Production reporting – how to digitize baked goods

Technology implementations in the field of Industry 4.0, including production reporting, often involve modernization of machinery fleets. This is a quite natural process in the automotive sector, for example. But how do you digitize a confectionery plant if technology in this sector does not require regular upgrades? In that case, is there any point in digitizing at all? What challenges does this industry have in terms of automatic production traceability, and is it possible to go through the digital transformation gradually, step by step? Today, using a concrete example, I will zoom in on a simple production reporting solution for the confectionery industry.

Production reporting – currently

In the process of making confectionery products, a variety of raw materials, both liquid and loose, must be mixed. Production takes place on an industrial scale, so the mass of raw materials is really large, and hundreds or thousands of baked goods are made from it. Every ingredient, from sugar to flavorings, must be accurately measured and identified for a specific production batch. This is required both by regulatory standards and by end customers. Operators are therefore given recipes and must manually enter the exact quantities of raw materials taken and the batch numbers.

Already here the first challenges are beginning to emerge:

  1. Manual data entry is time-consuming – the operator spends time typing out documents instead of focusing on work that gives the company real value.
  2. The operator is responsible for the quality of the data entered.
  3. Entering information manually is an error-prone process – a long batch number (such as a 10-character number) can be easily confused. A worker can misread or mistype the data, and this leads to errors in documentation and downstream production. In confectionery factories with large-scale production, any such error can have serious consequences; bad identification of raw material batches can lead to the need to reject entire batches of products.
  4. Operators may have different handwriting quality, making it difficult for others to read the recorded data. The challenge, then, is the need to transcribe handwritten information into computer systems. Those responsible for quality control must read and enter data from paper reports into computer systems. This means that the data is not immediately available to everyone, and misread indicators can lead to further problems in the documentation.

Production reporting – manual system based on web forms

In response to these challenges, the explitia team and I proposed a manual system based on web forms that reside on operator panels. This system replicates exactly the form that the operator fills out manually, but uses a barcode scanner instead of typing in the data.

Benefits of implementing the system

There are numerous benefits to introducing such a system:

  1. We eliminate the risk of human error associated with reading and recording raw material lot numbers. This is because the batch number information comes directly from the scanner, ensuring greater accuracy.
  2. Operations are much faster – the operator does not have to manually enter data, allowing him to focus on the actual production process.
  3. Data scanned with barcodes is immediately available in the system. This means that all people involved in the production process have real-time access to up-to-date information. For example, those responsible for decorating cakes can immediately see what raw materials have been used in a given production batch and their quantities. This greatly streamlines production and ensures better coordination of activities.
  4. Thepossibility of further development of the system. One of the biggest advantages of the proposed solution is the possibility of gradual digitization. The system, which is based on web forms and barcode scanning, allows the introduction of the first stages of digitization without the need for a costly upgrade of the entire machinery. This solution is relatively inexpensive and easy to implement, while bringing tangible benefits. The system can be gradually expanded with additional functions. For example, in the initial stage, raw material measures can be entered manually, but the system is ready for automation in the future. As technology develops in the plant and further cooperation with the IT system provider, more functions can be introduced to automate production processes.

Digitization by small steps

The introduction of digitization in industrial dough production can be implemented step by step, without the need for costly upgrades to the entire machinery fleet. Our proposed solution, based on web forms and barcode scanning:

This allows confectionery plants to gradually implement the next steps of digitization, achieving tangible benefits and improving the efficiency of their production.

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