Technical Managers are faced with the daily challenge of juggling the past, present, and future.  

The past: They need to be prepared for queries and complaints relating to the products their site has already supplied. Whether that’s keeping a clear record of calibrations or securing easy access to important data, a good Technical Manager will be ready to defend, but also investigate, the standards of their site.  

The present: Technical Managers are also responsible for the ongoing maintenance of factory operations. They need to be on the lookout for potential risks such as untrained team members, outdated or broken machinery, inconsistent results, along with anything else that could act in direct opposition to relevant specifications.  

The future: Finally, Technical Managers must be driving standards at every turn – factoring in everything from overheads and efficiency to sustainability and the development of new technology. When applied correctly, this technology will help a Technical Manager to secure success, making it so much easier for them to meet targets, prepare for audits, increase quality, and motivate their workforce. 

Determined to support Technical Managers as they take on such a complex and demanding role, we decided to work through five of their key responsibilities, offering our top solutions for each area of interest. There is the option of skipping ahead to the subject that most impacts you. Alternatively, you can read on for all five solutions. 

Responsibility 1. Develop an informed and effective Technical Strategy

As Technical Manager, it is your responsibility to ensure the decisions you make are worth the time, money, and effort they take to enforce. You also need to take care that you are supporting your operatives at every turn – making their daily tasks easier with user-friendly equipment, as opposed to inundating them with new and confusing approaches that don’t really have an impact.

Here are two effective strategies for establishing yourself as an informed and open-minded Technical Manager.  

  1. Before making any major decisions relating to your technical strategy, you should conduct a walkaround of your site. You should also consider running an internal audit. This will allow you to identify any areas where time, money, and labour could be saved with the introduction of new equipment. During his workshop at the recent Food Safety Innovation Conference, Phil May, Group Hygiene Manager for Greencore, spoke of his admiration for members of senior management who take the time to work a shift on the factory floor and properly engage with their operatives. This could be another fantastic way for you to ensure your decisions are coming from an informed place and are the product of collaborative thinking.

2. The next step is to make sure the data informing your technical strategy is accurate and up-to-date. Otherwise, you could end up prioritising one issue when a much greater problem is going overlooked. You could even find yourself introducing an expensive piece of equipment to your site that isn’t fit for purpose. One of the best ways to prevent this from happening is to invest in top quality thermometers and probes. Not only will they improve the quality and consistency of your operation, but they will also help you to drive accuracy. Instead of your operatives relying on guesswork or having the option of blaming equipment for subpar results, they will be able to closely monitor every aspect of your operation. 

Responsibility 2. Coordinate the regular testing of equipment

Of the many responsibilities shouldered by a Technical Manager, the regular testing of equipment is one of the most important. Not only is this an essential part of ensuring audit compliance, it is also the best way to protect both your customers and your brand. A failure to take this process seriously could result in a misinformed workforce that is unable to carry out accurate testing within your site. If you are going to prevent this from happening, you will need to prioritise the regular calibration of your equipment. The following four steps will help you with this task: 

  1. Identify any areas where it makes more sense to carry out on-site calibrations. An upfront investment in verifying equipment for your thermometers or probes could results in significant long-term savings.
  2. With some calibrations taking 4-7 days and some 2-3 weeks, make sure you consider the calibration lead time. Here at Klipspringer, we are proud to guarantee a turnaround time of three working days for in-house calibrations.
  3. If you’re not sure what equipment needs to be calibrated and don’t know when or where this should take place, please contact our customer service team on 01473 461800.   
  4. Make the most of Klipspringer’s free-of-charge Equipment and Calibrations Portal. It allows you to access and download all your certificates. You can also keep track of your upcoming calibration dates.

Responsibility 3. Liase with customers

Unlike most positions within a factory, the role of Technical Manager is, at times, customer facing. You might even be communicating with some of the biggest retailers in the country. This is a huge responsibility, and it is therefore very important that you have the correct resources at your disposal. Not only do you need to be prepared to defend or potentially investigate the output of your site, but you should also be ready to answer questions about the future of your factory, covering everything from quality control and sustainability targets to shrinking budgets and the role of technology. 

