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Stay tuned with Stevens blog to get the latest news about traceability system and industry updates.

Coronavirus Preparations and Product Supply

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Customer Notice

Many businesses are concerned about the potential impact that the coronavirus is having and how it may impact business and our customer service.

Stevens is continually monitoring the situation and taking advice from government websites as the Coronavirus situation escalates.

For peace of mind, it’s business as usual.

Here are the plans we have in place to ensure we continue to provide the best service to customers:

  1. Mobile Phones and Laptops – Many of our staff have mobile phones, laptops and access to our network and can operate remotely should there be a requirement to self-quarantine to minimise transfer from person to person.
  2. Cloud – our customer service systems operate in the cloud and can be accessed from anywhere by authorised personnel. We also use Office 365 for email and data storage and so can continue to work regardless of location.
  3. IT Equipment and Infrastructure– we have equipped the majority of our people, so they can work remotely and securely with modern devices (mobile and laptop) and upgraded our security infrastructure to cope with the demand of a large number of our people working remotely and to ensure this can be done securely.

Service and product supplies

We are in regular contact with our main suppliers to see if, and how the equipment we purchase, and manufacture are affected should there be a long-protracted impact of the coronavirus.

Currently, supplies are largely unaffected. No one knows how bad the situation will get and we will do everything we can to minimise any disruption to our operation, staff, and customers. Should supplies be on shortage we will look for available shortages and communicate options as required.

Average Weight Requirements Explained

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Average weight is a complex topic that can be difficult to understand, so for that reason, we have devised this blog to explain what it is and if it applies to your business.

If you produce and sell packed food products based on weight, it is a legislative requirement to adhere to the Weights and Measures Act enforced by Trading Standards.  The act dictates requirements on units of measurement, specified quantities, packed goods, equipment and records and labelling of packaged goods. Find out more about average weight legislation here.

In this blog, we will focus on packed goods, weighing equipment, and records because this is where our expertise lies.

When selling packaged food products such as rice, meat or soup (based on weight or volume), the product must be packed using the minimum system or the average system.

What is the Minimum System?

Using the minimum system, you can pack the products in accordance with the declared weight on the label, however, the weight of the product can be MORE, but NOT less, than the declared weight using this system. The minimum system is likely to be used in an environment where a low volume of product is produced because each packed product is weighed and checked individually, ensuring it meets the declared weight, however, using this system can result in more giveaway.

What is the Average System?

Using the average system, products must be packed to an average measurement which can be calculated using sampling.

Sampling = a sample of products weighed from a batch. Trading Standards will stipulate the method and frequency of sampling for your business.

When using the Average System, you must also adhere to the Three Packers Rules (explained below).

Manual sampling can be labour intensive, and records must be kept to evidence due diligence. In some instances, an average weight system is used to speed up the process and to eradicate any potential issues caused by human error. In larger manufacturing environments an in-line checkweigher is used to adhere to average weight legislation, which weighs all products within a batch.

Click to view Inline Checkweighers

The Three Packers Rules

Rule 1 – The average weight of a batch must meet or exceed the target (nominal) weight of the batch.

The average weight of products within a batch needs to be the same, or greater, than the declared weight on the packaging (known as the nominal weight).

For this, you need to add up all the weights of the sample products and then divide the total weight by the number of samples, this gives you the average weight of the batch.

Example:  500 grams, 498 grams, 501 grams = 1499 grams divide by 3 = 499 grams (average weight)

Before we explain Rule 2 and 3, you need to understand TNE (Tolerable Negative Error).

What is tolerable negative error?

When weighing packaged food products, they must not be less, on average, than the weight declared on the label.

As per the table below, a small number of packaged products CAN fall below a certain margin of error, the tolerable negative error (TNE), and no package can be underweight by more than twice the TNE.

T1 = 1x the TNE

T2 = 2x the TNE

Source: The Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 2006: Guidance

 

Rule 2 – There must be no more than 2.5% of significantly underweight samples/weights (T1 samples).

The second three packers’ rule stipulates that a batch must not have more than 2.5% (or 1 in 40) T1’s in a batch.

The table above allows you to calculate the TNE based on the nominal (declared) weight of your packed product.

Example. Product A = 800 grams, Tolerable Negative Error (TNE) = 15 grams

Rule 3 – There must be no extremely underweight samples at all (T2 samples).

The third rule stipulates that there must be no underweight (T2) samples in your batch. To calculate your T2, it’s simply your TNE x2. So, in this example = 30 grams.

Putting this into context, here is an example:

In this example, the dots represent individual products from a batch that have been weighed. The nominal weight (declared weight) is 800 grams, therefore the T1 is 785 grams and the T2 is 770 grams.

All the dots in green and yellow are acceptable weights in this batch because they are either over or under the nominal weight, but within the T1 boundary (Rule 1 and 2).

The dot in red is an example of a failed batch because the product is extremely underweight (falling into the T2 category).

