March 24, 2021

User Story – Grow with your suppliers by using Blackbird


One of the Blackbird customers is a world leader in the beverage industry and driving improvement projects across their contract manufacturing factories in multiple locations.

The company has subsidiaries in more than 20 countries and exports its brands to more than 100 countries across the world. It is a complex supply chain network where customers require on-time delivery and traceability.

The technical leader of the production of the company found the Blackbird solution on the internet and installed the first Factbird in 2020. He is not an electrician, but it was easy to install the hardware and he could see the live production data shortly after installation. Since then, he installed the Factbirds one by one, meaning one line after another, one factory after another, one country after another. Even during the COVID-19 situation, the company continued to drive the improvement project by installing Factbirds, because Factbird can be delivered, installed and connected without having to travel to the sites. 

Before Blackbird it was very difficult for the customer to see what was happening in remote suppliers’ factories. Back then, there was no live production data available, and production performance was calculated in spreadsheets manually with different standards in different factories sometimes leading to human error in the calculations. The customer simply wanted to have the Fact and no discussion about them.

Blackbird made it possible to see the precise production counts minute by minute, without having to ask anyone. The sensor counts the number of products produced and the Blackbird cloud application analyzes and visualizes the data in the cloud server automatically. There is no human action involved – the data is the fact.

In the beverage industry it is normal to run batch-based production, the same goes for the customer. They started to use Blackbird's Batch function to track and trace every single batch they produce. All the data is automatically recorded on the Blackbird software and can be viewed anywhere.

The customer can also see the production live status of every single batch of different lines of different sites, which is automatically collected by sensors, also from their contract manufacturing suppliers. When the customer logs in to the Blackbird software, he can immediately see the group overview: production status, batch performance, OEE of all the production sites – even from his smartphone.

The customer can now compare the production performance and operating efficiency (OEE) of various factories in the same standard based on the FACT.  It is now much easier to allocate resource precisely in the right places based on the data – not based on the gut feeling or someone’s opinion.  The company can help suppliers with the data to make continuous improvement and lead up the whole groups’ productivity.

While driving this improvement project, a positive synergy has been seen unexpectedly: the shop floor cultures are evolving toward fact-based. The more data became available, the more motivated people became to use the data to improve.

This story started right before the outbreak of the Corona virus in 2020, and the installation of the Blackbird system has been expanded significantly with no need to travel - despite COVID-19.

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