More than 50 years ago, Old Wisconsin Sausage contributed in launching Sheboygan, Wisconsin on its path to becoming the “Bratwurst Capital of the World.” Since then, the company has grown steadily through hard work and strategic acquisitions.
When Gary Lindow assumed responsibility as facility manager, his first order of business was to implement an automated maintenance program, including preventive maintenance, on the company’s most important asset – the production equipment.
“Work orders were being lost between point A and point B,” Lindow confesses. “We were handling everything manually, so once a work order left its department of origin, we had difficulty tracking it. We were also losing points during customer-requested facility audits for not having a preventive maintenance program in place.”
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Department requires that all meat and poultry plants design and implement a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system to detect problems before they occur or correct deviations as soon as they are detected.
“Although HACCP programs are self-monitoring, the USDA conducts periodic audits and requires comprehensive documentation that was difficult for us to provide with the existing work order system,” says Lindow.
The Perfect Tool at the Right Price
Old Wisconsin was considering a software package used by its parent company for workflow processes, Carl Buddig, when a contractor in the IT department recommended looking at Issuetrak.
“In addition to meeting our web-based requirements, our IT consultant assured us that Issuetrak’s support staff had an excellent reputation, which was a big factor in our consideration criteria,” Lindow says. “So, we decided to check them out.”
After a demonstration of Issuetrak, Lindow says the choice was obvious.
“It was immediately clear that the other system would have been overkill. We would have had to spend a lot more money and would have used only a fraction of the functionality,” he says.
“Issuetrak was exactly what we needed for a much better price, and I could see that it would even be useful outside of the maintenance department.”
“We knew we couldn’t go wrong with Issuetrak and for the cost, it was really a no-brainer.”
Support Expectations Exceeded
Lindow says Issuetrak’s technical and sales staff could not have been more helpful.
“Once we let Issuetrak know of our decision to purchase, we had access to the tool immediately, without any administrative delays,” explains Lindow.
“The Issuetrak implementation was nearly flawless. I don’t have a degree in computer science and I’m not a programmer, but once the software was set up on our server, I was able to implement Issuetrak by myself with help from their excellent remote support staff. It couldn’t have gone any better.”
Lindow was also impressed to learn that Issuetrak uses its own software internally for workflow, considering that testament to its value.
“I have been very satisfied with the response I’ve received to my support requests, and I think it’s great that they use their own software,” he says. “I really like that I can call into Issuetrak support, leave a voice mail, and it’s turned into an issue that I can check the status of. I haven’t had to wait an unacceptable amount of time to receive acknowledgement and/or resolution to my requests, even the unique ones.”
Visibility Adds Value to Management, Supervisors
With twelve departments in Old Wisconsin using Issuetrak, Lindow says the company increased visibility into maintenance of its production line, streamlined internal processes, and minimized duplication of efforts.
“As a manager, I now have a greater understanding of what’s going on,” says Lindow. “Not only can I see that we’re averaging at least 200 work orders per month, I now have the ability to identify problem areas by the number of issues submitted. Issuetrak enables us to better develop corrective actions or policies in order to improve processes or eliminate problems, which is invaluable.”
Issuetrak’s automated e-mail module has proven beneficial at the supervisor level, according to Lindow.
“Now, our supervisors have real-time information on the status of their requests,” says Lindow. “Any action taken on their work orders automatically generates an e-mail that is sent straight to their inbox, so they don’t have to go looking for the information. Because Issuetrak offers the ability to communicate with more than one person when items are submitted, added to or closed, we’re able to keep the lines of communication open throughout the different shifts and departments. That alone has significantly reduced the number of duplicate work orders.”
“Having this kind of communication channel between supervisors and the different departments has also made it easier to schedule maintenance on a machine when it’s available, so we don’t halt operations,” he adds. “That is extremely valuable.”
Focus & Efficiency at the Department Level
Issuetrak’s ability to categorize and assign issues at the department level, such as maintenance, sanitation or IT, has created an automated workflow and two-way communication channel between facility supervisors, department managers and mechanics.
“As a manager, I now have a greater understanding of what’s going on.”