• The Neogen Analytics system unifies workflow and data management. Colour-coded test points enable a plant assessment at a glance.
    The Neogen Analytics system unifies workflow and data management. Colour-coded test points enable a plant assessment at a glance.
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For many manufacturers, food safety is a necessary cost centre they want to spend as little as possible on while still satisfying regulatory compliance. Troy Gosetti, a product specialist with global food safety company Neogen, explains how a different approach – using advanced workflow and analytics technology – can lead to greater ROI.

Food safety issues can affect a business in multiple ways, but people in food safety roles who are expected to meet certain Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) often feel pressure to keep expenses as low as possible, so only look to the cheapest option.

But that narrow focus is costing companies real money.

Wastage

One of the most direct impacts of food safety is wastage. It is estimated up to one third of all food manufactured is scrapped, much of this due to preventable food safety and quality issues.

On a production line, delays in discovering critical issues only serve to compound the problem. The later issues are discovered, the more waste is produced. Rapidly identifying and responding to food safety issues is paramount to reducing wastage costs.

Disruption

In addition to the initial waste, another costly impact comes from disruption. When a pathogen is found to be present within a production environment, a series of corrective actions must be launched. As corrective actions are being deployed, disruption to production is an almost certain result.

The accumulation of downtime over a year can be staggering. Research has found some manufacturers were losing 500 hours annually due to food safety issues, with overall costs estimated to be around $20,000 to $30,000 per hour.

While not everyone operates on that scale, it is easy to see why having the ability to reduce production downtime is important. Eliminating a few delayed starts or unplanned re-cleaning instances can result in significant financial gains.

A business that can recover just one hour of unnecessary downtime a week can save up to $1.5 million per year.

It makes a strong case that investing in a robust and reliable food safety management system is an investment that will pay for itself and then some. The key is having the right system for specific requirements.

EMPs

Environmental monitoring programs (EMPs) are a standard part of a modern food or beverage production line. They verify that cleaning and sanitation are effective and result in food production environments that produce food safely, free of pathogens, bacteria, and other contaminants.

But many have a critical shortcoming in not being able to provide quick access to the information and data needed to reduce reaction times.

Many EMPs are managed via a weekly reporting process that collects data from texting activity and then aggregates, analyses, and reports on it. Often, this information management is done using paper and spreadsheet files.

The pace of this process means several days of production can be at risk of being scrapped if the weekly review process finds pathogen and bacterial contamination has occurred.

The need for incremental visibility to relevant data needs to be accelerated to near real-time raises its own challenges. With thousands of tests occurring during an ever-moving production schedule, how can food safety and production teams keep pace?

Automated EMP systems enable the realisation of this goal. An automated solution means the data drives alerts and points to issues as they are discovered, outperforming the increasingly outdated weekly reporting and analysis cycle.

Tailored rules are defined for a production line, which trigger the system to analyse diagnostic results data. Any time a value is out of range or outside the rules (such as a positive diagnostic finding for a pathogen, or a bacterial count above acceptable ranges), the system automatically alerts stakeholders. This near real-time reaction means the affected product is identified and quarantined before an entire production run is wasted.

Automating common processes such as scheduling tests or initiating corrective actions reduces the number of manual steps required for compliance. Not only does this make compliance easier and more efficient, it also increases consistency and reduces the time it takes to respond.

To realise the full potential of the technology, EMP data can be fed into an analytics program that allows food safety professionals to discover the root causes and trends that lead to issues in the first place. It enables businesses to be more proactive and head off issues before they cause production delays and shutdowns.

The Neogen Analytics system unifies workflow and data management for food safety, quality, and sanitation. Colour-coded test points on the floor plan enables a visual assessment on the state of the plant at a glance.

Generating schedules to support the company’s environmental testing plan is made easier because all testing and corrective action data is in one spot. It can also be filtered to supply only the data needed for a specific audit in minutes.

The future of food safety is obvious. This capability of being able to see a pattern emerging that could cause costly delays in production, and therefore be able to stop the line before it does, is the obvious future or food safety.

Acquisition and growth

Just over a year ago, Neogen acquired 3M Food Safety and expanded its product range to protect and enhance all stages of food and beverage manufacturing.

Its environmental monitoring and analytic solutions include Clean-Trace, AccuPoint, and Neogen Analytics systems, which can be customised to meet specific manufacturing needs with easy-to-use proactive management tools.

Forward-thinking food brands and ingredients producers around the world are already realising the ROI benefits that come from the adoption of workflow automation, data gathering, and advanced analytics capabilities. 

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