Peco Foods Inc., Tuscaloosa, Ala., is a privately-held, family-managed company known for its high-quality poultry products. In fact, its family-style business and management practices help to employ many hard-working Americans in the southern United States.

Since the company began production, Peco’s quality assurance and production personnel, as well as plant management, have analyzed plant-floor data in an effort to continuously improve processes. However, Peco Foods realized that with traditional data recording and reporting options, their plant-floor operators had exhausted all opportunities to improve results. Manually-entered data was taking too long to compile, and human error further complicated the analysis. Instead of knowing as soon as a failure occurred or that a process was out of control, management would have to wait a day or longer to view the data, which sometimes revealed costly, avoidable problems.

Peco Foods’ management believed that empowering their individual employees would yield better results than any other strategy. That’s why Peco Foods needed a solution that would provide:

• Reliable electronic data collection with threshold alarms that could instantly notify key personnel of problems.

• Easily visible scoreboards to keep everyone on the plant floor fully informed.

• Real-time reporting with statistical process control (SPC) analysis capabilities.

• 100% return on investment in less than one year.

Peco Foods began looking for a solution and found that CAT² offered both the software and professional services required to overcome its challenges. CAT² could provide a complete turnkey solution using their food safety and quality management software (HAT) as well as all the required hardware, training, project management and support services. Since CAT² could independently provide these solutions, it minimized financial risks and unnecessary liabilities.

After careful evaluation, Peco Foods determined that CAT², Conway, Ark., was the best company to meet their needs.

The solution involved:

• CAT²’s food safety and quality management (HAT) and SPC charting software.

• 55-inch flat-screen monitors encased in IP69K-rated stainless steel anti-moisture enclosures that provide plant floor associates a clear view of real-time data.

• Onsite training, weekly status reports and 24/7 support.

HAT focuses on proactively controlling processes and preventing failures. As soon as a deviation occurs, the HAT system notifies key personnel by email or text message, so that issues can be dealt with the moment they are found.

Any type of data can be collected in the HAT system, including weight, size, temperature, defects, yield percents, HACCP, GMPs, pre-operational sanitation, downtime and metal detection checks. Floor operators use handheld or stationary touch-screen computers to collect the data, eliminating paperwork and reducing labor costs.

All data collected using HAT can be viewed and analyzed using real-time reports that include pre-shipment, failure ranking and compliance. Data can also be shown on charts and graphs enabled with SPC analysis and Six Sigma capabilities. HAT turns plant-floor data into actionable, process-improving intelligence.

For the first time, Peco Foods could analyze extensive quality and production data in real time and respond as soon as problems occurred. It immediately transformed their business practices from reactive to proactive.

“Before HAT, it was like playing a basketball game and telling your team, ‘Push hard! We can win!,’ but never keeping score,” says Tony Pierce, Peco Foods’ plant manager in Canton, Miss. “Now, we keep score from the beginning of the game.”

Specific benefits of the CAT² implementation include:

• Management could report detailed intelligence about their processes in real time thanks to 1,000 additional data collection points.

• Floor personnel could instantly see quality and production data such as piece weight results on the plant-floor scoreboards.

• Floor personnel received direct feedback because of the scoreboards and were able to make adjustments to continually improve their numbers.

• The company averaged 1.5% less downgrade product across their entire product line.

Peco Foods realized that by showing their hard-working staff the direct results of their personal contributions, they were empowering their team to perform at their highest ability.

Since implementing CAT²’s solutions, downgrade product percentages improved immediately by more than 1.5%. Because Peco Foods makes about 75% less revenue on downgrade product, the 1.5% improvement generated a 100% return on investment for the entire installation in only a few months.

Due to the ability to instantly analyze electronic data and provide feedback to their plant-floor team, Peco Foods now enjoys yields and productivity results that simply were not possible before the CAT² implementation.