An optimal internal control is more than a checklist
In food production many checks are performed daily to assure food quality and safety. Recent incidents with Listeria and Salmonella and the increased scale of food production in a globalized supply chain confirm the need of extensive controls. Next to the impact on public health, an incident can cause bankruptcy of the company at stake. Large scale recalls result in high costs and production is ceased until it is 100% clear that the problem has been resolved and a prevention plan has been implemented. This results in brand damage for the retailer, but especially confidence damage for the producer. Stock listed companies will definitely face a price fall.
Food companies are facing increasingly more stringent regulations to protect the consumer and public health, but also the food companies themselves. The whole supply chain is at stake and should be aligned. It is clear that new technologies and services, especially cloud based services, are indispensable.
Although many reports in the media, however, food safety has been priority the last decade. But there is still room for improvement in management and execution of the system.
Quality systems need checks to enforce them
The production process in food companies are often well automized. However, to assure good and consitent quality and food safety visual checks are essential. This include checks of glass breakage, hygiene and pests. It is vital that the operator knows what to check, where and when. Experience is important, but new digital tools will assist the operator more than traditional paper checklists. The quality of the checks will be better as the operator can be supplied with all information he needs, such as SOPs, manuals, photos.
Reported issues need follow up
The aim of a check is to control whether everything is conform the quality system. Issues need to be reported as fast as possible, but also need corrective actions to prevent from happening again. A clear description of the issue is therefore key. Taking a picture with your mobile device helps more than a thousands words. This will help the supervisor or quality manager to easily assign tasks and define corrective actions. Better communication results in increased efficiency and less frustrations!.
Actions need follow up of their effectivity
Implementation of corrective actions are assigned to a responsible employee. Assignment, however, is often done oral or through e-mail, which does not ensure a good follow up. Also the implementation as well as the effectivity of the action are often followed up using Excel sheets in best case. After a while they get messy making efficient follow up and dashboarding of KPIs impossible.
To resolve this the quality manager of a food company should look for the newest digital tools to support its work. Assigning workers to tasks, automatic scheduling of checks, analysing the effectivity of a corrective measure and KPIs at a glance are some of the benefits. Also the operators will enjoy and embrace new technologies that makes their work easier and more attractive compared to all the paper work and Excl sheets!