Innere Medizin: Offener Zugang

Innere Medizin: Offener Zugang
Offener Zugang

ISSN: 2165-8048


Safer Foods, Lower Costs, Quicker Response

Richard J. Schonberger

In this mini-review I offer a few pertinent details from my full research article, “Packaged food industry wake up, your complex costly equipment extends lead times and hides pathogens” [1]. The article, and this review of it, point to serious deficiencies in how manufacturers of packaged foods configure and operate their factories. That sector ranges from the bottling and canning of soft drinks and beer to the forming and wrapping of candy bars to the grinding and packaging of spices. Market demand is generally very high, which seems to beg for a manufacturing model of highspeed production lines. At the same time, the make-up of those high volumes is diverse: high mixes of product flavors, package types and sizes, and customers from bulk wholesales to store-level consumers. In other words, the sector must be able to produce in outsized volumes but with high flexibility to cope with capacious variety. With few exceptions, producers have chosen unwisely to emulate a manufacturing mode prominent in some other sectors notably, automotive, that of high-volume flexible automation.

A known and proven alternative to that production mode deeply embedded in packaged foods is a set of methodologies that rely on segmentation of production into multiple product families, each dedicated to a narrow product family, greatly simplifying operations. This mode, attractively called flow manufacturing, also concurrent production, minimizes or eliminates causes of stoppages, lowers both fixed and variable costs, and reduces outbound inventories thus quickening customer responsiveness affording early discovery of serious quality issues and their causes, and forestalling product recall. Most of the sectors leading these flow/concurrent-production efforts have products for which product safety is important, but without the overriding concerns extant with products meant for ingestion into a living body. Thus, the flow manufacturing mode must be seen as of greater import in packaged foods than in the other industries for which the methodology is well tested and implemented. In this article, I review key details of the flow/concurrent production, and its high applicability to packaged foods, with the hope that exposure to this information will help stimulate foods manufacturers to learn and press forward toward implementation.