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ERP has long been central to managing processes in the Meat and Poultry Industry, particularly around procurement (MRP), processing and finance. Increasingly it has a place to address quality control too.

The meat and poultry industry had come under recent pressure after food hygiene and safety scandals broke out amongst several brands. From new and improved forms of packaging, regional mass customisation, seasonal products and other variations, it is clear to see that this is now more of a challenge than ten or even five years ago.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central for Food has specific Quality Control functionality. In this blog I will be looking at quality control within the data collection process, open quality control activities, and collection sheets that are available as standard in the solution.

1. Static data collection

Against each product/material master record, you need to define the quality measures to be undertaken. These measures/properties instruct the system as to the input that will be recorded for that element. Types include data lookups, number or texts etc. A lookup will allow for a processors' defined list of available options. During the input of the data, the user can select an option from the defined list.

Acceptable measures are also defined, be that colour, temperature, days fresh, bacteria count etc. The master record dictates what will result in a “Pass, Fail or Referral”. These measures are then used to define the item quality control tests based on the data control element type for each test, the target value is also populated at this stage. The system then uses this target value to compare against the actual test results that were entered into the system. This then forms the Pass-Fail element. The quality control results that are entered must meet the targets in order for that lot to pass the quality control testing successfully.

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2. Open quality control activities

The open quality control activities are given a status depending on whether the actual quality control test results have been entered and the eventual status of the quality control activity to change to a Pass or Fail. At this stage, quality control technicians can be assigned to tasks as well as a scheduled date to indicate when the results are due to be entered into the system. The test date, time and 'by' is recorded when the results are inputted. However, if values are added outside of the previously recorded target parameters then this will result in the item lot's quality control status being set to a Fail and possibly the entire quality control activity failing. The use of standard approval functionality, combined with Microsoft Flow, can route the referred lot to the individual authorised to over-ride (or confirm) the fail.

The standard Role Centre (user dashboard) makes it easy for operators to see the tasks set for them to complete and alerts can be created to notify/escalate if SLAs and target completion dates are not being met.

3. Process data collection

Quality control continues throughout the processes of the products. As part of the recipe routing, QC tasks can be generated. Columbus's process data collection also allows the processor to gather information on processes that do not directly deal with the receipt or creation of items. An example of this is logging the temperature of a refrigerator. For the data collection sheet, a 'complete' status means that the business process is finished. Alerts can be sent to different role centres, which notifies key-decision makers of an issue that needs urgent attention. An alert can be closed once it has been satisfied and the history of all previous alerts are kept on file. Data collection elements can also be set up and set with a frequency, for example, to reoccur every hour.

The process data and static data are all recorded against the lot number, building up a full audit of quality tests from raw ingredients through to finished goods. This provides data integrity and full visibility should there ever be a question on quality, where used or a product recall.

Quality control and data collection at Columbus is integrated into Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Food ERP to perform the critically important quality testing and reporting across the entire operation. Using the solution, you can create quality tests for raw materials and manufactured items; and define quarantine procedures to stop materials from being used and items from being distributed before they have passed quality testing.

Amongst the Brexit confusion, the industry is unclear about potential changes to food quality standards, it is vital to have a QC system that can easily flex to meet new regulations.

Food Quality Control integrates with other components of Dynamics 365 Business Central Food ERP, which enables you to take advantage of quality control data to support decision-making, compliance planning, and quality initiatives in manufacturing, supply chain management, and elsewhere in your business.

The right ERP system sets your business up for digital transformation

How well does your current ERP/ systems help you make the most out of quality control data or compliance planning? When you choose the right ERP system for your business, you've taken a huge step towards digital transformation. But there's more to know.

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