Here are three solutions to support you in this process:

  1. A Wireless Monitoring System will take the stress out of liaising with your customers. At the click of a button, you can track trends, confirm the presence or absence of any breeches, and compare performance between different time periods.  
  2. A Digital Quality Management System is also a great way to impress your customers with quality and consistency. Its scalability will help you to meet growing demands and the paperless element will bring you closer to your sustainability targets. 
  3. Another top tip is to be on the lookout for relevant webinars, forums, and training resources. This could be a fantastic opportunity for you to connect with new and existing customers. It will also help you to establish yourself as an industry expert who is aware of growing trends and concerns. 

Responsibility 4. Manage and motivate

The cultivation of an informed and enthusiastic workforce plays an important part in securing success as a Technical Manager. Making this a priority will help you to oversee the smooth roll out of new equipment. It will also empower your workers to extend the lifespan of this equipment – enabling them to adopt the correct approach to operations, cleaning, and validation.

Below are four ways for you to excel in this aspect of your role:   

  1. The value of ongoing training can’t be overstated. In addition to sharing relevant resources with new employees, you should also be running regular refreshers for your operatives. Just remember to factor agency staff into your plans, as they won’t have any experience of working at your site and may only be with you for a short period of time. As a result, any training should be easy-to-understand and any new equipment should be purchased with the user experience in mind.

2. Visual Management will help you to connect with operatives of all skill levels, along with workers that don’t have English as their first language. You should accompany the roll out of equipment with highly visual signage, boards, and instruction cards. Your supplier might also have webinars and training videos for you to share.

3. The lifespan of equipment can be significantly extended with the correct maintenance. Colour-coded utensils and Shadow Boards will help to make this happen – encouraging hygiene teams to adopt the right process for each task. You should also check with your site’s Hygiene Manager that any Cleaning Instruction Cards are up to date and feature lots of helpful photos.

4. Finally, you should consider introducing a Digital Quality Management System to your site. This will allow you to closely monitor the activity of your workforce, tracking trends and receiving automatic alarms from any location. Instead of relying on in-person updates from your operatives, a wireless management system will automatically tell you if routine checks, internal audits, validations, and HACCP checks have gone to plan. 

Responsibility 5. Manage the Technical Budget

Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of your role is the management of the technical budget. This involves a careful balancing act between ever-shrinking funds and the pressure to drive standards. Luckily, the solution doesn’t require you to let things slip on either side. Instead, you can cut costs in the long run by investing in quality equipment that will lower your site’s expenses whilst improving its results. 

Here are three examples of equipment with the power to do this:  

1. Well on its way to replacing the less reliable ATP meter, the A3 system uses unique, patented technology to detect adenosine molecules in all three forms: ATP, ADP and AMP. Although it doesn’t test for allergens, it does detect the presence or absence of organic residue. Because of this, unlike a traditional ATP meter, you can use an A3 system to dramatically reduce the cost of your allergen testing. This was just one of the benefits identified by McCain Foods in our recent Case Study.

2. If your factory works with fryers, the introduction of food oil monitors will eliminate the cost of wasted labour and will prevent good oil from being thrown away. Instead of relying on guesswork, your operatives can carefully monitor the lifespan of the oil they are using and save your site a huge amount of money in the long run. We recently carried out a Case Study with Mitchells & Butlers to explore the impact our food oil monitors had on their business. When we spoke to Phil Sharp, Manager of Kitchen Operations, he revealed that “the initial investment in introducing oil monitors had already paid for itself”. 

3. Already used and loved by Greggs, Morrisons, Bakkavor, and Greencore, Segregation Solutions will help you to reduce downtime and grow the production window. SegriCovers will protect your machinery and other factory items during washdowns, the modular system of the SegriScreen X-TEND will allow you to add or remove screens depending on your needs, and the moisture-repellent PVC SegriCurtains will fit any and every space.  

If you would like further guidance relating to the solutions outlined in this article, the Klipspringer team would be happy to help. Share your details below to arrange a free consultation.