Contributed by Kenny Strine, Quality Supervisor
I have a confession to make: even though I work in the natural foods industry, I am a Red Bull fanatic. Ask anyone in the office, I love my Red Bull. When I go to the convenience store to pick up “The Bull,” as I call it, I know that I am about to purchase a product that yields the same quality as the can previously purchased. In other words, I know what to expect when I purchase a Red Bull and I am never disappointed with the quality of their product; this is why my energy drink loyalty lies with them.
Quality is a function of brand loyalty because it adds a predictable outcome every time the product is purchased. Here at Fresca Foods, we strive for product consistency; so how do we do this? Good question! Let’s dive in a bit.
To achieve a predictable and consistent product consider implementing these 4 steps:
1. Define and Determine
2. Measure Variables and Set Limits
3. Create and Control
The first step is to define the quality attributes and determine the variables that affect those attributes. For example, if you produce an all-natural version of Red Bull and you determined that taste is an important quality attribute; you would ask yourself what variables impact the taste of your product.
The second step is to measure the variables that affect the attribute and set limits based on those measurements. The measurement step is critical because you need to understand what your process(es) can realistically tolerate and what limits are actually attainable. Using the all-natural energy drink example, you would measure the taste variables and determine a range of values that are considered a normal process state. Performing further data analysis will help determine a range of acceptable limits.
The third step involves creating Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and controlling the system by following those SOPs. An SOP contains instructions on how to perform and control the tasks that are within the process. Typically, an SOP contains information such as who is responsible for the tasks, the operating limits and how to troubleshoot common issues. To control these SOPs, your quality team will audit the process at key points to ensure that production methods are consistent with the SOPs. Your company can develop SOPs and quality checks to ensure that the variables measured in step 2 are within the established limits that were originally set.
The fourth and final step is to reevaluate the process. It is critical to revisit your process(es) and quickly determine if changes are needed. If new techniques or machinery are used in the system, it may be necessary to reevaluate your processing limits.
Following the steps discussed above will help you successfully build a system that allows for a predictable product that delivers consistent quality attributes … like Red Bull.