The Mexican Mission Foods Company is a worldwide market leader in various Mexican food products. The Roermond branch produces tortillas for the European market. Production Manager Dennis Meder talks about how Mission Foods Roermond manages to reach a huge improvement in OEE.
What does the Roermond production process look like?
“Together with our employees, we produce different kinds of tortillas in shifts. From 15 to 30 cms, from standard tortillas to different flavored tortillas. Sometimes we add a new flavor, and sometimes we take one out.”
You use different production lines. What do these lines look like?
“Yes, we have different production lines, but the production process is essentially the same.
We start kneading the dough, that’s where the line begins. The dough is divided into pieces and then enters the molding machine. After that, the dough ball has some time to rest before it’s taken to the press. The press spreads the dough ball into a tortilla, and the tortilla is then transported through the oven, where it is baked. After baking, the tortillas are cooled again, optically checked for quality, and then stacked and packed.”
This one process has many steps; what does it mean?
“The entire process has a flow, in one line. There are no intermediate steps or waiting times. We have implemented the line perfectly, so it produces at maximum capacity at the highest possible speed. However, at downtime or malfunction, the entire lines come to a halt. That’s where our improvement chances lie.”
“At downtime or malfunction, the entire lines come to a halt. That’s where our improvement chances lie.”
What does Mission Foods do to improve?
“Improving is a local process. Our branch has been improving since 2008. In the first years, we were mainly doing OEE measurements only. We weren’t really looking for trends, and we weren’t able to translate malfunctions into long-lasting improvements. About four years ago, we started with a different approach.
Since 2015, the work floor is looking for possible waste. Which means performance management on the work floor: the operators measure KPIs per hour, are looking for the root cause of malfunctions, and take actions to prevent the problem in the future.”
So the operators regained responsibility. How did they cope with the change?
“At first, they were hesitant. Change is always difficult. But the results were clear, and the process started running more smoothly, which is great for the operators too. So within three months, all were aboard.”
How do you collect KPI data?
“Cierpa OEE measures the input of the line. A real-time sensor tracks whether the dough balls pass at the correct speed. If so, the process is in production. If not, then somewhere along the line there is a short break in production, a changeover, or downtime. In that case, the operator receives a notification and has to explain the standstill.”
It is clear that a problem occurred and where it is located.
“That’s right. The advantage of OEE is that it provides insight into the biggest instances of waste, so we know where to look and which dials to turn. That saves a lot of time. Before we started using OEE measurements, we had no insight into the location of our losses, but we do now.”
"We know where to look and which buttons to turn."
Besides the improvements at line level, you are also improving in other areas.
“Absolutely. We use improvement teams in all areas within the organization. We use the Cierpa OEE data for loss deployment. The Pareto analysis shows us the most significant instances of loss of the previous month, and we then form a Kaizen team. A team leader, an operator, a technician, a staff member: we go to the root of the problem and involve all necessary parties to solve it.
Another big improvement is daily consulting. We didn’t just move the location from the meeting room to the work floor, but we also changed the content. We use a permanently visible whiteboard and connect activities, responsible employees, and deadlines to improvement points. That has brought us so much: it is very motivating to see that a problem is really addressed, by whom, and when. It increases involvement and mutual responsibility. The meeting is also much more efficient and went from one hour to twenty minutes.
We’re also working on an autonomous maintenance plan, whereby operators take over part of the technician’s maintenance tasks. This creates ownership, more responsibility on their own line.”
How do operators feel about those changes now?
“They feel a lot better. There’s a lot of trust amongst the operators.”
“Our 78% OEE end goal? We’ll get here for sure!”
What have these improvements done for Mission Foods?
“Numerically? A marked increase in OEE from 65% in 2015 to 73% now. We expect further growth this year to 75%, and our end goal is 78%. We will get there for sure: we already experience weeks where we reach that target, and we are working hard to eliminate fluctuations and steadily obtain 78%!”