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 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.GET THE PROJECTX BOOK MORE SMUCKERS NEWS
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 a six-figure savings. If we keep getting organized around that, we can save even more.”
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.
“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.
“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.
Predictive analytics super-charge the expertise that’s already in the boardroom, or in the warehouse or at the well pad. It can answer a question no one thought to ask, or offer an early alert about a pressure reading that could become a ruptured tank.
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