In order to go above and beyond industry standards for food quality, there are various regulations to abide by, procedures to follow and technologies food manufacturers must implement.
To learn more about what food and beverage brand owners can do to maintain and improve product quality—and what resources will be available to them at PACK EXPO—Food Engineering spoke with Jeffrey Barach, PhD, consultant for PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, owner and producer of the PACK EXPO family of trade shows.
FE: What is the first step manufacturers should take to ensure quality?
Barach: It all starts with company leadership. The attitude, ethics and integrity of the corporate decision makers build the foundation for quality on the production line. Without a dedicated mission—and the resources—to pursue the highest levels of product quality, facility managers, engineers and operators cannot be expected to achieve advanced results in processing or packaging applications.
Furthermore, the company must implement a strategic plan to ensure the output meets the organization’s vision and mission. This approach necessitates a map to advancing quality within a profitable framework and a timeline with clear objectives, as well as achievable, measurable goals. Lastly, food manufacturers must ensure standards for excellent quality are reflected throughout the entire supply chain, its technologies and standard operating procedures. A high-quality product is only as strong as the weakest link in its supply chain.
FE: What are some available resources manufacturers can leverage in advancing quality on the production line and throughout the supply chain?
Barach: Especially relevant and useful today are management programs such as total quality management (TQM) and Six Sigma. These programs provide a foundation for quality, training, teamwork and communications for the whole corporation.
Simply put, TQM is a management system for an organization that guides employees towards constant growth and continuous improvement. It utilizes data, strategy and communication to incorporate the quality discipline into the culture and processes of the business. This helps food manufacturers ensure consistency as employees throughout the entire supply chain work toward common goals.
Six Sigma focuses on process improvement and making sure products are free of defects. Its goal is to increase the quality of process outputs by identifying and eliminating the origins of errors in manufacturing as well as business processes. The program emphasizes strong management leadership and support from top to bottom within an organization. Furthermore, there is strong emphasis on making decisions on the basis of verifiable data and statistical methods, not assumptions.
Any quality-oriented program should consist of a production team and a separate quality assurance team. Having two separate bodies prevents a conflict of interest as the production team works to get products out as fast as possible while the quality assurance team ensures the quality of the products.
FE: In the case of separate production and quality teams, what is the best way to streamline efforts to maintain organizational efficiency and progress?
Barach: A holistic, cooperative approach between teams is essential to advance quality. The teams must keep an open channel of communication to anticipate and trouble-shoot problems. Collaborative, advanced planning for new lines or line extensions saves waste, downtime and cost in the long run.
As companies strive to eliminate silos in their operations and seek ideas for continuous improvement, industry events like PACK EXPO offer a similarly holistic approach to discovering quality-enhancing solutions. Co-located with Pharma EXPO, a new show to address the entire pharmaceutical lifecycle that is co-produced by PMMI and the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE), the event will showcase processing and packaging solutions from 2,000 exhibitors and attract 50,000 attendees from a wide range of industries. It will provide a one-stop-shop for procurement teams and free, convenient educational sessions at Innovation Stage locations, as well as other on-site features. The show will also offer opportunities to cross-pollinate ideas between industries, with suppliers and end-users alike sharing and spreading their strides in quality.
To register for PACK EXPO International 2014, co-located with Pharma EXPO, visit packexpointernational.com. Registration is $30 prior to October 3, 2014 and $60 thereafter.