According to Todd Dunlop, Director of Quality Assurance and R&D, the process is simple. What’s hard is making the treats consistently, to spec, every time. “We were used to getting reports on products that had already been run and packaged, where there was nothing we could do to change the outcome,” Dunlap says.
“Before we were asking, ‘Can we release this product or not?’ Now we’re asking what happened, how can we improve our process, how can we set parameters during the process to make sure we’re running within specification through the whole process, and we know in time to make changes.”
SKALA’s environmental monitoring has also allowed Hampshire to account for seasonal impacts. “We’ve always had summer and winter run parameters. But now we can measure temperature and relative humidity to control based on actual conditions,” Dunlop says. “The system records the parameters that are linked to making a successful product under those specific conditions, so we can use the data to refine our production process.
Water activity’s usefulness as a quality and safety measurement was suggested when it became evident moisture content could not adequately account for microbial growth fluctuations.