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

How to future-proof your food business post-lockdown

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How to future-proof your food business post-lockdown

If you own a food production company, your business may be affected by food wastage. Not only is this bad for the environment, but it also costs business thousands of pounds in profits every year. In these uncertain times, businesses need to save money and time in order for them to be more resilient to any challenges that may present themselves in the future. Continue reading to learn how Stevens’ paperless, weight-based recipe management and traceability system can help you.

Reduce costs

One of the key ways that our food traceability system can help you is by reducing your costs. Our traceability system enables you to order and use only the ingredients that you need. This means you won’t have an unnecessary excess of ingredients that will go to waste. The system enables you to automate your food production processes, with the advantage of full product traceability. Whether you own a small business or a large business, our traceability system can help to reduce your costs, and in turn, improve your profits.

Staff utilisation

Another benefit of the Stevens Traceability System is that it offers staff utilisation. By using our leading electronic system, fewer manual processes will be required in your business. We can automate the processes involved during production, planning and reporting. This means that your staff can spend more time on other important tasks, saving your company lots of time. Using the system allows you to manage your food production more effectively, speeding up processes with the added benefit of full product traceability.

Go paperless

Our system is paperless, which is beneficial to your company for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is much better for the environment, as less paper is wasted. The paperless system also means that there are fewer manual errors. Rather than sending out important documents via post, real-time information can be stored and shared quickly between different departments of your business, as well as with auditors.

Maximise efficiency

Utilising Stevens Traceability System maximises efficiency in every possible way. By reducing paper, automating processes and eliminating human error, the system allows your business to move faster and grow. Every step of the process is made more efficient, from booking stock in, through to production, and the finished goods.

Stevens Traceability makes food traceability easy and hassle-free. If you would like to discuss your requirements with one of our experts, please contact us for a no-obligation conversation. Call or email us today to learn more.

If you would like further information about traceability for your business, please call 01254 685200 or email info@stevenstraceability.com

Food Traceability System

Food Traceability Systems Explained

By Blog

Food Traceability Systems Explained

Traceability in the food supply chain is paramount to ensure that products are safe for consumption by consumers.  Though food traceability is a vast topic, in this blog we will focus on traceability during the food manufacturing stage of the food supply chain because this is an area that Stevens Traceability Systems has specialised in for over 30 years, having worked with food manufacturers for a great 160 years providing weighing equipment.

What is traceability?

In short, traceability is a method for reacting to potential dangers during food production. Dangers could include contamination, spoilage, or allergens for example.

Food manufacturers must ensure that their traceability efforts are to the highest standards to meet government regulations, protect their brand, and avoid product recalls.

Product Recalls

Product which would be recalled from supermarket shelf

A product recall is when government agencies demand a product to be removed from the market, at any stage of the food supply chain, which poses a threat to public health.

Not only can this affect a food manufacturers’ reputation and sales figures, the cost of wasted product, time, and re-production also impact food producers financially.

When a product recall occurs, it is extremely important that this is actioned immediately. With a traceability system in place, it will speed up the process for the food producer, as well as quickly reduce the risks for consumers.

Audits

Paper records for BRC audits

Food producers must follow industry-specific legislation and are audited by government agencies, for example, BRC, the British Retail Consortium, or SALSA. Part of the audit involves manufacturers showing their traceability system and associated paperwork/reports to evidence the policies and procedures they have in place.

Traceability is only one part of quality control; however, food manufacturers have to be able to trace-forward and trace-back their products and ingredients, from field to fork.

What is a traceability system?

A traceability system collects, records, and manages data throughout the production process. Like many systems or software, traceability systems vary in scope and capabilities.

What does a Stevens traceability system do?

The Stevens Dynamic Traceability System is a paperless, end-to-end, traceability system for food manufacturers, however, it can be used in other industries who use ingredients, for example, polymers, paint, coatings, pet food to name but a few.

