Achieving Real-Time Results Without Infrastructure Investments

March 16, 2018
How Pharmavite streamlined operations and boosted capacity from existing assets

California-based nutraceutical company, Pharmavite, is the maker of Nature Made vitamins and supplements — the #1 selling national vitamin and supplement brand in traditional retail outlets, and the #1 pharmacist recommended brand, according to U.S. News & World Report. With over 120 products and rapidly growing customer demand — coupled with complex manufacturing and packaging processes — the management team at Pharmavite realized that they needed to streamline operations and get more capacity from their existing assets.

Pharmavite was using Microsoft Word and ERP entry forms to track uptime performance, then moved to an Excel-based OEE tracking system. These solutions were neither real-time nor capable of capturing detailed downtime information. Furthermore, while the system established Key Performance Indicator (KPI) goals, it was difficult to maintain, which often resulted in miscalculations and extended time in verifying results.

In addition, as practitioners of lean manufacturing and continuous improvement, Pharmavite’s managers and executives were seeking a software solution to support and extend their commitment to these methodologies.

The ideal solution not only had to provide real-time information with trusted accuracy, it also had to deliver the needed functionality without new infrastructure investments. Pharmavite compared several manufacturing solutions, looking for certain key attributes: flexible design, ability to scale and grow within the solution, breadth of functionality, dedicated support team, and low total cost of ownership. They chose Parsec’s TrakSYS™ manufacturing operations management software platform.

TrakSYS is an integrated software platform that contains all of the functionality of a full manufacturing execution system (MES) in one package. The modular nature of TrakSYS brings complete flexibility to deploy only the functions that are required, and add new functions as needed, without a major software upgrade.

Pharmavite launched a pilot on two lines at its top packaging site. The focus was on OEE, downtime, rejects, and other key performance metrics. Several 55-inch overhead display screens above each packaging line provided real-time visibility, and operator interaction was facilitated using entry screens at each workstation. Best practices were used to minimize implementation time and maximize cost savings, not only in the pilot, but in such a way as to later facilitate the rollout of the solution to other lines in packaging as well as manufacturing. In a phased approach, the solution was expanded to multiple sites using a standardized deployment methodology.

Pharmavite’s TrakSYS solution is connected to processing equipment via standard PLC integration at all of the various stages of production — from the tablet press, to encapsulators, coaters and, ultimately, packaging — giving operators and managers real-time visibility into the entire operation. Whether via overhead displays, at workstations, or on mobile devices, the Pharmavite team has real-time production information and analysis at their fingertips. And with integrated alerts, notifications, tasks, and journaling, the platform allows users to take action, to "close the loop" in real time on issues affecting production speed and quality. TrakSYS was also connected with their ERP, for real-time planning and scheduling of manufacturing operations.

The system almost immediately improved operator engagement, and provided a better understanding of financial standards, target rates, production losses and team performance. The platform helped refine theoretical production rate standards, which in turn helped to improve visibility to capacity, facilitating better planning and ultimately improved schedule attainment.

Achieving improvement in Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) was a top priority, and the TrakSYS solution helps to focus on the throughput goal. With end-to-end root cause analysis data readily available, Pharmavite is able to more easily understand losses and impacts on the value stream. These insights have helped Pharmavite improve OEE by 20 percent. And creating capacity from existing assets improved margin and return on invested capital, while deferring new capital expenditures.

Quality has also improved from 99 to 99.6 percent using TrakSYS, while schedule attainment has improved by 9 percent. In addition, outside labor expenses have dropped by 43 percent and overtime labor expenses are 51 percent lower.

The global leader in vitamins and supplements, Pharmavite needed a system that would allow them to keep up with growing demand, and give insight into their operations.  Pharmavite continues to expand its use of TrakSYS, to support its continuous improvement program goals.

Parsec, a partner member of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA), is the developer of TrakSYS, a next-generation, real-time manufacturing operations management software platform designed to give manufacturers greater visibility, knowledge, and control over their entire operation, without the cost and complexity associated with a custom software project. 

About the Author

Greg Newman | Parsec Automation Corp.