For the past few weeks we’ve been looking at how to keep compliant in cold chain logistics operations, and what visibility, compliance and quality have to do with each other. This time we’ll tie all this back to efficiency and discuss how quality and efficiency impact each other, and will improving one always impair the other in the fashion of a zero-sum game?
Using Automation to Improve Process Development
Now, we’ve actually already mentioned the two main things that make real-time visibility into cold chain conditions a lot more efficient that manual measuring or temperature logging with retroactive data inspections. These are automation, which affects measuring, alarms and data accessibility; and improvements to process development, which helps refine your SOP’s in a way that helps prevent quality defects and compliance investigation delays.
Automation of course lessens the overall need for manual work in measuring activities, such as having to write data down on paper or enter it into spreadsheets for tallying. It has to be mentioned, though, that with automating the alarms process, the staff may initially see increased need for labor. This is because they need to perform an increasing number of corrective actions as a result of having to act on that real-time information.
So, to come back to the question we started off with, real-time visibility may at this stage seem a kind of zero-sum game. When you improve quality with better monitoring, you may need to work a bit more, which will in turn impair efficiency.
However, this is usually a passing phase, because when we move on to improved process development capabilities, the focus will move from corrective to preventive actions.
So where we used to have to throw away perishables that were affected by deviations, now we’ll rather do a bit of thinking and come up with an action that will prevent the deviation in the first place. And while these will require some work also, they will end up saving time, labor and money by decreasing waste and the need to inspect deviations.
So, it looks like adding visibility into cold chain logistics doesn’t actually impair efficiency. But at what cost? Return next week for the conclusion of this series of blogs on Quality & Efficiency; Can You Have Both?