Manufacturers by their nature are risk-averse. It’s no wonder then that many companies share a concern for net content control (NCC). They know there’s risk involved on either side—filling packages with too little or too much product.
Providing too little product (underfilling) exposes companies to:
- Hefty fines from regulatory agencies
- Damaged brand reputation from customer complaints
Provide too much product (sometimes called “overfill” or “product giveaway”) and you add cost. Even miniscule extra costs quickly add up, especially if you produce a huge volume of product.
How can manufacturers close the gap between producing too little and too much?
It starts with process visibility and real-time data.
The Overfill Problem
Many manufacturers would rather overfill than face regulatory fines if they do not supply enough product. Such fines are based on net content control limit standards set by organizations like the US Department of Commerce, which are implemented so that packages are not underfilled. The rules protect consumers and ensure they receive the volume they paid for.
But overfilling costs manufacturers more than just the extra product they’re giving away. Goods that are expensive to produce also require more resources to make, including employees, materials, and machinery.
Are your employees aware of the limit standards associated with the products you make? It is not unusual for your front-line employees to be unaware of all the regulations. In many companies, net content control is not rigorously applied, so "overpack" or "giveaway" is considered “the cost of doing business.”
What can manufacturers do to stop product giveaway?
Adopt a Digital SPC Solution
Becoming more precise with net content control starts with the data you collect. Without accurate and timely data, manufacturers lack the necessary insight and visibility to understand how processes are performing in real time. Significant variations in net content may therefore go unchecked, and the business risks increase.
To understand how processes are performing, you need a digital statistical process control (SPC) solution that collects real-time data. First, a solution must automate data collection. It is very difficult to implement net content control measures using paper. Data collection works best when automatically collected—and when alarms are automatically monitored.
Modern digital SPC solutions like InfinityQS ProFicient offer alarm monitoring products to minimize operators’ workloads by providing hands-off monitoring of manual and automated data streams to identify real-time net content control limit violations:
- RAMS – Remote Alarm Monitoring Service: fully automates data monitoring for intelligent, rapid decision-making.
- DRAMS – Dynamic Remote Alarm Monitoring Service: automatically monitors all active data streams, regardless of deployment type.
Real-time alerts and data collection notifications improve the efficiency of operators by allowing them to focus on other responsibilities and ensuring they never miss important routine tasks.
Click on image to enlarge.
Notifications can be generated for a range of events like manufacturing limit and statistical violations, checklist violations, and timed data collection reminders.
Because of these features, companies can ensure net content control issues are identified early—and acted on promptly.
Analyze and Report
Once you have automated data collection, monitoring, and receive real-time notifications, you’re ready to analyze.
Consider the needs of different team members who will be involved in enacting process improvements derived from the analysis.
Here’s what each team member will need:
- Operators need to have real-time visibility into process performance so they can keep those processes as close to target as possible. They must be able to respond to anomalies, trends, and events to address potential issues quickly.
- Quality managers need to know that net content checks are being performed correctly, at the right intervals, and are within acceptable limits. They need to be aware of anomalies in net content performance and quality violations to ensure corrective actions are taken.
- Maintenance engineers need to be able to identify equipment that requires attention (like a faulty filler nozzle or failing pump) before there is a significant impact on net content performance. They need to understand the variability in net content performance across different production equipment to focus their improvement efforts.
- Plant managers and manufacturing operations executives need to able to monitor overall packaging performance and quality trends over time—and across products, processes, lines, shifts, plants, or even the enterprise—so that continuous improvement initiatives and capital investment can be directed to where it will have the most positive impact.
Analysis for net content control takes on various forms, from traditional charts to NCC-specific statistics. ProFicient offers:
- Control charts, Box & Whisker plots, and capability analysis charts
- These can be configured to include NCC limits and limit violations, making it easier and more effective to analyze net content control-related issues.
- Net content control limit and violation markers
- These display options provide visual indicators of NCC limits and limit violation events for added context.
- NCC-related statistics
- These can also be added to charts as a report option, to document net content performance across different processes and parts.
- ProFicient analysis supports the following NCC statistics: LSC, MAV (u), MAV (l), T2 (u), T1 (u), T1 (l), and T2 (l)
Sharing net content control information across the organization is easier with reports found in ProFicient like:
- Capability Report
- Sampling Compliance Report
- Control Charts
Solve the Overfill Problem
Net Content Control is an important consideration for manufacturers looking to reduce cost and risk.
By using a digital SPC solution, companies can gain greater visibility into their processes. With these insights, manufacturers can optimize processes to save money.
See how a high-volume bakery discovered huge savings from reducing product giveaway. Read this InfinityQS customer case study and learn how ProFicient’s real-time data collection enables process improvements.