Treat Metrics such as OEE as Process Parameters

Food Processors create Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to better understand what is happening in their process. One of the most common, Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE),  combines measures of availability, throughput and quality to provide a more comprehensive understanding of equipment or production line performance. However, a single OEE value provides very limited manufacturing decision support. Companies often short change themselves by using OEE as an isolated value and not looking at the statistics and trends.

That is where process based analytics come to the rescue. By using SPC and treating OEE like any other process parameter, manufacturers can extract far more value from the monitoring process. With statistically-based trend analysis they can quickly identify the areas that fall short in quality, throughput or availability. 

By coupling OEE with SPC, process understanding becomes part of the manufacturing culture. Since this is a component of the Manufacturing Intelligence model, it sets companies on the path to state-of-the-art manufacturing process management and enables them to:

  • Apply SPC to automated OEE solutions – looking at a single KPI value adds little to process management capability, but using control charts and process capability analysis will enable the company to deliver world-class manufacturing;
  • Rapidly determine where improvement opportunities exist;
  • Focus oninformation, not data – data is the raw material; information provides the decision support that improves performance levels.

Our article, Combine OEE and SPC for Decision Support, discusses this manufacturing intelligence-based strategy and how to turn KPIs into effective real-time decision support.

Analyze the Audits for Better Compliance

Swabbing floor drainJohn Surak gave his webinar, “Applying Process-based Analytics to Audit Results for Process Management and Improvement” yesterday. The recorded presentation is now available for you   and the slide deck is available at SlideShare

An important takeaway is that using analytics on the audit findings and applying the results to your continuous improvement program is an excellent way to strengthen your FSMS. This implies better performance on subsequent audits and improved compliance with GFSI and ISO 22000 standards.

Can You Help With Audit Analytics Case Studies?

ISO 22000 requires the analysis of results of verification activities, and SQF and BRC require annual validation of the Food Safety Management System.  The analysis of the data for either of these two activities can be easily done using SPC. 

John Surak and I presented a poster on this topic at the IAFP annual meeting this summer (  ) and John will present a webinar on the topic, “Applying Process-based Analytics to Audit Results for Process Management and Improvement” on December 15, 2011 ( ) .

We are looking for additional data which to develop case studies which demonstrate the power of SPC based analytics in conducting verification activities in the food industry. If you wish to participate in the project contact John Surak at or Jeffery Cawley at

Process Control and the Food Safety Modernization Act

We have now had about 6 months to study the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This time has allowed some of the dust to settle. There are several more interesting parts to the act. One part includes the use of the word “verification,” which is mentioned 16 times. The big question is: How will the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) define verification for interpretation of the regulations? Verification can be defined in several ways.  The new regulations will require verification that the food safety system is working effectively. Finished product testing and environmental testing will be included in the verification process. These verification activities must be recorded, and the records must be made available to FDA upon request.

Read article in Food Safety

How to Apply Process-based Analytics to Audit Results

On August 1, John Surak and Jeff Cawley presented “Applying Process-based Analytics to Audit Results for Process Management and Improvement” at the International Association for Food Protection Annual Meeting. The Slide deck is attached

Operational audits and inspections play a critical role in assuring the effectiveness of the Food Safety Management System (FSMS).  To realize the maximum value and effectiveness for process management and improvement, key process indicators should be identified and plotted on control charts.  The control charts can then be assessed for trends, so actions can be taken before a food safety incident occurs. 

The proper linkage and operation of the FSMS components enables successful certification audits and gives confidence to Senior Management and other stakeholders that the plant has a robust food safety management system in place.  By applying process analytics such as SPC to sanitation data management can continuously monitor the FSMS performance.

Applying Process-based Analytics to Audits

Audit Analytics

audit analytics - swab sampleThe data gathered from food safety operational audits and inspections frequently goes no further than the summary report. The process information contained in this data can and should be used in continuous improvement programs.

On August 1, Dr. John Surak, Surak Associates, and Jeffery Cawley, NWA, will present “Applying Process-based Analytics to Audit Results for Process Management and Improvement” at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the International Association for Food Protection in Milwaukie, WI. The authors will be available for discussion at poster session P1-138 from 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM and 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM.

The presentation will examine how applying process analytics such as SPC to sanitation data provides more effective monitoring of the Food Safety Management System (FSMS) performance. This method also enables effective improvement of FSMS compliance capabilities.

The presentation is the latest in a series of studies on improving food safety by applying SPC and process improvement methods which began with the 1998 article, “Integrating HACCP and SPC”  and continued with such projects as ground beef purchase for the National School Lunch program (see Feast or Famine, “Food Safety in the Supply Chain“).

Using SPC methods to trigger preventative maintenance and prevent CCP violations

Reliable Plant online reprised one of their earlier articles, Why Trending is important to PdM. The author, Mark Latino, gave a case study describing how a machine maintenance technician used data trending to convince his supervisors that a machine needed preventative maintenance intervention.

I have looked at carrying this process a step further using SPC methods to provide us the signal alerts for preventative maintenance. The presentation was, “Integrating Preventative Maintenance Into HACCP” which I gave at the2005 IFT (Intitute of Food Technologists) Annual Conference. A write up based on the presentation is available on the NWA website as:  Using SPC methods to trigger preventative maintenance and prevent CCP violations .