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Packaging requires effective management
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Recent studies by Provisor show that the difference between effective management of oxygen at bottling can be the difference between instantaneous sulphur dioxide loss of more than 13mg/L versus a potential loss of less than 1mg/L.
The importance of this instantaneous loss of sulphur in a closure or package with high oxygen permeability can be the difference between oxidative development in the bottle and effective protection from oxidation.
Wineries need to look much more closely at the effective management of oxygen on lines as inadequately managed oxygen ingress can result in high bottle to bottle variability and the development of undesirable bottle development characters.
A second area where bottling can be improved is in the effective management of line efficiency. There are a number of operational management principles from the manufacturing sector, such as Lean Manufacturing, that can be used to improve the consistency of product from bottling lines. The aim of lean systems is to deliver zero overproduction, minimum transportation, minimum waiting, minimum inventory, zero unnecessary motion, zero over processing and zero defects. In the internationally competitive market of today all lines should be seeking these outcomes as they will reduce costs and increase consistency.
A third area of issue in packaging is total quality management of supplies. Few bottling lines have specifications of the dry goods that they need to perform consistent bottling. How many bottlers know the acceptable range of dimensions of a cork, bottle neck or elastic recovery of a closure? Too few know what that will mean in terms of the consistency of the wine product that is delivered to the customer.
Wineries have started to come to terms with specifications for cork taint in closures and a number of additional taint tests are becoming available. But this is a small aspect of total quality management in closures and wineries must come to terms with what they need to meet their quality targets.
Another area is effective management of transportation as our wine travels the world. At Provisor, we have recently developed tools for determining the impact of temperature in transportation on wine to assist clients manage the significant impact that poor logistics have on the quality and consistency of their wines.
Taint in packaging is an issue that must be dealt with. This can come either through internal taint such as TCA, taint adsorbed onto surfaces, and taint on the packaging that the closures (for example) come in. Effective management of taint should be pushed back onto suppliers and the number of TCA soaks that we see being conducted by cork suppliers suggests that they are taking this seriously. Concern about any sources of taint can be dealt with by choice of supplier and supplier relationships and quality assurance practices.
Contamination and cleanliness is another area of concern that can be managed with the expectation that supplies arrive clean. But there are many opportunities for internal management of storage, management of partially used batches of dry goods, cleanliness of packaging and storage areas all of which would be appropriately looked at through the lens of Lean Manufacturing tools that focus on cleanliness and organisation.
Written by Darren Oemcke, chief executive officer, Provisor for the August 2007 issue of Grapegrower & Winemaker.