Food Engineering

Processor keeps quality high, customers satisfied

May 3, 2010
A statistical process control system replaced older, slower Excel-based methods of keeping products on track.


Green Garden Food Products uses Synergy 1000 SPC software from Zontec. Source: Zontec.
Green Garden Food Products, Kent, WA, makes gourmet salad dressings, sauces and marinades for customers ranging from retail to private-label, co-packers, delis and food service. The more than 70-year-old company employs a finely tuned manufacturing process that creates, packages, and distributes its products as efficiently as possible.

Beyond its own Green Garden–branded products, it has developed a system exclusively designed to work with large-volume clients on custom formula duplication and product development. To meet these scaled-up demands, maintain high product quality and satisfy its customers, GreenGarden upgraded its old, under-performing, Excel-based statistical process control (SPC) system with Synergy 1000 SPC software from Zontec. The new SPC software automates the time-wasting tasks that the QA lab had to perform manually.

According to Quality Manager Sam Samia-Kalantari, with the old system, reports of analysis required importing the data into Excel, performing statistical calculations and creating charts, which were basic bell curves and run charts. Now, data collection, charting and reports are integrated into the system. The new system allows Samia-Kalantari to select the data and create the corresponding chart. The system represents a big improvement in the ability to manage and report the data. It also has been an effective tool for communicating and satisfying acceptability levels with the processor’s co-packing clients.

The software records, monitors and reports quality characteristics including pH, titratable acidity, titratable salt, viscosity, product and equipment temperatures, fill weights and torque on jar lids-depending on each client’s unique requirements. As a co-packer, GreenGarden must match precisely what the client has already achieved in its own facilities.

GreenGarden uses Synergy 1000 as a rapid communication, feedback and problem-solving system for its clients. “We’re able to exchange information very easily,” says Samia-Kalantari. He can quickly document clients’ requirements with Ppk, and Cpk numbers, capability charts and control charts. Clients respond with changes or recommendations during the manufacturing of their product.

One client, who also uses Zontec SPC software, receives data from GreenGarden over the Internet and supplements GreenGarden’s tests with its own reports and analyses.

According to Samia-Kalantari, the software is very helpful, especially for new products. The system allows him-after the first couple of production runs-to see the upper and lower limits, the spec ranges, the capability of the machines in mixing operations and the goals or targets for the process.

The SPC system’s charts and graphs are valuable tools that Samia-Kalantari uses internally during management meetings to convey visually what’s happening with the process, rather than showing raw data to the staff. Using fill weights as an example, it’s simple to prove if the process is creating under- or over-weight packages. Corrections can then be taken to bring the weights on target, improving the processor’s profitability.

The system has improved customer satisfaction, provided quicker reporting times and reduced paper records. It provides a system for GreenGarden’s recordkeeping for quality information.

For more information, visit Zontec.