I wish I had a DIGITAL Batch report!!
Digital batch reports provide significant benefits: it’s faster, simpler, more complete and more reliable. But how do you make this happen?
Batch reports become more and more important in the food industry. After all, it includes an overview of all quality control records, production checks, and production data of a batch.
Many food manufacturers still work with paper-based records or pdf files to record their quality tests and production checks. This means that batch release and complaint investigations require a lot of manual work.
Often, the Batch record consists of a pile of paper as thick as thirty pages or more. It usually consists of a combination of different records from different origins. A set of paper-based records for operator checks, export files from a weighing scale and other in-line instruments, and an export file with process settings and actual values.
So, with this set op papers, the quality department has to decide whether a production batch is compliant and can safely be released. Or they need this set of papers to figure out what could be the reason for a complaint. Or it’s the technologist who, on the basis of such a paper-based batch report, tries to come to a sensible conclusion as to why one batch is good and another is not. No one in the food industry is surprised about the amount of paper-based records and export files. And, of course, nobody is happy about it.
But that time is over. There is a better way. The information on paper-based records is often not entirely reliable anyway, sometimes incomplete, difficult to read and not clear enough. And the registrations cost the people on the work floor an unnecessary amount of time. Time that they could better spend on monitoring and improving the production process.
Actually, such a batch report is a good indicator of how far your factory has progressed on the path to digitization. Because, if your factory has digitalized, you no longer need a printed paper-based batch report. Then you have an information system where all information comes together automatically. Where you can see every deviation immediately, together with trending and analysis functions. That’s faster, more reliable, more complete and better.
So, how to get from a paper-based batch report to digital batch summary?
First back to basics: in a batch report you have all the information together that relates to a particular production batch. This includes product quality test results from raw materials, intermediates and finished product. It also includes QA checks to ensure hygiene and product safety, and cleaning data (CIP). Next to this it includes operator start-up checks, hourly checks and in-process measurements. And, of course, it includes process control data (especially CCP’s – Critical Control Parameters), like temperatures and residence time. And still the list is not complete. The batch reports also includes in-line measurements from the control system, such as dosages, weights, vision system data, etc.
In short: everything that has been checked, registered and recorded about how this batch came about.
So it’s a mix of all kinds of data recorded in different systems. In the lab, the measurements are usually recorded in a LIMS system (laboratory information system), or a quality module of the ERP (business) system. And sometimes even in Excel.
The data from the process control system is often logged in SCADA or in a historian process database. Operators fill out forms with startup checks and hourly checks. Also, operators might record in-process quality control test-results in Excel or in a MES (manufacturing execution) system. Production measurement devices, like weighing scales and vision systems often have a database of its own.
In other words: the data needed for a batch report comes from many different systems. So how do you get a handy overview of all the information that is recorded in these systems about a particular batch: a digital batch report?
A first step is often to unlock data from the process control systems. The HAI software has standard connectors for reading data from the PLC/SCADA system or historian. This automatically provides you with a large portion of the information required for batch registration. This means that you already have an important part of your digital batch report.
This approach has another advantage: it’s no longer necessary for operators to keep manual records of process data. Examples are start-/finish time-stamps, regular checks on temperature, line-speed, flow, etc. After all, these data are now automatically stored in the HAI database.
Once your team experiences the power and convenience of having the process records in the HAI database, it will taste like more. Not only will they have easy access to their process data, they will also be interested to read data from other systems as well. Whether this concerns data from the lab, from ERP or from, for example, weighing scales.
No matter how you slice it, there will always remain some measurements or records that cannot be read from a database. Think of organoleptic inspections, QA inspections, start-up checks, etc. You can easily set up handy input screens for these in the HAI software. In this way the manual checks also automatically become part of the total batch registration.
Now you have all the information from the manual registrations and the automatically collected data together in one database. Information about the raw materials, dosages, process conditions, faults, line speed, operator controls, end product quality, etc. A great basis for a digital batch report!
In real-time dashboards you now monitor all records and measurements on the current batch and whether these measurements are “within-spec”. You can even see to what extent the current batch is developing in line with the so-called Golden Batch.
Trends on process conditions and product quality also run in real-time. This is useful for operators, lab technicians and technologists. And all historical data about previously produced batches can easily be found, with all the associated information.
No more paper reports! And certainly no more thirty pages per batch!
Want to know more about digitalization in production in the food industry? Read more at: Food & Beverage Industry – HAI Smart4Industries
Interested in more best practices of smart use of factory data, especially in the Food Industry?
Get inspired by successes of others when it comes to OEE, quality, positive release, golden batch, CIP-cleaning, operator support, factory data anaytics, in-line measurements, factory dashboards… and much more.
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