Marketing Communications Manager
January 20, 2022
min read

An increasing number of food and pharmaceutical manufacturers have identified the digitization of their production floor as a means to increase profits, reduce waste and business risk. Digital processes replace existing paper-based quality, production and batch checklists by providing a different means of recording the same data.

Among small to medium-sized businesses, however, there seems to be the common misconception that digitization of the production floor involves changing existing paper-based processes to fit the digital system.

The contrary should be the case as a digital manufacturing system should be adaptable to the proven processes that are already in place. The actual process itself usually does not need to get changed if it is an established and well-running process.

So, by choosing the right digital system, food and pharmaceutical manufacturers can digitize their production and quality management without disruptions on the production floor.


What is a production process?

Production processes are the combination of all steps, tasks and workflows that manufacturing operators follow when they run a batch of a product. These include collecting, measuring and mixing the different ingredients through making and processing the product to packaging the final product for dispatch.

Separate site processes such as preventative maintenance or cleaning of equipment are usually part of the production as well.


Common paper-based production forms

Food and pharmaceutical manufacturers commonly use at least three different types of paperwork for their quality and production management:

·        Raw material inwards goods inspection forms

·        Product recipes

·        Production forms

Raw material inwards goods inspection forms

Manufacturers commonly check incoming raw materials and goods with the help of paper checklists that include recording the quantity, temperature, lot number and supplier name amongst others.

Product recipes

Manufacturing operators use these paper-based product recipe forms to record the different ingredients that are required for each batch run and to configure the exact amount of each ingredient based on the batch size.

Production forms

Operators use production forms on the production floor to capture different data during production, such as critical control point (CCP)checks (like temperature, pressure, dimensions, weight etc.), the batch number or the amount of the different ingredients that go into the product. Additional data captured varies from one manufacturer to another.


How to digitize your production processes

By digitizing your production processes with a manufacturing software solution, you simply create digital and interactive duplicates of the processes and paper forms that are already in place.

The following steps help you to digitize your existing paper-based production and quality management processes. However, before starting on your digital journey, this is a good opportunity to sense-check your existing paper processes to uncover potential improvements.


1.      Identify all paper-based production and quality processes

Start by identifying and listing all paper-based production and quality processes that are in place in your production facility. Make sure that you also determine all the different control and data capture steps and staff that are involved.

It is helpful to use an overview matrix to map out all processes, steps and operators. Analyze what data is collected on paper, e.g. quality checks of inwards goods, preventative maintenance tasks or calculating the bill of materials for a batch.

2.      Create a digital map of all processes for one SKU

As a second step, start digitizing your processes by process mapping for one selected SKU. You may choose a set of processes including all relevant forms for this specific SKU. The manufacturing software should enable you to create a digital twin of your existing paper processes by digitizing all identified fields and steps, including a digital bill of materials.

Keep a set of the identified forms for the chosen SKU and start digitizing all fields, steps and processes exactly as it is on these paper forms. Once the processes for the first SKU are confirmed, the manufacturing software should enable you to clone the SKU and adjust the bill of materials, processes, fields and steps.


3.      Get early buy-in from relevant stakeholders

Before starting with rolling out the manufacturing software on the production floor, get the buy-in from your shop-floor operators and other relevant stakeholders that will be working with the software. Change management in form of presenting the software and its advantages to the individual stakeholders that will be involved will facilitate the subsequent roll-out significantly.


4.       Run a pilot

You may want to set up a pilot project on a smaller scale, e.g. on one specific production line before rolling out the software on the entire production floor or across all your plants. The results help you leverage internal support for your digitization project.

A flexible cloud-based manufacturing solution without high up-front project and set-up costs makes it easier for you to initiate the digitization of your production floor.


The benefits of digitizing paper processes

Manufacturers agree that paper-based production and quality control is inefficient and prone to manual errors, which can lead to unnecessary waste, costly failed batches or even risky compliance issues. By capturing CCP checks in Excel sheets operators need to link various sheets, making it hard to find the right information quickly, for example.

By digitizing their production and compliance processes, manufacturers get full and live visibility on what happens on the production floor, eliminate waste, enhance traceability and even accelerate product release times.

Check out our ROI calculator to see how much you can save by digitizing your paper processes.

With the help of the iMonitor smart manufacturing software, you can easily design digital processes and manage your batch runs.

Contact us now to find out how you can increase efficiency and decrease costs with iMonitor.

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