Friday, February 24, 2017

HPP: The Future of Food Preservation is Now

Bacteria are Feeling the Pressure

By: John Spillson

High Pressure Processing, or HPP, has gained a great deal of popularity lately driven by foodies demanding higher quality products, increased shelf life and “clean” processing (products made without, or with very few, non-natural ingredients or additives). This preservation process has been known to triple the shelf life of many food products without the use of chemicals, and without reducing the taste or flavor profile of the product itself.

A key ingredient for food manufacturers.

According to the FDA, HPP takes cold food products and subjects them to pressures higher than those found in the deepest oceans—typically, pressures between 100 and 800 MPa (megapascal) are used to destroy the bacteria that can spoil food. This is the equivalent of 20 miles below the ocean! Bacteria, yeast and mold are not able to survive these immense pressures, leaving only high quality, healthy food.

Another advantage of HPP is that it doesn’t use heat in any way, so taste is not compromised. Not only does this increase the flavor and attractiveness of the product, it also makes supply chain issues much more manageable because small processors who rely on quick turnarounds and large channels of distribution will benefit.

Processing the numbers. 

Currently, there are more than 200 HPP units across the United States. While Michigan is quickly becoming a major food processing player, there are zero HPP units available for use by local processors. The only known unit in the state is used by Garden Fresh, now owned by Campbell Soup Co. The typical unit will cost about $3 million—a significant barrier to entry for most small to mid-sized food processors. Like most industries, about 60% of the units in operation will co-pack for others.

In a toll manufacturing arrangement, a company provides its raw materials or semi-finished goods to a third-party service provider. The service provider, who often has specialized equipment or infrastructure, provides a subset of manufacturing processes on behalf of the company using those materials or goods for a fee. Unfortunately, the nearest “tolling” center to Michigan is located in Pennsylvania where there are three units. Otherwise, you’ll have to travel to Wisconsin to have your products processed.

HPP on the menu.

What are some of the most favorable products for HPP? Soups, salsas, hummus, juices and cold salads such as chicken and tuna salad are all excellent choices. While much of the expense is based around the manual loading and unloading of the HPP machines, this cost likely will come down as process improvements are made.

While food safety scares and recalls should be on the decline, newer more accurate tests are finding more contaminated and adulterated products. As a result, HPP will continue to gain attention by both food processors and the public seeking a safer food supply.

Food for thought.

One of the best things that should happen to the food processing industry in Michigan would be the opening of a HPP tolling center where local food businesses can take advantage of this revolutionary shelf life-extending technology. As the food processing industry in Michigan continues to grow, the need for this type of equipment becomes even more evident.

Hungry for smarter manufacturing?

If you’re a small to medium-sized food processor and want to maximize efficiency and minimize waste throughout your operations, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) is your homegrown resource. To learn more about our Food Processing services, visit, or contact me directly at

In other food news…

The Center is pleased to participate at the following food events in March:

Michigan Celebrates Food and Agriculture Gala
March 2, 2017
5:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Greektown Casino in Downtown Detroit
Michigan Celebrates Food and Agriculture Gala

2017 Pure Michigan Agribusiness Summit
March 9, 2017
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi
2017 Pure Michigan Agribusiness Summit

Meet Our Expert

John Spillson
Food Business Development Manager

John Spillson is a member of The Center’s Food Team. For more than 20 years, John owned and operated his own food processing company, taking a family recipe of rice pudding into five states. This experience has given him extensive knowledge in production, sales, food safety, marketing, warehousing and logistics. To read John’s full bio, visit

Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Friday, February 17, 2017

How Manufacturers are Improving Cost Identification and Management Estimates

By: Robert (Rob) Stauffer MBA, PMP

Improving cost identification is one of the most crucial elements involved in driving your
organization towards operational excellence and success. With the manufacturing sector evolving to a whole new level of functionality, manufacturers now are finding themselves under pressure to optimize budgets, quality and efficiency, while keeping up with the latest technological trends and adapting to market conditions.

Manufacturing facilities must have an effective cost estimate system in place that is up to date with both the latest technologies and processes. A well respected method commonly used is Activity Based Cost Management. Often referred to as ABC Costing, it differs from Traditional Costing (Cost Accounting) in several ways.

Traditional Costing 

Generally, manufacturing companies have utilized Traditional Costing in the past to assign manufacturing overhead to units produced, assuming that the volume metric is the fundamental driver of overhead costs. The problem with this method is that accountants only assign manufacturing dollars to products, failing to allocate costs associated with producing the item. As a result, estimates for cost of goods sold and gross margins can vary drastically when using this method in comparison to using ABC Management. Although Traditional Costing is easy to implement for companies—especially ones that provide a single product—it is considered outdated since a large number of machines and computers are now used in manufacturing facilities. It also does not address other cost drivers that contribute to the total capital expenditure of an item, which can lead to poor management decisions and profit losses.

