How Food Manufacturing Efficiency Is Immediately Improved When You Go Paperless

The factory of the future will run on data. In the last few years, data has proved to be the most valuable asset for businesses. Smart manufacturing is the way forward for food manufacturers as they grapple with fierce competition, an increasing burden of compliances, and rising consumer demands. The smart factory has a lean and efficient shop floor with interconnected machines and operators with access to real-time information on production output, energy use, and other operational data points.

But the first step food manufacturers must take to achieve food manufacturing efficiency is to move to paperless operations, replacing paper-based processes in every workflow, from order management to processing, packaging, distribution and warehousing, all the way to customer support. During the pandemic, many food manufacturers took the leap to digitize documents to deal with logistical problems, staff shortages and digital payments. They achieved benefits ranging from simplified workflows, higher productivity and better control on product quality. Early wins in paperless manufacturing have spurred the paperless revolutions in the food industry.

NEW GUIDE: How to become a paperless company in 90 days (11)

How paperless operations improve food manufacturing efficiency 

#1 Reduce errors, improve accuracy

Paper-intensive processes are prone to human errors. For example, documents can get lost or delayed in transit. Manual data entry is time-consuming and painfully slow. Automatic data capture and real-time data sharing reduce errors, allowing shop floor managers to make data-driven decisions without time-consuming validations and manual interventions.

Whether you have handwritten goods receipt notes or typed invoices, DRS offers intelligent character recognition (ICR), optical character recognition (OCR), and optical mark recognition technologies to capture information accurately and automatically.

#2 Spot and fix plant problems quicker

Operational data and real-time analysis help manufacturers spot problems on the shop floor quicker—allowing them to find a solution faster and accelerate their time-to-resolution to minimize overall impact. This can dramatically reduce waste and production. 

Document digitization helps make real-time information shareable. For example, a content management system makes information related to standard operating procedures, quality standards, and compliances available instantly for food processing plants, improving efficiency. 

DRS offers food manufacturing companies a comprehensive document management solution, called Mercury. 

Mercury ECM helps food processing plants define policies, auto-classify documents, and retain the most updated version of documents. It manages documents throughout their lifecycle—from capture and classification to archival or deletion.

#3 Speed up processes with data

When manufacturing and processing plant data is digitized and automatically shared in a central database like a cloud storage solution, it becomes available in real-time to other machines and operators in the plant’s workflow. It removes bottlenecks, speeds up processes, and constantly monitors adherence to SOPs. You can modify processes on the shop floor to optimize production output using the available production data, quality check reports, or timesheets.

#4 Enhance worker productivity

Manual processes are inherently slow. For example, when shop floor operators work with paper, they spend precious time and energy moving from station to station on the production floor, checking lists and labels, filling QC forms, or hand-transcribing numbers. Technology solutions with automated processes and cloud-based document management and storage improve worker productivity.

#5 Maintain consistency in quality

Eliminating paper improves the ability to maintain consistent quality, focusing on manufacturing efficiency improvements and safety. It prevents loss of reputation for the brand and shift in brand loyalty (which consumers inevitably make when product quality suffers.) A drop in the quality of food products will immediately hurt your brand as health-conscious consumers demand accountability for product quality.

#6 Easier compliance with regulations

Food safety regulations are becoming stiffer, and information gaps due to slow paper processes create weak compliance for manufacturers. As per the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), food products must comply with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) standards. This includes manufacturing processes related to sourcing materials, packaging and labeling, which depend on extensive documentation. An ECM solution makes specific information immediately searchable through a database rather than wading through stacks of paper.

#7 Improve traceability

Digitization, automated data extraction, and cloud-based storage ensure end-to-end visibility and batch traceability at the shop floor level. The ability to electronically track and trace information such as date of manufacture, expiry dates, ingredients, allergy information, calorific information helps deal with any quality issues.

#8 Manage human resources more efficiently

Technology enhances reporting for shop floor worker shifts and changeovers. When data such as staff attendance, worker productivity and QC checks per shift is tracked, managers can work to improve KPIs. It helps staff log completed tasks digitally, check their real-time status, and view outstanding items without tedious paperwork.

Going paperless eliminates manual paper-based tasks and frees up employee time to focus on mission-critical tasks.

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DRS: Technology solutions that improve food manufacturing efficiency

Speak with the digital transformation experts at DRS for our Digital Process Automation solutions to make your food manufacturing processes seamless and efficient. 

Find out more about our document digitization services and Intelligent Data Capture solution. We assist you in facing the typical challenges in food processing facilities, such as improving traceability, accuracy and compliance.

We help organizations optimize their operational processes, organize and share content in the form of digitized data and documents, and leverage automation to improve customer and employee experience.

Contact DRS for transformative solutions to improve food manufacturing efficiency.