In this excerpt from his 2016 Alchemy Conference presentation, expert consultant Jeff Chilton discusses the Total Operational Performance System (TOPS), which he developed based on his 30+ years of experience in the food industry. TOPS is an integrated management system that helps food organizations optimize performance throughout the entire company, with the goal of achieving operational excellence.
The Total Operational Performance System is actually an integrated management system that helps you optimize your performance throughout your entire company. It’s necessary for us to be able to work together and understand how important it is that we don’t operate in silos and we actually work together as a team in an integrated management system to make your companies the most successful that they can possibly be.
As you've heard me say in numerous other speeches, simply by working in the food industry, we have an obligation to protect our food supply and protect the consumers and public health. In the same light, we also want to protect our employees. Your employees are, indeed, the greatest asset you have in the company. Every single employee is going to jeopardize or promote the safety of that product every single time they touch it. So we want to make sure they're doing it right 100% of the time. You have to give them the understanding of not only “WHAT do I need to do?”, buy “WHY do I need to do it?”
When you think of the slides that Jeff [Eastman] illustrated for us today, when you move to the level of mastery, they have to have the knowledge that they need, so they’ve been trained, so they know what they need to do, and they have to have confidence to know how to do it. And then you help get the commitment by helping them understand why they need to do the things they need to do. And that’s when they’ll do the right thing, whether you’re looking at them, or whether you’re not.
All of this sounds good in theory, but how can we practically implement this in each of your manufacturing facilities? And that goes back to the company commitment. It's not good to have a metric just to be able to pass an audit score. Because your food safety focus needs to be a lot more than just three days of the week or three days of the year when you happen to be going through an SQF or a BRC audit. We have to have a commitment that you have the procedures in place and you know that they work, that they control the hazards that have been identified, and that you do that in a sanitary environment. We're really talking about employees who are trained and handle the products properly, again, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, every time they touch that product, and they’re doing it with validated procedures. And that’s how we’re going to make sure that we assure the safety of your food products itself, because we’ve all heard and seen the horrific and the catastrophic events that can occur from failures in these systems.
Then, secondly, let's take a deeper dive into the quality – the quality of your product could be very high, it could be low, it’s going to be based on your price points and your specifications. But the key is you should be making consistent quality product to be able to meet and exceed those customer expectations. What we want to do is have a system where every employee knows and accepts their responsibility, and that includes specifications. And within your specifications you have to identify what are the key components and characteristics of those products. And then you need the SPC systems in place, so you can measure that and see are you hitting your target, or are you operating with an acceptable range from upper limits and lower limits, and how much is your standard deviation in that process, to where you actually measure it and then see if you are, and can you prove to your customers you're providing a consistent quality product to them.
And then the third area here is maximizing yields, O.K. And there's such an impact and opportunity on profitability to be able to go through this process and to be able to accomplish that. You know, there have to be standards in place for the yields at each one of the major manufacturing processes, you need to be able to have a standard, and you need to be able to measure those yields so you know whether it’s going through a manufacturing step, or a cooking step, or a packaging step, or looking at your total product yield all the way from green to finish weight, of are you meeting those yield results and expectations, and are you measuring the variance from that? Can you tell, based on the volume that’s been produced, and the value of that product, you know, how much did you lose in yield for a given day or how much did you make from a positive impact on yield? But the key is to continually reinforce that message that we can’t and we shouldn’t sacrifice safety or quality because of yield or because of productivity, because if you sacrifice those things, it’s going to have an impact on your bottom line.
So, when you set a productivity system up in place, you know, there should be staffing standards so you know exactly how many employees are necessary on each line and how many support employees are necessary for the overall operation. Then, there should be efficiency standards for each one of the lines so you know what the target volume throughput is, and what the speed of those lines are, and then how much time should be necessary for it, and then the line efficiency reporting, so you know exactly on a daily basis how did the lines perform.
If you take the TOPS concept and use Alchemy to reinforce it, there's two or three great ways to do that. One is when you identify needs in the plant where additional training is required, you can actually use Creator or some of the baseline programs to be able to address that, specifically around SOPs. And then the second thing is using the Coach application. The Coach application is a great tool that you can use in the plant, and you can create observations within the Coach application to go back and reinforce and then record all that within the Coach system. I think Alchemy's got great solutions in training programs and then the Coach product.