Hygiene in logistics of baby food - part II: Inspections
"As soon as we know that we will be producing for the Philippines, everything will be geared to the 'Philippines': the raw materials, the recipes, the packaging and the description provided with the product…" In the event, that a pallet of the wrong packaging materials is brought into the production chain, then, according to Stephan Kuehn, head of logistics, services and IT in Biessenhofen, "we will have a very slight problem".
For this reason, next to a very good planning the traceability of every working step is of particular importance - from the beginning to the end of the production chain. Every single step is documented, every process is scanned and saved. Thus, a jar is frequently compared with the original on its production pathway via live scan. If the slightest difference is detected, the inspectors must step into action.
Best quality due to inspections
In addition, in the case of clinical sip feed products packaged in glass bottles, the products are inspected by employees who examine the bottles to determine whether there is any material damage or if there are even glass splinters in the bottles. And even environmental samples are taken continuously in order to detect any possible contamination from the outside environment and remove it immediately.
Finally, it should also be noted that any damaged products are disposed of and not reused in any way. Again, this needs to be documented in detail. Stephan Kuhn describes with respect to the potential worst case: "We want to avoid that any jar labeled with the Nestlé brand containing impurities reaches the customer."
Reliable manufacturing process due to complex conveyors system
In this highly secured production process, almost everything is transported on conveyor belts and lift devices which run across the entire production line in multiple tracks. Switches control the flow of goods. An extremely complex system that needs to be monitored, just as all the elements that it transports.
Numerous Interroll components are installed in many hundreds of meters of conveyors, which run through the production halls. Because, as supply chain manager Kuehn says: "In these sensitive manufacturing processes, all individual elements have to be absolutely reliably around the clock, there is no room for failure."
There is an additional check at every switch, which constantly checks the current flow of products. Reliability, even at high speed, and unusual combinations are a prerequisite for the smooth operation of the system. For this scanner, photoelectric sensors and live video cameras are installed. Should a jar accidentally not be labeled in blue due to a specific color mixing, but rather in light blue, which makes it more difficult to read, it is immediately detected and removed.
Error prevention comes before troubleshooting
For Supply Chain Manager Kuehn, the biggest problem is the danger of mix-ups or incorrect labeling or documentation. The problem that a jar may tip over on the conveyor belt and thus disturb the transport routes is but "insignificant and daily routine." It is all about quick responses, "that is what we have our 'fire brigade' for". The malfunction must be eliminated immediately because it affects the entire process, up to the filling head, which continues to fill the baby food into the jar. That is why "error prevention comes before troubleshooting" is a maxim of the company, which is also why they continually check for potential production obstacles. What could happen and where could it happen?
Read more on the Nestlé case in part III: Innovation