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 Food and Farming
Every Kernel
By introducing predictive asset management into its corn seed production facilities in Brazil and Argentina, Bayer is reducing loss and improving yields.
It is harvest time. When the corn is ripe, millions of tons of yellow ears are collected from the fields. There is little room for delay. Rainclouds may be on the horizon and the harvest must begin. From the field, the crop is delivered
to the processing plant. This is where the production cy- cle begins, which transforms corn into valuable agricultural products. First, the husk is removed and the product is dried. The next step is the shelling process, where the kernels are separated from the cobs. And finally, the kernels are classified according to size, treated, and packaged.
Corn is a cornerstone of the food industry—especially in South America, where it is used to make nearly all the cereal products that are made out of wheat or rye elsewhere. Brazil is one of the biggest corn-growing countries and one of the most important and competitive corn markets in the world. This is where Bayer has located part of its corn production business. Producing corn from ears is a complex and inno- vative process carried out by skilled workers within a short time frame. Once the harvest is in, the ears have to be pro- cessed quickly to avoid seed being lost. Missing this window because of problems in the production cycle or suboptimal storage of food crops results in loss of valuable product and financial losses. Downtime caused by technical problems is a serious issue. “We seek maximum availability of our assets at harvest time,” says Rogério Martins, South America Reli- ability and Maintenance Manager at Bayer in Brazil. “Reduc- ing the amount of maintenance time is essential in reducing cost. Downtime during harvest is a real problem and must not happen at all.”
The machinery at the processing plant contains many sensors, which constantly monitor the corn’s condition— checking, for example, for changes in temperature and mois- ture. These are the characteristics that determine the crop’s quality. The gigabytes of data generated by the sensors are used to prevent downtime and make the entire production
22 Porsche Consulting The Magazine
cycle more efficient. However, generating the data is only the first step. “The challenge is how to collect, manage, and turn the data into meaningful information and develop models that can be rolled out flexibly in production plants with vary- ing requirements,” says Martins. Bayer has chosen Porsche Consulting to support its corn production division in Brazil in developing data-driven solutions designed to move towards predictive asset management.
In an initial phase, Porsche Consulting and Bayer’s man- agement in Brazil assessed the current situation, applying a scoring system to measure performance on the basis of key indicators. With a “5” indicating “world class,” the team saw an opportunity for improvement in the Brazilian plants. Martins said the result did not surprise them. “We knew that we could run our plants more efficiently and reduce down­ time. We knew that we were too reactive in tackling downtime. We also generated huge amounts of data from our machines but did not necessarily apply the right models to use the data. That’s where Porsche Consulting came in to support us with
Corn seeds
are a cornerstone of
the food industry. Bayer seeks to raise the output of their plants in South America. Predictive asset management improves their performance.

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