Quality and safety standards for the food and beverage manufacturing industry have been shifting as the world experienced unprecedented supply chain disruptions through the pandemic. From this disruption, the FDA and other regulatory bodies have adapted some compliance requirements to ensure a steady supply of safe and quality food while developing new regulations. It is crucial that manufacturers understand, prepare for, and implement policies to comply with these changing standards.
Most organizations understand the value of performing internal audits. The objective of auditing is to gain insights into your processes, help you maintain conformance, mitigate risks, and improve your operational excellence.
However, there are best practices you can incorporate into your audits to make them more effective, insightful, and useful to increase the likelihood of continual improvement.
Each food and beverage facility is different, with its own unique set of food safety and customer requirements to satisfy. With that said, there are many key performance indicators (KPIs) shared across the industry which are used to measure success.
Many organizations understand the “improvement” part of Continuous Improvement but struggle with the “continuous” aspect. A company might improve a process once but then assume they have solved the problem and there is no further need for improvement. Other companies know that continuous improvement can help but are unsure which strategy is appropriate. Learning about key continuous improvement methods can ensure companies know which strategies will yield the results they seek. Many companies find themselves considering many different options, and lose sight of the most important thing which is to start somewhere.
Manufacturers must integrate policies and processes that meet or exceed industry standards and governmental regulations. At the same time, these policies and processes must also meet or exceed the expectations of customers. Many organizations develop a quality management system (QMS) to manage both aspects of quality and compliance. An organization’s QMS formalizes and directs quality and compliance activities and facilitates continuous improvement. ISO9001:2015 details the requirements for quality management systems. QMS programs can be a valuable tool in building strong relationships with customers and helping organizations remain competitive.
Supplier compliance is critical to reducing risk, ensuring quality, and meeting customer expectations, but the activities involved can be tedious and time-consuming. Establishing the right relationship with clear expectations between all parties and open communication can significantly reduce supply challenges. Supplier management software is a beneficial tool that can efficiently organize all aspects of supplier management, creating opportunities for more productive relationships and allowing supply managers to invest their time in adding greater value to organizational processes.
In the food industry, what you measure tells a story about what you value. You can’t improve what you don’t measure. This sends a strong message from the top that food safety is a priority for the organization. Establishing and communicating objectives and KPIs related to food safety can influence a facility’s food safety culture. But how do you know if your KPIs are driving the right behaviors? And are there better KPIs you could be setting?
Process manufacturers commonly consider numerous costs like labor, materials, and manufacturing and impact their bottom line. Often the same companies will overlook or undervalue the cost of quality, assuming that products that fall within specifications also meet quality targets. However, simply relying on conformance without examining the cost of quality can result in a few hidden expenses at best---and at worst, amount to considerable waste, negatively impacting the bottom line and subtracting from brand reputation.
Specifications are the standards or the minimally accepted requirements for important features (or characteristics) of a product. Many manufacturers also set their own specifications. The confusion between specification compliance and quality can lead to financial loss, wasted time, and so on. For example, a product can fall within specifications but still prove unsatisfactory for clients. Additionally, manufacturers that rely solely on meeting specifications can miss out on opportunities to create more cost-effective processes. Thus, applying several statistical principles can immensely help a company identify ways to positively reform a process and product. By moving beyond the gauge parameters of specifications, manufacturers can boost quality with an efficient, optimized, and cost-effective process that performs better and satisfies the customer base.
Poor quality can waste a considerable portion of an organization’s operating budget. Alarmingly, some manufacturers even have the cost of poor quality factored into their budget, meaning these companies are willing to allow it to persist in plain sight and hinder their overall performance.
While there will always be some factors that affect quality to a certain degree, identifying and addressing the factors contributing to poor quality is critical. This ensures competitiveness, supports ongoing improvement efforts, and minimizes waste. Here’s a closer look at the unexpected costs related to poor quality, as well as how to measure and address them with a cost of quality analysis.