There’s an old adage that too much knowledge about how sausage is made will diminish one’s enjoyment of the finished product. But at Tyson Foods’ Hillshire Brands subsidiary—maker of the popular Jimmy Dean breakfast sausages—operations personnel are enjoying the benefits of improved visibility into their manufacturing processes.
Jonathan Riechert, senior corporate engineer-innovation, led the company’s first foray into improved visibility, deploying data historian and visualization tools from Rockwell Automation for the company’s cooking processes. “The new tools helped to solve a problem that we wouldn’t have been able to diagnose without the data,” Riechert says. “And the ability to prove out the solution’s value—without knowing it in advance—made it easier to justify other applications.”
Riechert’s passion for innovation and continuous improvement has its roots in his early work as a plant electrical engineer, out on the plant floor, working with maintenance, repeatedly fixing the same things that broke every day.
“I thought, there has to be a more permanent fix—this is insane,” Riechert says. Today he continues to work on ways to make Tyson’s operations personnel more productive and effective, experimenting with wearable technology such as Google Glass for hands-free delivery of operating manuals. He looks forward to the day when more and more people will have access to the data and information they need to make better decisions. “I hope that in the years to come we have a better handle on plant data, and are building better interfaces for the people who need them.”
Jonathan is among The Smart Industry 50, a collection of individuals putting the
concepts of the Industrial Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, cloud computing and
big data analytics to work with demonstrable results. Learn more about The Smart Industry 50 here.