In order to satisfy average weight legislation, you must provide evidence that your batches pass the three packers’ rules. This can be done manually by paper or electronically using an average weight system.

What is the e mark?

The e mark printed on product packaging determines that the product is packed to average weight legislation.

Average Weight Records

You must keep records of your sample batches for a minimum of one year based on the date the packet is shipped or the ‘use by’ date, whichever is shorter. These records must show that the Three Packers Rules have been met.

Weighing Equipment

Additionally, you must ensure the equipment you use is suitable to meet Trading Standards’ requirements, for example, a domestic scale would not be suitable, the scale you use must be Trade Approved and stamped accordingly.  Trading Standards will check the weights and measures of your goods on your production line.

Click to view Average Weight System

Stevens Traceability has devised an average weight system giving manufacturers a tool that removes manual paperwork, encompasses the three packers’ rules, and produces electronic reports at the touch of a button. The system enables you to show due diligence when it comes to average weight. Click here for more information or call 01254 685200 to discuss.

Supporting the Community on World of Work Day

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On the 13th of February 2020, Service Engineer Martin Webster went back to school for the day to explain engineering and weighing to children at Crookston Castle Primary School in Glasgow.

When asked, Martin was happy to help out on World of Work Day, showing over a hundred children what he does for living which includes the servicing, repair, and calibrations of weighing equipment at manufacturing sites across Scotland. Martin said;

It was great to be involved and a fun day was had by all.

Photo Credit: @crookstoncastle

3 internal promotions to kick start 2020

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Continually evolving and making improvements to our products and services is a key objective for Stevens, which is driven by the hardworking team we have in place. As we start a new year, some changes to the team structure have been made to drive the business forward satisfying our customers’ and market needs.

Keith Williamson has been promoted to Head of Sales. Keith has a fantastic success rate with our customers for providing them with the best traceability and weighing solution for their business needs, and that teamed with his extensive experience in senior sales roles made him the ideal person for the role.

For the second time in less than twelve months, Jay Meadows has received his second promotion becoming Head of Product Management. Jay will manage and drive developments in the Stevens product portfolio including all hardware and software.

Craig Burgess has worked as a Technical Project Manager for several years at Stevens, ensuring systems are installed at customer sites and supporting customers technically with any system changes they have. His knowledge of the Stevens software is second to none, and it’s for this reason he has been promoted to Product Manager for Software.

We’re delighted to see three of our team members promoted within the company and look forward to the ideas and improvements they will bring.

UKAS Calibration Explained

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What is UKAS?

UKAS is an abbreviation for United Kingdom Accreditation Service and is the only accredited body that is authorised to assess the competence and ability of organisations who provide certification for testing, inspection and calibration services.

UKAS approved organisations like Stevens Traceability must undergo a long and tough process to become accredited, this includes having management, policies, and processes in place, together with passing an assessment of competence. The reason for such a strict assessment process is to ensure that UKAS accredited bodies provide customers with a high level of service with the assurance of best practice.

What does UKAS cover?

UKAS accreditation covers a broad range of calibration activities including:

  • Temperature and Humidity
  • Pressure, Vacuum, and Flow
  • Optical
  • Electrical Calibration
  • Radiological Calibration
  • Accelerometry
  • Magnetics
  • Acoustics
  • Density
  • Dimensional
  • Force
  • Hardness
  • Mass
  • Volume
  • Torque

At Stevens Traceability we specialise in calibration of non-automatic weighing machines.

Why have UKAS calibration?

Achieve compliance, cost savings, and quality

Carrying out UKAS Calibration determines measurement equipment performance as part of a robust quality control system. With routine equipment UKAS calibration and adjustment, you can measure safely, ensure compliance and avoid the costs of inaccurate measurements.

Why UKAS?

The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the only authorised body that can assess a company’s compliance to ISO17025:2017 and award accreditation status.  ISO17025 is the international standard that defines what is required of a laboratory to demonstrate the technical competence of its personnel.  It also requires the availability of all technical resources necessary to produce reliable data and results for a defined set of tests, measurements or calibrations.

The key benefits are:

  • Organisations can save time and money by selecting an accredited and therefore a competent supplier.
  • Accredited organisations carry out reliable measurements, tests, and inspections in accordance with best practices in or to limit product failure and reduce downtime and control manufacturing costs.
  • Accreditation to internationally-recognised standards can provide a competitive advantage and facilitate access to export markets within the EU and beyond. (see international system)
  • Using an accredited body to carry out an independent evaluation helps demonstrate due diligence in the event of legal action.

Stevens Traceability provides nationwide UKAS and BSI accredited on-site service and support including standard and UKAS calibrations. If you’d like to discuss your calibration needs, please get in touch with our service team on 01254 685200.

Stevens makes three new appointments

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Stevens Traceability is delighted to appoint three new members to the growing team, with two of them being familiar faces.

