Bloody Auditors!

… Are one of the main the reasons I’ve been glued to my PC for the past 3 months, during my usually quiet times.

As your business transitions from small to medium or you start to export items (especially food-items) you tend to get more and more interaction with auditors. A Lot of my work comes from the fact that people want to move from paper-based (but not auditor friendly) systems to traceability and track-ability which auditors thrive on.

Paper based systems work OK when you are small and have only yourself to account to, but paper based systems get much more manually intensive as your volumes grow and are much more liable to human errors such as forgetfulness, input error or interpretation errors.

Designing for auditors is something you need to do from the outset. One of the design criteria and tests of a functioning manufacturing system is whether you can go back on any stock item that was sold and trace it back to its component items following it from purchase order to receival, manufacture and dispatch. Wine systems are a good example of this where we need the ability to trace every additive and grape source through a system notoriously messy in its blending and transfers between batches.

Customers these days demand to know every process and additive. For wines there are actually few guidelines on where to draw the limit. Some systems like the one prior to Bulls-i in Indevin did not treat tank topping (filling a tank or barrel with a tiny amount of wine to allow for evaporation) as a blend and just ignored it as who cares if a 224.65 Litres is topped with 0.25 Litres. But auditors Care!

Systems like Indevin treat every litre as a prisoner, inventory reconciliation processes run monthly expect to account for every litre of wine in the winery and if not questions are asked. This is how it should be, unless you can do this you are not in control of your business processes.

The new system for the PHR/Omega Seafoods factory does not have these complicated issues as each lot no of raw mussels or clams is separated on the production line and machinery is cleaned down between each to prevent possible contamination. Nor are additives put into any of their product, in fact the ingredients are just the cooked mussels or clams in their own (succulent) juices. Now a product as wonderful as that would still not be allowed to be sold if you could not explain where every lot code came from and when it was harvested to the Auditors.

Moving from the manual paper based system to the new catch system will begin sometime next month. The desktop parts of the system are mostly written, the touch-screens and scale hardware required for operators to input production data are on order and the program/HMI parts being tested. (Pictures and code soon) One thing is for certain it will be auditor friendly.

Of course, in October is the date the auditors want changes to the way Indevin records its user development which means changing to the job orders and operations touch screens and mobile units in the winery.

“Bloody Auditors!” a pain in the arse but totally necessary.

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