Specialist software for the food industry

The Stevens traceability software has been developed specifically for the food industry, and resides in multiple areas within the food production environment, including:-

  • Management/Admin
  • Goods In
  • Weigh Up
  • Production
    • Job
    • Collation
  • Packing
  • Despatch
  • Waste

Aligned with terminals in specified zones on the shop floor, the Stevens software offers paperless traceability from goods in, through the production process, to goods out (despatch). The system records data in real-time, allowing products and ingredients to be traced back, and traced forward in the Stevens management software, meaning you can see details of all production at the touch of a button. Also, any mistakes, commonly associated with manual data entry are eliminated. Preparation for audits is quick and easy, with reports available instantly from the electronic system.

Food manufacturing

Play Video of an end-to-end paperless traceability system

Integration with other software e.g. SAP/Sage

A Stevens traceability system can be fully integrated with existing ERP systems such as SAP or Sage. Using the Stevens Integration Service, electronic data can be exchanged between ERP or MRP systems preventing duplication of data.

Types of data which can be integrated include:-

  • Commodities
  • Recipes
  • Production Schedules
  • Purchase Orders
  • Sales Orders
  • Stock
  • Locations
  • Operators
  • Allergens
  • Quality Assurance messages
Traceability Software Modules from Stevens Traceability

Overview of Stevens Traceability software modules, showing the workflow for integration of ERP / MRP systems, and what types of data can be shared between systems.

Quality Assurance

Additionally, a Stevens Dynamic Traceability System enables you to have quality control measures in place, in a proactive manner. For example, allergen control, process control, safety, critical control points (CCP), and calibration and testing routines are all available in the software and can be implemented in your system at appropriate times.

This provides customers and auditors with the reassurance that your production processes are to the highest standard, and the paperless system means that all your data is centralised and is easily accessible.

Management Benefits

Management Software for food manufacturers

The traceability system consists of several software modules, with Stevens Management being central to the system.

Stevens Management allows you to have complete control of how the system works within your business. Managers or administrators can control recipe details, tolerances for ingredients, and add or remove custom instructions or questions for operators on the shop floor.

Additionally, quality assurance controls within the system allow you to include allergen control, certificate of conformity, goods inwards checks, and product specifications. As a Manager, you can also specify what parts of the system users have access to, giving you greater control of your data.

What’s more, the traceability system comes with a reporting suite to support mass balance and evidence your traceability.

Example reports include:

  • Ingredient usage
  • Production summaries
  • Batch reporting
  • Recipes
  • Operator production
  • Waste

Bespoke reports can also be created providing you with the specific information you require from the system and your production process.

Stock Management

Stock Management of Ingredients

The Stock software module in the Dynamic system will handle your day to day stock management. Goods can be received into the system and moved from one stock location to another. Stock levels can also be adjusted with quality assurance data. Stock consumption is recorded in real-time within the system and so accurate stock levels are always available.

Included within this module are options such as:

  • Stock Receive
  • Purchase Order Receive
  • Stock Move
  • Stock Withdraw
  • Stock Adjust
  • Quarantine
  • Reprint Labels
  • Sieving Control

As goods are received, unique lot numbers can be generated, or manufacturers batch numbers entered to start the traceability of that ingredient/product. Purchase order number, supplier, expiry date, location, and other information can be recorded, allowing product traceability from the start. Quality, Conformance, and Allergen Control questions can be recorded at this stage, including commodity-specific or event-specific questions and messages.

Other optional modules include Stock Transformation and Stock Sieving. Transformation converts one commodity to another, e.g. frozen chicken breast into sliced chicken, whilst also recording batch numbers, quality assurance (QA) data, and yield information.

Sieving is often one of the first Critical Control Points (CCP). Sieve Stock manages the movement and traceability of the product from warehouse stock, or quarantined areas in bulk through to sieving and is finally dispensed into ingredient containers.

Traceability during Production

Traceability during food production

The Production software module within the Dynamic system covers all aspects of the production environment; from recipe weigh-up to finished product packaging and incorporates processes such as portion control and average weight.

This software module allows recipe batches, finished product, and quality control requirements to be scheduled centrally and executed by the respective production terminals. Batches can be scheduled by quantity, mix size, production location, or yield.

