Customer satisfaction and continuous improvement are two of the driving forces behind how Ocean Spray Cranberries® Inc. operates its food and beverage manufacturing facilities. As all manufacturers know, running in spec—versus on target—can have consumer satisfaction implications. When multiple plants produce the same products, consistency in both quality and consumer experience is critical. Ocean Spray’s Craisins® dried cranberries manufacturing plants use InfinityQS to strengthen its visibility into the manufacturing process—enabling it to more easily compare processes across plants and make instant, impactful improvements.
The cooperative has five global dried cranberry plants, and all use InfinityQS Statistical Process Control (SPC) tools to track every step in the production lifecycle—from the moment fresh cranberries arrive at the plants from Ocean Spray’s grower-owner farms to the moment the sweetened dried cranberries head to store shelves around the globe.
How do we reliably get consumers the best dried cranberry product possible, while also saving the company money? The answer is InfinityQS.
Improving Processes with InfinityQS
Ocean Spray’s Markham, WA Craisins® dried cranberries manufacturing facility began using InfinityQS in 2006 as a way to display and analyze its manufacturing data to include a visual component. The quality team at this plant wanted to stop relying on paper-based records; instead, they wanted access to real-time data to empower immediate process improvements. Since implementing InfinityQS, the remaining food processing plants have instituted InfinityQS to turbocharge how Ocean Spray used SPC. According to Ian Farrell, Quality Manager at the Markham plant, “As a supplier of premium products, we aim to go above and beyond in every step of the manufacturing process, and InfinityQS software has enabled us to further strengthen the way to do it.”
As a supplier of premium products, we aim to go above and beyond in every step of the manufacturing process, and InfinityQS software has enabled us to further strengthen the way to do it.
Going Above & Beyond “In-Spec”
Prior to implementing the robust SPC tools in InfinityQS, Ocean Spray operators were trained not to tweak in-spec processes. “We had to change that mindset to, ‘We’re going to drive to target, and SPC is going to help us,’” says Quality Manager Ian Farrell. In January of 2019, the Markham, WA plant switched on SPC rules for a specific Craisins® dried cranberries quality process. In December 2018, the process capability was 0.96—and by February 2019, that number had jumped to a 1.46. “To see it jump 50% in just over a month was incredible!” says Farrell.
InfinityQS was the piece we needed to elevate our already strong processes and move toward manufacturing targets.
Give Consumers What They Want
As all manufacturers know, running in spec versus on target can have consumer satisfaction implications. When you have multiple plants producing the same products, consistency in both quality and consumer experience is critical. Prior to implementing SPC, operators at Ocean Spray’s food processing plants made individual adjustments to finished products at a cost to the company. “Customers want a product at target, and we were giving them something above target—and then spending extra money and using extra ingredients to make it right,” says Farrell. “Now, with SPC data informing our decisions, the process is much more stable and efficient.” “We run to target because that is what our consumers want—and because it ends up costing the company less to do it, due to the efficiencies SPC creates,” says Farrell. “That’s been our biggest overall success with InfinityQS.”
You can’t be a premium product if all you’re doing is paying attention to spec limits—and not paying attention to targets.
Quickly Make Impactful Improvements With InfinityQS
SPC, Ocean Spray has strengthened its visibility into the sweetened dried cranberry manufacturing process—enabling it to more easily compare the processes across plants and make instant, impactful improvements. Collecting accurate, standardized data is now simplified, and that translates into fast and accurate reporting. At the end of every month, Ocean Spray quickly and easily pulls data from its food plants, and can quickly and easily compare information. In addition, the Quality team spends much less time manipulating data because all five plants now store information in the same format, in the same database, using the same naming schemes.
Using SPC to Gain Competitive Advantage
Ocean Spray supplies dried cranberries that get incorporated into other brands’ products, such as trail mix, and global brands demand that the ingredients they include in their own finished products go through a rigorous SPC manufacturing process. To these brands, SPC ensures a product’s reliability and value as a consistent ingredient. “We know that SPC helps Ocean Spray gain a competitive advantage as a more attractive ingredient supplier to companies,” says Farrell. “They know we have a premium product, and that we’re going to give them the same great quality products every time. They have less variation in their own finished product because of the work we do on the front end.”
