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Majans pioneers IoT Intelligence in factory of the future

Added smarts for Dynamics 365 speeds transformation, boosts customer experience, reins in risk and costs

Leading Australian snack-food business Majans is one of the first manufacturers in the world to deploy the IoT Intelligence capabilities of Dynamics 365 Supply Chain, and is already reaping significant rewards as it continues to enhance its factory of the future.

IoT Intelligence, which Microsoft is making available in private preview from October 1, integrates data from signals captured by IoT devices with Dynamics 365 to create a digital feedback loop providing instant insights that promote prompt action.

Majans has deployed IoT Intelligence to capture salt, flavour and moisture readings from its production line ensuring consistent product quality and dramatically reducing the risk of wastage.

The faster digital feedback loop allows any problem to be identified instantly and fixed immediately rather than at the conclusion of a long manufacturing run.

Resourcing constraints meant that previously, Majans was only able to test product every half hour. The affordable, continuous monitoring through IoT Intelligence now assesses Majans’ snacks key parameters constantly; when a reading is outside the normal specification, the digital feedback loop ensures line operators are alerted and prompted to take instant action.

According to Amit Raniga, Majans’ Director, the near real time insights from IoT Intelligence allow operators to take action immediately. This promotes the consistent quality of Majans snacks, which the company expects will unlock significant value by reducing waste and improving the customer experience.

The tight integration of IoT Intelligence with Dynamics 365 Supply Chain also ensures broader trends are identified early. Line, plant and executive management are alerted to emerging trends, so that they can also take more informed decisions regarding product quality as well as use the insights to develop evidence-based strategy to optimise operations, boost efficiency and rein in costs and risk.

Michael O’Keefe, Business Applications Director, Microsoft Australia said; “Majans is a beacon for Australian manufacturers, demonstrating the impact that IoT Intelligence can have on operations, processes and customer satisfaction. Microsoft is delighted to offer the IoT Intelligence capabilities of Dynamics 365 Supply Chain in private preview and we and our partners look forward to working with businesses as they add this extra level of intelligence to their operations.

“Microsoft continues to invest in intelligent edge technologies that allow organisations to narrow the gap between insight and impact. With enhanced quality control, organisational transparency and the opportunity to drive preventive, and eventually predictive maintenance, Majans is now reaping the rewards of its pioneering transformation.”

Amit Raniga, Director, Majans

Fast forward to Factory of the Future

The deployment of IoT Intelligence is the latest step in Majans’ digital transformation and accelerates its factory of the future ambitions. This builds on the progress made in 2018 when Majans replaced an SAP Business One solution with Dynamics365 and deployed Microsoft PowerApps, Flow, PowerBI and Teams.

Majans’ management describes the digital feedback loop that this has established as the “heartbeat” of the business. Instead of month-end reporting allowing only retrospective action, employees and executives have access to near real time data, accelerating their ability to act sooner and smarter.

Raniga added that Majans is now focussed on using IoT Intelligence and Dynamics 365 to drive even more role-based reporting to support employees across the enterprise.

It has also transformed operational processes; for example, in the event of downtime during a production run, or their shift, employees use a specially developed PowerApp to capture reason codes that caused the downtime.

If an issue arises during their shift, the information collected provides a valuable reference point, to help pinpoint where and how a problem arose. This triggers a root cause analysis process which is also facilitated by PowerApps with analysis consolidated and insights delivered through Power BI.

IoT data is also being used to monitor equipment performance and to trigger maintenance activities. For example, Majans can identify patterns in machine performance across different recipes, shifts and machine operators. Insights from this data is helping Majans optimise production scheduling. The company has identified an opportunity to improve site overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) by at least 10 per cent.

According to Raniga, being able to pull fault code signals out of its assets to help improve maintenance strategy will be an important precursor to Majans’ plans for predictive maintenance in the future.

Raniga added; “We’re delighted with the Dynamics 365 roadmap where Asset Management, Quality, Manufacturing Execution, Supply Chain Optimisation and Finance integrate through a single pane of glass. Further, with IOT Intelligence, we can rely on meaningful signals and insights and thus reduce the cycle time to action, keep our teams engaged as well as deliver on our promise to our customers.”