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Harvests Value from Data to Drive Process & People Changes

smuckers smart food

The J.M. Smucker Company was founded in 1897 when Jerome Monroe (J.M.) Smucker created his first product, apple butter, in Orrville, Ohio.

Guided by a vision to engage, delight, and inspire consumers through trusted food and beverage brands that bring joy throughout their lives, Smucker’s has grown to be a well-respected North American marketer and manufacturer.

The Fortune 500 company’s brands spans pet food and pet snacks, coffee, and consumer food and natural beverage.

Two years ago, Smucker’s didn’t have a data analytics group. 

Now it has a team of four focused on how to harvest value from all the data consolidated from its production facilities.

What changed? Smucker’s leadership recognized the huge potential of harnessing big data to dig into production challenges such as product overfill, hidden plant capacity and equipment downtime.

Plus, IS Operations colleagues John Baier and Kevin Briggs were willing to “pick a fight” by suggesting data analytics and visuals could produce real savings for Smucker’s.

“We have the largest data set in the entire company, our operations data. How do you leverage that information so you can take action?” said Baier, the Senior Manager of IS Operations at Smucker’s.

“We dabbled in a small portion of the business and generated significant savings. If we keep getting organized around that, we can save even more.”

The Challenges

Smucker’s wanted to enable a near real-time flow of information to facility operators to optimize production and spread the opportunity to make strategic adjustments from senior leaders to plant floor professionals.

Some adjustments require hours to flow through a production system. Other processes occur in batches, meaning the sooner a negative data trend is spotted, the fewer batches get rejected.

Fine-tuning Smucker’s ability to target hot spots and act quickly has been a focus for Baier’s team.

Baier said Smucker’s has made huge strides in making that data available, but it still contends with messy data — data that doesn’t accurately reflect production realities or is incomplete.

“We have the largest data set in the entire company, our operations data. How do you leverage that information so you can take action?”


John Baier, Smucker’s
Senior Manager of IS Operations

The Solutions

“GrayMatter was one of our key partners,” Baier said.

“Our leadership trusted the IS organization enough to say, ‘You guys have a right to be at the table and speak,’” Baier said. “And we’re now into a phase where the business is saying, I want to do reliability acceleration for fiscal 2020.”

Baier said Smucker’s has been able to build out its capabilities to spot issues and address them.

Company leaders have also asked for those capabilities to be ready on Day 1 of a new facility that’s opening soon.

GrayMatter collaborated with Smucker’s to enhance its MES capabilities and equip it with powerful operations management tools that analyze data and manage fast-moving processes.

Baier said Smucker’s is working to further enhance traceability of raw material that enters a facility, is transformed into a product and then leaves a facility.

“It’s been an interesting two-year journey,” Baier said.

This year, Smucker’s IS Operations team — the one that didn’t exist two years ago — earned an Innovation Award for its business operations analytics.


Had significant savings per year by reducing product overfill at
pet food facilities

Expanded Uncrustables
production capacity through

error recognition & reduction

Data flowing to senior-level
leaders is highly relevant; no
longer outdated


Learn how our team unlocks the unique Smart Food Strategy that many Food & Beverage companies are currently using to leverage a manufacturing execution system (MES) and advanced industrial data analytics.

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