Using the Stevens software, production can be controlled by sites, locations, operators, shifts, or production dates, allowing management to prioritise production. This module also enables monitoring and control of ingredient usage, it manages stock levels and batch events whilst providing detailed reporting, dashboards, and alerts.

Location scheduling allows recipes to be weighed across different production areas, splitting, for example, dry and wet ingredients. The Collation module would then allow the mixes to be collated in the mixer terminal.

The Stevens software also benefits from Container Referencing which allows unique identifiers to be used to track content, eliminating the use of paper labels and thereby reducing paper on the shop floor. Ingredients can be consumed from the container or batches produced.

Additionally, ingredient consumption can be controlled by several methods including stock locations and expiry dates – FEFO/FIFO (First Expired, First Out / First In, First Out).

Optional software modules within Production include Batch Weighing, Campaign Weighing, Finished Products (Job Terminal, Packaging, Portion Control), and Average Weight.

Traceability at Despatch

One of the final stages of production which the system can help with is Despatch. Within the Stevens Despatch software module, operations such as picking and despatching sales orders are undertaken. Sales orders can be entered or imported using the Integration Service onto the Stevens Traceability System. The software also allows the editing of sales orders from shipment back to stock, providing a flexible solution for high change environments.

The optional Pallet Builder module allows finished goods to be added to specified pallets, to sales order requirements, and despatched as a complete pallet, providing accurate traceability.

Tracing Waste

Waste management in food production

Finally, waste can also be traced using the Dynamic system. The waste software module links to other modules within the system, for example, Production. Data about waste is available from various factory locations, by product, or by lines, and a range of reports are available to support waste reduction.

If you would like further information about traceability for your business, please call 01254 685200 or email info@stevenstraceability.com

 

The importance of choosing a good weighing equipment supplier

By Blog

If you’re in the market for high-quality weighing equipment and instrumentation, it’s vital that you choose the right supplier. When choosing a weighing equipment supplier, make sure you keep an eye out for the following:

Accreditations

One of the most important benefits of choosing a reputable weighing equipment supplier is that they will have a number of accreditations to prove their legitimacy, so you can rest in the knowledge that the equipment you purchase will be of the highest quality. There are a number of accreditations that you should look out for, including a SafeContractor certificate, to show that they are health and safety compliant, if required a certificate from the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), and ISO 9001 certificates, to demonstrate their ability to consistently provide services and products that meet regulatory and customer requirements.

Experience

The best weighing equipment suppliers will have extensive experience in their field and will have worked with customers from a variety of different industries, making it more likely that they will have the tools and knowledge required to provide the services that you require. Look for suppliers that have worked with leading companies in industries such as animal nutrition, food and beverage, cash handling and industrial sectors. A reputable weight management company will be able to assist its customers in their respective fields as they evolve, producing systems that stay up-to-date with the needs of the changing marketplace through generic or bespoke software or hardware.

Range of products

Whether you require bench scales, printers, pallet scales, scanners, column scales or any other weighing equipment, a good weighing equipment supplier will have a wide range of products for you to choose from in order to meet the unique demands of your warehouse or production line. If you’re not sure what equipment your business needs, a weighing equipment supplier with many years of experience in the industry will be able to advise you on the best products that will suit your specific requirements. Reputable weighing equipment suppliers will also offer you several other services, such as scale maintenance and scale calibration, to make sure that your weighing scales are as accurate as possible to maintain consistency throughout your production line. If you have any concerns about the products that you’ve chosen or if you simply need advice, it’s also important to select a supplier that has a reliable customer service team to answer any enquiries you might have.

At Stevens Traceability, we specialise in creating the most innovative weighing systems to ensure that you can meet your compliance obligations with ease while reducing waste and product giveaway. We’ve continued to support our customers throughout the coronavirus pandemic, so for more information about our services, get in touch with our team today.

Stevens Traceability Systems Head Office

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

By News

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.

BRC Grade AA

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

By News
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.”