InfinityQS in the Food & Beverage Industry: #8 Ensuring Product Quality

Members of the Food & Beverage industry: Welcome to this, the eighth and final entry in a blog series created just for you. We InfinityQS quality experts have spent the last few months writing 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 quality management software products) are here to help.
 
For this final piece, I’ll be discussing ensuring product quality in your manufacturing operations. We’ve touched on this topic peripherally in other blogs in this series (most notably in Auditing, Changeover Checklists, and Fill Line—but in others as well); however, this blog is intended to be a general, all-purpose look at ensuring product quality, and this bigger picture will hopefully help further elucidate the many advantages of InfinityQS quality solutions for you and your operations.
Ensuring Product Quality

Put Product Quality at the Top of Your List

Consistent product quality is key for brand protection in the Food & Beverage industry.  As my colleague, Doug Fair, InfinityQS COO, mentioned in the first entry in this series, A Good Match, “Food & Beverage companies typically have a need for a quality solution because of several factors, including: regulatory requirements, customer demands, and interests in product consistency, quality, and safety.”
 
I think that’s something we all get. So, it goes without saying then that key product features should be monitored to ensure that your product is consistent over time and across facilities. The system you employ should be easy to configure, navigate, and use. Reporting for internal, customer, and auditing purposes should be seamless, robust, and easy to do. And your quality system should, without a doubt, lift you and your operations out of the paper & pencil cave and into the sunlight of quality assurance.
Drowning in Paper?

Data Collection, Quality Checks, Alerts, and Notifications

InfinityQS quality management software excels at these very important aspects to maintaining high quality in your processes. Using the timed product checks and data collections in our software helps you ensure 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.
 
Our software can automatically alert shop floor operators every time a timed check is due. If an operator misses a timed check, our quality management software notifies the manager responsible for making certain that all timed checks get performed—helping ensure accountability. Managers also can review data collection performance across a wide range of dimensions, so they can keep track of how their team is performing and formulate corrective actions to ensure important process and quality data is being collected on schedule.
 

HACCP Checks

You can’t sell foods that aren’t safe, no matter how consistent they might be. Food manufacturers gather lots of food safety data each and every day, from sanitation and metal detection data to 5S or Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) checks.
 
Shop floor operators typically carry most of the data collection duties. As you can imagine, operators are already extremely busy running their production lines and making sure the final product is the best it can be. So, piling more work on operators’ to-do lists can prove challenging.
Operator on the Fill Line

InfinityQS Products Keep Things Simple

But InfinityQS software products were built for simplifying tasks on the shop floor and in the laboratory. InfinityQS software helps make difficult tasks simple. Our software supports data collection from handheld data collection devices, scales, high-speed checkweighers, scanners, and virtually any machine you might find in a lab or on the shop floor. Our software can even be configured to fully automate data collection, further simplifying operators’ and lab technicians’ work.
 
Additionally, InfinityQS software helps ease data collection burdens by reminding users when checks are required. The result is operators no longer have to remember when to collect data. And you no longer need wonder (or worry) if required checks have been performed…or missed.
 
For example, just before a required metal detector validation, our quality management software pops up a reminder window that advises users when the validation data must be entered. Operators and lab techs love these reminders because they don’t have to keep looking at their watches, and they don’t have to worry about whether critical safety tasks have been missed. This is a fine example of our quality management software ensuring that your products’ quality is a top priority.
Metal Detection

Checklists

One of the strengths of our systems is that we make things easy for quality personnel—technicians, engineers, or whomever is entering data on the shop floor. And the best way to do that when you have new personnel, or revolving personnel, or constant shift changes (or whatever else) is with checklists.
 
Checklists remind the operator to perform specific tasks at the beginning or end of the shift, or during a changeover. As Eric Weisbrod, InfinityQS VP of Product Management, says in his blog, “checklists can be endless sometimes…you can see why it’s easy to forget an item. InfinityQS quality management systems Enact® and ProFicient™ take the guesswork out of checklists.”
 
And it goes beyond just creating the checklist—there’s also making sure you’re performing the correct checks at the correct time. “When you set up a system that understands your expectations of what should be done (and when), then you can focus on dealing with the exceptions. That’s the biggest payback for using a quality solution for your checklists—you know they’re being done because you get notified when they aren’t and can look at all of your results from a centralized system.”
 
The whole point of checklists is to ensure safety and/or sanitation. Don’t leave that to human error.
Enact Checklist
Example - Enact checklist 

Auditing

During an audit, many manufacturers struggle to locate, compile, and present
requested data—sometimes covering a vast time frame—within the allotted time constraints. The cost of failing an audit can range from fines to extended suspensions. The added pressure of an audit is often compounded by the fear of being unable to produce the necessary documentation to prove compliance. This is where our quality management software comes in.
 
