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Why Quality Tracking is Imperative for Food and Beverage Businesses in Particular

Regardless of the type of business you’re running or even the industry that you’re operating in, obviously one of your biggest concerns on a daily basis is always going to be the quality of the products you put out in the world.

Not only is superior quality a way to create a genuine competitive advantage for yourself, but it’s also the most direct way to keep your customers happy and coming back for more – which may be the most important goal of all.

Having said that, there’s one industry in particular where quality tracking matters more than most. Here, it isn’t just important – it’s mission critical.

Of course, we’re talking about businesses in the food and beverage industry – and this is true for a wide range of reasons, all of which are worth exploring.

Quality Tracking: The Most Important Metric of All

Quality tracking is so important to food and beverage businesses, simply put, because “the cost of getting it wrong” in this context usually means getting people sick.

According to one study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated one out of every six Americans get sick from contaminated foods or beverages every single year. Not only that, but about 3,000 people die as a result of this issue.

Too much of the wrong ingredient won’t just change the flavor of your product – it could actually harm a large portion of your target audience. Bacteria, viruses and even parasites, if left unchecked, can easily cause illness and be deadly for people in certain high-risk groups.

All of this is a problem before you even consider the damage to your business’ reputation that will be caused by failing to pay enough attention to this one hugely important idea.

Any business operating in this industry has a responsibility to both protect people and reduce food borne illnesses in the United States and in no uncertain terms, quality tracking is a big, big part of how you do it.

The Future of Your Business Begins With the Quality Tracking Measures of Today

In the end, it’s absolutely true that quality tracking is important for any type of business you can name. But for food and beverage businesses in particular, it’s how you keep people happy AND healthy while they enjoy the products you’ve spent so much time developing.

Obviously, you never want to make people ill (or worse) – but to guarantee that with the level of consistency you need, you must have something a little more effective than just your intuition. Quality tracking is a big part of how you accomplish it and if you haven’t already started to implement these measures across your own production lines, now would be an excellent time to start.

If you’d like to learn even more about why quality tracking is mission critical for food and beverage businesses in particular, or if you’d just like to talk to someone about your own needs in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today.

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The IIoT is Many Things, But One Thing It Doesn’t Have to Be is Hard

At its core, the Internet of Things refers to a series of sensors and computing devices embedded in everyday objects, allowing them to send and receive data to one another. The Industrial Internet of Things (or IIoT, for short) is an extension of this idea – obviously taking the principles of this concept and applying them to warehouses, factory floors and other environments.

If nearly every device in your business is creating and sharing data in real-time, you suddenly have more visibility into what is really going on than ever before. Mission critical equipment can alert you to a small problem today before it becomes a much bigger one that takes that machine offline next week. You can see the larger context surrounding your supply chain and logistics operations, thus optimizing your resources to do more with less in a way that you wouldn’t have been able to a year ago.

If all of this sounds complicated and difficult, that’s because it is – from a certain perspective. But with the right tool by your side, uncovering the insight contained within all of this new data is easier than you realize. For many, that tool takes the form of downtime tracking software – something that brings with it a host of unique benefits that you cannot afford to ignore any longer.

The Power of Downtime Tracking in the IIoT World

A downtime tracking solution like Thrive has always been an effective way to measure your production line efficiency in real-time. But what you might not realize is that the more data Thrive has access to, the more insight you’re able to generate.

With a tool like Thrive, you’re able to take the information your IIoT devices are measuring and visualize them in a way that makes your plant’s operational effectiveness crystal clear. You’ll be able to recognize your biggest sources of equipment downtime so that you can do something about them immediately, yes. But you’ll also be able to create actionable steps to improve quality and production, save time and eliminate waste – essentially all at the same time.

Not only that, but with production run records and other features, you can easily track shift efficiency or analyze trends by line at a moment’s notice. So from that point of view, not only are you able to embrace the IIoT in a way that improves efficiency and productivity today. With Thrive, you can keep working with that insight and intelligence to improve things even further tomorrow, next week, next year and beyond.

All of this creates a perfect storm in the best possible way for a business like yours. You’re able to virtually guarantee that metrics like availability, efficiency and quality are exactly where they need to be, which ultimately creates better products and better experiences for the customers you’ve dedicated yourself to serving.

If you’d like to find out more information about why the IIoT doesn’t have to be nearly as difficult as you might think, or if you just have any other questions that you’d like to discuss with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today.

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Yes, OEE Absolutely Fits Into Your Existing Process. Here’s How.  