Ian Hogg joins the sales division as Area Sales Manager for Scotland; however, this isn’t the first time Ian has worked for Stevens. Ian previously worked for the company for over 12 years and has a vast amount of experience in weighing and traceability. It’s great to have him back.

Anthony Howley ‘Tony’ also joins the sales division having worked in bakeries and general food industry for the last 5 years, with over 30 years’ experience in allied industries. Tony has been appointed Area Sales Manager in the North, looking after customers from the North East down to Leicestershire, across to North Wales.

Tom Dignan is a familiar face to Stevens as he previously worked as an IT Systems Specialist at one of Stevens’ long-standing customers, Paterson Arran. Tom joins Stevens as a Software Specialist with his advanced experience of the Stevens end-to-end traceability system. Tom will work with customers to help them get the most from their Stevens system.

Welcome to the team guys!

BRC Grade AA

Food Manufacturer gains Grade AA in audit thanks to help from Stevens

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Stevens Traceability was delighted to receive this customer feedback on our return to the office after the festive period:
“Firstly Chris, please let me extend my gratitude to you and Jonathan for your help last week, I’m sure Paul has said but getting that print out at the last minute took our grade from a B to an AA. A grade B would have been devastating for the business as many customers do not want to trade with people under a grade A, so thank you so much.”
Our customer who makes prepared meals contacted Stevens Traceability on the day of their BRC audit in December.  Unfortunately, on the day of the audit, their computer broke meaning they were unable to access the reports they needed for the auditor. A call was made to the Stevens support team, where Jonathan Willock, Software Support Engineer, assisted the customers’ IT provider giving them access to the Stevens database so the reports could be provided, all of which took place one hour before the auditor left the customer site. Naeem Ugradar, Head of Support said “We understand the importance of audits for our customers and will always do our utmost to deal with customer support issues in good-time under our SLAs. On this occasion, we knew that without the Stevens reports it would have a detrimental impact on our customers’ audit, so we were happy to help.”

Introducing a quality management system into your bakery

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Introducing a quality management system into your bakery can be a daunting task and understanding whether the investment would be worthwhile is a conundrum that many bakers face. In this blog, we present you with relevant information to help with your research into quality management systems for your bakery.

What is a quality management system?

A quality management system (QMS) is a collection of business processes focused on consistently meeting customer requirements and enhancing their satisfaction. (Wikipedia) It is generally driven by the business’ strategy and includes the business’ goals and aspirations and includes policies, processes, documented information, and resources, needed to implement and maintain the system.  

Why is a quality management system needed?

Quality management systems allow bakeries to ensure food safety and quality products from their production facility, as well as prevent liability claims and build and maintain customer trust whether that be with consumers or outlets who resell your products.

One size does not fit all

When it comes to quality management systems there is not a one size fits all system. Within the bakery sector, there are different ways of managing food production quality, which is outlined below:
  • HACCP
HACCP uses a systematic approach to guarantee the production of safe food. This includes the identification, evaluation, and control of the steps in food production which are critical to food safety.
  • ISO9000
In brief, ISO 9000 aims to achieve uniformity in products and consists of a managerial checklist.
  • BRC
BRC (British Retail Consortium) aims to guarantee product quality and food safety through a set of technical standards. It combines HACCP principles plus parts of GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice). This is a very brief overview and each standard should be reviewed individually. Bakeries should review which best practice standard is most suited to their business and implement a system accordingly.

Reasons to implement a quality management system

Despite investment being needed to implement a quality system into your bakery, there are many reasons to implement one in your business.
  • Stock Management
  • Produce consistent products
  • Reduce potential errors and wastage
  • Improve efficiencies
  • Automate processes
  • Compliance/Show due diligence to customers and auditors
  • Improved documentation/availability of documents
  • Quicker audit preparation for BRC/SALSA
There are a number of quality systems available and bakeries should review them and decide which system most suits their business needs.

What does Stevens offer?

Stevens Traceability provides paperless traceability systems for bakeries covering every aspect of the production process from stock management to finished products and despatch. Using our renowned software and weighing equipment, bakeries have complete control of their quality processes, as well as benefit from an automated production process that enables quick reports for audits from independent customers and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) or SALSA. Stevens Dynamic Traceability System can be integrated with many back-office systems including Sage, SAP, Tropos, Access, Navision and many more. Call us today on 01254 685200 or email info@stevenstraceability.com to find out more.  
Christmas Opening Hours

Breakdown Coverage Xmas/ New Year

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Xmas Opening Hours

25th & 26th

Closed

Tuesday 24 December

Service/Software Dept Coverage 9.00am – 2.00pm

Friday 27 December

Service/Software Dept Coverage 9.00am – 2.00pm

Monday 30 December

Service/Software Dept Coverage 9.00am – 2.00pm

Tuesday 31 December

Service/Software Dept Coverage 9.00am – 2.00pm

Saturday 28 & Sunday 29 December

Engineers on Call

Wednesday 1 January

Closed

Normal working hours 8.30am – 5.00pm resume Thursday 2 January 2020