The Internet of Meats

Tyson Foods is no stranger to meat products - they process millions of pounds of chicken, beef, and pork in their plants. In fact, they process 35,000,000 chickens per week. To give you an idea, if you stack chickens with an average height of 16 inches on top of each other, Tyson would process 459,596 miles of chickens every year. That's enough gobblers to build a chicken bridge to the moon and (almost) back.

When you're dealing with this type of volume, it's incredibly important that your equipment and operational processes don't run afowl (get it?), so Tyson embarked on a journey with the OSIsoft PI System to gain the insights needed to run more efficiently.

Previously, Tyson had made operational decisions without the help of data. “Up until four years ago, we had zero visibility into plant operations data, so decisions were being made without data to back it up,” said Jonathan Reichart, Senior Engineer, during his presentation at the 2016 OSIsoft User Conference.

But, with the addition of the OSIsoft PI System as well as a suite of other technology, they were able to gain insight and understanding into their operational processes and equipment. Not only did they get the insights they needed, their previously manual reporting processes were now automated, which gave them faster insights and freed up their employees to perform more impactful tasks.

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Tyson's goals for the project were to improve general plant reporting, monitor and gain visibility into operational processes, and ensure that food safety standards were met. Given the amount of production volume as well as the fact that Tyson has staked their name on delivering a quality product, the cost saving opportunities in even incremental process improvement were massive and they also couldn't afford the risk of a food recall.

The Pi System helped them accomplish all of these goals, and improvements were made in their case packing, sausage packaging, and corn dog processing facilities. They were able to identify the reasons for downtime in their case packing process and remedy the situation with employee training, and they were able to set packaging parameters at their sausage facility that reduced product giveaway and waste. Keeping the production lines moving smoothly reduced downtime and increased the number of packaged sausage chubs, ensuring that there would be no shortage of breakfast pork products. 

“In the Jimmy Dean sausage facility, the overall yield improvement after six months was 0.1 percent, which doesn't sound like a lot, but it adds up quickly over 100 million pounds of sausage. That yield actually paid for the project itself,” said Reichart.

Data from the PI System even helped Tyson get their production line back up and running after receiving a deviation from the USDA in their sausage-cooking facility, which prevented what could have been a disastrous food recall. In addition, the waste from the corn dog facility was cut in half, which means more of the world's population can enjoy a delicious corn dog slathered in their favorite condiments.

Overall, the PI System project was a huge success, and even netted a 0.1% overall yield improvement. While that may not sound like a lot, for a company the size of Tyson, that equals a lot of chickens in the bank. To get the full story on Tyson's success with the OSIsoft PI System, click here.