Many companies are trying to fulfill auditing demands with outdated technology. It’s painful, to be sure. And the pain can last for days or even weeks.
 
As Doug says in his Auditing blog: “You never know what questions the auditor is going to ask or what they might want to see. Answers to auditor questions typically take this form: ‘That information is scattered across several systems. I think I’ve got some of it over here in this filing cabinet and some in the quality manager’s office. And the rest of it is probably in the warehouse.’ Well, no wonder audits hurt so much.”
Manufacturing Audits 
In order to effectively answer the auditor’s questions, people often request hours, even days to get their staff together to figure out how to gather all the data the auditor is seeking. Doug goes on to say:
 
“Food & Beverage manufacturers need to take advantage of the latest technological advances to reduce the risks they face and ensure compliance at every step of their manufacturing processes. Our quality management systems can ensure compliance while offering the added benefits of cost savings, reduced waste, and improved overall product quality.”
 

Pencil & Paper

Just as your manufacturing organization strives to make products more quickly and precisely, your quality solution needs to deliver critical information faster, pinpointing the information that’s most important. And your best hope for doing that is not paper and pencil…it’s with a software system, with automated (and semi-automated) data collection, and proven statistical analysis tools.
 
Clipboards and paper, surprisingly, are still being used for shop floor data collection today. All the risks associated with a paper-based quality system are well-documented (like here, in Doug’s Paper & Pencil blog), so I won’t go into them now, but suffice it to say that the worst of them all is that you can get hit in the wallet for using a paper-based solution to your quality needs. Employees, probably an on-site library, maybe a warehouse, and the time spent sifting through all that data when you need answers or insights—that’s expensive and not necessary. Quality management software—like the kind we offer at InfinityQS—is the answer to ensuring your information is safe, reliable…and readily available.
Quality Management Software on the Fill Line

Dashboards

Dashboards are everywhere in software these days. We all see them. We all use them. According to Eric in his blog, The Power of Dashboards in Enact, our cloud-based quality management software’s dashboards help ensure your products’ quality in a number of ways:
  • Saving time – everyone in manufacturing uses control charts to help them decide if or when to adjust a process; Enact dashboards do that for you, offering up timely charts that require your attention. No need to spend your time sifting through charts.
  • Configuration – Enact dashboards are designed to be easy to setup and use; building a dashboard takes very little time—it’s all about choosing the tiles containing the data you want to view and how you want them arranged and sized.
  • Consistency – what I’m talking about here is the consistency of analysis method, i.e., everyone uses the same metrics.
  • Analysis – float above the details and easily make comparisons across different products, product lines, sites, or even regions with an Enact dashboard; “rather than slogging through compilations and calculations once a quarter to see how everyone is doing, isn’t it better to just keep an eye on things all the time and know how everyone is doing at all times? That’s power.”
  • Adaptability – dashboards in Enact are “centralized,” designed as a common tool; you don’t need to build one for each user, but instead build a standard dashboard that each user can customize to their needs.
Quality Management Software dashboard 
Example - Enact analysis dashboard

Reporting

Reporting means different things to different people, depending on their roles within the organization. Reporting to your superiors at corporate is different from what you’d include in a report to shop floor managers at one of your facilities.
 
As Doug says in his white paper, Mastering Quality: “Your company can operationalize process changes only if your data experts can effectively communicate their findings. Only then can they convince the powers-that-be that proposed improvements will result in operational improvements… and make life better for everyone involved.”
 
Your reports need to convince upper management that the valuable information that was uncovered will dramatically improve operations—and they need to get buy-in from plant personnel because they will perform the work that can potentially transform the business.
 
The statistical tools in our quality management solutions easily support the analysis of aggregated data from multiple plants, product codes, production lines, and features, and place it all on one chart that’s easily digestible. That’s the power to ensure product quality in your organization.
 

In Closing

There are a lot more things about InfinityQS quality management software that help you ensure your products’ quality. The aforementioned aspects of our software—data collection, quality checks, alerts, and notifications; auditing; reporting; dashboards; and pulling you from the depths of pencil & paper data collection and analysis—all address quality in the Food & Beverage manufacturing space…and how we (and InfinityQS quality management software products) are here to help you succeed.
 
Please read the rest of our series:  
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.
 
Britt Reid
By Britt Reid
Product Communications Manager
See Full Bio

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