EVS Profile | Food Safety & Six Sigma

By: Thomas Cutler

According to Evan Garber, President of Escape Velocity Systems (www.evs-sw.com), "Security means two separate things to a food or beverage company...formulas are a proprietary competitive edge and critical to quality and safety control. We believe there must be three levels of security that can specify formula visibility groups, formula change approvals, optional electronic signatures, and very specific access rules."

Lynne Hambleton, author of Treasure Chest of Six Sigma Growth Methods, Tools, and Best Practices, details QFD, Quality Function Deployment. She notes that QFD helps manufacturers:

&bull Translate customer requirements into specific offering specifications
&bull Prioritize possible offering specifications and make trade-off decisions based on weighted customer requirements and ranked competitive assessment.

These trade-offs become obvious when Quality Control keeps their own database of test profiles, test results, hold status, lot information and more. The challenge according to Garber, "When changes to the QC database do not affect current inventory in the ERP system, someone must make adjustments or physically segregate the materials in the warehouse so that they are not used. This practice leads to errors, untimely data, and the possibility of using or shipping something that was not approved."

Production reporting is not timely enough to affect the current day's production. With an active and integrated system, production is notified immediately if yields or costs go outside of specifications. Most food quality business must track attributes, such as: solids content, nutritional details, sugar content, and color on a lot by lot basis. These food manufacturers often have different attribute specifications for different customers. Because the ERP is used for inventory control, the ERP system is a perfect place to manage these complexities, generate the customer specific Certificate of Analysis.

Food Quality Issues to Test in Technology Solution Integration

&bull Instant lot traceability (forwards and backwards) that drills down into shipments, receipts and through production
&bull Quality Control and lot attribute variability analysis
&bull Customer specific requirements for attributes
&bull Formulation by percents, variable units of measure or both at the same time
&bull Customer service visibility (from Sales Orders) into current production data
&bull Pricing flexibility including: national accounts, contracts, promotions, customer and product price groups

According to manufacturing journalist, TR Cutler, "As beneficial as lean techniques and business strategies such as Six Sigma may prove to an organization, rarely is it a literal matter of life or death. Food Safety is the exception." In the feature entitled, Food Safety and Six Sigma, Escape Velocity Systems (www.evs-sw.com) is profiled. The entire International Food Safety and Quality Network article may be read at http://www.ifsqn.com/articles_detail.php?newsdesk_id=407&t=The+Impact+of+Six+Sigma+on+Food+Quality.

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