Roman Coba, Chief Information Officer, McCain Foods Limited

SuperNova Award Category

Data to Decisions

The Company 

McCain Foods Limited is an international leader in the frozen food industry, employing 20,000 people and operating 50 production facilities on six continents. McCain generates annual sales in excess of CDN$6 billion and is the world’s largest manufacturer of frozen potato specialties, and also produces frozen pizza, appetizers, oven meals, juice and desserts.

The Problem

As business continued to grow, McCain needed to either build new production facilities at a cost of more than $100 million per plant or increase production efficiency and utilization within existing facilities. We knew we needed to change the way we acquired data and make it available to users at all plants. Without it, manufacturing lines were running sub-optimally with higher than expected downtimes, unproductive employee hours and cost overruns, affecting labor costs and ultimately, McCain’s overall competitiveness.

The Solution

We implemented an enterprise data warehouse (EDW) to collect, store and analyze real-time data at touch points on the manufacturing line. Real-time dashboards, with data displayed visually and refreshed every 2 to 3 minutes, are projected onto walls in high-traffic areas at each production facility. More than 10,000 employees on the production floors use the dashboards throughout the day for visibility to detailed data to make real-time decisions to affect optimal equipment usage and proactively address any issues that would impact production, while direct users of the system perform various analytical scenarios to identify trends and increase future effectiveness of production lines.

The Results

The EDW has delivered tremendous benefits through manufacturing analytics, business intelligence and operational intelligence. We can now predict bottlenecks and inefficiencies as each line operates, compared to previously just analyzing a point in time. The solution has dramatically changed how production employees understand and can react to the manufacturing process, allowing McCain to run leaner and squeeze more efficiency from existing equipment to help avoid building new plants.

The Technology

Teradata Enterprise Data Warehouse; BI 9/MicroStrategy; Infosphere ETL/IBM


Cost figures are confidential information. However, all 50 production facilities have realized significant benefits from the solution. We measure results in several ways:

  1. Increased production line performance 15+%
  2. Reduction in maintenance windows 10+%
  3. Quality to greater than 97%
  4. Reduced unplanned downtime by 50%
  5. Standard, predictable production line performance
  6. Increase in production capacity

Disruptive Factor

All manufacturers use Optimal Equipment Efficiency (OEE) to measure productivity, but we are not aware of any other manufacturers doing OEE in real-time and projecting it to all production employees in an easy-to-understand format. With it, we have transformed blue-collar employees into knowledge workers, experiencing a cultural shift with the ability to access and analyze not just data, but data that is transformed into information that is intelligent and actionable. One unintended result has been the creation of an extremely competitive workforce as production employees can now see in real-time how they compare to other plants, which makes them compete to outdo other plants.

Shining Moment

Manufacturers are always searching for ways to run leaner with respect to throughput, to minimize investment in building new facilities, which is why there is a continual process to get more out of existing plants and run equipment at the highest level possible. Our solution has helped McCain save on working capital by running production facilities at optimal efficiency, avoiding the need to build a $100 million+ new facility every two to three years.