Southern States Cooperative Inc. has been named the winner of the 2012 Information Technology Innovation Award for integrating the use of mobile handheld technology with its existing Benchmate Systems' Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS).
Southern States utilizes mobile devices from Janam Technologies in all eight of its feed mills. Once implemented, employees immediately saw a return on investment by the time saved from manual data entry, which could sometimes take up to three weeks. Those delays and the backlogs they caused became a problem for Southern States.
Another concern was the tracking of equipment maintenance. With the introduction of barcoding and tracking functionality the handhelds afforded, the technology essentially guaranteed efficiency and streamlined processing for the company.
"With the limited number of personnel, a new way of collecting and processing the information was needed. The Benchmate/Janam combination has proved its value to our business," explained Bill Monroe, Southern States manager of feed mill operations.
According to Monroe, recorded maintenance activity has increased by 25 percent, while planned activity has increased to over 80 percent. This in part is due to maintenance supervisors no longer entering data or tracking equipment repairs manually.
"This is an initial step in working our complete approach in maintenance to one of prediction versus the historical methods of just prevention," Monroe explained. "Staying ahead of unplanned downtime enables our production processes to perform as designed while meeting our customer expectations for feed delivery and service."
Southern States Cooperative, one of the nation's largest, began in 1923 as the Virginia Feed Service, after 150 farmers pooled their resources and banded together to buy seed guaranteed to grow in Virginia. The member-owned company expanded to provide feed, fertilizer, farm supplies and petroleum products in a number of neighboring states. Today, Southern States encompasses 300,000 farmers and over 1,200 retail locations in 23 states. Southern States Cooperative's Winchester Mill in Winchester, Ky., was selected as runner-up for the 2011 Feed Mill of the Year award.