Technology Snapshot: Mettler-Toledo Product Inspection is giving food manufacturers critical assistance as they gear up for the food industry’s fast-approaching digital transformation, with the release of a new, significantly updated version of its ProdX product inspection management software. Based on Industry 4.0 principles of secure machine-to-machine communication, and in preparation for connectivity to the latest data-protective Blockchain technology, ProdX 2.4 delivers full digital Track & Trace and real-time food safety compliance. Specific enhancements include:
- Security features, such as enhanced password rules to enforce the use of strong passwords which must be centrally verified by the software
- Security across firewalls, with enhanced Open Platform Communication Unified Architecture (OPC UA) encrypted machine-to-machine communication, including tags for performance test results, seamlessly shared with high-end systems such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Manufacturing Execution System (MES)
- Automatically logged performance test data to fulfill food safety regulations
- Full support for batch changeovers which means that an individual product can be automatically traced via its unique serial number
- Fail-safe testing regime for product inspection, ensuring due diligence and compliant performance
“Food manufacturers are under increasing pressure to satisfy stringent food safety rules and regulations. The growing need for continuous real-time monitoring of food safety compliance will force a cultural attitude change in how manufacturers implement food safety measures” said Peter Spring, head of product development for ProdX, Mettler-Toledo Product Inspection. “ProdX enables manufacturers to get ahead of these requirements and operate a cost-effective digital solution that provides real-time food compliance, digital traceability and full integrity of data, as well as complete product inspection management. The need for digital food track and traceability is coming—the latest version of our proprietary software ensures that manufacturers are ready for it right now”.
Enhanced security features ensure that food manufacturers can demonstrate full accountability and transparency, with individual password control, centrally verified and linked to each machine operator or team leader’s role and access privileges. Data is automatically captured and is tamper-proof within ProdX 2.4, including metadata, i.e. when, who, where and what was inspected, guaranteeing the integrity of the data in the system. In this way, the new software exceeds the requirements of British Retail Consortium Global Standard (BRCGS) Food Safety Clause 6.3.3, which establishes global minimum legal, operational and testing standards for the operation of online checkweighers.
ProdX is positioned to profoundly change the ways that food manufacturers manage food safety. Instead of manual data input and box ticking, measures such as regular compliance performance tests can be automated, and the results are logged digitally without human intervention. This fail-safe testing regime means that food manufacturers can prove, with the correct documentation, that their product inspection equipment has continued to meet compliant performance standards throughout production, at the batch level, or even individual item level.
New regulations and standards on compliance and transparency in the food industry supply chain—for example, the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new rules on digital track and trace—make the ability to quickly and accurately track and trace batches of food products more important than ever. Spring goes on to explain the importance of product inspection management software stating, “Food manufacturers must be ready for these changes and digital technology provides the answer. Implementing such a digital transformation on their own can be expensive. It also requires sound planning. Mettler-Toledo’s ProdX product inspection management system is ready to go now and is continually developing to keep ahead of evolving food safety compliance requirements."
The COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted the need for a much greater degree of digital food safety monitoring, with onsite access for auditing often restricted. Product inspection management software such as ProdX enables a significant proportion of current onsite checks to be handled digitally. In addition, it continuously monitors critical control point data down to batch levels for full track and trace capabilities and, in the event of a product recall, for quick product retrieval.