The challenge of inevitable change
We’ve all heard the saying, “the only constant in life is change.” This adage is certainly true regarding food manufacturing facilities. Change is a given in food manufacturing operations. What’s not a given is how we manage that change. The challenge in managing change in food manufacturing is controlling the implementation and documentation of changes.
In today’s environment of increased regulations and complex customer expectations, managing changes effectively is vital. Processes to control changes must be thorough enough to guide modifications, but not so overbearing that changes become impossible to implement. Changes in a food manufacturing facility occur in many ways and for multiple reasons. A few examples include:
- Installation of new manufacturing equipment
- Repairing or modifying current equipment
- New product lines or category types
- Facility layout
- Formulation changes
- Introduction of a new allergen to a line or facility
- Changes in regulatory requirements
- And yes, even a pandemic
Managing fruitful outcomes
Here at Tree Top we use a systematic approach to dealing with organizational change called Management of Change (MOC). The goal of this approach is to safeguard products and processes during any crucial period of transition.
A successful MOC program establishes a clearly defined MOC team, comprised of those who possess appropriate expertise. Of course, well defined methods, procedures and approval processes will help to guide this team to a fruitful implementation of a given change.
Successful changes occur when tasks in the change process are clearly defined and completed in a timely and thorough manner. Ensuring all changes have documentation and transparency is also crucial. If problems arise during a change, a successful MOC program will direct the team to possible solutions. On the other hand, a task that is not managed or controlled appropriately may not be easily addressed or even noticed during the change implementation.
Once the implementation of a change is complete, the next step is to ensure that all peripheral tasks are complete, as well, such as customer notifications, product testing, regulatory updates, label revisions, etc. Then a final review by the MOC team and upper management confirms the change was made successfully.
When the final notifications and reviews of a process change are done, it may seem as if the finish line is crossed. But it’s not. That’s because the most important aspect of a successful MOC program is the storage and accessibility of the change documentation. It’s useless to implement a change, successful or not, if there’s no ability to refer to the data connected to that change weeks, months, or years down the road. Easy access to change documents provides a basis for additional alterations and/or ensures unsuccessful changes are not repeated.
Tree Top employs a software module that thoroughly allows for the workflow and the storage of change documentation through our MOC program. Controlling and managing changes is an essential part of continuous improvement here at Tree Top. We are committed to making the highest quality products by ensuring their food safety as we continually improve our processes and facilities.
If you’d like to learn more about our MOC program or have any food safety questions, please ask our quality team. Contact us.