Interview Site

Make people happy and surprise them with delicious snacks. That's Van Geloven's mission. With top-players like Van Dobben, Mora, Kwekkeboom, and of course Ad Van Geloven, that won’t be a problem. At the same time, the company faces many challenges. Assistant WCM coordinator Etu van Wijk talks about reacting to an evolving market, dealing with company growth, the effect of Covid, working with a flexible product range, and how Cierpa OEE comes to the rescue.

What does the Van Geloven company look like?

"Van Geloven has over 1000 employees working in six factories. The head office is located in Tilburg. Each factory has its own specialized range and its own management, headed by the Van Geloven management team."

What kinds of products do you offer?

"Of course, we manufacture well-known snacks like bitterballen, croquettes, and spring rolls. But we offer much more. We have a range of vegetarian products, manufacture for private labels, and constantly develop new concepts. We produce for the supermarket, the wholesale trade, the catering industry, and the manufacturing industry.  

To sum it all up, we have a broad and flexible product range. For instance, in Tilburg, we manufacture 400 different products."

Why is your product range constantly changing?

"We listen to the market; that's our greatest strength: what does the consumer want? That leads to product development, takeovers, and growth. And Covid also changes the game. A catering company closing down? An event canceled? That affects production numbers for the wholesale and the hospitality industry. It means production lines are used less or not at all."

 “We're not shaken when a line is temporarily shut down.”

How do you deal with that?

"It's a complex situation, and it asks a lot of flexibility. But we're used to adapting. We're not shaken when a line is temporarily shut down. It's more important to keep responding to changes in market demand. The Covid lockdown is a challenging period, but we are running at full capacity."

What does a production line look like at your plant?

"It varies per product, but every product starts in the kitchen department, with ragouts, marinade, and semi-finished products. This is followed by different product-specific steps like cooling, breading, and freezing. When a product reaches the end of the line, it is portioned and packed."

On those lines, you've been using Cierpa OEE for years.

"That's right. About ten years ago, we started with the manual scorecard. The operators filled in the cards, the team leaders would then input the data into the system. OEE immediately gave us vast amounts of new insights into availability in potential issues on the lines.

 But work methods could be improved. The team leaders supervised many employees and spent a lot of time inputting data. That was valuable time better invested in overseeing the production processes. Moreover, they don't know everything: the operators see what's happening on the work floor. We missed out on the details. That's why we switched to digital scorecards."

“The operators see what's happening on the work floor. They see the details we need to know about.”

What was it like for the operators?

"At first, it was pretty exciting. We didn't have computers on the line at all. But our operators handled it very well. It helps that nowadays everyone is used to dealing with smartphones and laptops. Also, the software is not difficult to use.

What makes the operators excited is knowing the software is there to make their work better, not harder. For example, we can now look further into a breakdown. Instead of a general message on a malfunction for 10 minutes, with two clicks you see what malfunction occurred where. That way, we can find the cause - and fix it. This makes working much more fun, and it motivates you to see your input is actually used.

 We also make sure to keep exchanging knowledge. Recently, consultant Willem Siebers gave a refreshment course to 68 operators. We don't just want to provide knowledge but also to receive it. What else would help make the operator's work easier? We received really useful tips, and we're very happy with them."

As of January this year, you took the next step and switched to real-time measuring.

"Yes. We started with one line, and we were very excited. It saves time for the operators because everything is automated, and the information is even more detailed. For example, the digital scorecard works with five-minute intervals. But with real-time measurements, everything is recorded down to the second: how long did an outage last, and why did it occur? All that information helps us to streamline the production process continuously."

Cierpa OEE doesn't show how well your line is doing but how well your organization is doing. That's when you discover how to make company-wide improvements.

What does OEE offer your organization?

"We gain insight at different levels. First of all, in a flexible, ever-evolving organization like Van Geloven, it's essential to have tools to fall back on. If you want to move with the market, there are things you need to know in advance: how much time, and people do we need to manufacture a certain amount of products? Does it mean the line is cost-effective? Cierpa OEE provides us with those tools.

In addition, Cierpa OEE helps us improve our process. Not just our line, but our process – that's an important distinction. After all, Cierpa OEE doesn't show you how well your line is doing but how well your organization is doing. 

Has the line halted? Why is that? When engineering doesn't fix a breakdown in time, it leads to lower OEE. If procurement is late, the line comes to a standstill. If planning doesn't put enough people on the line, you can't move forward. If an operator doesn't have sufficient knowledge to solve a problem, it takes time to call in help. 

So a number alone doesn't tell us anything. Cierpa OEE provides us with information on our entire organization, including all supporting departments. And that is essential for company-wide improving."