West Liberty Foods implements Leading2Lean CloudDISPATCH to save $2 million in maintenance costs, achieve 89% utilization of its workforce, and improve operational availability.
Executives at meat processor West Liberty Foods felt they could improve operations but needed a way to identify and solve inefficiencies stemming from a complex, manual data-entry system and lag time in understanding maintenance issues.
After implementing Leading2Lean’s Lean Execution System, CloudDISPATCH, the company saved $2 million in maintenance costs by tracking where they spent money on materials and employee time. West Liberty Foods has also achieved 89% utilization of its maintenance workforce and improved operational availability in at least one of its plants to 96%, an increase of nearly 10 percent.
About West Liberty Foods
West Liberty Foods, based in West Liberty, Iowa, is one of the largest turkey processors in the United States. It began in 1996 under the guiding principles of the Iowa Turkey Growers Cooperative, which carries on Iowa’s rich farming tradition. Their grower/owners are committed to animal health and welfare while delivering superior-quality turkeys—a philosophy that has helped family farms grow and thrive for generations. The continued success of West Liberty Foods is due to the dedication, enthusiasm, and support of its grower/owners.
West Liberty Foods owns four meat-processing plants and a cold storage distribution center. The company produces prepared beef, turkey, chicken, and pork products mainly as white labels for large national foodservice and grocery retailer customers. Customers rely on West Liberty Foods to consistently deliver products on time while adhering to the highest food safety standards. Production lines must be reliable in their high-volume factories, and they must document all manufacturing policies and procedures for USDA and other government regulatory inspectors.
West Liberty Food’s Maintenance Challenge
While maintenance technicians and leadership in the plants were diligent in taking notes, recording paperwork, and inputting data into their existing operations system, technicians had a difficult time finding and analyzing the data to make the best business decisions. If the team wanted reports, they had to request them from the IT department. They weren’t able to get a full view of what was happening in the plants because they couldn’t see the data in time to react to a problem. Between recording the information and running the reports, it took three to four days on average before the team knew what was happening in the plant. With manual entry of line and machine abnormality data, important information would sometimes be lost or not recorded.
West Liberty Food’s leadership determined that they needed software that would provide the right data to the right people at the right time, while production was in process and not after. The goal was to provide plant managers with plant floor clarity, meaning the maintenance team could be more effective at proactive activities and not limited to responding to the same equipment failures over and over.
After assessing other CMMS alternatives, West Liberty Foods selected Leading2Lean’s Lean Execution System, CloudDISPATCH, because it digitalized the company’s maintenance function. Not only were dispatches initiated by line operators in the same software that tracks their resolution, maintenance leadership finally had insight into how to effectively increase operational availability and manage their assets.
Saved $2 Million in Maintenance Costs
Deploying CloudDISPATCH saved West Liberty Foods $2 million in maintenance costs and continues to deliver a solid ROI. The software helps West Liberty Foods reduce its cost of spares by revealing where ongoing machine abnormalities occur so that maintenance technicians aren’t always reacting. Instead, they can engage in preventive maintenance through problem-solving. Because CloudDISPATCH maintains digital records of abnormality trends and resolutions, technicians can easily access machine history. This is an important benefit in their highly regulated manufacturing environment.
Like all food manufacturers, West Liberty Foods has sanitation prerequisites to enter a production area. Maintenance technicians must follow a careful protocol, dress in protective equipment and perform work on complex food manufacturing equipment. In the past, if they found a component that needed replacing, they would have to leave the room, remove their gear, obtain the component from the spares department, and then start the process again. With Leading2Lean, technicians can order spares while on the floor and have them delivered. “Keeping the technician on the job saves a lot of time for us,” said Chad Williams, Corporate Maintenance Manager.
Resource/Workforce Utilization at 88.5 Percent
Before Leading2Lean, West Liberty Foods didn’t have a real-time reporting system to truly measure workforce utilization. Today, West Liberty Foods tracks all tasks in real-time. Because of this view, the company was able to identify and act on opportunities to improve efficiency in both small and large ways.
Operational Availability Improved by 10%
In the first West Liberty Foods facility where they deployed Leading2Lean, machine uptime (operational availability) was at 86.6%. After two years, the same facility led the company at 96.3%, nearly a 10% improvement. One of the key driving factors is that Leading2Lean gave the company visibility into the manufacturing process and provided team members the ability to drill down to issues. The maintenance team was able to put in place a preventive and predictive maintenance schedule to prevent those problems from happening again. Even more importantly, Leading2Lean’s intuitive UI drove technician use and empowered them to solve problems.
The Leading2Lean scheduler allows first-line supervisors to better manage maintenance technicians’ time. It also allowed the company to standardize work and reporting company-wide, so leadership and maintenance staff could determine where to focus efforts. Even with four locations, leadership can see what’s happening with all machines no matter where they are. Seeing which mechanics are engaged or not engaged, and what equipment is down, opened the eyes of the maintenance team and senior leadership.
“Leading2Lean helps our maintenance teams maintain a world-class standard,” said Williams. “Everyone has real-time visibility into what’s happening at our plant. If we have a problem, we can quickly get to the root cause of it. Leading2Lean has not only saved us money, but it has also improved our processes and made us more productive with the resources we have.”
Improved Employee Engagement
Employees who were worried about visibility into their daily task management became advocates once they experienced firsthand the insights real-time data provided. “They have come to see it as an indispensable tool in their work,” Williams said.
Because of greater transparency and accountability with Leading2Lean, West Liberty Foods has seen an improvement in company culture—one of greater transparency, accountability, and engagement. Even employees who have little knowledge of computer systems now quickly engage with CloudDISPATCH.
Tracking USDA Guidelines and Procedures for Food Safety and Inspections.
Because the company is handling perishable food items, West Liberty Foods has strict company guidelines and procedures, along with defined regulations required by the USDA.
“We use specific chemicals, ammonia refrigeration and isolation as part of our food safety process,” Williams said. “The USDA requires that we have a clearly defined process that we follow consistently. The software allows for easy and clear visibility into this process which has been great in working with the USDA.”
Leading2Lean helped improve West Liberty Foods’ maintenance and operations at its plants, saving $2 million in maintenance costs. The company has also achieved 89 percent utilization of its maintenance workforce and improved operational availability in at least one of the plants to 96 percent— an increase of nearly 10 percent.