- THE MAGAZINE
To develop a quality audit system for a major food manufacturer’s Lakeville, Minn., plant, designed to reduce and/or eliminate paper-based audits while providing a more effective means of tracking the collected data.
All quality audit inspections were completed at the food manufacturer’s Lakeville plant using a paper-based system. Once completed, the audit data is manually transferred into a database for record-keeping and report generation, then stored at the facility.
The food manufacturer wanted to convert the paper-based system for quality audits to an electronic system that provides data access and tracking while also reduces the time requirements and cost associated with completing the required audits. The large number of audits that need to be completed translates to a significant labor cost each month and a significant risk of missing or inaccurate audit data.
Auditor, department supervisor, plant management and food manufacturer.
The food manufacturer worked with Russell Associates, Inc., LeSueur, Minn., to implement the use of its automated safety inspection, audit and observation software—inspectiTRAC.
inspectiTRAC’s flexible features allowed the food processor to use their existing audit criteria to design and create audits specific to their facility, as well as continue to grow and expand the system using inspectiTRAC Administrator, which allows the food manufacturer to add more audit areas, add/edit audit criteria, modify maps and add more audit locations in real-time. inspectiTRAC was initially used only for glass and hard plastic inspections, but expansion to other audit areas is expected.
Additionally, inspectiTRAC provides the food manufacturer with a straight-forward method to document audits and ensure that the specific criteria and documents are being used. inspectiTRAC visually displays maps of different areas of the plant to create landmarks for auditors. During data collection, the auditors use an up-to-date database of questions to complete audits. The auditors can also use built-in cameras to document deficiencies or improvements when needed. Once audits are completed, signatures are captured, creating an intact audit trail for records purposes.
Data captured is easily viewed and reports generated from inspectiTRAC Manager. Management is then able to respond quickly to areas of critical importance, rather than spending critical time inputting data.
There is a significant reduction of labor and time required to complete quality audits at the food manufacturer’s Lakeville, Minn., plant. The system initially resulted in the reduction of 30 non-value added hours per month. As the system expands, it is estimated that there will be an additional 3-5 times more hours saved (90-150 hours per month).
“inspectiTRAC gave us the ability to use our existing systems and create inspections specific to our facility and our needs. It will initially eliminate 30 non-value added man hours per month just in the glass and hard plastic portion of our audits where we were printing hard copies, hand writing deficiencies and comments, typing those into a database and creating a report. The system will help with document control as it relates to audits, maps and documentation. It provides an easy way to document audits and assure that all areas are audited to our specific criteria. I enjoy the ability to add and make changes in real-time as we needed them updated; this gives us control of all changes,” says Shawn Lauer-Ames, director of quality assurance for the food producer. “inspectiTRAC Manager also has a lot of flexibility to allow the administrator at the facility to set schedules, set up automatic email notifications for audits or audit concerns. inspectiTRAC personnel were also available whenever we needed help or to answer any questions.”