Importance of data-driven operations growing - InfinityQS

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

InfinityQS: Software provides traceability throughout supply chain

Related tags Management

Manufacturers are recognizing the value of data-driven manufacturing operations to ensure consumer safety, according to InfinityQS International.

The firm said its enterprise quality management software, called ProFicient, helps manufacturers comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) by providing farm-to-fork traceability and accurate documentation for audits.

It can help reduce time determining recalled or impacted ingredients and lots and aids in compliance with regulations such as FDA 21 CFR Part 11 or HACCP, said InfinityQS. 

Using Statistical Process Control (SPC), InfinityQS ProFicient monitors, analyzes and reports on data and processes in real time creating a view of manufacturing operations – from the plant floor through suppliers.

ProFicient on Demand is a cloud-based version of the software.

Constantly evolving

Mike Lyle, InfinityQS’ president and CEO, said the software is constantly evolving tied to what clients are doing, problems they need solving as well as the firm monitoring the market.

“Software is not static, it continues to evolve and clients are pulling us in certain directions and FSMA compliance in several areas affects clients, not just in the US but clients who provide food into the US,” ​he told FoodQualityNews.

“Food is always evolving and changing and firms are using our software in a way to help manage what they do such as lot traceability to prevent, control and minimise effect of recalls.

  • A snack foods manufacturer saved over $1m at one plant on overfill costs and lowered customer complaints by more than 30% in the first year of deployment. With ProFicient, the manufacturer uses one system to manage five areas of quality control: data collection and integration, real-time monitoring and analysis, workflow management, advanced reporting, and an SPC quality hub.

“With FSMA requirements a business that wants to ensure delivery of good product has to have appropriate sign offs, traceability of information is critical, a farm to fork level of traceability is critical to deliver good product.

“It is no good anymore to produce from your supplier a certificate of analysis and no other visibility. Food and beverage is changing, it is not just small mom and pop operations now there are global entities with products around the world.  

“If your mom and pop operations drop out the impact is relatively small…but with a name brand you can think of if they have a major recall the impact has a direct cost perspective and the value to the organisation is significant.”

Lyle said training and existing processes are needed and systems to support those processes were important, which is where InfinityQS comes in.

“Any quality system that doesn’t have the backing is just paying lip service, if senior management understand the value most succeed in a cultural change in the organisation. Get management behind it or don’t waste your dollars,” ​he said.

“You need to walk before you run but map out a plan of a year or five to five years so you can run.

“Look at the key points, where are the areas you can get a quick return on investment but the system is not just for immediate needs. It is for years from now so map out the ability to get to an end goal.

“Look for a company that is forward thinking and not just the same thing it delivered 10 years ago. One that is evolving and transforming its system to keep abreast of what is going on in market otherwise there is a risk of being left behind.”

InfinityQS said 15 of the top 25 food and beverage manufacturers use ProFicient and other users include Snak King, Kraft Foods, Ball Corporation and Graham Packaging.

The top 25 claim is based on annual rankings by Food Engineering Magazine​, according to food sales.

Managing a recall

The workflow helps clients mitigate recalls and manage lot traceability so if a recall happens it can be minimised, said Lyle.

“If clients don’t know specifically what products are affected they could recall a wider quantity than if you had the lot genealogy date with a tiny window of product affected," ​he said.

“They are affected by the cost of the recall, scrapping products and the brand equity of the business, quick management of a recall means less impact on brand equity.

“Manufacturers want to comply and deliver safe food to market, firms can literally go out of business, we have seen it happen, if they send contaminated product to market, they can literally be gone.

“Brand names depend on their suppliers so they drive down these requirements. If businesses deliver bad product to market it can destroy them, sometimes they recover but sometimes they don’t.”

Lyle said firms need to improve quality, maintain compliance and traceability, and increase productivity with increasingly complex supply chains.

“Paper and spreadsheet methods are usable to collect and file away data but from a recall perspective you have a problem, digging into that information and it is associated with what lot and affected product you are at a great disadvantage,” ​he said.

“It is difficult to access information rapidly and determine the parameters to focus a recall. With an electronic format and a database structure you can rapidly pull up information: where is problem what do I need to recall and put it in perspective. 

“Paper and spreadsheets outside one facility, for example if you have 90 plants worldwide, are not helpful when you want to collect data and get information to transform manufacturing​.

“Let’s say you have 90 facilities and one is managing overfill better you can leverage knowledge and spread that across the enterprise and generate revenue on the bottom line. 

“The software is not just for helping with HACCP, FSMA or preventing recalls but it increases the value of the organisation.”

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