Temperature monitoring and quality checklist execution isn’t as simple as it may seem to outsiders. Paper checklists and constant check-ins can only get you so far. Not only that, but the amount of labour spent on these processes can be costly.
Implementing the right digital solutions can help you improve quality assurance by increasing operation efficiency, eliminating mistakes and ensuring only your quality products reach the market.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these solutions and their advantages.
Automate your processes
Even under the best conditions humans can make mistakes – factors like fatigue and time pressures can increase the chances of errors and oversights. That’s why it’s unwise to rely on manual monitoring solutions (e.g. someone checking your thermometers every hour) when it comes to meat processing.
By automating your temperature monitoring processes, you can remove the risk of human error and ensure actions are completed on schedule. Automation also helps reduce the time you spend doing manual checks, allowing your teams to complete more tasks quickly and efficiently.
This will give more time back to your employees, allowing them to focus on the more creative and fulfilling tasks, which helps broaden their skillset and potentially increase job satisfaction. But before you introduce any new technology, ensure everyone in your organisation understands the aim of the project.
When it’s a manual process you’re digitising, it’s always better to get your team’s support because at the end of the day, it can mean less painstaking work for them. Find out more on how you can earn your team’s buy-in by clicking here.
Cloud-based systems let you automatically record temperature readings and transmit this data wirelessly into one location that’s easy to access (even when on-the-go). This can be an invaluable tool for your business such as when it comes to auditing. Some other benefits of cloud computing include:
- Reduced costs – your vendor will manage all the costs attributed to setting up your system. You also won’t need to make any hardware/software investments or assign someone in your team to maintain the system as your vendor will handle this too
- Access to the latest software versions – because your vendor will monitor your system, keep track of updates and automatically release patches when necessary, you’ll always be on the latest system version. This can unlock new functionalities which can help you find easier ways to extract and analyse data which can boost productivity
- Enables cross-team collaboration – location/geography doesn’t have to hold you back anymore
You can read more into the benefits of cloud computing by clicking here.
Continually monitor your products
Temporary power outages can put your food items at risk. For example, technical problems with your cold holding units could cause temperatures to rise above 8°C, putting your products into the “danger zone” and potentially making them unsafe to eat. That’s why you need a solution which senses and alerts you when temperatures drop outside the acceptable levels.
In fact, the Food Standards Agency states that businesses need to “provide suitable temperature-controlled handling and storage conditions of sufficient capacity for maintaining foodstuffs at appropriate temperatures and designed to allow those temperatures to be monitored and, where necessary, recorded.”
Not complying with temperature laws will result in substantial fines and may do irreparable damage to your brand in the eyes of consumers. To combat this, invest in the following technology:
- An automated monitoring solution that can operate 24/7 and provides an effective alerting system
- Round-the-clock monitoring aids that can prevent equipment failure by generating data your maintenance teams can use to analyse performance trends
- An industry-specific system that can handle the complexities of foodstuff (such as its unique needs during storage). Unsure what the differences are between standard and food ERP systems? Our comparison matrix lays them out for you here
Any monitoring technology is restricted in its effectiveness if you can’t respond in time to avoid spoilage of perishable food. Invest in a solution which can send alerts immediately (even during a power outage) so your team can take action regardless of where they are. Other steps you should take include:
- Installing a modern solution that notifies you when temperatures fall out of range
- Sensor technology that can transmit through various materials such as stainless steel, concrete structures and insulated cold-holding units
Although a direct phone call from a live agent may feel like the best possible option in the event of a serious system failure, what would be even better is if the issue could be diagnosed and resolved before you even realised there was one.
And when you’re managing freezers/coolers, this can be the difference between a minor processing issue and a major incident that leads to thousands of pounds in wasted foodstuff. A managed services partner (MSP) will proactively monitor your systems and offer round-the-clock support, helping you improve efficiency, uptime and ultimately, your bottom line.
You can read more about Columbus as a managed services partner by downloading our brochure below.
Optimise operations by digitalising your checklists
Digitising your checklists is the best way to make sure your employees are completing all required tasks. This is because they’re easy to analyse, update and ensure consistency across your operations. Paper-based checklists, on the other hand, only provide a snapshot in time and can’t be monitored continuously in real-time.
Other ways digital checklists can bring added value to your business include:
Streamline daily operations
Managers can view scheduled quality assurance tasks and task statuses, as well as immediately address employees if a task hasn’t been completed.
For example, if an employee is tasked with putting newly delivered chicken into the freezer and hasn’t completed the task yet, your managers will have visibility of this. From here, they can make sure the task is followed up to help prevent the chicken from spoiling.
Access to one source of data truth
Digital solutions provide real-time insights and allow you to immediately alert employees if a change is required, meaning all your forms and checklists can be updated without any hassle.
For example, if a new item needs to be added to a digital checklist, there’s no need for new paper forms to be printed. Instead, a new field can simply be added into the system and employees notified directly.
Remove ineffective pen and paper methods
Sorting through paperwork can take hours to complete and by the time you’ve sorted it in a way which makes sense, it’s likely out-of-date or irrelevant. Not only is eliminating paperwork good for the environment, but it also offers a new source of valuable, accurate information.
More data points are available that were previously not accessible and pictures/videos can be added to tasks for future references. Also in the event of an error, digital solutions can provide detailed accounts of what went wrong and what steps can be put in place to prevent it from happening again.
Digital checklists encourages your employees to take responsibility for their actions, which can also help improve staff engagement. A more engaged workforce has been proven to be more productive, ultimately leading to a more profitable business.
Is your business ready for a more innovative future?
We’ve spoken a lot about how digital solutions can help you improve productivity, efficiency and processes. But it’s not as simple as finding the latest technology and implementing it. Innovation projects must be treated as a continuous cycle of improvement and start with building the right culture inside your organisation.
In our food innovation guide, we help you lay the foundations for an innovative future, guide you through the change management process and help you choose the right technology.
Download it below.