It is one thing to write a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) which may then be incorporated into a company's production methods. It is quite another to expect that such an SOP may be carried out in the same manner in all shifts by all employees who may be required to do so. That expectation can only be met if all operations personnel have each received the same training with the actual equipment a facility may have in place. Hands-on person-to-person training is the best, of course. However, even if this is done, employee turnover will quickly provide new reasons for additional training. The consistency of training is important, especially when different shifts will be using the same equipment or if similar production facilities are located in multiple locations.
The "simple" act of taking a pH reading is a good example of the necessity for training. A pH reading is a very common operations measurement, whose exact value can sometimes be critical. However, very few operations personnel are conversant with exactly how a pH meter actually works. Many operations folk (but unfortunately not all) understand how to calibrate a pH meter with reference solutions (fairly pricey commodities in and of themselves relative to what you get). Relatively few know how to clean and recondition a set of pH electrodes or, for that matter, know when they need cleaning. Exceedingly rare is the operations or QA/QC person who knows how to make a pH reference buffer to achieve a pH that may not be commonly available for sale as a reference solution. Bridging this knowledge gap is the aim of a training program in this example.
Much of this website describes various kinds of testing needed to establish a given procedure or HACCP step. A food manufacturer may well wonder how much cost will be involved to get this testing done (especially if using a third-party facility) and whether the product being manufactured can still be priced competitively after all such testing has been accomplished. One way to save on such costs may be by making use of Food Safety Analysis, LLC for remote management and remote oversight. An existing employee already on site may be designated to train on one or a few test procedures. That employee could be managed remotely to accomplish certain standard tests. The on site presence of video telephony would expedite this effort. Such. capability used to be a big, expensive deal. These days, all this is required is an iPad (ca. US $499) and a reasonably stable WiFi link.
Food Safety Analysis (FSA) is able to provide such training either in person or as a training module in an electronic format, or both. The value of an electronic "canned" training module is that if such a module were readily available, say on a company's intranet, then a new employee, unsure at 2:00 a.m. of how to follow a given SOP has a ready, authorized resource available 24/7.
Another aspect of this is that of remote management. FSA has videophone capability. Let us say, for example, that a portion of your plant seems to have a sanitation problem where the presence of a biofilm is suspected. Several approaches need to be tried, yet, your facility is not so large that it contains experts in all aspects of of plant operation. You could invite a consultant in to address this problem. However, it may be cheaper and, ultimately more useful to your company to temporarily have one of your existing employees report (remotely via video link) to FSA and thereby be guided to working out her own solution. Your company saves on the consultant's travel costs. The designated employee gets a hands-on learning experience.
Also, it may be useful to reflect that video conferencing technology is often misunderstood. The intent is not necessarily to illustrate talking heads, despite the fact that such capability is how video conferencing is most often sold. Rather, the video camera may be put to better much use as a tool capable of illustrating one person's problem to a remote problem solver and then to display outlines or diagrams of proposed solutions - a kind of remote "chalk talk."
Today's regulatory environment demands that a problem be handled correctly the first time. The fiscal environment demands that the process for obtaining solutions be cost effective. Remote management of existing resources may be the best way to handle of both concerns.
Copyright © 2012 by M. Mychajlonka, Ph. D.