Regulatory compliance has become increasingly complex across all manufacturing industries. Expectations are that organizations have the ability to pinpoint issues and respond to them instantly—and provide detailed documentation for customers and auditors on demand.

In the food and beverage industry, regulations are particularly strict due to the potential for serious illness, or even death, from tainted products. While undoubtedly necessary, these requirements can seem daunting to manufacturers. When a recall happens, some manufacturers enter a reactive mode, scrambling to deploy proper procedures and put crisis plans in place.

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However, by employing a few simple tools to support compliance, you can take a more proactive safety approach and significantly reduce the stress and cost of a recall response. As an added benefit, employing these modern quality management tools and practices within a comprehensive Quality Intelligence solution results in improved process efficiency and cost savings across your organization.

1. A Unified Data Repository

Solving problems upstream in the production process is much harder when you’re monitoring multiple data views across lines, plants, and sites. With siloed data, it’s nearly impossible to truly understand where potential problems exist.

Centralizing your quality and safety data in one place gives you visibility into your entire enterprise so you can catch issues before they result in waste and recalls—and negatively impact your brand. You can then identify potential issues and focus your time and resources on solving those problems. Centralized manufacturing data also helps you quickly and easily trace final product lots and batches back to raw ingredients and suppliers.

2. Universal Naming Conventions

Properly monitoring food and beverage quality and safety requires access to information that can be easily analyzed to quickly identify possible problems. One small way to make data easy to navigate is the use of universal naming conventions.

Without establishing universal naming standards, the same product from two separate plants can be stored in a database as two different items. Pulling together data on that one item from both plants requires knowledge of each plant’s naming conventions and extra time setting up your report to be sure you’re including all relevant data. And, even then, you may not be sure you have all the data you need.

The solution? Set naming convention standards across your manufacturing lines, plants, and sites. Key parameter names should be consistent across your production process, including part names, lines and machine names, test names, and employee names. With common naming conventions and a centralized data repository, you can produce a report that enables you to immediately identify which plant and line produced problematic products. The data aggregated across your company’s enterprise can be easily retrieved, ensuring that you can correct the problem long before your product reaches consumers.

3. Dynamic Sampling Reminders

Sampling and testing products early in the production process is critical to safety. It’s no longer enough to sample or inspect a food or beverage when it comes off the production line. Quality control software that helps manage workflow with automated sampling reminders enables busy operators in complex manufacturing environments to ensure that quality and safety checks take place on time.

This enables you to correct problems before ruined product has to be scrapped, resulting in improved food and beverage quality control and safety, higher process yield, and less waste at the end of the line.

4. Real-Time Statistical Process Control (SPC)

Prevention isn’t possible if you’re reviewing old data about products that have already come off the line or if you’re reviewing defect data out of context.

With statistical process control data and control charts that update in real time, you can catch potential problems before they result in ruined product. Slicing and dicing the data produces quality intelligence upstream in the production process, enabling true prevention. Moreover, the downstream results are better, safer products.

5. Automated Alarms

Automated alarms can be used to alert key personnel when tests violate specification, warning, or control limits. Alarms help you stay on top of potential problems without constantly physically monitoring every line in every plant. In addition, you can require that plant floor operators enter an assignable cause and corrective action code to document the reason for an alarm and how it was resolved.

This automation helps you ensure that problems identified during production are being addressed and corrective actions are being documented. The documentation also enables you to track and trend chronic problems over time for in-depth troubleshooting.

6. Lot Genealogy Reports

With lot genealogy reports, you have a complete view of the incoming/outgoing product relationship. This enables you to track raw material lot codes throughout manufacturing operations. For investigative purposes, genealogical “trees” can be created. These reports enable you to determine:

  • Materials used in the production of a certain finished lot
  • Where incoming raw materials were consumed
  • Root causes of non-conforming lots
  • Information critical to responding to product recalls
  • Which final lots were created from incoming lots

Lot genealogy also enables you to view summary statistics of final products by lot. For a deeper view, you can look at the component lots and their summary statistics for a complete review of your product.

7. Cloud-Based Food Quality Control

Cloud-based Quality Intelligence solutions offer distinct benefits for food and beverage manufacturers. Supported by a world-class hosting partner, these solutions are highly secure and available. For manufacturers with limited IT resources, they eliminate the burden of hardware and software maintenance. Even in remote locations, cloud-based solutions can be accessed via mobile or satellite connections, ensuring all locations are contributing to the system in real time.

Modern Quality Intelligence solutions also enable food and beverage safety prevention across the supply chain. With enterprise data visibility that includes suppliers’ operations, you can remedy potential issues before raw materials or ingredients reach your facilities. Data visualizations and reports provide quick and easy proof of compliance in the event of an audit.

With a purpose-built Quality Intelligence solution, food and beverage safety prevention and traceability become an embedded part of your manufacturing processes.

InfinityQS brings specialized expertise to solving the particular issues facing food and beverage manufacturers. Visit our website to learn more about the ways our Quality Intelligence solutions can help solve your most critical quality and compliance management needs.