The Kroger Company is an American retailer founded by Bernard Kroger in 1883 in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is the country’s largest supermarket chain by revenue ($109.83 billion for fiscal year 2015), second-largest general retailer (behind Walmart), and twenty-third largest company . Kroger is also the fifth largest retailer in the world. Kroger operates, either directly or through its subsidiaries, 2,778 supermarkets and multi-department stores. Kroger’s headquarters are in downtown Cincinnati. It maintains markets in 34 states, with store formats that include supermarkets, superstores, department stores, 786 convenience stores, and 326 jewelry stores. Kroger-branded grocery stores are located throughout the Midwestern and Southern United States. Kroger operates 37 food processing or manufacturing facilities, 1,360 supermarket fuel centers and 2,122 pharmacies.
To ensure maximum quality and repeatability of batches, Kroger decided to invest in the V5 Formula System. Kroger needed to take their manual batching process with paper-based lot verification to the next level and automate the shop floor weighing operations without losing flexibility in the weighing room and dispensary areas.
Typically, operator errors in the weighing process and inaccuracies in lot control are usually not reflected in the paper trail – this can cause problems with accounting, inventory and purchasing in addition to the quality of the product from batch to batch. Batch weighing inaccuracy causes freshly baked products to be inconsistent, which is unacceptable to the brand and consumer. Kroger required formulations to be 100% accurate – every time. They reached out to SG Systems for the proven V5 solution.
V5 Batch Weighing Solution
Once a manufacturing order has been created in the company’s ERP System (SAP), this data is exported into the V5 Control Center.
The Job (number of batches, required batch size and production locations) and the BOM containing the recipe steps, weighing sequence and target weights is available at the operator workstations located throughout the facility. The workstations consist of multiple V5 Formula Systems, Label Printers and a variety of Mettler Toledo Weighing Scales or varying size and capacity.
The V5 Formula System allows the area specific Production Plan to be displayed using easy to follow screens. This eliminates paper schedules and prevents operators making incorrect or out of sequence formulations. After selecting the required formula, the operator follows simple screens which prompt for lot number of each color pigment. A speedometer display ensures the weighed items are portioned correctly and within tight, management set tolerances. The operator cannot weigh up too much or too little as the system will not accept out of tolerance weighing. This has a big impact on improving batch consistency and overall product quality – something that Kroger business model is dependent on.
‘Mistake Free’ Weighing & Batching System Reports
Electronic reports detailing which operator has weighed up the respective steps are available at the main PC, detailing the lot number and scaled amount. The Recipe Batch Report (COA) allows this visibility, detailing the exact amounts of each of the ingredients weighed into the batch (or handled through complete batches). The SG Systems Software has automated this process to ensure fast and accurate batch sign off of formulations.
As the jobs can consist of dozens of batches, small changes in the formula take place to adjust for the strength of the ingredients which vary between lots. The changes are made in ERP System and then exported into the SG Systems database. This allows current jobs to be edited in real time ‘mid-flight’.
To provide paperless lot traceability, the V5 Batch Weighing Solution creates inventory usage data in real time (after each batch is complete) which are in turn used to deduct inventory. This improves inventory visibility, reduces man hours spend on data entry and saves time double handling data. In addition, the V5 System provides actual usage based on the scaling weights, instead of theoretical usage based on target weights. This allows accurate yields to be calculated which provides visibility for supplier inventory accuracy.