Real-time data for process control in food manufacturing

Real-time data for process control in food manufacturing

Most companies log data. Only the best use it to their competitive advantage. Here's how the right tools can transform your data into a clear and profitable course of action. 

You don’t want to collect data. You want to see it.

You want it to flow in real time so you can use it to fix your process.

As one food manufacturer learned, you don’t have to instrument every part of your process to begin to reap the benefits of “Industry 4.0.” Here are five ways to gain competitive advantage from real-time visibility into your process.

  1. Put a price on “hidden work.” Data reveals what your process actually is—and what your inefficiencies cost you. One of our customers had to meet a safety spec with his dried product. When the product didn’t meet the spec, he would re-process.  Over time, this short-term solution became routine. Data exposed the cost of this practice: hundreds of thousands of dollars each month.
  2. Pick one thing. Instead of trying to address multiple problems, choose a single target with solid potential ROI. This customer created a simple process control chart based on data he was already collecting. By automating his data collection, he could monitor drying in near-real time.
  3. Choose the right measurement. Your success depends not on the VOLUME of data, but the VALUE of the data. In this case, water activity was our customer’s CCP and also an effective measure of drying. He needed to correlate water activity to ambient conditions and drying temperatures.
  4. Take the data to the people who understand it. Our customer’s quality department had always measured water activity, but it warehoused that data. When the data needed to be analyzed, the customer would employ several people to enter the data into Excel for analysis. By automating data collection, this customer could continue to have quality start the measurements and then have those readings delivered digitally to live process control monitors in the production area. This put actionable information in front of the people who understood it best.
  5. Stop hypothesizing. Collect and check. As production became owners of the process control chart, they could measure the effect of process adjustments immediately. Process improvements were tested and refined with input from both operations and production leads. The customer eliminated a significant amount of “hidden work” by taking action in time to make sure the product would meet spec on the first pass.

Process control: made easier with water activity

This 20-minute webinar, “Water Activity and FSMA”, shows how water activity works in HARPC risk-based preventive programs to prevent microbial growth.


-How water activity predicts microbial safety (and why moisture content doesn’t)

-Why water activity is an ideal preventive control

-When and how to use water activity measurements

-Where to find “scientific proof” for the validity of water activity as a preventive control


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