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Example of utilizing QUICCA: VOL. 7

To the management and executives of food factories,

Do you have to spend a lot of time handling food contamination incidents?

In this article, we would like to discuss how to respond to complaints regarding foreign body contamination. Consumer feedback in which a product has been found to be contaminated is usually communicated to the manufacturer via a retailer. If there is a slight suspicion that the contamination actually occurred somewhere in the manufacturer's production process, its Quality Assurance Department will immediately begin an internal investigation. We would like to explain how long it takes to investigate "whether an inspection was carried out correctly" and "the cause of foreign body contamination," which needs to be reported to business partners, and propose how to reduce the time it takes.

1. Checks whether product inspection was carried out correctly

heck whether product inspection was carried out correctly

Since the expiration date printed on the packaging of the returned item can be used to determine the date of manufacture of the item, employees in the Quality Assurance Department look for the inspection record for that day. Now, how long does this typically take?

(1) Retrieving and transcribing inspection records

Pick up the daily report binder from the shelf and search for the appropriate daily report based on the date of manufacture. It contains information such as the operator, product name, daily inspections, the number of defect judgments, and the presence or absence of errors in the inspection machine, so staff can verify that the inspection was performed using the correct procedure. After confirmation, copy and transcribe the daily report in order to prepare an additional report.

(2) Looking for the record of the sampling inspection

(3) Retrieving data (operation history, judgment record) stored in the inspection machine

Based on the operation history stored in the inspection machine, confirm that the inspection machine was operating normally. The judgment record will be used as a reference for a later investigation of the cause. The inspection data is often retrieved using the following procedure.

  • Go to the product inspection equipment on the production line and display the inspection history screen.
  • Insert a USB memory device to copy the inspection data.
  • Insert the USB device into an office PC and transfer the data.

Investigation work and time

Retrieving and transcribing handwritten inspection records (daily reports) 6-18 h
Looking for the sampling record inspection 1-2 h
Retrieving data stored in the inspection machine 2-4 h

It takes a long time to retrieve and transcribe handwritten inspection records (daily reports). Daily reports are filled out several times a day on-site, and there are multiple types of inspection machines, such as weight, foreign body and printing, so more than 10 daily reports are issued per line. This makes it hard to find a specific report.

2. Investigates the cause of foreign matter contamination

Investigates the cause of foreign matter contamination

The Quality Assurance Department then works with members of the Manufacturing Department to investigate what happened on the production line on the relevant day. The main purpose is to identify the actual process, time, and cause regarding entry of the foreign body into the product, but the investigation includes checking all judgment records from the inspection machine.

This is because if the inspection equipment detects a contaminant, it is not possible to completely deny the possibility that foreign substances were present in the products near the relevant product. In the case where metal fragments that peeled off from the equipment dropped intermittently onto the line, a PASS evaluation still could have been made depending on the size of the fragment involved. This kind of careful investigation increases the reliability of the report.

Investigation work and time

Extrapolating the process where the foreign matter contamination occurred 2-3 h
Investigating any defects in the production equipment 1-2 h
Interviewing with workers on site 1-2 h
Matching the reported foreign bodies to missing parts in the production line (*) 1-2 h
Checking all evaluation records from the inspection machine 12-48 h

(*) Outsourcing the research takes even more time.

As mentioned above, you can see that checking all the inspection records from the inspection machine takes a very long time. Cutting-edge inspection machines can record all of the evaluations on products in CSV (text), JPG (image), or other formats, but it is difficult for workers to read all of the inspection records, from the first to the last, for each lot. In particular, in the case of an X-ray inspection machine, multiple image processing filters work at the same time in a single scan and the correspondent product effect values are recorded, so the amount of data generated is often enormous.

  What is recorded for each product
Metal detector Product effect values and evaluation results (2-3 pieces of data)
X-ray inspection system Product effect values and evaluation results. Transmission images (About 10 pieces of data)

If the size of the production lot in which the contamination incident occurred is 10,000 items, the volume of inspection data from the X-ray inspection machine can total 100,000 items (= 10,000 x 10).

QUICCA will resolve your issue

3. QUICCA will resolve your issue

The report on the foreign body contamination incident is required to be submitted to business partners as soon as possible. QUICCA, Overall Quality Management and Control System, dramatically shortens the time required for "retrieving and transcribing daily reports" and "comprehensively checking all inspection records."

As explained in QUICCA utilization example Vol.1 "Would you like to promote paperless manufacturing?", by abandoning handwritten daily reports and introducing QUICCA, Overall Quality Management and Control System, you can easily output daily report data from multiple inspection machines while in the office. Not only does this save you time, but you also don't have to worry about hard-to-read handwriting or mis-transcriptions in your report anymore.

In addition, QUICCA's "Quality Analysis Option" provides powerful support for checking the entire volume of inspection data. This option reads a large number of inspection records on behalf of quality assurance personnel. For example, for each image processing filter, you can enter an arbitrary value for the product effect value so that only the inspection data that exceeds it will be instantly displayed on the PC screen. Attaching the target data and its transmission images to your report increases the reliability of the investigation results and makes it easier to obtain the understanding of your customers.

Effect value search window
Effect value Search window window

Working hours before and after the introduction of QUICCA

Work item Before the introduction After the introduction
Retrieving and transcribing handwritten daily reports 6-18 h 0.5 h
Checking all the records from the inspection machine 12-48 h 1 h

4. Whether the collection range can be narrowed down

If you have confirmed the presence of contamination that may cause a health hazard and decided to collect the relevant products from the market, you can reduce loss by narrowing down the collection range to only a suspicious time zone rather than removing all the products produced on the relevant day. In reality, however, making such a decision can be difficult.

Chilled products have a production time written on their package, so it is possible to collect them on a pallet-by-pallet basis according to the delivery records, but due to their short expiration date, consumers may eat them before the investigation results are obtained. In the case where the production time is not printed on the package, all products made on the relevant day at the very least should be collected.


"Food safety and security" has been a universal goal for many years. The amount of work and scope of monitoring by the Quality Assurance Department that promotes relevant activities toward this goal will continue to increase. In addition, advanced inspection equipment that can process multiple inspection items simultaneously is also becoming common. Higher quality control requires multifaceted information collection, but there are actual situations in which we do not know how to handle the ever-increasing amount of data. With QUICCA, you can use your limited time more efficiently by automating the storage and retrieval of quality records and the search for data that satisfy certain conditions.

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QUICCA usage example: List page >
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