We no longer have to spend time copying data in Excel, manipulating it, and emailing it to each other.
Using Golf to Explain the Value of SPC
For a new technology to succeed, users must understand the WHY behind using it. Ian Farrell and the Quality team at Ocean Spray needed an impactful way to demonstrate the benefit of using SPC to strive to hit target every time—not just be in spec. Enter the SPC Golf Challenge.
First, green, yellow, and red paper was taped to the floor with a golf cup representing target. Yellow was in spec, and red was in violation (see below). The Quality team created f ive variants, each representing a manufacturing variation. Participants had to do a minimum of two (one of which was Common Cause Variation, meant to mimic normal operations and establish a baseline). The options were:
› Common Cause: Bare tile floor, starting from turf (representing a stable process)
› Special Cause 1: Add shag rug at the end of turf (representing an unpredictable equipment issue)
› Special Cause 2: Astroturf, plus obscured glasses (representing inaccurate test results)
›Special Cause 3: Astroturf, plus wiffle golf balls and a fan blowing across the course (representing operator intervention to compensate for an equipment issue)
›Special Cause 4: Astroturf, plus a mixture of non-golf balls (representing poor quality, poor consistency in raw materials)
Participants recorded their results on printed control chart graphs. As in real-life manufacturing, no one was expected to get 100% of their putts into the cup—just like no part of the SPC process is expected to run exactly to target 100% of the time. The goal of the SPC Golf Challenge was to demonstrate that common cause variation— the normal variation of a stable process—is different from special cause variation. InfinityQS can help detect those special causes.
You can look at control charts all day, but until you put a putter in your hand, put goggles on, and start missing easy putts, the theory behind SPC is just that—theory.
Configured to Match How Ocean Spray Works
When implementing InfinityQS SPC tools at the Markham plant, Farrell built projects with two goals in mind:
1. To improve already strong operator performance
2. To ensure employee buy-in
Project standardization was the lynchpin to both. Because InfinityQS can be configured to match how a company and its employees work, Ocean Spray was able to activate its projects with the same look and feel—no matter which computer was used to collect data. For example, says Farrell, “Toolbar buttons are always in a specific order, with a specific icon, so that any computer you go to—in any project you go to—you know the Date Range and Part Change buttons are always the first two, and Reset and Exit are always the last two.” This attention to standardization supports operators’ performance because they know they can always find what they’re looking for.
With InfinityQS, we can instantly see what the data is telling us. Analysis that used to take weeks now takes a few minutes.
Software Flexibility Empowers Employees
It took time, supported by data evidence, for Ocean Spray plant employees to comprehend and support this SPC culture shift. After a year of documented SPC wins at the five dried cranberries plants, everyone was enthusiastically on board—from upper management to the shop floor.
Operators now feel more confident when it comes to making critical process decisions. “Armed with data from InfinityQS, operators now bring us solutions and ideas to improve things,” says Farrell.
One thing Farrell wanted to avoid was overwhelming operators with alarms. “InfinityQS is so flexible regarding how SPC rules are applied, and how control limits are calculated,” says Farrell. “Each of our processes has unique characteristics, and we are able to apply a custom suite of limits and rules for each process we monitor with SPC. Because of that, our operators only get alarms when there is a legitimate special cause worthy of their attention.
The flexibility of InfinityQS contributes to how well the operators buy in to the SPC program—because they know the software only alarms when it should
In business for more than 30 years, InfinityQS is the leading provider of Statistical Process Control (SPC) software and services to manufacturers worldwide. Our solutions automate data collection and analysis during the manufacturing process, so you can make realt ime process improvement decisions and prevent defects before they occur. Developed by industrial statisticians using proven methodologies for quality analysis and control, InfinityQS solutions are saving leading manufacturers millions of dollars each year.