Take the Anxiety Out of Recall Management Part Four:

How to Select and Successfully Implement a Plant Traceability System

There are so many plant traceability systems available today. When selecting and implementing a system how do you know which is the right system for your plant? In this article we will look at how to select and implement the right traceability system. A lot can factor into selecting and implementing the right system. Factors such as, company culture, employee turnover, project complexity, and project management can all directly affect the outcome of a project. Most projects start with optimism, but that optimism can fade fast when the reality of implementing a plant traceability system sets in. In Carlisle Technology’s 30+ years of experience a few keys to success have become clear. First, you must take the time to make sure you select the right solution, and secondly, you’ve got to prepare for the pitfalls that come up in every project implementation. Let’s take a deeper look at these two areas.

Two Keys to Selecting the Right Vendor:

Focus on Partnership – In a commodity sale the solution is selected based on the lowest price. A plant traceability system is not a commodity. It is a complete solution that is tailored to each specific plant’s needs. While price is always a factor to some degree, the more important focus should be on selecting a vendor that you feel comfortable partnering with. Be prepared to move past the vendor/customer relationship and create a partnership with the solution provider. The implementation will be a large undertaking for both sides. Having a partnership will create effective lines of communication between both sides. By adopting a new plant traceability system, the plant is effectively committing to that vendor for the long-term. Once the project is completed the plant will rely on that company for software and hardware support, software updates and maintenance, and additional projects or product enhancements. Creating a partnership will ensure not only a successful implementation but a successful relationship moving forward.

Architect the Right Solution – It’s important to remember that no two processing facilities operate the same way. Therefore, every solution implementation is as unique as the facility and processing operation itself. Having a solution expert assess the plant’s current process flow, plant layout, and general business structure will provide valuable information that will be required to make sure the solution is properly tailored to fit the plant’s needs. Don’t believe the “out-of-the-box solution” myth regarding traceability. No matter which plant traceability solution is selected it will need to be configured, modified, and enhanced to fit the unique requirements of each processing plant.

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Streamline the Implementation

Reduce Complexity – Keep it simple! All too often plants bite off more than they can chew and find themselves with a project scope that is insurmountable. Adding complexity to the scope of a project from the very beginning will drastically reduce the probability of a successful implementation. Complexity in a project adds to the budget, it adds to the overall project timeline, it increases employee training requirements, and it can also reduce employee morale. Carlisle Technology’s Symphony System was built with a modular approach. This allows customers reduce the initial impact they are introducing to their plant environment. Once the base modules have been installed and have been in operation customers can add additional software modules to expand their system. 

Create Project Goals
– When selecting and implementing your system, have clear project goals from the very beginning. Understand the pain points of the plant and make sure the new plant traceability system is a solution to those pain points. As the project is underway make sure there are clear project deliverables and dates. This will help ensure the project stays on track and that there are no surprises as the project gets into the final stages.

Proactively Avoid Pitfalls
– No matter who the new system provider is or how experienced and mature their software applications are, there will always be bumps and hiccups along the implementation road. Expect those bumps and plan accordingly! By proactively anticipating common project pitfalls many of those pitfalls can be avoided. Some of the most common pitfalls include:

  • Process Change –With the new system a decision will need to be made regarding existing processes. Which processes are worth preserving? Is the plant ready to change some of their processes? Much of the pain associated with process change can be avoided by having a plant environment that is adaptable and able to change.
  • Employee Buy-In and Training – An in-house project champion is the key to any successful implementation. Human nature is to resist change. A project champion will help rally employee buy-in and increase employee morale. Engage the solution provider to train the champion and then utilize the champion to train the plant staff. This method enables the champion to train plant staff at their own pace.
  • Timeline IssuesTimeline issues can become an unnecessary burden on any project if implementation timelines are not realistic. The successful implementation of a plant traceability system will rely heavily on the amount of time and effort that the plant’s project champion or internal project team can dedicate. Set realistic timelines and goals that encourage a successful “go-live.”

Select the Right Solution Vendor

A plant traceability system is going to be at the center of your plant operations. Choosing the competent, experienced, and reliable solution vendor will drastically reduce the implementation risks. Check out our blog next month to see how a plant traceability system will provide ROI far beyond traceability.

Written by: Andy Cumpton, Sales and Marketing – Carlisle Technology

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