MRO Magazine

A food producer’s transformation through CMMS

The food and beverage industry faces a complex set of challenges.

September 3, 2023 | By Erin Sidwell

Photo: branex / iStock / Getty Images

Photo: branex / iStock / Getty Images

The food and beverage maintenance workforce are shrinking. Companies are struggling to fill skilled positions, and experienced workers are hitting retirement age. Most managers are overseeing multiple work sites, and they’re trying to get more done with less.

As a result, the industry is increasingly looking to digital solutions like CMMS.

One such business is Gee Whiz, an agrobusiness based in Washington State. The company needed a mobile CMMS that could also modernize their work order and asset management programs. Today, the company is saving hundreds of hours of labour time, making data-driven decisions, and maximizing their resources in the field.

Let’s have a look at how eMaint helped them get to today.


The Gee Whiz operation
Gee Whiz is a producer of apples and cherries, that traces its roots to 1928, when three brothers (Grady, Robert, and David Auvil) planted an orchard on a few acres in Washington. Over the years, the company has grown steadily. Today, it owns and farms more than 1,500 acres of orchards, ranches, and
other facilities.

The Auvil brothers were born innovators. They introduced new fruit varieties and pioneered new farming methods. Their orchards succeeded because they were never afraid to try new techniques, or to adapt to a changing market.

That’s the energy that drove the company to implement eMaint. It needed a software solution that their teams could use on the go. They were also looking to increase uptime, improve asset management, and help employees work more efficiently.

Why digitize?
Gee Whiz operates orchards and ranches that span a huge geographical area. Their teams are constantly on the go, moving from one location to another. Altogether, they manage more than 1,000 assets, including trucks and trailers.

Managing all their assets was a challenge. They were still using paperwork orders, which meant that that mechanics were spending hours filling out forms.

The paperwork orders also made it hard to track work order history.

The goal
They wanted a top-of-the-line CMMS that could handle work orders, improve asset management, and help them build an asset hierarchy. They also wanted a CMMS with a mobile solution.

Since their teams are always on the go, they needed the option to access work orders in the field. They also needed a solution that could work offline. Their mechanics often visit remote ranches where internet connection is spotty, or where there isn’t any connection at all.

Sandi Gogert, fleet and housing administrator at Gee Whiz, said that she also wanted to restructure the way her teams worked. Gogert wanted a solution that would save her mechanics time and free them up for important jobs.

“I wanted to make it easy for our mechanics. I didn’t want them having to spend a lot of time away from the repairs, doing paperwork,”
said Gogert.

Photo: dusanpetkovic / iStock / Getty Images

The eMaint solution
Gogert spent some time researching options; she wanted to be sure to pick the right CMMS for the job.

eMaint offered the team at Gee Whiz digital work order management, asset tracking, and a CMMS app for teams working in the field and offline.

The team at eMaint also worked with Gee Whiz to customize the software so that it met their needs. They discovered that Gee Whiz needed a simplified work order form that was easy to fill out in the field and helped to make it happen.

“The people in the eMaint support team, they’ve been great,” said Gogert. “eMaint gets right back to you. They don’t just jump in and fix it—they show you how they fixed it, too. They’re hands on and want to help you.”

The result
The new software eliminated paperwork orders. The new system uses digital work orders, which are easier to track. Managers can search work order histories and spot trends in their most important assets. The software also lets you track work orders to see completion rates, and to make sure that jobs are being carried out correctly.

It also saved hundreds of hours of labour. Maintenance teams no longer needed to fill out work orders by hand. Instead, they can complete the forms on the job, from their mobile devices.

It can be used anywhere. It was important to Gee Whiz to find a mobile solution that worked offline, too. The app can be accessed from any mobile device. When offline, they can still use the app. It automatically syncs changes into the CMMS as soon as a connection is re-established.

Now, Gee Whiz mechanics can complete and track work orders in the field. This saves them time – and it ensures that the work orders really get completed.

Work order completion serves a few key purposes.

Ensuring that jobs get completed. Work orders give managers an easy way to check job completion.

Standardizes workflows. eMaint’s work orders can include built-in checklists with the necessary steps to complete each maintenance task.

Managers can analyze work order history to see which assets regularly need to be repaired – and how often components need replacement.

Making change easy
Change isn’t always easy.
“Change is hard for a lot of people,” Gogert said. “But eMaint isn’t hard to learn. It’s very easy, very customizable, so I think that a company in any field would be able to configure this to make it work
for them.”

CMMS software implementation is usually seamless, even for expertise-constrained teams. It’s a great way to take any operation to the next level, improve maintenance outcomes, and get more done with limited resources.
Erin Sidwell is key account manager at Fluke Reliability and specializes in the food and beverage sector. She has over 20 years of experience advising food and beverage clients. Erin has a wealth of knowledge on maintenance and reliability in F&B as well a more broadly across the industrial sector. She is passionate about delivering results and delivering solutions that solve maintenance issues for businesses.


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