What is the role of quality in CPG manufacturing? The short – textbook – answer is that quality streamlines the production process and ensures finished goods meet or exceed the company’s quality standards.
The driving objectives of quality are:
Reducing manufacturing non-conformances.
According to Dan Jacob, a former principal analyst at LNS Research, it’s clear that the traditional role of quality lies in managing costs.
“It’s a cost center versus a value center and focused on compliance rather than innovation,” Jacob explained. “Of course, quality does need to ensure compliance and improve operational and financial performance, but can quality also be an innovation leader?”
But, as Jacob suggests, quality can be so much more than a cost-containment center. Quality can also be a powerful driver of innovation in any organization.
In fact, Jacob argues that quality already plays a role in innovation, with small steps every day. Every line failure, each rejected shipment, and every Corrective Action Report (CAR) serves to improve operations. Cumulatively, these small improvements, over time, lead to operational innovations that add up to a whole that’s greater than the sum of the parts.
Jacob insists that customer complaints – a fundamental quality management process – are an untapped well of innovation.
“Customer complaint volume is the most widely tracked quality metric, and a common outcome of the customer complaint process and metrics are corrective actions,” Jacob said.
Listening to consumer feedback about food, beverages, and dietary supplements, especially the negative feedback, can also help drive innovation.
“Customer complaints aren’t just complaints – they’re innovation gold,” Jacob said. “When you monitor complaints, are you just fixing problems, or are you mining for your next innovation? And when you’re done with complaints, take a close look at non-conformances, supplier quality, audits, and so on.”
Consumer expectations for product quality have never been higher, and the pressure from competitors squeezes already tight profit margins while demanding a quicker time to market for new products. Food, beverage, and dietary supplements makers must deliver better products faster and cheaper than they did last year. No one disagrees that quality teams play the most pivotal role in safeguarding product safety and consumer satisfaction, but essential risk management efforts can act as a drag on innovation.
Quality professionals can overcome this with a proactive, inclusive strategy and the latest tools. By exploiting the unmined data in regulatory documents – and the data pulled from the plant floor – quality departments can inform new product development, building a stronger foundation for continuous innovation.
Bimbo QSR Vice President of Quality Systems Mike LaBosky is a big believer that quality has a more significant part to play in product innovation.
“This past year’s been a challenge with the pandemic affecting global operations, but our customers’ expectations around quality, compliant products remained unchanged,” LaBosky explained.
Hear more during our on-demand webinar with Mike LaBosky where he shares thoughts and experiences on how quality systems facilitates a multi-functional approach in Bimbo-QSR’s NPD process. Learn how to connect departments for process improvement, team collaboration, and product innovation. Watch it here.