Breaking down the pros and cons of manual and digital management systems for use in the food industry. 

Technology has always played an important part in driving efficiency, consistency, quality, and savings. However, with such a crowded market, it can often be hard to work out which technological advancements will truly bring value to your site. Similarly, it can be difficult to identify the advancements that are still in need of further development or could be managed without entirely. With this in mind, we decided to take a closer look at the choice between manual and digital quality management systems.

At Klipspringer, we pride ourselves on our honesty, so we wanted to be upfront about the fact that we are a supplier of TRAKKD – a cloud-based quality management system. Although we are passionate about this system and the benefits it provides, we have tried to remain as unbiased as possible. As with every comparison, there is an approach that comes out on top, but we hope you can see the logic and integrity behind every conclusion we reach. Our goal is always to support you in finding the best solution for you and your site, and we hope this comprehensive overview helps to make this happen.  

Manual Quality Management Systems 

Let’s start with one of the biggest reasons for sites maintaining a manual approach – it’s familiar. Before digital advancements, paper checklists weren’t just an option, they were a necessity. As a result, some factories are reluctant to switch over to a digital model. In fact, it often takes the appointment of a new technical manager or general site manager for the transition to occur.  

Paper checklists aren’t just familiar to senior management, they are also well-known to operatives on the factory floor. This means there is no intensive training or expertise required, something that is often viewed as an opportunity to save money. Instead of rolling out a new system and implementing a complimentary training programme, the superficial costs are limited to pens, paper, and storage. 

But what about the hidden costs?  

One major issue with a manual system is the amount of time it wastes. From operatives walking around with clipboards to managers rifling through piles of paperwork, manual checklists cost factories a significant amount of time. The impact of this is longer factory downtimes and increased labour costs.  

There is also the added issue of stress and confusion, with team members at every level having to grapple with an overwhelming system that becomes harder to navigate each day. What’s more, this confusion leaves room for human error, making it less likely that mistakes or negative trends will be identified. A factory is then exposed to the risk of skewed data or even an expensive product recall. A failed audit also becomes more likely, with auditors generally preferring a more reliable system that promotes accuracy and accountability.  

Digital Quality Management Systems 

A digital quality management system is a software solution that helps a site to maintain and improve its processes. It can be viewed as a direct response to the shortcomings of a manual approach. One of the main ways it achieves this is by eliminating the need for time-consuming paperwork and even some manual checks. This frees up operatives to focus on critical duties and makes it easier for a site to meet its time-saving targets.  

Speaking of targets, embracing a digital approach is an easy win for sites that are under pressure to become more sustainable. Burning through reams of paper is not only expensive, but it also has a huge impact on the environment. Going digital is a quick and easy way for a factory to reduce the size of its carbon footprint. It is also a decision that is likely to improve a brand’s reputation and impress its customers.  

Another major plus point of a digital management system is its ability to improve process efficiency whilst maintaining even higher levels of accuracy. Instead of worrying about human error, a site can rely on the precise and consistent recording of data. This data is then stored in one place, accessible at the click of a button. Depending on the system, it may also be capable of tracking trends and displaying them in the form of easy-to-read graphs. This is true of TRAKKD, our digital quality management system.

Along with trends, TRAKKD can also display data from around your factory. Its sensors, placed in key locations, transmit data back to a gateway before uploading it to your chosen platform. This allows you to accurately monitor essential factors such as temperature, humidity, and even the opening and closing of doors. If any of the set parameters are breeched, automatic alarms will alert assigned individuals, allowing concerns to be dealt with immediately.

Your Bluetooth devices will also be compatible with the TRAKKD system. Say you have a Bluetooth thermometer or food oil monitor, these devices can seamlessly transmit data back to the app. This will save your workers the hassle of carrying around clipboards or filling out forms that could be impacted by human error. 

ambient high care

One potential disadvantage of switching to a digital system is the possibility of overwhelming or intimidating operatives that struggle with technology. This can certainly be the case if a site opts for a digital system that hasn’t put user requirements at the forefront of its development process, with some suppliers charging extra for training materials and other devious add-ons.  

Here at Klipspringer, we believe that TRAKKD is the best way to avoid this. Easy to understand after one initial training session (included in the upfront cost), this system can be used independently – simplifying rather than complicating the duties of each operative. Speaking of which, the TRAKKD Checklists have been designed with complete food safety in mind and are fully configurable to meet the needs of each customer. What’s more, these checks are automatically assigned to the relevant departments and locations, further simplifying matters for you and your operatives.

TRAKKD also challenges the assumption that introducing a digital system will be more expensive than the paper alternative, a view that is particularly worrying for smaller companies with limited resources. Although there will of course be an upfront cost, the digital system will reduce spending in the long run. As seen below, it can impact the cost of labour, paper and printing, checklist management, inspections, and travel. 

KPI

Cost of Current Method

Cost of Digital Method (TRAKKD)

Price per manual per year per location (paper, printing, sending, etc)

     -Complete manual /registration provided as a book

     -Per location £307 (per year)

£307

£105

Labour hours (filling in checklists) per location

     -Average 1.25 hours per week using current method

     -Average 1 hour per week using digital method

     -Fewer temperatures have to be taken using real-time temperature monitoring, saving 0.5 hours per week on average

     -Hourly pay rate: £12.50

£713

£570

Checklist management per year (maintenance, archiving, approval etc of checklists)

     -Quality support at HQ and regional managers involved in the process

     -Estimated savings of 2 FTE

£87,650

£0

Reduction of inspections (from two per year to one or ideally zero)

     -Inspections cost £132 per visit

£264

£132 or £0

Reduction of travel to separate locations (fuel, car maintenance, CO2 reduction, time saved)

     -Due to TRAKKD’s HQ/regional dashboarding and reporting, teams travel less frequently to single locations, management spends less time creating reports etc)

Hard to quantify, but one of the most significant costs in this table

Key Points to Consider

Manual Quality Management System:

  • Familiar to operatives 
  • No initial cost/time of training 
  • No initial cost/time of implementation 
  • Open to human error 
  • Time consuming 
  • More expensive in the long run 
  • Unable to send alarms or track trends
  • Harder to keep sustainability pledges 
  • Cannot be accessed remotely

Digital Quality Management System:

  • Increased accuracy 
  • Time saving 
  • Environmentally friendly 
  • Reduced costs over time 
  • Supports company growth 
  • Makes life easier for operatives 
  • Supports audit compliance 
  • Upfront cost 
  • Initial cost/time of training 

Now that we’ve worked through the pros and cons of each approach, it is all about making the best decision for you and your factory. As with any change to a site’s processes, it is natural to worry about making the right choice and securing the desired results. Hopefully, our honest overview has empowered you to feel more confident about the next steps, helping you to understand the risks and possibilities of both avenues.

If you would like further guidance relating to your quality management system, the Klipspringer team would be happy to help. Share your details below to arrange a free consultation.