Achieving Continuous Process Improvement through
Flexibility and Scalability
The flexibility and scalability of the Wonderware MES software has enabled
New Belgium to customize its product packaging systems to meet its unique
requirements for the efficient flow of captured production management data
from the plant floor systems.
The combination of Wonderware MES Performance with the brewery’s existing
installations of Wonderware System Platform® and InTouch® HMI provides New
Belgium the opportunity to ramp up automation process as necessary.
“The model-driven approach of Wonderware System Platform gives us the
ultimate platform for expansion when the customer wants to extend their MES
system up, down, or sideways,” said Sam Vail, chief strategy officer at Apex
Manufacturing Solutions. “With this unique scalability, we can start small
without having to worry about switching to a different technology when the
solution heads into uncharted territory. Application Server allows the Apex team
to have a ‘can do’ attitude, regardless of the situation or industry.”
The Wonderware software solution at New Belgium Brewing can now quickly
and easily replicate these automation processes at other areas of the company
with its reusable engineering application. This provides for the customization of
the same approach and design to align with New Belgium’s unique look and feel
across multiple locations.
Reusable engineering in regards to objects and graphics allow Apex to provide
a scalable solution that’s economical in scale for the customer as new areas
of the plant are introduced into the reporting and graphics infrastructure
“The ability to customize the graphics provided by the Wonderware MES enabled
Apex to develop a system that could effectively communicate the line status and
production capacities in the New Belgium bottling and packaging lines, while at
the same time illustrate the company’s unique company culture with engaging
graphics,” Vail said. “Screen data shows what order is being worked on, what is
coming next, and how the current rate compares to their standard.
Enabling New Belgium to React More Quickly
to Unscheduled Downtime
Unscheduled downtime means loss in production time and a loss in profits.
Wonderware MES was the catalyst that enabled New Belgium to take control
of its operations processes. As a result, the brewery realized that it needed to
increase its maintenance staff to more quickly address equipment repair issues.
Increasing the maintenance team by 60%, adding a process improvement and
analysis team, educating key staff in Kaizen processes, and training others in
Six Sigma has allowed the company to more quickly react to gaps in production
methods to drive overall process improvements.
The bottom line — New Belgium Brewing needed information and an effective
way to process and evaluate that information to benefit its overall business.
The Wonderware MES Performance software has delivered on their expectations
by effectively increasing New Belgium Brewing’s OEE.
“With the scalability provided by the Wonderware MES solution, we are able
to continuously improve operations incrementally by deploying various aspects
of the solution one step at a time,” Herrick said. “All of our jobs are changing
including how we go about our day-to-day business because of the data now
being delivered by the Wonderware MES Performance Software. We now have
mechanics on each shift 24/7 to support the bottling line and we have lead techs
that are addressing issues identified in trends noted by the software. Access
to this real-time information enables our team to work on things ahead of time
by performing preventative maintenance, enabling us to get out in front of
Tapping the Future
By evolving and effectively maintaining best practices with Wonderware MES
software allows for the expansion this system across multiple areas of New
Belgium, as well as at its new plant currently under construction in Asheville, N.C.
“By increasing our operations efficiency, we now can free up time to get back
to focusing on our corporate culture,” Herrick said. “When our operations
were running so quickly, we had to eliminate some of our popular employee
extracurricular activities, such as our annual volleyball tournament. Today as
we gain momentum in production, our people see the benefits and we are now
very much in control of production processes.”
New Belgium is now meeting capacity, surpassing production of 200,000 cases
a week, and having time left at the end of the day for “fun.” Taking advantage of
the full capabilities of its existing resources at the plant enabled the executive
management team to delay funding of additional capital investments, reduce
overhead, and make commitments to new things. This includes focusing on
building the second New Belgium Brewery in North Carolina.