Activity-Based Costing 

In comparison to Traditional Costing, Activity-Based Costing (ABC Costing) provides a more accurate view of a product. ABC Costing assesses and determines all activities associated with producing an item and allocates a cost to the activity. The allocated cost is then assigned to the products that require this activity for production and completion. This method is highly beneficial because it eliminates the allocation of irrelevant costs to a product and increases a company’s ability to maximize profits. Additionally, ABC Costing allows for transparent interpretation of costs, enabling internal management to better understand overhead budgets and plan accordingly.

Activity-Based Management

Activity-Based Management (ABM) is highly recommended for manufacturers for a number of reasons. First and foremost, ABM was born in manufacturing. Its superior benefits were noticed early on in product manufacturing settings and continue to assist manufacturers by:

●     Accurately identifying profitable and unprofitable products.
●     Discovering and eliminating needless expenses.
●     Easily pricing products to achieve acceptable and profitable margins.
●     Identifying the discrepancies between true value added activities and non-value added

The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) can assist in implementing an efficient Activity-Based Cost Management System, enabling you to accurately gather data about your operating costs and diagnose any problems. To learn more about our Cost Identification and Management Mentoring services, visit, or contact me directly at

Meet Our Blogger

Robert (Rob) Stauffer MBA, PMP
Senior Lean, Costing and Project Management Consultant

Rob has been on The Center’s Lean team for 10 years. He has trained and mentored Michigan companies in the entire portfolio of Lean Six Sigma strategies and methods specializing in financial analysis, costing, strategic planning and Lean applied to the healthcare industry. He also works with clients on product development, product launches, transactional office processes and sales of technical programs. To read Rob’s full bio, visit

Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Friday, February 10, 2017

Using Your ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System to Implement the 2015 Requirements

By: Andy Nichols


The 1974 David Bowie song suggests the singer has to “turn and face the strange,” and at first sight, some of the new requirements for ISO 9001:2015 might look like a “Space Oddity.” There’s the addition of “risk,” nothing about any documented procedures, quality manual or even that the role of the “management representative” is missing. And, what about the new layout? The so-called “Annex SL” structure expands the requirements, numbering from 4 through 8 to 4 through 10? Definitely strange for some! With the clock already started to tick away on the deadline for the upgrade, is your organization now “Under Pressure”?

If you use your current ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System, you have all the tools at your fingertips to plan and implement the revisions:

Quality management system planning – 5.4.2

“Top management shall ensure that

The planning of the quality management system is carried out in order to meet the requirements given in 4.1…and,”

“the integrity of the quality management system is maintained when changes to the quality management system are planned and  implemented”

Management Representative – 5.5.2

“a) ensuring that processes needed for the quality management system are established, implemented and maintained…”

Management review – 5.6.1 General

“This review shall include assessing…the need for changes to the quality management system…”

Review input 5.6.2

“The input to management review shall include information on

f)  changes that could affect the quality management system”

There is, however, a challenge for implementation in that organizations simply don’t go home on Friday, after switching off their 2008 QMS, and arrive the following Monday to a new, 2015-based way of managing Quality. ISO 9001 also indicates what has to be considered in the transition:

Quality management system – 4

“The organization shall establish, document, implement and maintain a quality management system…in accordance with the requirements of this International Standard”

“These processes shall be managed by the organization in accordance with the requirements of this International Standard”

A key part of planning is going to be the use of the organization’s “Management Review.” If the organization adopts “P, D, C, A” as its methodology, the review becomes a platform for management of change, instead of just being something “ISO” requires.

WARNING: An organization which carries out their Management Review or Internal Audits once per year may wish to consider that, when set against the available transition 18 month window and the P, D, C, A cycle, more frequent internal audits and reviews will be needed to maintain control and assure a successful recertification!

If we take, as an example, the dropping of the requirement for a Quality Manual – and put it as an input to Management Review – management would need to:

a) Consider the effect of no longer having a Quality Manual
        • On the organization
        • On customers’ needs and expectations
        • On regulatory compliance

b) Consider the value of a Quality Manual to the organization
        • As a means of communicating quality policy, quality objectives, the scope of the
          management system, exclusions and any justifications, etc.
        • Describing the sequence(s) and interaction(s) of the processes of the quality management

Having reviewed this, the ISO 9001:2008 requirements then go on to indicate what should happen:
Review output 5.6.3

“The output from the management review shall include any decisions and actions relating to

a) Improvement of the effectiveness of the quality management system and its processes…

c) Resource needs”

It may well be that management decides to keep the quality manual as “documented information” (another requirement which has changed terminology) in light of perceived customer needs and expectations. A further decision may be to improve the format of the existing quality manual so it doesn’t simply follow the ISO 9001 layout, since no-one in the organization reads/understands it! Of course, in deciding to do that, someone will be assigned to the tasks associated with those decisions.

