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Bush Brothers uses automation to increase throughput while eliminating inefficiencies

The Bush family company started more than 100 years ago as a Tennessee canning company, primarily with fruits and vegetables. With the development of Bush’s secret family recipe for baked beans in the ‘60s, Bush Brothers would soon become the largest provider of canned beans worldwide. 

With more than 55 million lb of beans produced yearly at several plants, Bush Brothers turned to Parsec, a partner of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA),for companywide operations management. Its goal was to go paperless because of the time savings from eliminating data handling and entry, and gaining real-time visibility into its processes. 

By implementing Parsec’s TrakSYS Manufacturing Operations Management software platform, Bush Brothers could measurably improve its production systems. Using real-time information related to equipment downtime, TrakSYS was able to discover root causes, frequencies and conditions leading to downtime. Bush Brothers tasked Parsec with a plantwide implementation to streamline communication from the plant floor to upper management.

“[Before TrakSYS,] we had a homegrown software solution in place at the time, and it showed us that there were benefits to be gained by relying on a software solution to help log downtime,” notes Tony Peterson, operations manager at Bush Brothers. 

“We were looking for a tool that would help us make better decisions that, in turn, would improve performance. In addition to having to fit with our company culture, another thing we wanted in our tracking system was flexibility,” Peterson continues.

In order to get the maximum value, the team at Bush Brothers knew the solution had to be designed based on a scalable and extensible solution platform. The goal was to expand the solution footprint in a step-by-step but agile manner. 

TrakSYS is an integrated software platform that contains all of the functionality of a full manufacturing execution system (MES) in one package. The modular nature of TrakSYS provides the flexibility to deploy only the functions that are required and add new functions as needed without a major software upgrade.

“TrakSYS is designed to empower manufacturers to unlock unseen potential within their existing infrastructure,” states Greg Newman, vice president at Parsec. “Even small tweaks can save a plant millions of dollars each year.”

As part of this approach, TrakSYS was interfaced with: 

• Enterprise resource planning (ERP) connectivity for planning and production scheduling. 

• Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system to capture production data. 

• Plant historian for process variable analysis. 

• Operator workstation for engagement and contextualization. 

The integrated architecture allowed Bush Brothers real-time visibility across the manufacturing processes. TrakSYS provides critical, accurate and real-time information to Bush Brothers’ operations teams, making it possible to manage operations more effectively and optimize production planning and asset utilization, enhancing the following:

• Quality and compliance with HACCP. 

• Task management. 

• Performance of equipment, operators, systems and processes. 

• Kaizen principles. 

• Existing asset utilization. 

• Maintenance schedules and awareness of their impacts on OEE and downtime. 

In the first year using TrakSYS, Bush Brothers produced 2.2 million additional cases of baked beans while eliminating 27 shifts using TrakSYS for real-time operations management. Bush Brothers also maximized asset utilization, and with every 1-point OEE improvement, the company saved $395,000.

Using TrakSYS, Bush Brothers was able to identify improvement areas that would dramatically reduce equipment downtime, process variability, paper-based production tracking and the inaccuracies in recorded information. Additional achievements include:

• ROI in less than one year.

• More than 85 percent production efficiency.

• More than 99.7 percent on-time order fulfillment.

Based on its first-year results, Bush Brothers has expanded its use of TrakSYS for manufacturing operations management and has continued to gain additional efficiencies as a result of greater visibility and control across its enterprise. 

“We are still moving forward today, getting a little deeper and making our operations even more efficient. You could almost describe it as a living program,” says Peterson.