
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 them moving forward
How QAD Redzone Has Empowered Taffy Town to Become Operationally Excellent
Taffy Town created the visual factory by deploying an overhead TV on the production floor and iPads next to all production equipment. In addition, workers could access the QAD Redzone app on their smartphones. These tools provided real-time awareness about production conditions and anomalies and access to work instructions and tools like dashboards, leaderboards, actions, issues, alerts, chats, logs, and blogs with summarized content on meetings and forums. Previously, the production team worked with 2-3 week-old reports, meaning the data was no longer relevant to current production conditions. “Now, with real-time data, we can make changes on the fly,” says Glade.
Workers hold huddles, daily operations meetings, and weekly performance improvement sessions and use chats to brainstorm improvements and share the successes of process changes.
Glade thought it would take a few weeks for employees to adopt the technology. However, within 48 hours, operators were sharing information about production runs, giving each other high-fives for great ideas, thanking others for setting up their shift for success, and taking other actions.
Overcoming Reluctance to Adopt New Standard Work Processes
According to Glade, some employees hesitated to adopt QAD Redzone because they knew they would need to change their work mindset and processes.
One of the most reluctant adopters was the head of maintenance, who told Glade, “When we put those iPads by all the equipment, operators are going to provide their complaints in real time. This is going to be a nightmare because we’re already overwhelmed.”
Previously, operators would submit paper-based maintenance requests, which would be physically sorted on the manager’s desk. He would then use a whiteboard to list upcoming repairs.
Now, with QAD Redzone, the maintenance team can see, organize, and manage all maintenance activities in the app. The technicians can respond to early warning signs, catching equipment issues before they develop into more serious repairs. In addition, technicians can use analytics to detect repeat tickets, perform root-cause analyses, and solve underlying issues. The team has completed 775 activities, decreasing closeout time from 16 to two days.
“Before, we had equipment that we’d take offline long term because we couldn’t diagnose the underlying problem. We were having two to three breakdowns a month. With QAD Redzone, we haven’t had any equipment downtime in the last three months,” says Glade.
And the maintenance manager? He became one of QAD Redzone’s biggest fans when he saw how the tool enabled his team to prioritize work and prevent major repairs. In addition, his team can complete work during the day instead of coming in after hours to fix issues.
The maintenance team and operators also have a better working relationship because they collaborate on diagnosing issues and making repairs instead of pointing fingers at each other.
“We have this whole list of checks that operators go through to self-evaluate problems. So that’s done before the maintenance techs even come out on the floor. And they can review the 5 Senses data, identify anomalies, and fix things faster.’
Boosting Productivity on a Key Focus Line
Taffy Town focused the initial deployment on its cut-wrap department because it had lagging processes, was easy to benchmark, and process improvements would significantly boost overall throughput. The cut-wrap department ran on eight lines across both shifts.
Before QAD Redzone, the cut-wrap department averaged 45% OEE. After 90 days of using QAD Redzone, the team achieved a 40-point OEE uplift. Taffy Town leaders and Windatt helped the team improve by showing them how much time they spent cleaning machines, changing over runs, and experiencing machine downtime to see how to improve processes. Operators would make one improvement after another, and the OEE score kept rising each week.
“We had hung out at 40% to 45% OEE forever at our company, not knowing that if we made some changes, we could drive output overnight,” said Glade.
After nine months, OEE maxed at a 48% improvement. As a result of these improvements, Taffy Town is driving more throughput and has shipped more products out on time. In addition, teams have cross-trained on new responsibilities, providing Taffy Town with greater operational flexibility.
And with greater production predictability, Taffy Town has offered employees a four-day workweek, which they enjoy and which serves as a powerful recruitment tool.
Simplifying Audit Processes
Audit preparation, too, has gotten simpler. As a food company, Taffy Town contracts with a third party to inspect its processes and ensure they comply with relevant regulations.
Before deploying QAD Redzone, inspectors would come onsite for three days, and the quality assurance manager would follow up afterward with additional reports.
Now, the inspector only needs 1.5 days to review processes and data because the quality team can provide data on demand.
Redesigning Training to Meet New Business Needs
The last module that Taffy Town deployed was Learning. Previously, the human resources team couldn’t scale paper-based training or measure impact. In addition, some operators were running their equipment more effectively than others, indicating a training gap.
As a result, the team is redesigning all training processes across the different departments to equip workers with the skills they need to drive the business forward.
Glade says he also reviews training data to find high-potential talent he can advance into production lead or department head positions.
Postponing CapEx Investments with Greater Efficiency
Glade says that boosting productivity with QAD Redzone has helped me avoid the CapEx expense of opening another plant to handle business growth.
“We think we can wait another 6-7 years to open a new facility because QAD Redzone provides so many different ways we can increase efficiency,” says Glade. “We can take our current assets and use them better.”
Customers are responding favorably to process improvements. Complaints have decreased by 75%, and Taffy Town recently received an A rating from a large customer due to a 99.92% service level for never-out SKUs.
Taking an Exceptional Culture and Making It Better
Taffy Town’s leaders know that the marketplace for top talent is only getting more competitive. As a result, they focus on building an appealing corporate culture that attracts workers and makes them want to stay and develop long-lasting careers.
Glade says he appreciates that QAD Redzone has given his team a digital identity, enabling workers to easily contribute ideas to solve problems in the production, maintenance, and quality departments.
Glade also turns monthly town hall meetings into a party, catering lunch and bringing out a giant wheel that employees can spin for cash. If the company has had a great month, everyone might get a chance at the wheel, spinning to win $5, $10, $20 or even $100. Glade wears sunglasses, plays music, and even dances as he emcees the events and shares the latest production data. Employees cheer and engage in the meeting instead of hiding in a corner, ignoring the presenter, and focusing on their meals.
As a result of adopting QAD Redzone, staff turnover has decreased by 13%, and employees recommend their friends and family for new roles when they become available.
Taffy Town Keeps on Winning with QAD Redzone
When asked to describe QAD Redzone to a peer, Glade said it is “culture-changing software that will facilitate growth in multiple ways – improving operational efficiency, employee development, and engagement.” He says his favorite feature of the solution is that it “gives employees a voice and enables them to be heard across the organization.”
Taffy Town’s results with QAD Redzone are outstanding by any measure, and our leaders took note. The company was named 2023 Plant of the Year at the QAD Redzone Community Awards.