In a business climate where trust matters more than ever, we reveal 3 best practices for ensuring the highest quality goods, and for boosting trust in your brand.
As the Harvard Business Review argues, trust is not just nice to have, it’s a “critical strategic asset” and can be a valuable source of competitive advantage.
Manufacturers today need to understand how to build trust in a demanding global environment in which quality issues and counterfeiting have the potential to derail consumer trust, and dismantle the reputation a brand has spent years (or sometimes decades) building.
With this in mind, there are 2 major challenges today’s manufacturers need to face:
Challenge 1: The rise of counterfeiting
While the increasingly global supply chain can be great for business, it comes with its fair share of complexities and risks. Counterfeiting is hurting Australian products here and overseas; from beef and wine to pharmaceuticals and even tattoo ink — it seems no industry is immune. It was recently reported that the value of fake goods is expected to soar to $2.3 trillion worldwide in 2015 – a staggering 10,000% increase from 2 decades ago. As counterfeit specialist John Houston told the Sydney Morning Herald:
“For any Australian company that wants to sell in China, the message is s
imple. You will be copied. Your trademark will be copied. Your intellectual property will be copied. Just accept it as fact.”
But while manufacturers and brand owners must accept this as a fact, there are ways to counteract the counterfeiters.
Challenge 2: Maintaining the highest quality goods
Australian manufacturers are under more pressure than ever to produce the highest quality goods. Tough competition both at home and from overseas means there’s no room for error. At the same time, retailers and consumers are demanding these high quality products at lower prices. So manufacturers need to find a way to not only ensure exceptional quality, but to do so while protecting their profit margin.
Adding another challenge to the mix, the high speeds at which products are processed, packaged and labelled today can result in a wide variety of defects. And the second those defects leave the factory they can start causing problems for the manufacturer, its customers and end-consumers.
Companies can spend a great deal of time, energy and money checking products manually. However, the more complex the processes and faster the production lines, the less able that humans are to inspect packaging errors, contamination and quality standards without impacting on efficiency.
Here are 3 best practice strategies
The good news is there are answers to both challenges, enabling manufacturers to mitigate risk and build trust:
- Serialisation for better traceability
Serialisation is the process of putting a unique mark at various packaging levels to gain complete traceability and enable authentication at every level in the supply chain. The process is already well defined and developed in the pharmaceutical industry, and is now becoming increasingly necessary for manufacturers exporting goods overseas — especially the dairy industry.
Serialisation has many benefits:
- Brand protection: Detect and manage the threat of counterfeit products.
- Inventory control and supply chain visibility: Better visibility of the exact item and quantities delivered at each point in the supply chain, enabling better insight into raw materials ordering as well as process scheduling.
- Connect with consumers: Build consumers’ trust through product verification/authentication and provide the opportunity for the brand to connect directly to the consumer.
- Using inspection technologies for product quality
Automating inspection is the optimal way to deliver the highest quality products. Inspection systems not only have a higher detection rate than humans, but they can also streamline and improve the line’s efficiency. And in today’s environment, that’s a huge competitive advantage.
Manufacturers are also dealing with the push from the major Australian food and grocery retailers, such as Woolworths and Coles, to embrace inspection technology to enhance product quality and reduce the risk of errors. The Woolworths Quality Assurance (WQA) standards, for example, mandate that every Woolworths-branded, finished-retail-packed product must go through an electronic check-weighing system to prove it meets the weight or volume declared on the label.
While there are other processes and checks that can help with quality assurance, inspections systems are proven to vastly enhance processes and reduce the risk of recalls due to packaging and labelling faults. And that can only be a good thing for any manufacturer.
- Integration to avoid errors during product changeovers
In a push to become more competitive, manufacturers are increasing new product variants and combining these with existing products on existing lines. This process typically reduces the overall productivity of a line by increasing changeovers and reducing OEE. (Read more about OEE here. You can also download this free whitepaper on OEE.)
In production facilities where changeovers are frequent, there’s a higher risk of labelling and coding errors, issues with consistency, lost time, wasted materials, and more.
One strategy to overcome this is with integrated technology. With an integrated system, manufacturers have greater visibility over the line and can maintain efficiency and productivity while dealing with additional changeovers.
Matthews’ iDSnet, for example, is a software solution that integrates all of your coding, labelling and end-of-line inspection equipment, such as vision systems, checkweighers and scanners. As such, iDSnet is able to deliver a more streamlined operation with quick changeovers, validation and error detection.
Trust is essential for any successful business today, and none more so than manufacturing. By following the above strategies, you can ensure high quality goods, boost trust in your brand and, most importantly, gain a sustainable advantage.
For more information on mitigating risk and building brand trust, contact Matthews.
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