Carolina Ingredients, an industrial seasoning manufacturer and supplier, has dedicated its efforts to developing innovative seasonings, blends and flavorings since 1990. As purveyors of the world’s finest food ingredients, their mission is to create value through providing quality goods and top-notch customer service.
When Frank McKinney, COO and Plant Manager, started looking at solutions to replace an antiquated camera system that provided minimal coverage, he discovered Verkada. Shortly after, Verkada expanded the product line beyond hybrid cloud cameras to include access control and environmental sensors.
With a cloud-based platform that’d centralize the management and data of each of the connected devices, Frank decided to invest in the solution to support physical security, operations and other key areas of the business.
“I requested a trial and in a matter of days, was reviewing footage that recorded new insights of activity happening across the floor. It was immediately clear that (Verkada) is so much more than a security tool.”
After implementing Verkada’s building security solution, Frank identified a number of performance limitators: from production, process and material flow, to movement across the expansive warehouse. Through these surfaced insights, he’s been able to develop strategic plans that allow the company to operate more efficiently.
Using Verkada to Develop Business Strategies for:
- Food Safety and Handling
- Equipment and Machinery Maintenance
- HR and Workplace Safety
- Space Utilization and Production Planning
- Food Defense and Emergency Response
Food Safety & Handling
“When it comes to behavioral observations related to Safety within our plan, it’s about seeing what’s happening on the floor without being obtrusive. The last thing I want to do—and the last thing the team wants—is for me to monitor their process by standing over their shoulders. We then can tailor safety training to address the gaps we observed in behavioral video segments analyzed.”
The ability to playback camera footage and utilize zoom to key in on critical details, without compromising image quality, allows Frank to conduct observations in a more scalable way. Rather than observe individual team members one-by-one, Frank is able to speed up playback and review hours worth of footage in significantly less time to get a better sense of food handling across the floor.
By using this approach, Frank has identified over 400 individual processes that require additional support, strategy and resources (Value Stream Mapping). “I’m able to use intelligent search parameters to uncover incidents that might be safety, quality or productivity concerns; (Verkada) makes it easy to review footage in a strategic way.”
Additionally, Frank has conducted analyses of material-product flow and cycle time to improve the production process. By reviewing footage across key stages of production, he has been able to pinpoint major inefficiencies in the material movement through the warehouse and make necessary changes.
“Previously, our cycle time was about 42 minutes per run to make 5,000 pounds… and this isn’t based on one or two cycles–I’ve reviewed footage of 50 cycles to validate the average. To cut down on processing time, we added screw conveyors to speed up the process of feeding dry ingredients and (this) has knocked down our cycle time to 19 minutes per run. This reduction creates a 34% labor reduction per hour of operation. Sharing quantifiable data to validate changes in operations makes our board feel confidently about purchasing decisions.”
Equipment and Machinery Maintenance
“As part of an annual audit, an OSHA inspector evaluates the consistency of our lockout/tagout process. I pulled up footage from three separate days, over a span of four weeks, and showed him exactly what we were doing. I can’t put it into words how valuable that was. Verkada also helped us manage our microbiological testing protocols to ensure compliance as a food manufacturer.”
With millions of dollars worth of equipment that handle several tons of dry ingredients daily, it is imperative for Frank and the team to standardize equipment handling and preventative maintenance. By utilizing Verkada’s connected devices and intuitive technology, alongside the 5S methodology of lean manufacturing, Frank is able to contextualize workplace operations to build structure that benefits business and fiscal outcomes.
Since implementing Verkada’s integrated solution, Frank has been able to better manage access to restricted areas with industrial equipment, such as testing environments and server rooms. The native integration between access control and video security allows Frank to quickly verify that only trained members are badging into restricted areas to operate machinery or enter labs.
“Rather than worry about extra sets of keys or punch codes, the team gets a single keycard that gives them the right levels of access to certain parts of the facility. It certainly has made their lives easier.”
HR and Workplace Safety
“I’ve sent segments of video recordings to outside contractors so they can assemble training videos for the team. It’s a non-conventional way of using video footage, but the fact that we can leverage this system to benefit more than physical security speaks to the versatility of the solution.”
Previously, Frank considered working with external resources to create safety training videos for new hire onboarding. However, given the specificity of machinery, inventory and assembly at Carolina Ingredients, Frank realized that he needed to create tailored material that would be more representative of the team’s workflow and process.
“The ability to share clips of high resolution feeds with the vendor was incredible. All I had to do was send over a link of a specific scene, which gave them the ability to download the clip as an MP4 and use it as part of the video. Our energy and focus completely shifted from how we’d create the videos, to what we hoped to cover with the material.”
Additionally, the HR team utilizes Verkada’s proactive solution to keep the workplace safe. “When Verkada came out with the ‘Person of Interest’ feature, the HR team set up alerts that’d notify them if former employees appeared onsite. These alerts were set to last for 10 days, on the off-chance that there was something unusual happening, or something required immediate attention. It’s an added layer of awareness that helps them keep the workplace running smoothly.”
Space Utilization and Production Planning
“We did studies on the movement of forklifts to understand the amount of times forklifts went down particular aisles. We found out that we were running about 17% of wasted time on three forklifts because of how ingredients were laid out. We had a lot of low usage items in high volume aisles, and it was restricting our access because only one forklift could go down that aisle and access it.”
With 1,200 pallet spaces across 23,000 square foot of the warehouse, one of Frank’s key initiatives is to maximize the value per square foot of the operation. By using heat maps and motion plots to observe patterns of traffic across the narrow aisles, Frank has identified inefficiencies in the flow of machinery. These insights have led to recommendations for new warehouse layouts that have improved inventory placement and management.
“Misplaced forklifts resulted in a substantial waste of operational hours; it worked out to about $3,300 a week just because of the way our racks were laid out. So we’ve redesigned and relocated materials based on their usage. We’ve far exceeded the 17% of time I thought we were wasting. We actually have seen 5% gains in the pounds per hour that a forklift can move in a day.”
Food Defense and Emergency Response
“We distribute 15 million pounds of finished seasonings, flavorings and dry ingredients a year. We’re actively monitoring for contaminants that might be in the air or environment to ensure that nothing causes deviations that may impact the expected quality of our goods.”
As a dry ingredient company, one of the major challenges Carolina Ingredients faces is dust collection. With a heavy reliance on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units to filter out allergens in the air, it’s critical for Frank to be notified of failures immediately to maintain air quality levels. “In this industry, failures aren’t uncommon; in the last three years, I’ve spent almost $200,000 replacing HVAC units because they weren’t properly maintained. That’s why sensors are so important to my operation.”
With Verkada’s all-in-one environmental sensors, Frank is able to detect unusual spikes in particulate matter in the air. When levels of dust, pollen or dry ingredients–such as powdered sugar or egg products–rise, Frank is immediately notified of these allergens rising above steady levels. This allows him to quickly investigate, and respond to, the situation before it compromises the quality of processed items.
“Temperature and relative humidity are also critical to this operation. I have to maintain 55% plus or minus 1% or less relative humidity. If we hit 58%, we start running into problems with our dry ingredients. They start clumping and plugging machines up; it gets ugly pretty quickly. With sensors, I’m able to detect irregularities before it becomes a problem.”
“My experience with the team has been phenomenal. They take customer feedback in real-time and partner with us to build something that solves for gaps in the market. I guarantee, what you buy today is just the beginning of what you’ll get out of Verkada.”
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