At MasterControl’s most recent customer conference, Wellington Foods President Tony Harnack weighed in on why quality is the key ingredient to success. Building quality into everything they do plays a large role in the company’s standing as a leading contract manufacturer of nutraceuticals. These are the insights he shared while providing a glimpse into how Wellington Foods has managed to thrive in an ever-changing market.
Harnack emphasized that quality has to be the top priority of any organization, because without it, everything else falls apart. For example, it’s possible to meet the right manufacturing metrics, but if the end result isn’t a high-quality product, then it won’t have a customer base. A lack of quality makes any other measurement of success a moot point.
“You can meet your manufacturing metrics or your overtime goals, but in the absence of quality, your customers aren’t going to buy your product. It’s the one ingredient that has to exist,” he said.
“We talk about the fact that organizations that prioritize margins and profitability at the expense of investment in their quality system end up achieving neither,” he said.
Harnack explained that a quality system is an important tool, but it also represents a company’s commitment to achieving quality throughout the organization and building a culture around it.
“A quality system is so much more than just testing a finished product at the end of the production line to make sure it meets specification. A quality system is a mindset and a company culture, and it’s reinforced by your executive leadership, and it touches every one of your departments. And it’s demonstrated by process control and consistency of ability to produce quality, excellent finished products over time,” he said.
About two years ago, Wellington Foods replaced error-prone paper batch records with electronic batch records (EBRs). By implementing EBRs, errors that would have traveled throughout the production cycle and slowed review times are reduced. Instead, quality is now embedded in their manufacturing processes, and the results have been significant:
He also noted that a digital solution helps to provide the information he needs to make important management decisions.
Wellington Foods has a complex manufacturing system that includes multi-day, multi-tiered batch records. Products sometimes have dozens of inventory inputs as well as hundreds of process checks. Quality is an integral part of these processes, which helps them navigate this high degree of complexity.
“The biggest challenge that we face with that amount of complexity is growth. Somewhere on every company’s list of goals is growth, as it is with us. So, if you take a complex manufacturing process and look to perform 10% or 20% more volume of transactions next year, the infrastructure has to be there to be able to support growth, and it becomes more challenging the more complex the system is,” he said.
In their case, Wellington Foods has the necessary infrastructure and feels confident about their ability to grow and meet market demand.
“The challenge with that complexity, specific to the quality system, is ‘How do we grow with it?’ And we feel like we have substantially addressed that concern through investment in technology, in our quality system.”
Harnack expressed his gratitude for quality professionals and said their work of being a voice for quality within the organization is crucial and unique.
“You have an ability to affect your organization in way that other departments don’t. Not only in terms of producing quality finished products that your customers love that make your shareholders happy and your executives happy – but (by) reducing chaos in your operation and making the lives of your coworkers better on a daily basis,” he said. “Thank you for what you do, and know that what you do is valuable and important.”
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