👉 1st White Paper on the digitization of plant operational management 👈
May 16, 2023

The management of skills development to support the automation of production lines at the Berry Global site in Bellignat.

Berry Global x Mercateam


  • Business sector: Production of plastic packaging and containers

The Berry Global Group is an American company specializing in the production of plastic packaging and containers, with over 300 plants worldwide. The Bellignat production site produces packaging products for the pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors. The site comprises three workshops: blow-molding, injection and assembly, with around 100 direct operators and up to 150 with temporary workers.

The site has highly automated production, where operators are mainly responsible for setting up machines, removing products from production lines, packaging and quality control on the line. The different actions require different skills, which necessitates the identification of each operator's competencies.

Competency management on the site before Mercateam

There were no skills management tool on the production siteThese were managed exclusively from the memory of managers and the production assistant. The production assistant plays an essential role in the process of assigning employees to jobs and reporting on activity. However, much of the necessary information is based on the knowledge of this production assistant, who has been with the site for over 25 years. The site is therefore highly dependent on this one person..

The challenges of implementing a skills management tool to automate production lines

Berry Global, production lines

The aim of implementing a skills management tool is to supplement and support the work of the production assistant, and reduce production's dependence on her knowledge.

Another challenge is the desire to anticipate production schedules and longer-term labor requirements. Staff schedules were drawn up on a weekly basis and reviewed on a daily basis, which made it difficult to identify medium- and long-term skills requirements. The introduction of a skills management tool will enable us to anticipate staff schedules over several weeks, so that we can better anticipate absences and skills requirements, including the need to call in temporary staff.

A third major challenge is preparing for customer audits. During these audits, the quality manager must be able to show who worked on which shift and when, in order to identify which operators were involved in the production of each manufacturing order. These audits were very difficult to prepare, as they required information to be retrieved from numerous Excel spreadsheets and tools, with information that was not always up to date.

A fourth challenge is the project to move production processes towards greater automation. This project is based on major investments in state-of-the-art production equipment. The aim of implementing skills management software is to support operators' skills upgrading towards more technical trades, necessary to adapt to the manpower requirements of the new production tools. The idea is to support plant personnel as they move into these new professions, by identifying plans for upgrading skills and implementing training programs.

Thus, the challenge is to retain as many site staff as possible, despite the automation of lines, and to compensate for the reduction in staffing requirements by no longer using temporary workers. This requires a significant upskilling of operators, and raises the issue of identifying and managing skills already mastered as a major challenge in the transition of the manufacturing process.

Historical process for assigning operators to production sites

The process of assigning operators to production sites

Skills mapping on the site is based on the knowledge of the production coordinator, who knows the capacity of each person to work on the various production jobs. She allocates the available manpower to the three production workshops, and posts these allocations on the production floor each week. This information is generally updated several times throughout the week.

In each workshop, shift assignments are made at each shift changeover (3 times a day: the workshop operates in 3×8 mode) by workshop supervisors and team leaders. This shift allocation phase, which precedes production, is carried out on a day-to-day basis, and does not allow us to anticipate production needs over the long term. It is also very time-consuming for the production assistant and for the supervisors and team leaders on each workshop. It also generates a significant mental workload.

Reporting of operator allocations

Once the production activity has been completed, information on the actual allocation of employees to each production shift is reported manually by the team leaders and production assistants on a printed paper chart. The production assistant then transfers this information electronically to her Excel document, so that she can process the information on the positions occupied and the hours worked by each operator.

It then uses this data to build reporting documents on planned and actual MOD hours on each workshop, according to the load produced. These reporting elements are then transmitted to the production manager, who analyses MOD performance using BI tools.

The stakes of the historical process

This historical process of allocating operators and reporting on these allocations is very time-consuming time-consuming and mentally demanding for the various people involved. It also fails to anticipate long-term manpower requirements, which can cause problems during production peaks or unforeseen absences. Finally, during audits, the quality manager has to search for information on various documents and Excel spreadsheets in order to find the actual assignments, proof of training and skills mastered by employees to meet customer requirements.

Improved operator assignment process thanks to Mercateam skills management IS

The process of assigning operators to the job suffers from several points of tension, such as dependence on the production assistant's knowledge and lack of anticipation of manpower requirements. In addition, the process is time-consuming and time-consuming in terms of preparing for the quality manager's audits.

To solve these problems, a new process was developed using Mercateam's skills management IS. The new process enables us to better anticipate skills requirements, improve the quality of reporting and MOD performance analysis, and facilitate audit preparation.

Implementation of the new process

  1. Digitization of the skills architecture and matrix: The skills architecture chosen is the recognition of versatility, and the matrix was completed by the production coordinator, who recorded the positions that each employee can occupy. Skills mapping was quick and easy, as all the information was held by a single person.
  2. Using the Mercateam tool: the production assistant draws up shift schedules every week, semi-automated to lighten her mental load. Managers can modify the schedule according to employee absences, and use the versatility matrix to manage the skills of their teams. New temporary workers undergo a digital questionnaire to ensure that they comply with site requirements.
  3. Update of assignment schedules: Production coordinators report any discrepancies between the planned assignment and the actual positioning, enabling the schedule to be updated after production activity. This assignment information facilitates reporting and analysis of production activity, enabling better analysis of the use of operator resources.

Benefits and opportunities of the new process

The new process also provides new opportunities for two medium- and long-term issues:

  1. Anticipation of labor requirements: Preparing schedules in advance enables better anticipation of manpower requirements and longer-term forecasting of production schedules.
  2. Preparing and monitoring skills upgrades: The new process makes it easier to prepare and monitor the skills upgrades needed to keep pace with changes in the site's production tools.

Don't miss any more Mercateam news