Since December of last year, when the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) unveiled the New Era of Smarter Food Safety “blueprint” for food and beverage manufacturers—to “bolster protection” of the nation’s food supply—questions have been flying around concerning the topic. What is “smarter” in terms of food safety? Is it possible to employ technology to establish a “more digital, traceable food supply chain?” Can we thwart outbreaks of food contamination and foodborne illness by addressing the business technology we use in manufacturing?
Yes. Yes. And yes. InfinityQS is, and has been, on the forefront of what has proven to be a wave of manufacturers moving toward digital transformation. InfinityQS Director of Global Channel Programs, Jason Chester, has been singing that tune for quite a while now, most recently in his blog, “Digital Transformation in 2021 – The Year of the Cloud
.” And the wave is picking up momentum.
In this blog article, Jason states, “I believe 2021 will be the year data becomes widely accepted as the single most critical feature of the journey to that hoped-for 'new normal.’” But there is more to the story. He goes beyond that. In another article, “Resilience for Tomorrow Begins with Digital Transformation Today,
“ for Food Safety Tech
magazine, Jason states that “COVID-19 has been a sharp wake-up call for many food providers in the need for resilient production environments that can readily respond to large and sudden changes, including fluctuations in demand and disruptive external events.” A wake-up call indeed.
Changing for the Better
“Disruptive events” (like the current COVID pandemic…and the potential of more to come) are forcing manufacturers to be more efficient, productive, and flexible in the way they conduct business.
- Efficient – in terms of the way in which companies can continue to be productive despite changes in workforce availability and reduced, or otherwise affected, resources.
- Productive – making the most of what’s available—raw ingredients, manpower, equipment, etc.
- Flexible – adapting manufacturing processes when the business environment changes.
So, as things change in this crazy world, the FDA, in essence, says through their “blueprint” that “Some of this innovation is already creating a revolution in food production, supply and delivery.” And that’s the point. Times are changing. We’re all, as manufacturers, being forced to change, to adapt to the new normal. To keep up.
But InfinityQS is ahead of the technology curve. We’ve been leading the wave of tactical digital transformation—thanks to proven, innovative software
Harness the Power of Data
What InfinityQS has done, according to Jason, is “harness the power of data. The key to harnessing data for agile decisions is to aggregate end-to-end process information and make it available in real time. When you can achieve that, it’s possible to run analytics and derive timely insights into every facet of production. Those insights can be used to increase efficiency, productivity, and flexibility—as well as ensure product quality and safety—even amidst upheaval.”
One of the keys, he adds, is to aggregate data from your disparate sites. Aggregating your quality data is the key to gaining the insights you need to make real, lasting changes to your operations.
InfinityQS COO Doug Fair, in many blog articles over the years, has stated again and again that centralizing your data—that is, storing your quality data in a single, centralized data repository—is the best way to incorporate the most effective continuous quality improvement activities in your operations.
In Soar Above the Competition: Centralize Your Quality Data
, Doug points to “the most valuable benefits [of centralizing your data]:
“Standardization makes everything easier when it comes to collecting, analyzing, and reporting on your quality data. When your products are uniform, particularly when they are consistently
uniform over the long run, customers will return to you.” And solid, proven quality management software, like the products we offer at InfinityQS, “is the most efficient way to review your data from a single, centralized data repository.”
When data is aggregated, which you can only do with a centralized repository, “you can review quality performance across production lines, shifts, facilities, and geographical distances. This ‘bird’s eye view’ is critical for prioritizing quality improvement actions for your limited quality resources.”
And, as Doug mentioned in a previous blog, SPC: Hunting the Big Picture and the Big Payoff
, to maximize your return on your quality system investment, “you need to focus on the big picture of what’s going on across your organization. Instead of focusing on quality problems, you need to look at data that represents quality information across multiple production lines, shifts, plants—across the entire enterprise.” The big picture is the key.
The Cloud is the Answer
Continuing with Jason’s line of thought: “When looking at solutions to aggregate data…all roads lead to the cloud.” Namely, he says, “cloud-based ‘quality intelligence’ solutions can decouple the data from physical locations—such as paper checklists, forms, or supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and human-machine interface (HMI) systems—and centralize what’s collected digitally in a unified repository.” Here, in the centralized data repository, the data can then be easily accessed, analyzed, and consumed by any of your employees who need “actionable insights” from anywhere, at any time, and on any device. This, in short, makes the cloud an ideal solution for connecting on-site operators and remote employees.
When you migrate to the cloud, you open up the opportunity to break away from the way you’ve done things in the past—manual processes—and transition to the “more nimble, digitally-enabled environment of tomorrow.”
Don’t Lose that Knowledge
Your employees have acquired what Jason calls “tribal knowledge” of your operations—"individual operator knowledge, experience, and judgment.” As the current, ongoing healthcare crisis has taught us, this tribal knowledge can be lost “when employees become ill or are unavailable due to self-isolation or travel restrictions.” And this presents a risk to operational efficiency and productivity.
But if that knowledge were captured in your quality management system as “predefined workflows” and “prescriptive instructions,” then you could easily move your resources and personnel around as necessary and find comfort in knowing that processes will be executed according to established best practices. This would be a huge transformation for many companies.
We spend a lot of effort and time monitoring production lines to capture process deviations, anomalies, and quality issues. Using real-time data, InfinityQS quality management solutions can take on that burden and continuously monitor what’s happening on your plant floor—alerting relevant teams when an issue arises, and their intervention is necessary. You can then feel secure “redeploying” your people to other tasks, while minimizing the number of resources necessary to manage product quality and safety during daily production.
The current healthcare crisis will pass. But what comes after? How will food manufacturing change? Can we be smarter about food safety? Jason says that “digital transformation is a fundamental basis for building resilience into the modern food production environment.” Now, it seems, is the perfect time to address that opportunity head on.
Take advantage of the technology at your fingertips today: contact one of our account managers (1.800.772.7978 or via our website
) for more information.