Cut seasonal tips at the push of a button

Automatic seasonal balancing for optimal capacity planning in the food industry. New module equalizes production and eliminates bottlenecks in personnel and materials.

The new module “Seasonal compensation” of the production planning system “Fekor” equalizes seasonal peak loads in food production. It relieves the planner of computing work and reduces the effort for seasonal planning to almost zero. In addition, it plans personnel deployment and material procurement at the same time.

The seasonal business in particular places high demands on the production planners, because the limited shelf life of the products means that they cannot be produced at any early stage.

A concrete example: Milk chocolate has a higher milk content than bitter chocolate. It must not be produced so early that it only has a low residual shelf life when it reaches the trade. A bitter variety with a very low milk and cream content, on the other hand, can be produced weeks earlier.

If the production of products for the seasonal business is preferred, then it must only be those with a minimum shelf life that still meets the needs of the consumer despite the early production.

Previously, planners had to work days or weeks to plan production, personnel deployment and material procurement for the coming season.

The “internal shelf life” counts

The new seasonal compensation module reduces the effort for seasonal planning to almost zero: It works parallel to the day-to-day business of the planner without further burdening him – seasonal planning is automatically created as a by-product of daily or weekly detailed planning.

The “internal shelf life” is added to the minimum shelf life of a product printed on the packaging: It begins as soon as the goods are produced and stored. This value is stored once for each article and is continuously included in routine production planning from that point on. This eliminates the need for separate planning for seasonal business, but production is still optimally utilized at all times.

In addition, the system automatically calculates when the material must be ordered and delivered. This applies not only to the raw materials, but also to the packaging and all other materials required to complete the product.

The automatic seasonal adjustment also calculates when and how many additional employees need to be hired in order to cope with early production. In this way, personnel requirements are precisely predetermined.

Seasonal planning is a module of the “Fekor” production control system, which FLS has developed especially for the food industry with its industry-specific requirements and which has proven itself for years in production planning in the plants of several manufacturers in the food industry.

Screws have no best-before date

Compared to other manufacturing sectors, the food industry must take additional criteria into account during production, which make planning complex. In addition to the limited shelf life of the products and the pronounced seasonal business, sequence planning is also more complex than, for example, in mechanical engineering – for example, when it has to be ensured that different products do not mix.

Stefan Bastian, FLS sales manager, explains the difference to other industries: “Metal parts can be manufactured as long as required before delivery. In other words: screws have no best-before date. For this reason, many production planning systems that have proven their worth in a wide variety of industries cannot be used in the food industry – they are not designed to take the shelf life of the products into account. In addition to this criterion, Fekor also includes other food-specific criteria in its planning, for example the planning of the optimum sequence for products between whose production the machines have to be cleaned at great cost.

Another example of how Fekor responds to the special circumstances of the food industry is the consideration of the correct units: During production, Fekor works with liters, kilograms or meters and converts the units into “pieces” during packaging.