As process engineers, we need to ensure we apply controls where it matters the most.
In the competitive world of industrial manufacturing we see lots of cases where having ultimate control of our process is not only desired, it's critical to brand identity, quality and traceability.
Ask any recipe/formulator how they feel when someone makes a slight “improvement” to their recipe once it is in production. Even a seemingly minor tweak like raising the temperature on a tank from 95 degrees to 98 degrees (“The faster I can heat this batch and transfer it, the sooner I can be done.”) can result in quality impacts that may be devastating to a brand. On a more serious note, the impact of making an unauthorized change to a controlled product in a regulated industry can introduce significant legal consequences.
Sometimes it's not just a process engineer but rather an entire team that needs to maintain control of the master recipe. In that case we also need to introduce a configurable procedural workflow that has dynamic paths and signoffs in order to create accountability and traceability. The challenge with team approvals becomes one of an efficient and enforceable workflow. Any controls need to maintain some flexibility so we don't become bogged down with long wait times.
The key is to remember why these controls are in place:
- 100% confidence that the recipe that is released to production is the agreed upon version.
- Assurance there is a record of when and who signed off on the recipe and that they are an authorized approver.
What would it look like?
In the latest release of FactoryTalk® Batch we have built in functionality to ensure that managing and releasing recipes can be done with ease while ensuring a consensus of all interested stakeholders.
We allow teams to approve recipes in a controlled environment. Furthermore, once a recipe is released to production, any revisions will revert directly back to the authorized approvers for signatures. In order to maintain flexibility we also have an expedited approval process that allows a super-user (user or group) to quickly approve and release a recipe to production. This helps keep production moving when required or for recipe testing. All of these approval processes and signoffs are part of the recipe information and “live” with the recipe.
Now the control freak in all of us can sleep at night knowing that the recipe in production matches what all stakeholders agreed upon.
If you would like to learn more about this feature and other manners in which Rockwell Automation is committed to the sustainability for our customers please visit our web site.