How important is net content control (NCC) for your organization? As consumers, we all deserve to get what we pay for, right? The governments around the globe agree—laws are in place to ensure that customers don’t get shorted.
Violations can result in significant fines or legal recourse, plus there is a brand or reputational risk to underfilling food and beverage products: incidents can quickly go viral on social media, damaging a brand’s reputation.
To avoid these risks, many manufacturers resort to overfilling—so even when significant variation in net content occurs, it still falls within permissible levels.
InfinityQS Quality Management Software for Net Content Control
Overfilling, or “giveaway,” is risky (not as risky as underfilling) and can be extremely costly. How? Overfilling typically costs a few cents every time it happens. But most bottlers or consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies produce millions of bottles or containers; so, these pennies add up to big costs over time. For goods that are expensive to produce these costs can be even worse—not only via the aforementioned product giveaway, but by wasting the resources needed to produce that additional content (manpower, materials, machine wear and tear). This can also potentially impact the manufacturer’s environmental and social responsibilities.
Net Content Control Limit Standards
The US Department of Commerce (through the National Institute of Standards and Technology—NIST) publishes the definitive guide for Net Content Control of packaged goods sold in the United States: Handbook 133, “Checking the Net Contents of Packaged Goods
The Handbook requires that the net quantity of contents statement must be accurate but allows for reasonable variations:
“The net quantity of content statement must be “accurate,” but reasonable variations are permitted. Variations in package contents may be a result of deviations in filling. The limits for acceptable variation are based on current good manufacturing practices in the weighing, measuring, and packaging process. The first requirement is that accuracy is applied to the average net contents of the packages in the lot. The second requirement is applied to negative errors in individual packages.”
InfinityQS quality management software supports the most commonly used NCC limit standards:
- U.S. Department of Commerce Stated Content/Weight and Maximum Allowable Variation (MAV)
- European Union Stated Content, Tolerable Negative Error (TNE), and T1 & T2 set points
Regardless of implementation, regulations from these entities are designed so that packages are not underfilled, protecting the consumer. Violating these regulations can result in fines or legal actions.
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," sadly, is considered “the cost of doing business.”
Net Content Control and Data Collection
As colleague Jason Chester, InfinityQS Director of Global Channel Programs, points out in his net content control blog series
, “Data collection is the essential underpinning of any successful net content control strategy. Without accurate and timely data, manufacturers lack the visibility and insight needed to understand how processes are performing in real time. Significant variations in net content may therefore go unchecked, and the business risks increase. The importance of collecting timely and accurate data is paramount to successfully optimizing net content performance.”
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. InfinityQS ProFicient
software is proven to help companies tackle net content control…and a great reason to get rid of all the paper. Our software utilizes alarm monitoring products to minimize operators’ workloads by providing hands-off monitoring of manual and automated data streams for 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. [Read the blog about DRAMS from CEO Mike Lyle.]
Operators benefit greatly from alerts and events—they help operators fulfill their responsibilities to the best of their abilities. They can be generated for manufacturing limit and statistical violations, checklist violations, and timed data collection reminders.
The beauty of data collection notifications is that the operator never needs to watch the clock or worry about missing a data collection; instead, ProFicient gives the operator a heads up with plenty of notice. That way, the operator can focus on their other myriad everyday responsibilities.
Weight MAV Violation Alert in ProFicient
ProFicient helps ensure that net content control issues are identified early—and acted on promptly.
And if you’re a manager on the go, or out of the plant for any reason, you still need to receive notifications. You need to be kept up-do-date on what’s going on in your operations. ProFicient enables you to set up email notifications so you can do just that.
With data collection, monitoring, and notifications taken care of, our software allows you to quickly and accurately analyze the NCC data you have.
As Jason points out in his blog series, net content control is a team game. “A broad range of roles and teams need to be involved in your net content control efforts,” including operators, quality managers, maintenance engineers, plant managers, and manufacturing operations executives. Each need to be able to analyze the incoming data for different, yet equally important, reasons.
- “Operators need to have visibility in to how their packaging processes are performing in real-time in order for them to 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 and at the right intervals and are within acceptable limits. They need to be aware of anomalies in net content performance and quality violations and ensure the corrective actions are followed swiftly. Ultimately, they are responsible for the quality of the product leaving the plant.
- 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 in order 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. InfinityQS quality management software offers:
- Control charts, Box & Whisker plots, and capability analysis charts — which can be configured to include NCC limits and limit violations, enabling ProFicient users to more effectively analyze net content control-related issues.
- Net content control limit and violation markers — display options that provide visual indicators of NCC limits and limit violation events for added context.
- NCC-related statistics — which can also be added to these 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)
When your team has performed all the necessary analysis, there has be reporting, right? They can’t just keep it to themselves! With this in mind, ProFicient offers all the reporting for net content control you’ll ever need:
- Capability report
- Sampling Compliance report
- Control Charts
NCC Limit Import Utility
ProFicient includes the NCC Limit Import Utility
, which enables import of net content control limits from other systems, such as Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES). This utility can save significant amounts of configuration time for large numbers of parts using NCC limits.
Lead by Example
It’s one thing to say your product does all this wonderful stuff. It’s quite another to back it up with examples. Our client Mid South Baking, like many food and beverage manufacturers, had a problem with product giveaway. And giveaway directly translates into higher costs and lower profits.
Please read our case study
from Mid South Baking, which discusses how the company streamlined operations by utilizing ProFicient’s real-time data collection with their plant floor operators.
Reduce operating costs and avoid regulatory compliance problems—and ditch the paper in the process—by taking advantage of the power of net content control with InfinityQS quality management software.
Learn how using net content control can help your quality program. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or +1 800.772.7978.