Improving Cost of Quality with digital olfaction

By Terri Jordan

Manufacturing operations are focused on minimizing Cost of Quality (COQ) as it can account for significant portion of their controllable costs. Much of the business intelligence and analytic solutions in this area have focused on process optimization and preventative maintenance. But new technologies focused on unlocking all new data categories are the next step in COQ innovation. Specifically, digital olfaction is a new tool available for operations managers to reduce COQ in food, beverage and personal care product manufacturing.

In general, digital olfaction has mostly been relegated to R&D departments due to the nacent level of the technology but this is changing as organizations look for new ways to assess end product quality and reduce operation costs. Quality and manufacturing groups are taking a closer look at how objective and consistent odor data can indicate product quality, both for end products and in-process unit operations.

Digital olfaction allows R&D and Quality Control departments to set easy-to-implement standards and work instructions for the manufacturing team to execute. From verifying incoming raw materials to ensuring olfactive characteristics during each phase of production to validating end-product consistency, digital olfaction can provide definitive steps to ensure sensory quality of final product.

For incoming raw materials and ingredients, digital olfaction solutions offer a rapid assessment of fragrance or flavor quality. Aryballe’s NeOse Pro can provide a quick “pass,” “fail,” or “needs further analysis” grade to incoming materials. This gives manufacturers confidence that raw materials pass quality standards before accepting shipments or adding them to the production line.

On the production line, digital olfaction provides additional data for cleaning validation after wash outs between production runs. Using standards set by the quality team, operators and technicians can easily perform on-the-floor analysis to ensure that the flush of the previous product was complete before running the new product—even in 24/7 operations. This can be accomplished by sampling washout waste for residual odors from the previous run, or by analyzing a small sample of the new product run to ensure it meets the olfactive quality standard before executing the entire batch. This approach serves to prevent human error in feedstock mismatch as well as ensuring an effective cleaning step.

As an instrumentation solution, digital olfaction also allows for reliable, objective and traceable data that can be documented and audited for quality management systems (QMS). By using pass/fail criteria and reports established by the quality team, it’s possible to include documentation that provides the olfactive score for the production run. This allows the manufacturing team to show that products are within the acceptable range set by the quality team before it ships to customers.

At Aryballe, we have worked extensively with R&D teams to validate our digital olfaction hardware-enabled software to assist in formulation and development process. And now we’re seeing these standards passed onto the quality and manufacturing teams so they can leverage odor data to enhance end products and ensure product quality for the customer. By integrating this tool across the organization, manufacturers are starting to see how olfaction fits in the Cost of Quality framework for the manufacturing of food, beverages and personal care products.