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More Than Can Be Chewed: Agribusiness Challenges Overcome through EAM

What threatens mass transit asset reliability?

How will asset reliability and proactive maintenance equip agribusinesses to rise to the challenges of today?

Like the crops and livestock they manage, commodity processors nurture value in American agriculture. In 2015, what started as total direct-from-farm supply chain input valued at $136.7 billion underwent processing – food, beverage and textile production occurring in all 50 states – and increased in value by more than seven-fold to nearly $1 trillion, according to recent findings from the Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service.

As the global population continues to grow and the importance of sustainability intensifies, food- and ingredient-processing agribusinesses high atop the F&B supply chain will look for new ways to support scalable operational schema, greater agility in the face of ever-accelerating evolution in their industry and assurances of quality as well as safety in both production and product.

Enterprise asset management (EAM) looks to be the discipline most capable of delivering on these needs. Looking specifically at trends in the short term, how will asset reliability and proactive maintenance equip agribusinesses to rise to the challenges of today?

EAM Solutions for Agribusiness

New perspectives for a new age in capital equipment investment

Agribusinesses are driving equipment investment and rewriting how food processors along the supply chain manage new technology. According to a 2017 report from PMMI, also known as the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, 63 percent of polled businesses are "actively exploring" investment opportunities related to assets. Nearly half plan to invest in new tech within the next two years.

What features are these facilities shopping for? "Cleanability" most of all, as well as machines that offer speedier, flexible changeovers and the latest safety measures. Investors, however, primarily seek to secure true value-add technology that takes on processing steps in ways that reduce operational overhead for supply partners and boost revenues from end-users. Increasingly, agribusinesses have looked toward leasing options to reduce capital expenditure on innovative equipment.

Developing strong preventive or predictive maintenance programs, geared toward asset reliability, will assist investing food-processing agribusinesses whether they buy or lease equipment. In the first case, EAM promotes a culture of keen operational understanding. As emergent technologies shape the facilities that invest in them, operators and maintenance professionals will leverage CMMS and other asset management solutions to learn about, account for and ultimately predict how these machines function. This will save on the cost of labor and bolster uptime, not to mention ward off accidents that might adversely affect insurance rates. And although industrial equipment lessors typically cover maintenance as part of the contract, scheduling downtime for repairs or upkeep will fall, in part, on the lessee. Having those maintenance optimization structures in place, with help from dynamic criticality rankings and other such tools, will contribute greatly to the success and timing of work orders, through lessors or otherwise.

Supply chain safety: Protection through operational visibility

Middlemen between cost-conscious farmers and downstream consumer goods producers, commodities processors are often the first line of defense against contaminants entering the supply chain. Put another way, through inaction or improper production methods, they can just as easily be the source of those concerns.

Again, amid massive production demand increases and operational innovation, the chances are great that facilities accidentally and unintentionally allow small mistakes to aggravate and affect many, leading to recalls, intellectual property disclosure, civil litigation and possibly even criminal prosecution. According to the Food and Drug Administration, whistleblower complaints against companies brought under the Food Safety Modernization Act grew nearly fourfold between 2011 and 2016.

At a time when a cloud of uncertainty resides over federal regulations pertaining to food products, what may prove even more difficult is preempting mistakes by selecting and integrating leading, as opposed to lagging, performance indicators into processing workflows. Sanitation and maintenance data in processing facilities, therefore, must not remain static values but serve a greater purpose under enterprise asset management. Operators must track the performance of safety measures and create systems of accountability that prevent avoidable dangers, all while ensuring an efficient and timely cleaning schedule. CMMS acts as a real-time centralized database for recording and reporting on these precautions.

Contact ABS Group today for more information on how commodity food and ingredient processing plants gain an advantage against change when they prioritize asset reliability and proactive maintenance programs.

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