The best and the brightest in food & beverage.
Recently, SwipeGuide enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the 2019 FoodSure Summit, where our co-founder Daan Assen hosted a productive round table session. Here, heads of quality from leading food and beverage manufacturing companies shared the challenges they face in capturing and sharing knowledge and Standard Operating Procedures [SOPs] on the shop floor.
Here’s a rundown of the six key issues facing the top F&B manufacturing companies today.
Availability and accessibility.
Many F&B companies struggle to give workers on the shop floor easy access to the right instructions at the moment of need. This problem is worsened by the widespread use of paper and PDF work instructions that are:
- Text heavy.
- Hard to use.
- Difficult to locate in the moment of need.
Work instructions need to be available in a format that is proven to be effective. This ensures that quality standards are met and your company has a baseline for a system of continuous improvement.
But it’s important to remember that work instructions and standard operating procedures are more than just documentation: they’re an essential tool for on-the-job training and performance support.
Maintaining work instructions and SOPs.
More than one participant highlighted the importance (and difficulty) of actively maintaining work instructions and SOPs in accordance with:
- Changes and improvements to processes and procedures.
- New quality and safety insights.
- Compliance: strict food quality controls in the industry require constant upkeep.
Standards are dynamic, and creating them is not a one-time effort. Rather, it’s a continuous process that can become a pain point if a company lacks a solution to support, create, and distribute updates. We learned that the best F&B companies require the following:
- Notification on the need for particular updates.
- Versioning and workflows regarding checks and authorizations.
But, the effort doesn’t stop with technology and functionality. The continuous documentation and implementation of standards needs to be a part of your company culture. Involve relevant employees and make the upkeep of SOPs a team effort.
“I’ve been doing this job for years, and I know how to do it.”
Complacency is a challenge in any industry, but in F&B it can be disastrous. On the shop floor, it presents a number of challenges:
- Employees resistant to implementing new techniques or adhering to updated SOPs.
- Risks to safety, efficiency, and compliance as a result of outdated procedures.
- Tribal Knowledge – critical information not stored in a central, easily accessible system. Instead, this knowledge lives in the heads of a few key employees.
A great way to help with this issue is to involve experienced staff in the creation and maintenance of SOPs and work instructions.
Deviation between SOPs and performance.
Many F&Bs have a problem with deviation between the procedures described in SOPs, and actual performance on the shop floor. Sometimes, employees aren’t even aware that instructional material is available.
We observed that there are a few effective steps to addressing this information gap:
- Bring ownership of the work instructions and standards to the shop floor by involving operators and team leaders in their creation and maintenance.
- Make this process easy and engaging.
- Create a culture that values proper documentation and operational success, and celebrates sharing knowledge.
Glocalization of instructions.
Many F&B companies operate production sites around the world and need to share SOPs across this network. However, many also experience difficulties when sharing these standards throughout their supply chain.
Simply put, delivering global standards doesn’t work very well at local sites. For knowledge to really stick, work instructions need a local flavor and involve real employee feedback.
- F&B companies need a way to instantly share SOPs throughout a global network, while also giving the opportunity for feedback and contributions at a local level.
- In an international network, support for multiple language versions of SOPs and work instructions is essential.
Integration of systems.
The final challenge presented during the round table was the importance (and difficulty) of integrating existing systems with SOPs and work instructions. Companies with internal knowledge banks, maintenance management systems, and ERP systems will find their benefits are greatly increased when they are coupled with Digital Work Instructions.
Imagine, if you will, the power and practicality of linking a work order to a specific digital work instruction. Combined with comprehensive analytics, integrated systems will allow the top F&B companies to increase efficiency and improve food quality while also fostering continuous improvement.
Digital solutions for New Challenges.
As a new generation of employees enters the workforce and the manufacturing industry becomes more complex and digitized, food and beverage manufacturers will need to step up their game.
Digital work instructions are simply the best way to capture and deliver knowledge on the shop floor if your company operates at one location, or at one hundred.
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