ABN are a global agri-food business who operate across the entire food supply chain. Founded in 1984, they have over 3,000 staff, and sell into 70 countries.ABN focus on responsible food production by prioritising three activities: producing more food from fewer resources, safeguarding the natural resources needed for food production, and working side by side with colleagues and communities.
As the agricultural division of ABF, a diversified, international food, ingredients and retail group, ABN is committed to improving food production whilst ensuring safety and sustainability.
With a reputation for designing, building and running feed manufacturing operations to the highest standard, ABN are always looking for innovative ways to make improvements, be more effective, and drive standards even higher. In 2019 they decided to source an asset management system which would compliment their current operations and support the group to occupy a unique position across the agri-food supply chain.
The team went out to market with the key requirement that they needed an asset and maintenance management system, that was easy to use and would enable all users to engage with it. The solution would also have to help drive their manufacturing and therefore productivity forward and push them beyond their existing benchmarks.
Operational activities that needed to be managed through the solution included:
Finding a solution provider that could offer continuous and ongoing support was also essential.
Following a stringent process, ABN chose Agility from SSG Insight to support all 11 UK sites.
“Agility is easy to use and makes things easy. It provides us with much more in-depth reporting than I have seen with other systems, you can just see so much more, and you don’t need to go looking for it. The reports make sense and they are easy to digest, and this is something that our Supply Chain Director has complimented. What’s more, if there’s something we want to see on a report and it’s not there, the guys at SSG Insight will create it for us.
All our assets, in all our UK mills are on a list within Agility, and that includes the condition of them, PPMs, correctives, and breakdowns. Our breakdowns are less and less thanks to Agility as we can plan our maintenance tasks so much better, especially with the historical information that Agility provides on our assets.
We record each engineer using Agility. We can see what everyone is working on and our labour utilization, and team is able to pick up other available jobs that need doing. The real-time correctives required also gives us an instant picture when you lock in as to any maintenance or breakdown issues that have come up that day and where. The dashboard is brilliant for this, as soon as I log in, I have an instant picture of the activity happening across all the sites. Having said that the sites can’t see each other so no one can accidentally add someone to their site or anything. However, if they do need access I can customise their permissions easily and just give them access to the one thing they need.
We found it easier to build our maintenance plan after we had started using Agility as we found that this helped our understanding of Agility and in turn, our plan. The replication tool is great and allows me to do things quickly. There’s also brilliant attention to detail like the dotted line when you hover over a chart and it gives you an exact number, and the fact that I can see absolutely everything in our equipment structure is also very valuable. We don’t have to wonder what something means; we can click, and the information is there.
Obviously being within food production means that we have several stringent health and safety and feed safety quality standards which we have to comply with. It’s always on the forefront of our minds that HSE and FSQ is very important, for us Agility helps to ensure we are compliant. When we get audited by the British Food Association ‘have you got a maintenance system in place’, is one of the first things they ask engineering teams. Of course, we can say ‘yes’ and take them directly to any report they need within Agility.
We did a bit of a train the trainer model and now I train all our engineers, I even track this through Agility so we can see who has been trained and who hasn’t. If they haven’t, it’s a red mark on our reports! Once the team started using it and saw how easy it was as well as how much easier it made the job, they all became really engaged. I’ve got guys in the team now who love Agility and wouldn’t want to work anywhere without it.
Support is great too because it’s quick and you don’t have to wait ages. Yeah, sometimes it gets passed up from level 1 to 2, but they’re always fast to come back to you and to get you an answer.
We’re constantly looking to ensure all sites are actively using Agility and standardising the reports produced by each so that we can benchmark. This helps us to operate even more effectively and supports our drive to get our standards even higher, Agility is pivotal to this. We are excited about the future of Agility as we know the SSG Insight team are always looking at innovation, and because they actually ask us what we want and how we use the system. It’s great to be part of the journey as they develop the software so that it will work for us even better.
In a nutshell, Agility is easy to use, it makes the job easier, and I don’t think we should be without itStuart Smith, Group Reliability & Asset Care Manager - AB Connect (a division of AB Agri)