With a climate of ever influential social media, unhappy clients are able to instantly share their displeasure around the globe with a simple mouse click. Ensuring every product that you release into the market place is the very best you can achieve is becoming more and more vital to the continued health and profitability of your business.
Checking the weight of a product is a must before it gets out into the market place, either to comply with legal requirements or simply for peace of mind that your end users will not end up with an eating experience that disappoints them and makes them chose a different brand the next time they are in the mood for your style of product. However, is weight the only quality standard you want to check? What about the color? The fill height? The consistency? The general “look” that only a trained human eye can really appreciate and judge?
Validating your weight data is relatively simple and inexpensive with an in-line checkweigher, or is it? Do you have a single point that all your products pass through or will you have to buy multiple units for multiple lines? Do your lines have the space for an in-line unit or will you need to chop (literally) and change your production around? If the in-line unit has a breakdown, do you stop producing product until it has been fixed? Can you really afford another point of potential weakness within your process? When you think about it, do you really need to weigh every pack? Once production is in a steady state, how much variation is there going to be? Gross errors will surely be picked up by visual and quality checks before shipping.
In this white paper, we explore if Statistical Process Control (SPC) could well be the solution that will deliver the biggest bang for your buck. It will allow you to monitor, control and act upon, not only your weight trends but also all the other quality standards that you have in place without placing undue demands on your process or the personnel involved in delivering your products to market. Technology has moved on from pen and paper and creates opportunities for huge advances in data capture and analysis without breaking the bank.
The SG Systems solution is a unique combination of hardware and software designed to give managers the data and visibility in an accurate and verifiable format to empower them to make decisions about their production and process with confidence. Even better, the results of those changes are fed back in real time.
Weights and Measures:
The vast majority of quality standards start with the simple principle of getting the portion size correct and the universally accepted method is to check that the weight complies with the specification. The combination of the Vantage touch screen and weighing scale enables operators on the shop floor to take randomly selected samples and check weigh them against the specification against the product
within the system. As you would expect, when the product is within weight range allowed in the specification, the data is recorded and transmitted back to the database but when the product is out of specification, more than just a record is created. Depending on both the level of the error and the direction of it (higher or lower), as series of management programmed remedial actions can be displayed and enforced for the operator to carry out. For example, to check it is not a random occurrence, the operator can be directed to take more samples immediately to check the trend. If the error persists, follow up instructions such as calling a supervisor or stopping the line can be implemented. Most importantly, every single action and re-action is recorded and reported on within the reports so proving to an auditor, a client or just the senior team that the correct steps have been carried out and by who becomes quick, easy and, most importantly, verifiable.
The Other Numbers:
Having ensured that the “big picture product weight” is within spec, what about the finer details. The height, length and width of the product, the temperature and any other numerical demands made within the product specification. With an inline checkweigher, the weight is capture, the product accepted or rejected and then it is off to your client. With the Vantage solution from SG Systems, all the other important aspects of the look and feel are also checked. Once the weight parameters are adhered to and validated, the operator is stepped through each measurement and control point along the way and the results checked and recorded accordingly. If it is out of spec, the remedial actions pertinent to that control point are activated.
All quality standards have to rely on the judgement of a human individual for the final approval. This requires robust training and procedures to be in place but also, to maintain consistency, that the judgement of each of those humans be the same. The Vantage solution from SG Systems reduces that variability to a minimum by walking the “judges” through it and offering up the visual clues to ensure nothing is missed. Rather than relying on the operator to agree that the color is correct, a picture of the product color required can be displayed for comparison. Rather than rely upon the operator to remember every aspect they are meant to check, each one will be displayed in turn with as many optional answers and comments sections as required by management. Full work instructions and even levels of importance can be inputted to ensure the product as close to perfect as it can reasonably be.
When To Do The Checks:
Within the HACCP manual of all businesses will be the frequency that checks of various types need to be carried out but how often do they actually happen. How many checks are left for extended periods of time and then “backfilled” for compliance’s sake? With the Vantage solution, you set the frequency and when it is time for a check, the system alerts those around it that actions must be carried out. More importantly, every single interaction with the system is date & time stamped with the relevant operator assigned to it so if the reminders are ignored, management personnel will know.
The Set Up:
Many inline checkweighers or other shop floor systems require long periods of time spent in front of the device programming all the products and specifications directly into the equipment. Not only is this inconvenient, but it has to be done for every device around the plant….and when a change to specifications is made, the long slow loop starts again….and devices can be missed or forgotten. With the SG Systems solution, simply enter your products specifications and routines into the central database in the comfort of your office and, once approved and released, they are available and enforced on the shop floor. Make a change and the next time the product is selected, the new specs are live. No retraining, no “working to a previous standard” and no excuses for mistakes.
Information is vital to any executive team to improve the company performance and with the SG Systems solution, every action is logged and recorded in the central database accessible to those authorized to do so. Whether a summary or overview of production performance is required or every small detail of a particular batch of product, the extensive suite of reports will deliver the information quickly and in an easy to understand format.