Country Maid Digital Transformation

August 8, 2023

Discover our successful contribution to Country Maid's digital makeover. By collaborating closely with Rockwell Automation, we orchestrated the automation and augmentation of the client's production capabilities, all the while retaining their existing equipment and significantly curtailing mixing duration. As a result of our dedicated endeavors, we empowered Country Maid to achieve a remarkable twofold increase in their overall output.

Hi, I'm Nicole Bulanda from Rockwell Automation. I'm the customer advocacy program manager, and we're here to talk about results achieved. I'm joined by Ray from Interstates to talk about some results that they were able to achieve with one of their key customers. Hi, Ray.

Hey, how's it going?

Good. Can you tell us what your role is at Interstates and then also what Interstates does?

Okay, so I'm an automation manager with Interstates. We're a design-build firm. We got about 1,200 employees. We do anything from consulting, automation, construction, and instrumentation.

Great! So, who is the customer we'll be talking about today?

Country Maid out of West Bend, Iowa. They do Butter Braids and cake rolls and provide them to a lot of fundraising applications.

Okay, I'm pretty sure I've seen some of those come home with my children, so I'm sure that I'm a customer of Country Maid, but tell us, what were they looking to solve? And I know you've worked with them for years, right?

Yep! It's been about a 10-year relationship. They initially came to us trying to increase their throughput through their facility, higher demand. They didn't want to expand their facilities, so we were trying to come up with some new ways to increase the production and reduce some labor.

Got it. So, it wasn't necessarily a greenfield project. They already had some equipment in place, and they were running a line, it sounds like, but they wanted more throughput to meet demand. What else were they looking for? More efficiency, maybe?

Yeah, some more efficiency. Yeah, you are correct. They had some of the equipment the facility was running, but there was no automation. It was all stand-alone islands of mixers, and additions, and stuff like that.

Okay, so what did Interstates suggest, and how did you propose that to the customer?

We initially sat down with them, talked through their process, walked the facility, sat down with some other engineering team, had a little discussion on how we thought we could increase the production and what kind of software packages, hardware packages—what would work best for them. It stemmed from just conversations—more of a consulting initial engagement.

So Interstates is part of our partner network, right?

Yeah, that is correct. We are a platinum member.

What does that mean to be a platinum member of the Partner Network, just for those watching?

Really, we have to have an investment in our training. We work hand in hand with Rockwell. We partner with them on some engagements with customers and just, you know, working as a partnership.

And we really appreciate your partnership because you're able to take your design and consulting expertise out into the field and help customers solve problems. So, tell us a little bit more about what was implemented at this customer site.

So, we went with the PlantPAx solution. They're utilizing FactoryTalk batch, View SE, all Rockwell power control, and Rockwell controllers, historians.

So, they got the full kit and caboodle. So we went from no automation, essentially, to an automated line. What else changed though, because you were able to expand their production by adding automation, right?

Yeah, yep. So, initially, they talked about building some larger mixers, and that created a problem because they'd have to increase the building size. So we're able to keep the same mixers. We were able to add another line. I think we reduced the mixing time by about 23%, which allowed that those mixers to feed an additional line. We also increased the line speed by 14% and reduced a bunch of labor. So, they were able to almost over double their output by adding the second line without adding any additional labor.

That's fabulous! Those are some really great results. So, what else has been happening with the customer since that initial project was done?

So, with some of the reporting features and them actually being able to see, you know, anywhere from how does the temperature affect their product? Because on the pastry line with dough and flour and stuff like that, the outside temperature and inside temperature really affects the consistency of that.

So, they actually added on to the facility several times since then, automated more of the ingredient feeds, and were able to put some of the flour inside because we wanted a certain temp to give it a better texture. And we've also done some ERP integration with them. So, their distributors would put in orders, and then their ERP system would essentially create campaigns and put them on the batch list. Their operator would come in in the morning, and everything they needed to do was already set up. They would just essentially hit start. And then we did productions and consumptions on raw materials, and their ERP would automatically order some of the raw materials when they got low.

This sounds like a really fun customer to work with. Like they're open to digital transformation, they're open to trying new things.

Yeah, they're very forward-thinking. I mean, they've worked with us on some testing and some beta releases and software. We actually, two months ago, just finished up the Plant PAx 5.0 upgrade with them.

Great! Well, congrats, Country Maid, on your digital transformation so far in your continued journey. And thank you so much, Ray, for telling us what Interstates is doing, and we're really appreciative that we got to hear your results achieved.

Yeah, thank you for your time today; I appreciate it.