Ampla selected at Ahold

February 2008 SCADA/HMI

Ahold Coffee selected Ampla to improve overall equipment effectiveness on all its production lines.

The Ahold Coffee Company (ACC) is part of Royal Ahold NV, one of the largest food retailer companies in the world, employing 247 000 globally and achieving revenues of over 41 billion euros in 2005. The company is the largest private label coffee roaster in the Netherlands and is a market leader in the production of private label coffee pods that produce real coffee easier and more efficiently than conventional vending machines.

The challenge

ACC has world class operations, with continuous improvement as one of its main objectives. The company's 'Sensor to Boardroom' initiative is a strategy to integrate and bring transparency to all ACC production activities. With a goal of decreasing the amount and duration of line stoppages without making any operational or equipment changes, ACC decided to implement an MES system.

The solution

ACC selected Ampla, Citect's MES solution, for its modular architecture that provides optimum flexibility and scalability. This allows the MES system to be set up in many different ways, with customers creating their own key performance indicators (KPI) for just about anything.

Citect and Citect Partner Burgot-Epsia implemented the Ampla project which consisted of the Planner, Downtime, Production, and Metrics modules. The modules were seamlessly connected via B2MML (Business to Manufacturing Mark-up Language), to the FlexProcess ERP system. Moreover, Ampla supports an ISA-95 compliant equipment hierarchy tree. This is the key object on which Level 3 manufacturing operations management activities are applied and from which information flows. This appropriately structured hierarchy facilitates integration with ERP and EAM systems as well as lower level systems.

The Ampla Planner module allows local visualisation and optimisation of process orders; while the Ampla Downtime, Production, and Metrics modules aggregate information from the plant systems and present it in realtime intelligence through user-friendly dashboards. As a result, managers for Planning, Production, Quality, IT, Technical, Financial, and Maintenance managers can now drill down into the key inhibitors to production, quality, and labour utilisation and take action to improve efficiencies.

The benefits

Planning staff can now see actual production against the plan and optimise schedules accordingly. Production staff benefit from greater visibility of production and the causes of downtime.

Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) is a key indicator at ACC, and the company has already seen significant improvements in this KPI on selected lines since Ampla was installed. Operations staff became more performance oriented immediately after the Ampla system was implemented, which resulted in a decrease in the number and duration of line stoppages. Consequently, OEE improved right away without having to make any operational or equipment changes.

Operations manager, Jeroen de Jager also sees benefits in a number of other key areas after implementing Ampla. He can now objectively identify the most readily achievable goals (the 'low hanging fruit') that should receive the highest priority to manage the resources for eliminating waste and stoppages more efficiently. The few major issues are being addressed first and improvement teams are being formed to identify and remedy other performance issues.

An additional Ampla benefit has been very effective commercial meetings with sales staff. Now, De Jager can provide evidence of the relative profitability of the various products the company produces. Some products are relatively inefficient to produce and carry higher labour and downtime costs due to factors such as packaging. By identifying these poorer performers, ACC has more insight into actual production costs.

Improved preventative maintenenace

The ability of the Ampla system to provide focus for improvements right across ACC's operations also extends to the company's maintenance operations. The ability to drill down and obtain realtime intelligence through easy-to-understand dashboards has helped maintenance staff to confirm that preventive maintenance, in line with packaging equipment vendors' recommendations, does actually increase the overall equipment availability and therefore is worth scheduling. As a result, ACC has instituted a stricter preventive maintenance schedule.

Furthermore, the number of maintenance staff required to service the lines is now more visible as the system records the amount of time maintenance staff spend on the line. It also indicates the amount of time operators are 'waiting on maintenance' staff to arrive. A log of the activities the maintenance staff performs on the line is also stored in the system. This provides transparency across succeeding maintenance personnel who may be called to rectify faults on the same machine during different shifts. It enables one engineer to see at a glance whether the fault is a new one or the same one that occurred previously and the measures taken to remedy it.

For more information contact Dennis Cox, Citect Africa, +27 (0)11 699 6600,,

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