Hindered by a paper-based production workflow, Jacques IJs yearned for digital transformation. By implementing our MES, the Belgian ice cream company is now able to monitor and manage production in real-time, with a significant impact on efficiency, yield, and quality.
The Belgian manufacturer Jacques IJs was struggling with legacy paper processes, and a cumbersome data analysis process. As a result, they often came late to discover trends in yield and waste parameters or production consistency. Until they had enough – and decided to digitise their operations.
Their weapon of choice: our MES software FactryOS.
Here’s how we enabled them to increase overall production efficiency and yield, reduce downtime, save costs, and improve employee engagement.
Meet Jacques IJs
Jacques IJs is a powerhouse in the Belgian ice cream industry, with a remarkable 30-year legacy of excellence. With an extensive product line of premium frozen desserts, the company caters its products to a global customer base. Since two years, we are proud to support Jacques IJs in optimising their operations and enhancing the client and employee experience, through the implementation of our MES platform FactryOS.
In pursuit of a comprehensive company-wide transformation, Jacques IJs is implementing a range of digital initiatives across various departments. Yet, the shop floor is the place where the profits are made. Therefore, implementing a modern Manufacturing Execution System (MES) was first on their list.
Ice cream production is a complex process with many components involved, with lots of rules and exceptions, and more that 100 new recipes added to their line-up each year, some processes are hard to standardise. That’s why they needed a flexible MES that could manage these complex workflows.
Some of the challenges they were facing:
Paper was everywhere. Operators had to manually fill in a myriad of checklists and forms. This led to human errors and inaccurate data.
Mismatches between material lot numbers and the production sequence regularly caused unplanned downtime and productivity loss.
Managers lacked insights into real-time data trends. Anomalies were only discovered 24 hours later, after first processing the data in Excel.
In case of an audit or a complaint, people from Quality had to find the relevant data in boxes of paper. This resulted in a lot of wasted time.
Therefore, their main objectives were to:
Create a factory free from paper, aiming to make their processes more efficient, and obtain a technological edge on their competitors.
Enable people from different departments to get real time process insights, without having to make calls or physically go to the line.
Offer employees in production a better working experience, by simplifying and guiding their workflow through intuitive screens.
Reduce the unnecessary consumption of raw materials, by consistently keeping their products within the correct weight specifications.
We needed a flexible and intuitive MES platform that could handle our rapidly fluctuating workflows. FactryOS turned out to be the best match for our needs. While most other tools lacked flexibility, it checked all of our boxes. It could be built from scratch and tailored to our workflow, while the interface looks great. Considering all these factors, I would confidently rate the software solution as an excellent 9 out of 10.
IT Manager at Jacques IJs
We are noticing decreased downtime, because production isn't stopped anymore due to wrong or missing papers, or issues with wrong lot numbers. We're not measuring Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) on all lines yet. However, I calculated it for one of them already, and it has improved by 10%.
Planning Manager at Jacques IJs
Unleashing the power of FactryOS
A future-proof, paperless plant
In the past, the company’s A3 printer spilled out over 500 sheets of paper every day, going from checklists to fill-in forms and production sheets. This archaic production workflow often caused stress and unplanned downtime.
Today, peace of mind reigns over the floor. No more tangled sheets of papers, no more missing documents, no more confused looks. All relevant information is now visible on a tablet device and immediately accessible for operators.
Live data insights for managers
To spot production trends, managers needed to investigate the data in spreadsheets and calculate average values, which only happened 24 hours later. Over that time, 750.000 items may have been produced on a line.
Managers and team leaders can now instantly access real-time production data from their desks. They can quickly check key metrics such as waste and yield percentages, overall production, and ensure that all KPIs are on track.
A guided workflow for operators
Paper checklists and forms were replaced by automated processes and in-process verifications, going from weighings to quality and safety tests. Assigning reasons for downtime is standardised through a tree structure.
Through an intuitive and user-friendly interface that integrates with any system, operators are now guided in their daily duties, resulting in a fluent operator experience with higher employee engagement and productivity.
The visual interface was well received by our employees. People are genuinely happy to work with the software. And that was the whole point. The software not only saves managers a lot of time, people on the floor are now able to focus better on the things that really matter, and do their jobs better.
IT Manager at Jacques IJs
Discovery and implementation process
With a user-focused solution aiming to address the pain points of various stakeholders, we helped to implement not only an MES, but a culture of continuous improvement for Jacques IJs. Here’s a glimpse into our approach:
1. Pains & user story mapping
A crucial aspect of our approach is to involve all relevant stakeholders before and during implementation – whether it is the company CEO, machine operators, or anyone in between. By means of user stories, we were able to pinpoint pains and frustrations for each role, and find effective solutions.
2. Agile development process
One of the main objectives was to create a user-friendly workflow that operators love to work with. By involving key users early-on on the process, including short feedback loops, we helped to ensure a need-addressing solution, and a fast user adoption. All within the agreed-upon timeframe.
3. An MES in constant motion
New iterations, such as integrations, or adding a button or screen, are implemented at a high pace. Before any changes are deployed in production, newly developed functionalities are first pushed to a Factry test server. This allows the internal team to review changes, and give their instant feedback.
Despite the fact that we are producing more ice cream than last year, we are clearly noticing a downwards trend in customer claims. At the same time, the MES has improved our traceability. In case clients have a question, we can now send them any data they need for every stage of the production process.
Planning Manager at Jacques IJs
A significant return on investment
So, what has been the return of their digitisation efforts today? By implementing our MES software, the company managed to reduce downtime, increase yield, and improve traceability, leading to cost savings, streamlined production operations, and enhanced customer satisfaction.
✔ Reduced downtime
By bringing more clarity to the shop floor, Jacques IJs was able to reduce unplanned stoppages on every line, implement a continuous improvement process to resolve recurring problems, and follow up on its progress.
✔ Increased yield
By keeping their products better within weight specifications, the company has managed to decrease overfill of products with 10-15%. This has allowed them to increase their production volume without buying new equipment.
✔ Higher responsivity
Thanks to visual alerts, operators are now able to intervene faster in case of suboptimal process values. Managers are able to spot real-time process trends at the click of a button through a single, user-friendly interface.
✔ Less client claims
As a result of higher levels of production consistency and an optimised packaging and labelling process, the company notices a decreasing trend in client claims, leading to improved customer satisfaction and business growth.
✔ Higher traceability
In case of an audit or client claim, the ice cream company can now deliver detailed genealogy reports, ensuring traceability on a lot level. This includes information about batches, origins, and suppliers of the raw materials.
✔ Time & cost savings
Instead of wasting hours a day on writing, printing, or retrieving paper sheets, employees now have instant access to real-time manufacturing data, revolutionising the way they work and enhancing overall productivity.
By monitoring production with FactryOS, our product overfill has now decreased by 15 to 20%. This means we can now e.g. produce 100 items instead of 85 with the same amount of raw materials. When you're producing an amount of 235 million ice creams a year, that makes a huge difference.
Planning Manager at Jacques IJs
Next steps in their digital transformation
With these great results, the ice cream company’s digital manufacturing journey is far from over yet. Here’s what’s still in the pipeline:
Fine-tune the system and connect remaining production lines
Connect PLCs with the MES, in order to interact with machines
Implement real-time data dashboards and overview screens
Automate the assignment of reasons for unplanned downtime
Connect their BI software to surface deeper business insights
We’re looking forward to being part of this ongoing journey!