Original Equipment Effectiveness (or OEE for short) is a key performance indicator commonly used to determine the efficiency of manufacturing plants. The theory is that if you can accurately measure your plant’s operational effectiveness, you can understand what’s working and what isn’t – thus putting in place steps to double down on the former and get rid of the latter whenever you can.

But despite this, far too many people make the mistake of assuming that OEE is more complicated than it is – that it represents a change to “the way things are done” that they just don’t have the time or energy to make right now.

Luckily, this is false. You don’t have to change your existing process to work with OEE at all. In truth, that’s actually kind of the point.

An Organic Approach to OEE: What You Need to Know

Overall, OEE is typically applied to those manufacturing processes that create individual parts – but it can also be used in environments like refineries, too. This is because the type of data being generated by a true OEE implementation is in use practically everywhere – which is exactly why the concept has a home in your current process, too.

While OEE may be incredibly specific by its nature, it’s also a lot broader than people realize. Really, all you’re talking about is the ratio of Fully Productive Time to Planned Production Time. The first term refers to the actual amount of parts or other products that you’re manufacturing in a given period. The second refers to the highest number you can theoretically output during the same timeframe. Therefore, if yours is a manufacturing facility that produces absolutely anything – and of course it is – OEE has a home in your operations.

The difference between those two terms, by the way, is waste – which is also something everyone can benefit from eliminating.

Once you’ve identified your losses even on a single machine, you suddenly have a clearer picture than ever of the performance of your entire line. Thanks to downtime tracking software like Thrive, this is also as easy as you’d hoped it would be. In a matter of seconds after your initial activation, you can be measuring major loss factors like:

  • Equipment Failure.
  • Setups and Adjustments.
  • Idling Periods.
  • Minor Stops.
  • Reduced Speeds.
  • Process Defects.
  • Reduced Yield.
  • And more.

By making an effort to implement OEE into your existing process using Thrive and other tools, you’re not changing anything at all. Rather, you’re gaining more insight into what you’re already doing and are seeing exactly how productive you are versus how productive you can be. You’ll know more than just whether or not your lines are running – any analytical tool can tell you that, as can your own two eyes.

Instead, you’ll know exactly how efficiently they’re performing and exactly how to reduce production downtime – which is an incredibly exciting position for any manufacturing professional to be in.

If you’d like to find out more information about how OEE can effortlessly fit into your existing process, or if you’d just like to see what our innovative downtime management solution can do, please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and contact Thrive today.

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Why Your Ability to Visualize Data Matters More Than You Realize  

In the world of business, data is a double-edged sword in the most literal sense of the term.

On the one hand, contained inside that data is the analytical information you need to understand what is REALLY going on with your shop floor. There’s a story inside just waiting to be uncovered… but getting to that point is a lot easier said than done.

This is why, for most modern enterprises, data visualization is a critical part of what they’re doing on a daily basis. At its core, data visualization is exactly what it sounds like – the act of taking the type of information that your production lines are generating and translating it into a visual context, using it to create something like a graph or even a map.

Why Data Visualization Matters

The key benefit to all of this is that data visualization takes even complicated topics and ideas and presents them in a way that is far easier and more natural for the human brain to understand. Rather than forcing someone to wade through reams of papers that are essentially unintelligible to anyone without an advanced computer science degree, you’re presenting those same ideas to them in a visual way that makes it easier to uncover trends, patterns and even outliers in groups of data that would have otherwise gone undiscovered.

Data visualization is also one of the concepts at the heart of Thrive’s own machine downtime tracking solution – something we handle by way of our easy-to-understand dashboards and related tools. Within just seconds of activation, you can access your Thrive dashboard from any computer or device with an active Internet connection – putting invaluable insight at your fingertips, essentially from the jump.

None of this would matter if Thrive’s solution was difficult to use, for the record. Visualizing machine downtime data is great – but if the road to get to that point is overly complicated and fraught with peril, you’re not really accomplishing as much as you think you are. That’s why we’ve gone out of our way to make Thrive so easy to use that we don’t even offer training – if we had to spend hours or even days training you to use our software, we really didn’t build it right.

What you’re left with is a plug and play solution that requires no server, PLC or even software to install. In a matter of minutes, you’re able to unlock visualized data and key performance metrics that are so simple they could be understood by your newest employee, someone who has been with your business for years and absolutely everyone in between.

Regardless of the industry you’re currently operating in, that is an exciting position for any business professional to be in, no question about it.

If you’d like to find out more information about why your ability to visualize data matters more than you realize, or if you’d just like to experience Thrive’s downtime tracking solution in a way that proves how easy it is to accomplish precisely that, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today.


