5 Critical Steps to Operational
BY TONY MICHAEL, CEO,
All manufacturers face challenges in ensuring that operational improvements
keep pace with their customers’
needs, competition, increasing input
costs, technological advances, and
staffing and human resource needs.
Food processors, however, also face
industry-specific challenges regarding
food quality control, perishable
production, and overall efficient
production to maximize profit.
Although applicable to other
manufacturers, a focus on and a
thorough understanding of the following
five areas are critical to achieving
best-in-class results when tailored
specifically to the food industry.
1 Quality Control
All organizations understand the
importance of quality control, but
few sectors are subjected to more
regulation and constraints regarding
the issue than the food industry. More
importantly, few industries are as
vulnerable to what, in other lines of
business, would be considered minor—
even microscopic—instabilities in
product quality and quality control.
Food safety is a zero fault tolerance
issue: one mistake or quality issue can
effectively close down a company,
destroy a brand through a complete
loss of customer and consumer
confidence, and lead to an onslaught
of litigation. Furthermore, effectively
maintaining ultraclean production
environments to comply with U.S.
Department of Agriculture or Food &
Drug Administration requirements
while managing food allergy
concerns on shared equipment
are constant, daily challenges.
The first inkling of a food safety
flaw can be fatal to the consumer
and to the producer. Unlike in other
industries, a slip in quality control in
the food processing sector might not
be discovered until it is potentially too
late: when one or more consumers have
already suffered negative health effects.
In addition to specific line-processing
issues, the speed associated with getting
to market is significantly heightened
and intensified in the food processing
industry. Packaging materials must
be tightly designed and timed to each
product and each new variation in
recipe. Packaging needs to change to
accommodate different ingredients.
Saleable shelf-life parameters also
place demands on speed of processing,
packaging, and shipping. For most food
products, retail sales customers require
a minimum of 65 percent of useful
life once they receive the products.