DATA CAPTURE ON THE SHOP FLOOR
John Rannoch Foods, the Suffolk poultry specialist, has installed
35 PC- Guard terminals within its factory network. Each terminal is
contained within a stainless steel enclosure designed specifically
to meet the IP 67 specification for hostile wet environments.
The equipment enclosures incorporate a separate cabinet for a printer
for bar code labels. This feature allows the customer the freedom to
specify its own printers. Despite the protection provided by the enclosure,
the printers are exposed to the atmosphere and were therefore considered
to be the weakest link.
“By keeping this option open we have been able to shop around
for suitable but less expensive off-the-shelf printers,” says information
systems manager, Paul Nix, adding. “We hold spare units in stock
and they are easily replaced without taking the terminal out of service.”
Bar code labels are crucial to the production control system. The majority
of the PC terminals are equipped with PC-Guard bar code laser scanners.
Every movement of material into, within and out of the factory is recorded
either by scanning the bar code label for identification, or by printing
a new label to confirm the completion of a production process.
The bar code provides traceability for every product and ingredient
shipped by the factory together with the order reference numbers and
• Stainless steel PCs sealed to IP67
Integral bar code scanner
Membrane touch keyboard
Touch button mouse controls
Benefits - accuracy and labour saving
The system software plays an important role in scheduling orders, setting
priorities and the procurement of raw materials. Traditionally this has
involved a high level of manual involvement in the printing and distribution
of computer schedules and completion of manual records for each batch
process. Computer screens are now being used to present the production
schedule at every workstation.
“Instead of people recording what they have used they can scan
the information from the bar code label and instead of recording what
they have made they print a label and attach it to the item to pass the
information on through the system.”
Return on investment
Paul Nix estimates the savings in potential labour costs at about two
percent. With a total workforce of 1,000 people this is equivalent to
between £330K to £500K per year. “Effectively this
means we have achieved a positive return on our investment, recovering
the cost of the hardware in less than nine months.”
Processing each customer order takes up to 48 hours to the delivery
of finished products. The process involves some 8 to 10 stages from,
killing the chicken through to cutting up, flavouring, cooking, packing
Paul Nix continued “We are operating in a very dynamic market
where order requirements can change daily. Since all our products and
many ingredients we use, such as cream, all have a limited shelf life,
it is essential that we
have complete visibility of our production status to control stock and
the procurement of materials. The new system enables us to minimise waste,
deploy our workforce more efficiently and therefore fulfil our customer
orders more efficiently.”
Fewer mistakes and reduced waste
Another major benefit of the improved system has been in more efficient
procurement of raw materials. Because we are making fewer errors our
stock consumption has reduced by 80 pallets in the last three months.
There has also been a corresponding reduction in waste. Traditionally
waste has been estimated at costing around five percent of turnover.
Waste comes in different forms, such as over deliveries to the customer,
or by the disposal of surplus materials left over because of over ordering
of key ingredients.
About John Rannoch Foods
John Rannoch is an independent private company, employing around 900
people. The processing plant is located in around 200 acres of parkland
at haughey Park near to Stowmarket, Suffolk.
Currently the company’s sales turnover is around £60 million.
Whilst most of its business comes either directly or indirectly from
Marks and Spencer, John Rannoch products are also supplied to other major
retailers such as Whitbread. The company operates its own transport fleet
with some 20 deliveries each day, with vehicles shuttling between the
factory and customers’ regional distribution centres.