Visualising HACCP with BowTie barrier risk management - part 3

How different management systems can be linked to your bowtie diagram and how bowtie diagrams help promote relevant organisational improvements - Visualising HACCP with BowTie barrier risk management - video part 3. Find our more about our Bowtie services here


Andrew Collins: “Welcome to our third and final presentation on the visualisation of HACCP using barrier risk management. I am here with Alistair Cowen from CGE Risk. My name is Andrew Collins from Campden BRI. In the previous two videos, Alistair walked you through how the Bowtie is structured and I shared with you how that might look in a food situation, however, there is a lot more this tool can be used for. The Bowtie software program gives us the possibility to visualise Bowties at any point in time and how Bowties group together. For example, for our supply chain, it could be at farmers, transport, manufacturers, retailers’, or consumers level.

So, in our example, we can see the threat of food contamination coming from the farm, with its leading consequences, not only at the farm but to the manufacturer. This is shown right up in the top left corner of the manufacturer Bowtie diagram, but also its consequences on the right side. Then when we look at the retailer level, who are going to sell the products, expect to receive food safe to eat, if not, consumers buying contaminated products could potentially get ill.

And the other beauty of the Bowtie software program, is that there are continuous hazards links throughout the supply chain, providing an effective traceability.

However, in this example, we have highlighted contamination on the food packaging, with nothing to eliminate, stop, or reduce it, that will impact the consumer and consequently there is a risk of reputational damage for the retailer. This is of course just an example, but it shows that the Bowtie software program gives you a deep picture of what can happen, and make us realise that our threats may not always come from our immediate suppliers or within the manufacturing process. You can also, easily see loops, for example, re-contamination or additional contamination which might happen within the manufacturing environment.

This model effectively allows us to understand the whole journey and, depending on who we want to present it to, can be looked at different zoom levels.”

Alistair Cowin: “On that, I tend to start with an individual process which we are trying to understand and make sure we get good control over. If I have a particular step of that process, I could do a more detailed Bowtie for it. Lower down the chain I go, the more Bowties I will produce but, I would really save those for critical activities.

The other things with the tool, is that I can blend in my nature of risk, cover food safety, HSE, business risk or loss of reputation. I can then pull up from this, I can take data from my detailed Bowties and just bake it in. Some of those could be threats to the business, so if I am running multiple processes on one site, I could group those to see the threats that come from all those processes at a business level, and how that might impact the business risks. At an individual level, it gives the manager of a particular process line the power to run their line and understand the risks which they are responsible for, and then maybe go down to some of the key steps and, give to those individual involve the details that they need to understand to work effectively. So, from a top to bottom, it is a very powerful tool that provide at any level, a chaining view from start to end.

Andrew Collins: “The way you present the information with a common but specific language, allows to communicate effectively throughout the business. So, the tool can not only be used for food, but also used for an occupational health employee for example, looking at the health and safety process aspect.

Alistair Cowin: “For business risks, so communication is key. Thanks to its visual, this tool breaks down some of the language. It is easy to see here, how the engineering aspects of the site contribute to the business risks, the output of the product contributes to the business risk, and the engineering protects the business risk.

The software brings it all together and gives you, the diagram we have seen previously, with its flow, helping us understand why putting in place those processes are critical to the control of targeted hazard and, consequently to my business operation. This is possible thanks to the commonality of language but also, the graphic simplification it provides.

Andrew Collins: “It makes it easy for people to understand, we could look at a barrier and then we can underpin the activities or, the procedures that allow that barrier to function effectively. However, we need to think about the escalation factors or, degradation factors which could compromise the effectiveness of the barrier. This tool helps us highlight that with colour, shading etc, allowing to point out where we need to maintain that functionality, all by using information we already have.”

Alistair Cowin: “Yes, and it is not about having to do something else. You already understand the barriers you have in place; you probably have them documented, they are just in folders and you have to go through two inches of paperwork to find them. This gives you a lens into your management systems, the processes, the steps that you do, and by colouring them in, you are highlighting the criticality of certain steps, or where steps are missing and you might even realise that those steps don't deliver the functions that you want. It is a slight additional task, but it provides you clarity and focus and builds on the knowledge you have by making it easier to interpret.”

Andrew Collins: “It does require sometimes a way of thinking differently about some of these. Now to add value to this, we can mention about the labelling in terms of the allergens not being declared on the label and consequently being a threat. However, we have the packaging specs as a barrier to make sure that the right information is on the label but also, another barrier about the legal requirements on what needs to be done. And within each activity, the software allows to add that and who is responsible for each barrier.

Alistair Cowin: “However, we haven't filled this information in for the demo. Risk management is also about understanding who is responsible for each activity. In a business, it could be people from different departments or sub-contractors, who might not have the full concept. So, this gives them a reach around the problem, helping them understanding why it is critical, and for them to get it right every time.”

Andrew Collins: “Going back to the graph again, and for illustration purposes only, we have highlighted that we have a threat however there is no barrier in that line, or we have got a consequence in that other line, but there is no mitigation. So, it is about knowing how effective those controls are and this is something we can tag in real time. Here again in our example, we have got the presence of undeclared allergens in the raw material, but we have got an effective approved supplier protocol. However, when we look at things like the introduction and diffusion of allergens from the air, we can start thinking about scheduling or maybe we only have a partial zoning because we don’t have walls going up to the ceiling making us realise that our controls might not be as effective as they should.”

Alistair Cowin: “The key thing here is that if you looked at a poorly performing schedule on its own, would you have linked it to the fact that the other barrier that sits alongside it, the other thing that you might rely on, is also poorly performing. So, you might look at it from a raw data point of view and think that it is not as good as we would like but it is okay for now whereas this tool brings the context of those two things which sit on the same threat line, and suddenly, you realise that you need at least one of them to be green. I now have that business focus and need to decide which one I can fix today, or which one is the cheapest, which one can I get running quicker. It gives you that focus that you would not have had by just looking at the individual data.

Andrew Collins: “And you can also look at barriers that might sit on both sides of the hazard. In our example, we have to make sure we put the right label on the right product but also have the right information on it to be able to communicate to the consumer in the risk category what is in this product. The visual helps to focus on the fact that there is a limit, and something needs to be in place to stop the risk from happening.

Through our three videos, we provided you a top-level overview of the Bowtie concept. However, you have seen how it can add a lot of value and can be used very effectively by any business in the food industry. If you feel this will add value to your business or is going to strengthen and improve what you already have, please drop me a line or give me a call. And if you want to find out more about CGE risk, give Alistair a call or drop him an email.

Thank you very much for listening and I look forward to hearing from you.

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