The processing and packaging of bulk agricultural products is labour intensive and error prone. Eqontrol, a new and intelligent software solution, connects machines and quickly solves problems in complex production environments.
Whether you’re working with a small packaging line or within a larger production environment, as a factory manager you’re facing logistic and operational challenges on a daily basis. Problems arise when an operator has to switch between lots and manually change machine settings of all components in a production line. The packaging line, specifically, is as efficient as its weakest part: even a single mistake – for example a wrong line in a recipe – can reduce the capacity of the whole line and potentially even result in a rejected order. Furthermore, finding the right, qualified personnel is an ongoing challenge for today’s factory managers.
What if there were a solution that drastically reduces your changeover time, avoids track & tracing issues, reduces leftovers and gives you a clear overview of your production line’s performance? Eqontrol is a digital operator that connects your buying, sales and production departments, increasing efficiency and preventing unpleasant surprises. All possible scenarios can simply be controlled from one intuitive and self-explanatory interface.
Each order has specific requirements for type of product, quality, weight and packaging. The weighing and packaging machines must be emptied out regularly and changed to the correct settings. When a new order comes in, the whole process starts over again. A good operator can connect all parts of the factory floor together thanks to years of experience, but it remains a labour intensive and error prone process, resulting in varying undesirable situations. The larger a factory gets, the more complex the work becomes. That’s why the support of a digital system that thinks ahead can be a real lifesaver.
With Eqontrol, you can control all machines from one clear interface. The intelligent system allows the different parts within a production line to communicate with each other. Switching between different configurations is as simple as selecting the desired output on a tablet or desktop: the machines will automatically respond and be set correctly.
The minimized changeover time between orders is a major advantage, just like the minimized downtime: your packaging line will no longer run out of labels, pallets or ink, because it will tell you beforehand if anything needs to be refilled. The highly intuitive software allows you to visualize the process, giving the operator a handy overview at hand of the entire production line. Furthermore, it allows you to create reports, enabling you to plan an accurate production schedule based on data from past orders. The system also automatically backs up all information regularly in the cloud through an internet connection, but software and data are stored at the factory itself for maximum security.
When you invest in an optical grader that replaces a manual sorting line and checks the quality of your product both on the outside and on the inside, of course you’re looking for a quick return of investment and maximum output of your machine. Eqontrol helps you get the most out of your grader by cleverly planning or combining different orders. Seeing as the grader is developed to collect information from each individual product, it would be a shame not to do anything with those data.
Bert Loedeman (l.) and Jaap Trouwborst.
Eqontrol tracks and traces your agricultural product from sorting to packaging, resulting in several advantages. For example, a faulty batch can be easily traced back to a specific supplier, so you can still sell the rest of the order for a good price. Furthermore, Eqontrol gives you the opportunity to discuss product quality with your suppliers, as you now have an insight to their delivered results and consistency over time. Thanks to Eqontrol, meeting your clients’ track & trace requirements is no longer an issue.
Finally, Eqontrol is also a solution for the largest and most complex factories that use automated warehouses, thanks to its intelligent positioning technology. The system uses the information about individual product batches, collected during the grading process, when placing these batches into the warehouse. In an onion factory, for example, one batch of onions may be more humid than the other, so the system will make sure to store each individual crate in the best climate zone in the warehouse. It also means the system will make sure the orders go out in the right order (first in, first out).
Smart team work
Eqontrol offers full chain integration of all factory departments and optimises the flow between them: from buying and processing to storage and sales. It’s important for these departments to clearly communicate with each other, but especially in large factories, connecting these separate teams with each other remains challenging. Eqontrol brings them together so that everybody knows where they’re standing: for example, it helps sales managers to sell promises that the production department can actually deliver. Thanks to the data that Eqontrol collects, a very reliable planning can be made based on performance data from past orders. Instead of relying on an operator’s intuition, the dashboard shows live data concerning efficiency at any moment of the production process. It reduces human errors and rejected orders, enabling you to increase your margins.