White paper

5 cost-saving benefits of digital work instructions in food and beverage manufacturing

By increasing the on-site workforce’s capabilities, the value comes back to the plant’s bottom line in a few months with little disruption to operations.

Peter Verstraeten


  • Most paper instructions are not read because this is the wrong format.
  • Digital work instructions reduce line changeover downtime and increase line uptime.
  • 2-Way communication embeds continuous improvement of production processes.

Imagine you’re operating a filling line on the shop floor. You are not comfortable or safe to read, neither do you have the time to flip through the SOP or find the log sheet.

As plant managers, supply chain leaders, are focused on daily operations keeping up with dynamic changes in market fluctuations, finding time to implement new technology as part of corporate’s “factory of the future” seems next to impossible.

At Proceedix, we’ve partnered with food and beverage manufacturers on their digital transformation journey and have seen the cost reduction benefits of implementing digital workflow. Industry leaders taking a step-change approach towards implementing innovative solutions tools have received a faster return on investment than those taking an incremental approach.

By increasing the on-site workforce’s capabilities, the value comes back to the plant’s bottom line in a few months with little disruption to operations. More specifically, empowering operators with mobile or wearable digital workflow guidance like Proceedix, provides plant managers assuranc that procedures are executed first time right and unlocks additional potential:

1. Reduce changeover downtime by 50% by facilitating standard work

Whether B2B ingredients or consumer packaged goods, a single food or beverage plant often produces hundreds of different products (SKU’s). The product portfolio consists of many different flavors, packaging sizes, brands, and labels. The consequence is daily line changeovers ranging from 5 minutes to over 4 hours, depending on the line’s complexity and the changeover. Changeover activity can absorb 20-30% of the line capacity. Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) programs are therefore implemented to speed up the changeover and reduce line downtime.

Standardizing the changeover process in a step-by-step workflow guides operators in doing both the preparation and the actual changeover right, first time. The execution logs are a valuable source to analyze and initiate further SMED improvements, cutting changeover downtime up to 50%.

2. Increase line uptime by aiding autonomous maintenance

Autonomous maintenance, a component of the Total Productive Maintenance concept, aims to engage line operators in performing maintenance tasks themselves. Improving operator ownership and increasing line availability (OEE) are some of the objectives.

Step-by-step instructions, enriched with photos and videos, guide the operators in executing line maintenance tasks themselves. Timely controls and preventive workflow actions will reduce line breakdown. Maintenance instructions and Standard Operating Procedures in a digital workflow format directly contribute to the Overall Equipment Effectiveness of slicing, filling, blistering, and any other type of production line.

3. Up to 30% faster onboarding of seasonal workers

Whether it is ice cream, frozen vegetables, chocolate, or beer, many food and beverage businesses are characterized by strong seasonal sales or seasonal production. While line capacity requirements are typically spread by building stocks, most of these companies need to re-enforce the shop floor with temporary workers during the peak season. Step-by-step workflow instructions for line monitoring and line cleaning assures less experienced operators do things right, first time. The solution reduces the time and cost of onboarding temporary workers without compromising safety and quality.

4. Embed continuous improvement with a digital feedback mechanism

The traditional standard operating procedure or instruction document is a “one-way-communication”. It specifies how to do a cleaning process or task. But it has no room, nor a channel for the operator to communicate back how things went. Did the person encounter issues? Could some steps be done better? As there is no room for feedback on the document, the probability is high that the operator does not report back to the supervisor and doesn’t use the document any longer. A digital workflow solution allows the operator to initiate follow-up actions in case of issues or directly formulate suggestions for improvement. This way, digital instruction execution platforms empower the connected worker and embed continuous improvement in the operations DNA.

5. Securing 100% execution compliance

Health and food safety is on everyone’s mind in this industry. Thousands of cleaning, line control, changeover, and preventive maintenance instructions are performed every month. Product recalls, or consumer health issues are food manufacturer’s nightmare. For compliance reasons, operators and technicians are often requested to sign off the instruction document systematically archived. Nothing inhibits a person from ticking boxes and signing off days after the fact just to “complete the paperwork”. A workflow execution platform automatically logs all the instruction execution details with both the time and location stamps given by the device and all the operator’s comments and acknowledgments. It provides indisputable proof that instructions were followed at each step by the right person at the right time and place, guaranteeing 100% execution compliance.

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