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Fresh fruit assured with quality systems

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Quality Gamebox


Fresh fruit assured with quality systems—
and PQ Systems software helps to prove it.

An organization that names “quality” as one of the four pillars representing the foundation of a company had better have systems in place that will create stability and endurance in that pillar.

Paramount Citrus does.

North America's largest fully integrated citrus grower, packer, shipper, and marketer of fresh fruits depends on continuous improvement and lean manufacturing practices and utilizes PQ Systems' products to assure that its foundation remains secure.

Paramount's focus on quality is accompanied by dedication to customer service, innovation, and food safety—all vitally important for any organization, but especially for a competitive food producer with markets throughout North America and the Pacific Rim.

The company has launched use of CHARTrunner-m to address the unique challenges it faces. Heitor Lipsky, Quality Assurance Manager for the company, points out that the production system—highly dependent not only on Mother Nature, but on fluctuations in market demand as well—is by its nature susceptible to variation. And with ten points of collection of fruit, “each one different,” Lipsky points out that there is “lots of movement” that CHARTrunner-m helps to tame.

“The kinds of alarms that are raised are unique to the process,” he says, since its complexities demand appropriate alarms based on rapidly-changing key signals rather than false alerts.

“During our packing process one of our goals is having a proper statistical treatment to our samples in order to help us to decide the need of eventual process adjustments. CHARTrunner is the tool we elected to help us with this task. The ability of connecting to multiple database sources was key for implementing it,” Lipsky says.

Paramount Citrus originally used Excel as a prototype data source to develop its own system. Once this was stable, they upgraded to Oracle in order to achieve greater stability and improved access, Lipsky says, adding that the transition was very smooth, allowing implementation of CHARTrunner-m, which, he says, “provided the benefit of using pre-existent work and creating monitors to send alarms (in this case e-mails) to key people in the process” when a condition that demands their attention occurs, without the need of constantly monitoring individual charts.

Paramount has been a pioneer in the food processing industry in its use of Six Sigma, Lean, and Statistical Process Control techniques. Lipsky himself is a Six Sigma Black Belt, and has translated his rich background in manufacturing quality to the food industry.

In addition to its launch of CHARTrunner-m, Paramount Citrus uses CHARTrunner, GAGEpack, and Quality Workbench to prove its determination to provide high-quality fresh fruit to its customers. Using the Document Control module of Quality Workbench, the company has been migrating documents related to food safety to the program, in order to enhance its excellent safety record and to assure that all documents, from recipes to job descriptions, are current and accurate.

Paramount Citrus owns, cultivates, and harvests more than 30,000 acres of fresh fruits, including Clementine mandarins, navel and Valencia oranges, lemons, Minneolas, and other citrus varieties. This diverse offering assures a year-round supply for customers.

Consistent freshness and quality of citrus is vital to the company's success, but its commitment to customer service and food safety also contributes to customers' confidence in the products. Always looking ahead, the company invests in research and development in consumer taste profiles to assure that its offerings match consumer preferences. For example, the company began shipping its best-selling Clementine mandarins in 2008 as California Cuties,™ anticipating consumers' taste for the small, sweet fruit.

Paramount Citrus plants can process up to 10 million cartons (200,000 tons) of citrus annually. These are shipped throughout North America as well as the Pacific Rim.

To deal with the demands of such a massive and diverse operation, Paramount Citrus has adopted Continuous Improvement and Lean Manufacturing practices. The company manages the business from field to customer using Oracle-based ERP software. CHARTrunner helps to analyze data from processes throughout the company, while GAGEpack supports the company's measurement system analysis.

The next time you peel a little Clementine mandarin or squeeze juice from a navel orange—undoubtedly produced by Paramount Citrus—you can be confident that those who produced the fruit have worked day and night to assure its quality and safety.

And PQ Systems has helped.

PQ Systems  |  Proof of quality.

PQ Systems, Inc.  |  210 B East Spring Valley Road, Dayton, OH 45458  |  800-777-3020

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