Product quality and safety are vital concerns in any industry. Yet for those who work in the food and beverage industry, the consistency, efficiency, and safety of manufacturing processes are effectively deal breakers. A single flaw like contamination, unlisted ingredients, or faulty labeling for a product that millions of people consume can have catastrophic consequences for an organization’s reputation. With reputations on the line and regulatory organizations monitoring every step of the process and the final result, it is critical to avoid defects and errors.
According to research, up to 85% of mistakes, recalls, and production downtime in food and beverage manufacturing is a result of human error. Fortunately, there are increasing options for remote monitoring, automated processes, and human resources that can help to ensure product quality and maximize efficiency.
Monitor With Real-Time Data
When manufacturers rely on manually produced inspections and reports, there is more room for human error. Significantly, research also indicates that manufacturers only achieve about 40% of their production capacity when they use only manually produced reports. To monitor vital production safety data like tank level sensors or mechanical performance, manufacturers who rely on manual monitoring and reporting need to pull productive personnel off-task. Shifts in employee efficiency can also result in increased human error.
Manufacturers can improve quality and safety monitoring by investing in innovative solutions for process measurement, monitoring, and real-time data. Not only does real-time data help to prevent safety emergencies by triggering remote and local alarms in the event of problems, remote monitoring technology also allows production managers to log vital data to monitor production and usage trends. This data can help to predict when equipment maintenance or repair needs to be scheduled, which contributes to overall product quality and safety goals.
If repetitive processes in manufacturing can be automated, this is often a worthwhile investment. Automation can reduce or eliminate the possibility of human error and save time. For example, if a manufacturing system relies directly on hands-on processes to detect when a mesh tank needs to be cleaned, the trained employees need to be present and focused on the task of monitoring and eventually cleaning the tank. If instead the mesh tank can be monitored remotely and cleaned with an automated process, those employees can shift their attention to other production-related tasks.
Automation should also be considered when repetitive tasks are potentially dangerous. Just as product flaws can be catastrophic in the food and beverage industry, employee accidents can also have disastrous consequences. If remote monitoring and automated tasks can help to keep workers safe, the initial investment in automation equipment will have a return on the investment in human resources.
Prevent Human Errors
Removing human errors from industry is a process, and results will not happen overnight. However, careful attention to best practices on the shop floor is one of the most productive strategies that any employer can utilize to prevent costly or dangerous mistakes in the manufacturing process. Digital systems can deliver accurate instructions and information to workers whenever they need them, but it is up to supervisors to observe and analyze processes regularly and train workers to use the tools they need to complete tasks efficiently.
When supervisors physically observe and monitor the processes and habits on the floor, they are able to diagnose problem areas in workplace processes. They can then begin to devise solutions—whether those solutions involve training, updates to processes, infrastructure improvements, or automation considerations.
When product quality is crucial, food and beverage manufacturers should take key steps in monitoring, automation, and supervision to increase product quality and safety. Optimized systems will boost product quality, reduce consumer complaints, and enhance a company’s reputation.