Sensor Technology Empowers Food Manufacturer

Food For The Sole sought support from the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership (OMEP), part of the MEP National Network™. During the Covid-19 pandemic, demand for outdoor products as well as food and beverage products skyrocketed. Food For The Sole was operating out of a co-op kitchen and was challenged to keep up with demand. Along with the rapid growth came many challenges including capacity constraints, productivity, equipment failures, supply chain and inventory management, and team leadership.

Applying Lean Principles
OMEP worked with Food For The Sole on applying principles of lean to address its capacity and productivity issues. The manufacturer’s team embraced the process and the improvements stacked up quickly in production. OMEP also observed the inventory management and order fulfillment processes and recommended a pull system based on a Kanban system.

Food For The Sole quickly realized the benefits. Prior to implementing the Kanban system, the team was sectioning inventory off by distribution channel and would often end up with one channel out of inventory, and other channels with excess. Now the company has more space and the inventory is more manageable, making the process much easier and reliable.

Implementing Advanced Technology
Consistent dehydration is critical for Food For The Sole’s product. Dehydrator batches often had problems due to dehydrators overheating at night, which wasted ingredients and labor. The manufacturer sought a way to easily monitor the dehydrators and make changes before losses occurred. OMEP identified an advanced technology opportunity and set up real-time monitoring using thermocouple sensors in the dehydrators. The sensors send data through a Wi-Fi gateway to a cloud database once per minute. Visual dashboards and event triggers report dehydrator performance, making reports available even from offsite. Alarms trigger when temperatures are out of range, allowing leadership to address issues immediately. Sensors also provided actionable data to continuously improve production and in return boost morale for staff. The kitchen team puts energy and love into creating food and no longer suffers the lost efforts due to dehydrator issues.

$200,000 in increased or retained sales
3 jobs created and retained existing
$25,000 in cost savings
Could your company benefit from assistance with implementing new technologies? Connect with your local MEP Center for more information.

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