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Why OEE is the Key to the Continuous Improvement You Need  

Continuous improvement is one of those ideas that sounds great on paper, but that most manufacturing professionals also quickly find out is a lot easier said than done.

Sure, you’d love to create a situation where every day is a little bit more productive – and profitable – than the one that came before it. But how, exactly, are you supposed to do it?

Thankfully, the solution is simple – OEE, or overall equipment effectiveness. The OEE journey is an important one, but it’s also a lot more straightforward than you might think. You just need to keep a few key things in mind along the way.

The Power of OEE: Generating the Manufacturing Prowess You Need

OEE is important, in large part, because it’s a streamlined way to determine the precise efficiency of your plant operations. The only way you’re going to be able to guarantee that you’re operating at peak efficiency is if you understand what “peak efficiency” truly means in your situation. Therefore, OEE is a great way to not only measure your plant’s operational effectiveness, but to visualize it in a way that makes it easy for literally anyone to understand.

Once you understand the exact issues that are limiting your quality and production capabilities, that are costing you precious time, and that are creating more waste than you care to deal with, you can put actionable steps in place to improve these factors across the board. Sounds easy, right?

With the right solution, it absolutely is – and for most organizations, downtime tracking software marks the beginning of this journey into a larger world.

Thrive’s automated downtime tracking and analysis software is designed from the ground up not only with continuous improvement in mind, but also with ease-of-use being a top priority. You shouldn’t need to hire a team of developers or engineers to use the software, let alone to interpret the critical analytics that it’s feeding you on a daily basis. We’ve always said that if we need to train you to use our solution, we didn’t build it right – and we’re eager to prove to you just how true that really is.

Thrive is plug and play, meaning that it’s easy to install and you can access the intelligence it provides within seconds of activation. With a wide variety of different built-in reports – all of which are fully customizable – you can also dive deep into the metrics that matter most to you to get insight into YOUR operations, not someone else’s.

What you’re left with is more than just a way to finally understand what is causing downtime on your shop floor. You have the rock-solid foundation upon which all of your other OEE efforts will be built.

If you’d like to learn more about why OEE is the key to the continuous improvement your business needs to remain successful, or if you just have additional questions that you’d like to go over with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today.


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Want to Reduce Downtime? The Journey Begins By Starting to Track It  

On your average factory floor, instances of downtime could be caused by an unfortunately large number of reasons. Maybe you’re dealing with more micro starts and stops than you realize. Maybe your operator has throttled a machine to the point where it isn’t operating at peak efficiency any longer. Maybe it’s something else entirely.

Truly, it doesn’t matter – what you’re really dealing with is a situation where you’re not working as fast as you should, and you need to know why. Not tomorrow, not next week. Today. Right now.

If you don’t understand downtime within the context of your specific business, you really can’t do much – if anything – to avoid and eliminate it. That’s why if you truly want to reduce downtime (and make no mistake, you should), you need to put a plan in place to track it moving forward.

Downtime Tracking: The Key Tool You’re Not Utilizing Enough

To truly take advantage of your quest to reduce downtime for your business, you need to see it for what it really is: a marathon, not a sprint.

At Thrive, that marathon begins by way of our innovative downtime tracking solution. In minutes, it gives you access to all of the accurate, actionable information you need to not only understand WHAT is happening across your production lines, but WHY. This puts you in an incredible position to actually do something about it in a way that makes sense given exactly what you’re trying to accomplish.

Once you have total visibility into downtime, you can then move onto the next level of your journey – performance. WHY are you only producing 55 products a minute when you should really be producing 60? What is happening to cause that gap? What can you do about it?

Downtime tracking is the key to answering all of these questions as quickly as possible.

At that point, you can tackle the most important part of the journey of all: quality. Regardless of the type of industry you’re talking about, quality is of the utmost importance. Both in terms of keeping people safe (as is true with food and beverage companies) and with regards to carving out a competitive advantage for yourself.

The nexus between downtime, performance and quality tracking is the position that Thrive calls home. Yes, tracking things in this level of detail is difficult because there are so many moving parts at any given moment. But with the right solution by your side – like the one we’ve worked so hard to build – you’ll find that it’s every bit as easy (and dare we say, enjoyable) as you need it to be.

If you want to guarantee that the future of your business is as bright as it can possibly be, in our own humble opinion this is exactly how you do it.

If you’d like to discover even more ways in which tracking downtime can have a dramatic impact on your entire facility, or if you just have any additional questions that you’d like to go over with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today.


