How to create a fully connected factory of the future

Going wireless lets one meat processor improve safety and productivity.

By Kevin Higgins, Food Processing

Data transmission beyond a tightly controlled closed loop is nothing new for Sugar Creek Packing Co.—“We’ve used Emerson’s mesh wireless networks for seven years,” noted Edward Rodden, chief information officer—but a newly minted plant in Indiana that includes a highly automated production line provided an opportunity to create a fully connected factory of the future. Much of the plant’s new wireless communications and analytics capabilities leverage solutions from technology provider Cisco Systems. Cisco’s RJ Mahadev, lead-IoE service solutions, joined Rodden in describing the company’s new facility and technology-enabled initiatives at the Smart Industry 2015 conference.

Founded in 1966, Sugar Creek is a copacker, manufacturing further processed bacon and other protein products under contract for branded food companies and foodservice operators, such as restaurant chains. Second-generation ownership nurtured organic growth that tripled revenue since 2000, with a production network of five facilities. Last year, Sugar Creek embarked on its most ambitious growth plan to date: acquisition of a brownfield site in the Indianapolis area and expansion to 418,000 sq. ft. The new plant, which was commissioned in July, is expected to generate $350 million in annual revenue. “We will finish the year with well over $600 million” in company revenue, Rodden said.

To learn more about wireless, read “Wireless boosts productivity, plant safety at Sugar Creek” from Smart Industry.

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