Why going paperless is critical for food safety and quality

Digital solutions support safer, cleaner, more profitable food production.

Conveience Line Software for data driven decision making

Paper is not the problem, it’s a symptom

In a processing plant, the use of paper-based systems is a telling sign of a company’s maturity and competitive viability. It’s a sign that the organization undervalues the power of data to prioritize food safety while making manufacturing dramatically more efficient overall.

This is not to say that paper has no place. You may need to print invoices and reports, and sometimes it’s good to have a physical copy of a document to read and scribble notes on. Paper itself is not the problem, however, a reliance on paper-based methods is a key symptom pointing to deeper challenges in the factory.

To ensure food quality and remain competitive in a modern business environment, processors need digital solutions.

Robobatcher Innova

Going paperless is not the end goal—it’s a means to achieve your goals

Business owners often cite going paperless and automating data collection as their ultimate goals. This indicates that they see the value of data, but have yet to fully understand its uses or how it can be applied to food safety, quality, and indeed almost all aspects of food production to reap tangible benefits.

Eliminating paper and automating data collection are not the actual outcomes that business owners are looking for. Rather, these are a means to an end. The real goal is to ensure that products are safe, appealing, and profitable.

Companies must define precisely what they intend to achieve by going paperless. These goals will then shape every step of their digital journey as part of a larger strategy.

Why digital beats paper for food safety and more

Improving food safety and quality is a priority for processors, but achieving ongoing visibility into quality data is near impossible using paper-based systems. Quality management solutions give operators and supervisors control over yield and program compliance in the following ways and more.

Exploration Of Pains And Solutions

Data analytics and control

Advanced software such as Innova can analyze data with a level of speed and interconnectedness that is impossible with paper. Real-time data analytics  alert to potential problems and highlight opportunities for improvement, so you can make smart decisions in an instant via a user-friendly dashboard . Software can also analyze historical trends to gain insights that inform a strategy of continuous improvement.


Controlling versions of your data is a struggle when using a paper-based model, as documents are typically read and updated one at a time. With a centralized software system and user-friendly dashboard, you can ensure vital information such as inventory, production schedule, and traceability data is accurate and up to date.

Automating real-time data capture from equipment also greatly decreases the risk of inaccuracies. Even when human input is needed, software can limit input fields to only accept data in the correct format and detect duplication, further reducing the risk of errors.


If you need to track and trace a product, the last thing you want is to waste valuable time combing through paper files to find the information you need. With traceability software, you can track and trace products in an instant.


Software enables you to greatly streamline internal compliance efforts. With an intuitive compliance manager dashboard and multi-facility views, management teams have real-time visibility into compliance against corporate standards. Users can manage, audit, score, and enforce requirements with a single tool while monitoring and eliminating risk across all activities.

Sanitation and pre-op processes

Sanitation and pre-operational (pre-op) processes are essential to ensure that no hazards are present before production begins. For instance, quality personnel might check to make sure that equipment is clean and functioning properly, that employees are following personal hygiene measures, and so on.

These procedures are crucial but time-consuming. Instead of using pencil and paper, quality teams can leverage mobile forms and save around 10-20% of time spent on sanitation and pre-op activities.

Foreign materials

Plant management software empowers quality teams to have greater visibility into each line with data uploaded from IoT-enabled equipment and operators. This allows them to act quickly when issues such as foreign materials arise, and also prevent them from occurring in the first place. Your plant can see a significant reduction of metal, bone, skin, feathers, and other foreign materials.

Sampling and inspection checks

Sampling and inspection checks help to ensure products are being made safely and according to specifications. With plant management software, you can monitor production more closely for potential issues, intervene sooner when concerns do arise, and use tactics such as statistical process control (SPC) to tighten quality measures, and as a result, see a reduction in unneeded checks to reduce the overall time spent on inspection checks by 5-10%.


Digitalization not only eliminates paper waste, it also enables you to optimize your use of ingredients, prevent making foods to the wrong specs, and other factors that can cause food safety and quality issues that lead to waste.

Employee performance and morale

By automating tedious processes and providing operator guidance , you can reduce human error while freeing up time for your team to make better use of their skills. Having a centralized system also fosters team collaboration and co-ordination as everyone is now working within the same digital environment.

Going paperless must be a global solution

Any move toward digital operations can have a positive impact, but the benefits will be severely limited if you treat changes as localized add-ons rather than a global solution.

Digital transformation involves more profound and widespread changes to how your business uses digital technology. It’s about understanding and implementing the true potential of digital solutions to not only improve existing processes, but to revolutionize how you do business.

To be truly effective, a paperless initiative must be systematic and comprehensive, based on a platform and infrastructure that natively support the devices and connections you need for success. Platform-based paperless solutions offer faster response times by the simple fact that data has already been unified, creating a common infrastructure for consistent decision support and optimized paperless performance.

Like any transition, the data and analytics journey must take place in stages . Expert support and careful planning are crucial to start laying the foundation and building buy-in throughout your organization.

Marel is an industry leader in food processing software

It should be clear by now that a complete and effective digital initiative can dramatically enhance your food safety and quality assurance as well as overall operational performance. Understanding and analyzing your data empowers you to make immediate and long-term strategic decisions that have far-reaching benefits for your business.

Implementing new systems and techniques is vital to ensure customer safety and satisfaction and keep up with the competition. Fortunately, with Innova Food Processing Software and the support of our global service team, change doesn’t need to be difficult. Innova gives you all the tools you need to automatically collect, analyze, and convert production data into vital insights, all while giving you complete control of production and quality assurance.

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