1. Set standards for products and processes—Establish and broadly communicate guidelines that will standardize data such as product codes, units of measure, bills of material, specifications, process parameters and lot numbering to plants and suppliers. This is vital to ensure normalization of data across functions, processes and suppliers. Access to global standards should be controllable, centrally available, easily accessible and easily deployable across production facilities and supply chain partners.
2. Automate the collection of quality-related data—Ensure that test results from existing systems, such as statistical process control (SPC) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems are captured and electronically recorded as they happen. Accuracy and precision related to the product and process results and events are especially important in the food industry. Relying on operators or waiting until the batch is complete will result in inaccurate data collection or a delay in the implementation of corrective actions.
3. Establish a global quality hub—Build a centralized data repository that contains the standardized data reviewed above, along with test results and other data collected during production and inspections. Define an entity for each measurement and specify the linkages between test results, operators, processes and time stamps. This will enable full traceability—forward and backward—easily meeting FDA regulations. A global quality hub also preserves data integrity, establishes the system of record and sets parameters to support continuous improvement programs.
4. Identify the right Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)—As part of a global quality initiative, establish a score card that includes product quality metrics for ingredients, intermediates and finished product—along with process quality metrics that monitor the performance of various pieces of equipment throughout production. Provide training and open communication for scorecard goals and work with managers and partners to ensure that these metrics are incorporated into departmental objectives and supplier agreements.
5. Provide real-time visibility and enable real-time response—Leading technology and analytic tools enable online access to product quality test results and monitor production equipment performance. This empowers quality engineers, production managers and other decision makers with the ability to respond to uncommon situations before major issues happen.
6. Create a culture of quality—Most companies have an opportunity to improve quality by implementing Six Sigma and lean manufacturing quality programs across the company and the supply chain. In addition to being able to meet the toughest quality standards, these programs should also define governance processes, and foster employee and partner growth and support through training and certification programs.
More informed consumers, continued recalls and emerging legislation are putting manufacturers and importers under additional pressure to meet and beat quality expectations. By setting internal standards, empowering employees and leveraging technology, manufacturers should be better prepared to meet FDA regulations both locally and throughout the supply chain.
Michael Lyle is the Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of InfinityQS International Inc., Chantilly, Va. His leadership, vision and adherence to a customer-driven development approach ensures that InfinityQS products continue to address the growing, complex needs of the manufacturing industry.