InfinityQS in the Food & Beverage Industry: #7 Packaging Checks

Members of the Food & Beverage industry: Welcome to this, the seventh entry in a blog series created just for you. We InfinityQS quality experts will continue to write about quality in your manufacturing space, about solutions to your problems, about the challenges you face in mastering your particular quality issues…and how we (and InfinityQS software products) are here to help.
 
Today I’ll be discussing packaging checks in your manufacturing operations. As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, real-time visibility into your fill lines and changeovers can help you avoid big issues. The same can be said for packaging. Finding flaws with packaging before they become big-time waste or (don’t say it!) recalls is important to your bottom line. Your statistical process control (SPC) efforts toward reducing waste (and the other thing) should include solid, proven SPC software. That’s where we come in.
Packaging Department

What’s in a Package?

Discussing packaging checks in manufacturing required me to take a closer look at the eye-opening assortment of packaging that exists in the industry. It is quite literally everywhere; I had forgotten how prevalent and important it is.
 
So, here are a few of my ruminations:
We are the consumers of packaging, all of us; we buy the products that are packaged (I guess that one is pretty obvious, but it still gave me pause). Someone has to make the packaging; those manufacturers are important and busy—and a critical part of the supply chain. And there are multiple layers of packaging: “primary,” “secondary,” and “tertiary” are the terms that immediately come to mind. Allow me to explain. 
Primary Packaging

Levels and Layers

A simple can of soda is a great example. The can itself is the primary packaging; it contains and protects the product. Secondary packaging in this example would be the container—box, plastic rings, whatever it might be—that wraps the soda cans in a handy 6- or 12-pack.
 
And then there is the tertiary packaging. That’s the larger box that contains the 6- or 12-packs of soda. And, if you use your imagination, you can easily see that there are more levels involved, like pallets of cases wrapped in plastic. Layer after layer after layer.
 
When you think of packaging in this context, you can see how important it is. We tend to just take this kind of stuff for granted. For Food & Beverage manufacturers, packaging is a critical part of the process, as well as the end product. And InfinityQS quality improvement software systems make the packaging segment of your manufacturing processes a breeze.
Production Line Packaging Checks

What You Need

I’d like to sidetrack here into something near and dear to my heart: data. Collecting it, making sure it’s collected on time, and analyzing it. And the data you collect regarding your packaging efforts is just as important as the data you collect that deals specifically with what you put in that packaging.
 
At a minimum, your SPC quality improvement software system should do the following:
  • Collect all kinds of quality data—variable, attribute, checklist
  • Collect data from a variety of sources—manual, gauges, fully-automated
  • Properly analyze the data for statistical and limit violations identified
  • Send notifications (either in software or via email) for violations
  • Prompt users for data collections to satisfy regulatory requirements (timed data collections)
 
InfinityQS quality software is a proven commodity. Our software has a long track record of being great at all of the above.
 

Packaging Measurements

Consistent product quality is key for brand protection in the Food & Beverage industry. As such, key product features should be monitored to ensure that your product is consistent over time and across facilities.
 
Your packaging must meet a number of requirements before you can ship it. It needs to be the right size and weight, be sturdy enough to be stacked and then transported to the destination at which it will ultimately be sold, and/or (in some cases) maintain a specific shelf life. Right? These are all crucial measurements…and part of your quality challenge in Food & Beverage.
 
All of these measurements require quality checks. A proven, robust quality intelligence software system—like those we offer here at InfinityQS—can track all of these criteria, from a variety of sources, analyze for violations, and send notifications for timed data collections or quality checks.
Packaging

Size and Weight

Size and weight are important for a variety of reasons. Uniform size is a big help for stacking and shipping. Weight is critical because packaging ultimately becomes waste and you don’t want the packaging to consume more material than necessary to meet the requirements.
 

Thickness

The reason why bottles (for example) are as thick as they are is because when the liquid (soda, water, whatever) is stored in the factory and then goes on a truck, pallets are stacked on top of each other. They must be able to withstand the weight placed on them, and the jostling they inevitably incur during transportation, or you’ll be wasting a lot of product.
 
And the right amount of thickness comes in handy when things are dropped, too. Your bottles or cans must be able to withstand the drop test—you don’t want product all over the floor when it’s dropped (and it will be)…more wasted product and unhappy customers.
Packaging Thickness 
So, these measurements—size, weight, and thickness—require quality checks. InfinityQS quality intelligence systems take the guesswork out of timed product checks and data collections, ensuring that product quality data and process information are collected at the correct time intervals, that checks are not missed, and that checks are done in the correct sequence.
 

Shelf Life and Date Codes

And the same goes for ensuring that other aspects of your products are maintained as well. You need to keep out oxygen to maintain shelf life. To put it succinctly, anything that’s going to be consumed needs to be protected. Your SPC software should be able to measure the airtight aspects of your packaging, help you avoid issues, and warn you when things go awry.
 
Date codes keep consumers informed. Obviously, date codes are critical because when bad product gets into consumers’ hands good things rarely occur. Today’s headlines are filled with stories of products that don’t meet quality standards. SPC software can keep track of your date codes, ensuring that the public is properly informed and that date codes are correct.
Packaging Inspection

In Closing

All the different aspects of your product’s packaging are important: size, weight, thickness, shelf life and data codes, and anything else you can think of. Trust the collection of data for these measurements to an SPC quality software system that has you covered for all of these items, one you can rely on to inform you when a measurement is off, or drifting, and needs adjustment. Your operations will run more smoothly when everyone feels assured that they are covered by a proven system.
 
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.
 
So, Food & Beverage industry members: please return to this blog section of the InfinityQS website to see the next entry in this series designed just for you.
 
You can also read a previous entry in this series:
Steve Wise
By Steve Wise
Vice President of Statistical Methods
See Full Bio

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