You’re Not “Absolute Beginners”

We’re nearly halfway through the three-year transition period given to organizations to revise and recertify their Quality Management Systems to the ISO 9001:2015 requirements. Engage the various requirements of your current Quality Management System, and by using them as they were intended, you’ll see a big benefit. Unconvinced? Call 888.414.6682 and speak to one of our experts here at The Center.

The next 18 months may prove a golden opportunity to make much needed improvements, and you could be “Dancing in the Street” after your ISO upgrade audit!

Meet Our Blogger

Andy Nichols
Quality Program Manager

Andy has 40 years of expertise in a wide variety of roles and industries, with a focus on quality management systems in manufacturing organizations. In addition to his ISO 9000 Management Systems experience, he has worked extensively with ISO/TS16949, ISO/IEC 17024 and ISO/IEC 17025.

His broad practical knowledge of ‘Quality Tools’ includes: SPC, FMEA, Quality Circles, Problem Solving, Internal Auditing and Process Mapping. He also has been an IRCA and RABQSA accredited Lead Auditor. To read Andy's full bio, visit

Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Friday, February 3, 2017

Rescue Your Website Before It’s Too Late!

Five Steps To Superhero Status

By: Charlie Westra

Superheroes hold a special place in our culture. Whether you fall into the Batman camp or see Superman as the consummate crusader, these caped characters all have a distinct persona, carefully crafted around a position of strength and superiority. In the world of manufacturing, battling the forces of competition requires a similar strategy of building a powerful and positive image. Quite often, it starts with how a company appears online.

When your customers or prospects visit your website, what type of message are you sending? Strong and capable, or outdated and irrelevant? Can you imagine Spider-Man cruising around in a rusty old pickup instead of swinging from skyscraper to skyscraper? Now with that image in your head…

Here are five reasons why regularly upgrading your website is NOT optional. It’s my version of the Fantastic Four, plus one:

1. VISUAL APPEAL – Captain America wouldn’t be as amazing without his shiny starred shield. In real life, your customers should be impressed when they visit your website. Are those images too small or too grainy to see any real detail? Or do you have pages of text, but barely any compelling photos? (No, a picture of your building is not compelling.) Let visitors know you’re a progressive, modern company that invests in technology. Include eye-catching elements, images and videos that engage your audience.

2. CONTENT – No one wants to watch an Avengers movie without thrilling action sequences, just like no one wants to visit a website with dull content. Ask yourself the following questions: Does your most recent case study feature a company that is no longer in business? Did your social campaigns lose traction after a relative stopped posting for the company? Does it seem that no one gave a second thought to editing and formatting? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, now is the time to act. Find something that will bring people back to your website. (Think sequel!) Need talent? A careers section may be a good option. Have spare parts available? Add a catalog to your site.

3. SECURITY – You need armor. (No special suit required. Promise!) Website security often is overlooked. On average, it can cost a business nearly $2,500 to repair after a security breach. You might think hackers aren’t concerned about a company like yours, right? Wrong! Injected malware can cause serious damage. At a minimum, find out which type of protection you have. If you don’t have any, make sure you have a back-up copy of your site and invest in an appropriate defense. It could save you thousands of dollars, and your online reputation. Consider an SSL certificate to help safeguard any data transferred online.

4. MOBILE COMPATIBILITY – Superheroes don’t just work in an office, and neither do your customers. Consider the importance of mobile-friendly sites. Importantly, Google now prioritizes mobile sites in search rankings. People will generally stay longer on sites that are easier to view and navigate on smaller screens. Why? Because navigation buttons are easier to click, the text is clearer to read, plus scrolling and larger imagery are used.

5. SEO – Did you perform well in search rankings optimized for a late ‘90s audience—when Clooney was Batman? Or worse yet . . . Keaton? Are you fighting to show up on (yawn) page 13? Correct placement and designation of appropriate page-specific keywords is of the utmost importance. Crafting engaging and effective metadata titles and corresponding description tags takes time and skill. Don’t trust it to a fly-by-night company. (Tony Stark would disapprove.)

The Ending (It’s Really Just the Beginning)  

Before the new Wonder Woman movie hits theaters, let’s clear up two common misconceptions. First, you don’t need a budget the size of a Hollywood blockbuster for your website to look incredible. Secondly, beware of the “set it and forget it” mentality. A website is supposed to be a living tool. It should evolve as you introduce products/services and integrate new capabilities and technology.

Don’t settle for a website that is just “good enough.” Strive for stardom. After all, an effective web presence is one real-life super power that any business can achieve. Need help? Consider a resource that understands manufacturers—the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center. Contact me today at


Charlie Westra
Growth Services Program Manager

Charlie Westra is a Program Manager for The Center. He assists clients with the development and implementation of online growth strategies that are designed to increase online traffic, revenue and engagement. To read Charlie’s full bio, visit

Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at