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Creating a Window into Food Manufacturing Operations

Published on: Feb 02, 2016

Do you have windows into your food manufacturing facility? No, we don’t mean actual windows, but virtual windows that see through the manufacturing process. These windows provide operations transparency—visibility and access to information that is needed for collaboration, decision-making, and compliance reporting.

Food manufacturers are often on the forefront of manufacturing transparency trends because food products can have a major impact on consumer health and safety. Consumers and regulators are concerned about food safety and are driving the need for transparency across all operations. Even so, according to a 2014 Smart Manufacturing Technologies survey, 40% of manufacturers have no visibility into the real-time status of their company’s manufacturing processes.

Transparency is vital in food manufacturing.

By establishing a window into your manufacturing operations, you are better able to comply with regulations, provide rapid response to customers or food safety issues, customize products, and improve operational performance.  The good news is that manufacturing technology exists to create that window. Technology can automate your processes, gather data about your products and operations, analyze data, and communicate the data in a meaningful way.

What does transparency look like in food manufacturing?

When your food manufacturing operations are transparent, these things must be present:

  • Real-time operational data is collected that is granular and precise.
  • Using real-time data, systems sense, detect and react to operational or safety issues.
  • Data collection formats are standardized. You cannot achieve the standardization we discussed in our previous blog, 5-Steps to Achieve Food Manufacturing Supply Chain Visibility, unless you have standardized data collection on the plant floor. You will need to adopt universal standards for barcoding and data exchange.
  • Production processes are standardized and automated. By reducing complexity and streamlining production, your processes become more transparent and make your products more easily traced.
  • Fully automated lot traceability with tracking down to the ingredient level. Ingredients, lots, materials, processes, suppliers, and test results are tracked and easily accessible. Expiration dates, allergen information, and other food safety issues are closely managed and readily available.
  • Emerging technologies are leveraged to reduce costs, improve flexibility and maintain safety. Manufacturing and computer technology are changing rapidly. These changes, such as mobility, offer significant competitive advantages and improve the ability to be transparent.
  • Integrated systems are used to achieve visibility of operations. Without integration, companies have disparate data sources, lack of cohesiveness across business units and product lines, error-prone data, and inefficiencies. When your operations are integrated with your enterprise software, you gain significant improvements in transparency and better cross-functional collaboration.
  • Compliance is automated so companies can easily provide the essential documentation to demonstrate adherence to food safety management, production controls, quality assurance, record keeping and transparency.
  • Manufacturing and business intelligence are used to ensure consistent product handling and tight quality control.
  • Metrics are aligned with strategy. If food safety is a number one priority, then there should be a way to measure it.
  • Metrics are customer-focused. Real-time data from operations are combined with customer-focused metrics to create proactive performance evaluation.
  • Performance issues are anticipated before they occur and corrective actions are taken in time to minimize impact. In order to be proactive, you need to be collecting, analyzing, and communicating operational data in real time.
  • Continuous improvement programs are in place. Metrics across production lines, plants, and products are compared to make operational improvements.

For more information on transparency in your food manufacturing business, download our free whitepaper, Improving Transparency in Food Manufacturing.

IWI Consulting Group has helped food manufacturers improve their operations by providing enterprise systems that can increase transparency. We can help you identify the steps you need to take to build a window into your food manufacturing business. We can provide customized assessments that evaluate your operations and recommend the best enterprise software systems for your business. Contact us to get your Business Assessment started and take the next step toward transparency.