November 26, 2020

User Story – From Production live monitoring to batch performance tracking with ERP integration – in just 2 months!


Star Brands is a leading manufacturer of high-quality laundry and household cleaning products with a strong presence in Europe. Their production site is in the UK, with several high-speed production lines for liquids, powders, and pastes with the flexibility to fill small or large production runs.

The dream result

Star Brands proved that an empowered team with courage for innovation could make anything possible. Implementing the Blackbird system in the factory, analyzing downtime using 70 stop causes in various categories on two lines, integrating batch information with their existing ERP system, and all was accomplished in just two months.

The issue

As production demand increased, Star Brands encountered the challenge of optimizing its production facility to meet growing market demand. The team in Star Brands had been collecting shop floor data for several years but needed a simpler data collection process and a more comprehensive method of compilation and analysis.

After extensive desktop research, the team discovered Factbird. The Blackbird solution can be installed without expert visits. Additionally, the installation does not require any modification to the existing facility. This made it easy for them to make the decision to begin using Blackbird. And so they did.


After a few days, during which Star Brands liaised with Blackbird to set up reason codes, the team received the hardware package and installed Factbird on a pilot production line. The data from the line was available online immediately, with live production counts accessible on any browser.

“The installation was quick and straightforward. It was impressive that we could get the live data immediately,” says Chris Hutton, Engineering Manager at Star Brands.

The results

Once the live production flow was visualized in the Blackbird application, they immediately began exploring the causes and length of downtime. There were more than 70 stop causes grouped into asset and labor categories which could be used to analyze the downtime of each machine. It was remarkably easy for line leaders to register stop causes: all downtime appears in a list, and causes can be selected from a simple hierarchy. Once entered, downtime analysis and OEE performance are immediately available, with live data constantly and automatically adding to the operational metrics. 

Then, the Star Brands team wanted to feed batch information automatically from the existing ERP system to ensure correct line speeds were used in OEE calculations. Impressively, the integration between Star Brands’ ERP system and the Blackbird application was done remotely in less than a week.

The Star Brands team has done all of this implementation in just two months, thanks to the teamwork across a range of disciplines, determination and the excellent cooperation and support of Blackbird.

“We are very impressed with the capability of the Blackbird solution and the way in which some initial obstacles were overcome quickly and creatively,” says Dean O’Loughlin, Continuous Improvement Manager at Star Brands.

From day one, Star Brands used the data to improve its production. And the team is constantly evolving its process, and they look forward to developing the system to an even greater extent for continuous improvement initiatives.


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