Food production: It’s high time to digitise processes

Accelerating the time to market of their products is one of the key objectives of most food manufacturers, as it means delivering fresher products of very high quality much faster to the consumer – saving time and money and increasing customer satisfaction.

But the complexities of large-scale food production are often guided by a set of strictly defined protocols, processes, and regulations that ensure every item reaches the supermarket shelves on time, in the best condition, and fit for human consumption. Identifying the correct measures to deliver products faster, therefore, often resembles a search for a needle in a haystack.

Large amounts of data recorded during various processes, such as inwards goods checks, production, maintenance, quality assurance or dispatching, are still noted on paper. And sometimes, there are bound to be missteps, especially when most food manufacturers rely on these time-consuming, error-prone paper-based recordings

This results in what iMonitor calls ‘the black box on the manufacturing floor’.

 

“The crucial data for managing the processes underpinning food quality and compliance is all but invisible in a black box because it’s trapped on paper or in spreadsheets,” says Martin Keogh, CEO of iMonitor.

“When that happens, there is the risk of lost profit, unnecessary waste, and potential food safety compromise.

Quality-Management-App

Digitisation means taking away the weakest links in food safety management.

“And, when it comes to analysing process performance, quality and compliance status, manufacturers are in the dark.”

It might as well be called Pandora’s Box, confirmed by the results of an online survey conducted by iMonitor, that the company will present in a webinar during TechWeek on 25 May. The report highlights several industry issues including human error, siloed food safety activities and information, insufficient traceability, and information inconsistency across industry standards – in effect, massive inefficiencies, and lost profit.

iMonitor’s new iQMS platform addresses these shortcomings with an automated quality management system that eliminates the clipboards, the guesswork, and the black box in food production.

“Digitisation means taking away the weakest links in food management. You’re relieving personnel of the tedious job of manually managing processes, freeing them for more important tasks while ensuring consistent information at every step of the production process.

“It also means live information is made available directly to decision-makers as well as to other systems, such as the company ERP platform or inventory management system.

“In other words, there’s no guesswork, complete visibility, and an unimpeachable data record.”

Digitising the production processes delivers multiple benefits, including accelerated time-to-market. With Industrial-Internet-of-Things (IIoT) devices, such as temperature or humidity sensors, located at every relevant production point or Critical Control Point (CCP), manufacturers get full visibility and control of all data, leading to higher productivity, less food waste, and reduced business risk.

The ability to analyse and improve their processes with the help of the collected data also means better quality products, but also traceability should anything move out of predetermined parameters.

“iQMS alerts the operator or supervisor automatically if corrective actions are needed. Compare that to the ‘point in time’ assessments of a Quality Assurance worker – constant monitoring is a world apart,” says Keogh.

iQMS-operator using quality management app

Digitising food quality and compliance measures delivers multiple benefits, including accelerated production and faster time-to-market.

Keogh explains that this is facilitated by feeds from IIoT sensors that go into a cloud-based dashboard, supported with real-time data alerts and reporting across products and operations. This also supports live and ongoing compliance, with tasks automatically assigned to operators and proactive reminders of pending duties.

“We even incorporate guides with access to standard operating procedures, ensuring that the highest standards are constantly met, and every step in every workflow is completed to the required level,” says Keogh.

The iQMS system records precise details of sensitive ingredients, allergens, and other traceable items, such as date of delivery, delivery temperatures and process CCP’s, over the complete production process.

“This reduces the risk of recalls and means manufacturers can precisely pinpoint batches as and when necessary.”

But the ultimate benefit of a system that eliminates paperwork and manual data entry is increased food safety and business efficiencies.

“Compliance doesn’t happen in a vacuum or in a black box,” says Keogh.

“The entire point of the exercise is assuring the quality and safety of what we eat. No food producer wants to cause harm or inconvenience to consumers – and with iQMS, better quality and complete food safety are assured through accurate, continuous information across the entire production process.”

Learn more about iQMS at https://imonitor.net/quality-management-platform/.

Free registration for iMonitor’s TechWeek webinar at iMonitor TechWeek Seminar Registration.

Source of original article: https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/better-business/122153774/how-automated-compliance-improves-food-safety

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