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Using Downtime Tracking to Build a Better Future For Your Business

Imagine a scenario where you knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, why downtime was happening on your shop floor. It didn’t matter what you were in the middle of or what machine you were talking about – you could not only define a reason for stoppages, but you could do so in real-time from literally any device in your possession with an active Internet connection.

How much more productive do you think you would be overall? How much better (and easier) would your decision-making abilities get? What would the future of your business be like if you could use this accurate, actionable, and analytical information today to start building from?

Luckily, you don’t have to wonder about the answers to these questions much longer. Your ability to track downtime in this way is here – and it’s a lot easier to take advantage of than you might think.

The Power of Downtime Tracking: The 21st Century Solution for the 21st Century Business

The problem with the way that most businesses handle downtime tracking is that they’re still doing so manually. Sure, this gives them a bit of insight to work from – but they have to travel an incredibly long road to get it.

With a cloud-based downtime tracking solution like the one offered from Thrive, on the other hand, you’re letting modern technology do the work for you. Just minutes after your initial deployment, you know whether your lines are running, how efficiently they’re operating, and exactly how to reduce production downtime across the board.

But more than that, you’re getting unrestricted access to the type of real-time data and reporting that you can use to not only meet your production goals today, but to optimize your operations so that those goals are even more robust and impressive moving forward.

In essence, what you’re really talking about is an unbeatable opportunity to let the past inform the future. You can track your productive line efficiency in real-time, all in a way that lets you analyze trends and patterns that would have otherwise gone undiscovered. You can do so according to a specific shift, a production line or even right down to the SKU.

But the biggest benefit of all is that Thrive’s solution in particular was designed to be every bit as easy as you need it to be. If we even have to do so much as train you on how to use our product, we didn’t build it right. From that perspective, we’re proud of the fact that we’ve finally given you access to the insight and information that you need, all in a way that literally anybody can take advantage of at a moment’s notice.

Truly, downtime tracking’s role in the future of your business doesn’t get much more straightforward than that.

If you’d like to find out more information about how you can use downtime tracking to build a better future for your business, or if you’d just like to experience our own innovative (and easy!) downtime tracking solution up close and personal, please don’t hesitate to contact Thrive today.


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Uncovering the Real Story About Your Business That OEE is Trying to Tell You  

Obviously, every manufacturer out there makes peak productivity a top priority – regardless of what it is that you’re actually manufacturing. If you’re able to produce only the highest quality parts, as quickly as your lines will allow, with little to no stop time to speak of, you’ve done exactly that – which is also what OEE or “Overall Equipment Effectiveness” is all about.

But at the same time, OEE is more than just another metric and it goes above and beyond a standard best practice. It may be one of the biggest sources of insight you have into the opportunities that can improve your manufacturing process. Because if you’re able to dive beneath the data to uncover the true story hiding in plain sight, you have everything you need to identify losses, benchmark progress and more – all at the exact same time.

The True Power of OEE: Breaking Things Down

To get a better idea of all this in action, consider things within the context of one of the most important factors that influences OEE: quality. Any Overall Equipment Effectiveness measurement always takes into consideration something called Quality Loss, which is when you end up manufacturing parts that do not meet quality standards.

Obviously, knowing that this is happening is important. But knowing WHY is the more critical part of the equation and to get that insight, you have to go deeper than just a number on a metric sheet.

Quality Loss could involve scrap and parts that need to be reworked. It could be good parts that weren’t able to successfully move through the manufacturing process for some reason. Those two issues have very different solutions and until you know exactly what you’re dealing with, you don’t know which to implement.

The same is true for availability. Just because your availability isn’t currently 100% doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem on your hands. You could be dealing with planned stops like changeover time or plant shutdowns, breaks, lunches or even periods when there are no orders. Whether those things are taking longer than they should be is another story, but you can’t discount the fact that they exist altogether.

All of this is a long way of saying that Overall Equipment Effectiveness is every bit as much an art as it is a science. Yes, there’s a tremendous amount of data involved but until you truly understand what that data is trying to tell you, you don’t have access to the insight you need to make better and more informed decisions moving forward.

Once you do unlock that level of understanding, however, you can begin to measure those metrics that are truly important to you. At that point, you’ll have everything you need to improve your manufacturing processes across the board – which is how the competitive advantage that you’ll use to fuel the next decade of your business’ success will be born.

If you’d like to find out even more information about the true narrative hidden beneath your OEE stats, or if you’d just like to talk to someone about your own needs in a bit more detail, please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and contact Thrive today.