Real-time Solution

by Richard Mitchell
Think Gates® Quality Assurance Reporting System allows Odom’s Tennessee Pride to take fast action on quality-assurance opportunities.
Madison, TN-based Odom’s Tennessee Pride, a leading processor of real country sausage products, has experienced healthy growth in recent years. But along with its growth came growing demands that could increase variation in its products, operating procedures, and more.
“We must continue to grow,” says James P. Stonehocker, executive vice president, chief operating offer, of Odom’s Tennessee Pride. “But this growth requires more products being processed using the same facility and equipment, a fixed number of revolving people, and [extra] work being done during the same time period each day.”
Odom’s products have very specific yet increasingly tighter customer requirements.
“More things are happening in the plant, which means more variation can sneak in,” he re-emphasizes. “Unchecked variation will kill growth.”
Many processors traditionally have used pencil measurements for time, temperature, yield capacity, and other key measures. But the dangers of traditional “pencil” reporting include such recording is done after the fact—and some who are responsible may decide to record input into records “the next time.” The solution for Odom’s was finding a system that features continuous, real-time reporting. Enter the Think Gates® Quality Assurance Reporting System from Atlanta, GA-based Thinkage.
Think Gates solution
This service provides processors with information-gathering and reporting tools to accurately and economically manage and execute Odom’s quality-assurance (QA) process. It enables processors to minimize errors and intelligently store information in a system that makes analysis, responding, displaying, and reporting quick and efficient.  
Here’s how Think Gates works. Product and operating information  from the processing line is entered into the system either directly from the Think Gates sensors or by manual entry. Once data is collected, powerful tools analyze and display the information on the production floor anywhere, anytime. Real-time trends can be identified and action is taken before problems occur, resulting in less rework and no lost product.
Using advanced computerized monitoring technology, the Think Gates system links manufacturing cells together by providing the ability to display real-time data from any point in the manufacturing process to anywhere on the plant floor. Terminals throughout a facility, including “personal” or wearable devices, are connected to a local area network (LAN), making it possible for operators, supervisors, and plant managers to monitor the product throughout the manufacturing process.
Odom’s plant floor personnel are leveraged to make the best decisions possible and implement these decisions into real-time actions to produce consistently on-spec product.  “Our plant personnel have responded magnificently, raising their production process from an `art’ to an exact `science’ based on validated information,” Stonehocker says.
Typical QA approaches involve manually recording hundreds of temperature, weight, and defect data points each day. The QA reporting system from Thinkage enters that information automatically and accurately using electronic input devices on the plant floor. Display devices instantly make that information available to both QA and production personnel. Alarms sound when data falls out of spec or trends indicate a potential problem is developing.
Think Gates technology is offered through a partnership of Thinkage LLC and BOC.
Thinkage manages the full service, including installation and lifetime maintenance of the sensor equipment, which monitor and manages key product parameters along the processing line. BOC provides full time, on-site technicians who maintain the system, freeing time up for processors to understand and control the variability in the manufacturing process.
“The Thinkage system helps our people to learn new and better ways of doing things. It is a key component in our drive for continuous product improvement, increased productivity, and sales growth ,” Stonehocker says. np
Thinkage, phone (678) 514-3026, e-mail, or visit