Finding new software solutions together with our food customers

About our quality sessions, solution finding and the process

For years now, the food industry went through great lengths to be able to ensure food safety and food quality better than before. There has been a lot of negative media attention drawn to the food industry, and for fair reasons. Scandals involving meat recalls, tampering with quality marks and let’s not forget the fipronil scandal. The consumer’s trust must be recovered. We all want more transparency; we want to know what we are buying and more so, what we are eating. In short terms, we want a transparent chain with trusted production processes. And this is exactly where a software solution can help, which is why we struck up a conversation with our customers’ quality managers.

Written by Floor Sloots, food technologist at Schouw Informatisering

Innovation process for the quality registrations

Transparency in the supply chain, quality standards that keep developing, strengthened customer requirements. These issues pose a lot of challenges for quality managers in the food industry. And these challenges that they face are obviously also targeting software suppliers like Schouw Informatisering. Considering all the solutions that we provide, how can we help ensure that food companies can face their challenges?

Innovative solutions for complex problems

To find out more about all these different challenges, we struck up a conversation with our customers’ QA managers. We organized a theme session focused on quality & IT and went to work using the design thinking method. The user is the focus point in this innovation process. This is the method to find innovative solutions to complex problems in a creative way. We approached the problem from the problem owner’s perspective, looked for patterns and looked for a fitting solution to the problem.


Design thinking method

 

A landscape of quality challenges

During the theme session, we first put the spotlight on the QA managers. They talked about the challenges and frustrations that they must deal with in their food companies daily. This created a landscape full of challenges that they are currently facing in the quality sector. To make it more concrete, we chose solely one subject to walk through the innovation process, since this subject was most urgent: the quality registrations.

Finding solutions for the challenges

For this particular subject we added a second step to the innovation process: searching for fitting solutions for the challenges that came up in the first theme session. During an internal brainstorm session, we worked hard to find possible solutions for the called-out challenges (Solution Finding). Which has yielded plenty of ideas. And now it’s time to proceed to the next step: presenting the ideas to the QA managers of the food companies. This created a nice starting point for the construction of a prototype of the solution.

So why do we actually perform quality and registration checks?

It is important for the food industry to search together for the best way to build a prototype. But what is the exact reason why quality controls are so important? There are two main reasons as to why we must perform quality checks:

  1. Quality checks take place in order to check whether the legal standards and certification requirements are met. This guarantees food safety.
  2. Quality checks take place in order to check whether the internal quality requirements of a food company are met. Every company want to market a product with great quality. For this, they use internal quality requirements that are often drawn up by years of experience. This leads to a stable product quality and gives the company information to run their production processes as optimally as possible.

Digitalizing quality checks

By processing the control results digitally and in real-time on the production floor, a company can save a lot of time and prevent errors. Which is crucial for food safety. No more paperwork, no more typing results in Excel. The control results are directly linked to a lot or a batch during the production process. This ensures your audit trail. You then can distribute the results in trend analyses and to make a link with KPI dashboards in Power BI. The digitalizing of quality checks and registrations is an absolute must for efficiency in the workplace and the safeguarding of your quality and food safety.

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