PPMA Total Show 2022, Stand B01

If there’s one take-home message from this year’s PPMA Total Show, it’s that there’s no room for lone wolves. Learning from the pandemic, food safety and contaminant inspection specialist Fortress Technology has unveiled its framework of new support services for the digital transformation era. Illustrating how technology tools, real-time data capture, remote monitoring and machine features are driving a more cohesive and adaptive workforce culture. Improving food safety at every level in food processing and packaging factories.

Collaborating with global GMP inspection and audit specialist AIB International, as well as hundreds of international food factories and drawing on the expertise of QC professionals, Fortress has created its modular cultural food safety roadmap. Targeting growth opportunities, production inefficiencies, QC reporting and audit transparency, of the company “Food Safety Culture Book” focuses on removing hierarchies in the workplace to inspire an ethos where everyone is encouraged to be a champion of food hygiene and safety. Where every individual every day “act like nobody’s watching”.

Collaboration with the biggest names

Traditionally, food manufacturers may have felt that sharing intellectual property could compromise their competitive advantage. But as Fortress and AIB International can attest, sharing insights, listening to different perspectives and working together is the best way to create a more robust food safety ecosystem.

Both firms highlight best ‘real life’ examples, including how they came together to help a global fast food service company put its food safety strategy and code of practice framework into practice.

As the world’s largest restaurant chain, with over one million crew members serving over four million UK customers daily, maintaining high standards requires the most fluid multi-layered approach to food safety. A long-time advocate of harmonizing global food safety standards and sharing best practices globally, in 2021 after collaborating with suppliers and other industry stakeholders – including the likes of AIB International and Fortress Technology – the service provider for fast food updates its SQMS standards.

Highlighting the benefit of collective harmonization of COP auditing standards and food safety, Fortress Managing Director Phil Brown sums up: “This means more attention can be focused on other food safety practices such as cleaning, sanitizing, maintenance, HACCP implementation, food fraud prevention and other productivity-enhancing activities.”

Jeff Wilson, Global Vice President, Operations at AIB International, agrees: “Leveraging people’s diverse skills and sharing knowledge ultimately leads to better food safety decisions. To confirm that continuous improvement processes are working, systems must be tested – either in internal audit, traceability test, during product change, etc. In the fast-paced world of food production, if questions about improvement are not raised, in our experience that in itself is a red flag! Part of the collaboration narrative should be that finding fault is a strength.”

Optimizing workforce talent

Since Brexit and the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, ONS figures show the UK food and manufacturing workforce has lost nearly 30,000 employees, 22,000 from the EU. Leaving a huge gap in the talent pool. Raising the big double-edged question of how to empower a depleting workforce in a self-directed way, while diligently ensuring they don’t feel overwhelmed and disengaged.

Removing obstacles, hierarchies, micromanagement and stressors that get in the way supports confident and thoughtful decision-making, Jeff states. “This can be achieved with the support of a reliable installation and equipment that works quietly and autonomously in the background, performing repetitive tasks.’

“Furthermore, empowering leadership has been shown to reduce unethical behavior. It also helps create a truly multidisciplinary team that understands the implications of various business decisions and how they impact processes, workflows and food safety.” adds Phil.

Digital testing of inspection equipment is just one food processing task that frees up resources. For example, a typical large snack factory often employs two or more people dedicated solely to testing the performance of metal detectors. One to insert metal test specimens and another to remove, document and report each test. Given the current labor challenges, this is a task that few UK factories can afford to resource.

Unique to Fortress, Halo Digital Testing was developed in collaboration with one of the largest snack factories in the US. With over 100+ Fortress Vertex metal detectors running 24/7 side by side, this customer reported significant issues in allocating people to perform manual inspections to adhere to international food safety reporting standards. In particular, the health and safety risks due to access challenges and the large amount of waste encountered when testing metal detectors on free-falling product lines, within an operation of this scale.

Another example of how sharing information leads to a productive solution, Halo Digital Testing is now available for Fortress’ entire range of digital metal detectors, including piping systems for high viscosity applications and frozen food conveyor lines. By eliminating human error and by capturing real-time data that cannot be reviewed or done retrospectively, kitchen processors can ensure food safety and quality control standards are met without compromising production. In addition, test results are logged automatically, providing a reliable audit trail.

No other technology on the food inspection market can test all sizes and types of metals as reliably, accurately and at such a fast speed,” commented one snack maker.

Smarter decisions

From the source to the consumption of food, automated inspection technology preserves food safety by carefully monitoring, controlling and ensuring that food is free of contaminants. Consistent performance plays a crucial role.

The increasing prevalence of recalls suggests that regulations and current food safety systems are not fully aligned with the evolution of food production processes. Many equipment manufacturers – including Fortress – emphasize the importance of strategic planning when selecting critical control points to optimize inspection lines.

Before selecting the type of inspection equipment, food manufacturers must first determine the potential sources of contamination of the particular product line. Fortress advises manufacturers to step back and examine every processing point, the equipment being used and every possible contamination scenario. The HACCP guideline states that critical control points (CCPs) must be located at each step where hazards can be prevented, eliminated or reduced to acceptable levels.

It is also crucial to consider the value-added characteristics of reporting; namely increasing transparency and productivity without adding workloads. Launching Contact 4.0 at PPMA Total 2022, this new digital reporting tool can collect data and securely monitor and remotely monitor the performance of an unlimited number of Fortress metal detectors, checkweighers and combination machines connected on the same network.

By creating a centralized repository of live and recorded data, Contact 4.0 helps food manufacturers automate QA documentation. Converting potentially massive data streams into tightly monitored operational information and providing remote monitoring for real-time troubleshooting.

“This is particularly useful for identifying production trends and patterns. Manually monitoring the operation of a food inspection machine can be extremely time-consuming and affect productivity. Automated and networked data retrieval and real-time monitoring have been proven to increase production efficiency and minimize machine downtime,” notes Phil.

Sharing shows you care

The relationship between managing knowledge as an asset and productivity should never be underestimated. It always comes back to engagement – ​​understanding expectations, respecting how people like to work together and giving employees a platform to share their experiences. For this reason, Fortress always seeks input from machine operators when developing new equipment features and when integrating inspection machines into existing production lines.

“When information is held by only a few, it limits innovation,” says Phil. “Incorporating diverse expertise creates a powerful flow of valuable ideas and concepts that ultimately improve process efficiency. These different perspectives create an even stronger food safety culture where everyone understands and recognizes the contribution of each colleague.”

In summary, Phil and Jeff agree that to prevent the future landscape of food safety, food processors, stakeholders, regulators and suppliers must overcome the hurdle and come together to build an ever-evolving operational, process and cultural playbook. . This requires an interdisciplinary approach supported by smart digital tools that increase efficiency rather than adding another layer of bureaucracy.

“Everyone has a role to play in food safety. Reliable data provides business-critical information. It supports mixed virtual support and on-site support. Provides visibility potentially unlocking new ones commercial opportunities. But most importantly for food safety, it provides the highest level of traceability to the future against unknowns,” concludes Jeff.


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