About Van's Kitchen
Van’s Kitchen is a family-owned, food processing company that was founded in 1986 by Vietnamese immigrants, Kim and Van Nguyen. Van’s has 100 employees and they do approximately $35m in annual sales out of their production facility in Dallas Texas, growing at 30% year-on-year.
Van’s primarily makes eggrolls and oriental food for over 5,000 convenience, grocery and retail outlets across the United States, including Walmart, Krogers and Love’s.
Being a food processor, the company is certified to SQF Level 3 and conducts regular GMP Audits, including tracking both internal/external deviations and consumer/client incidents. They also conduct numerous sensory tests on a daily basis, validate all suppliers and inspect incoming raw materials.
In 2020, David Cline, Van’s Kitchen’s Chief Operating Officer, was looking to make sense of their increasingly disparate quality management system. Each function was being managed in multiple different Excel, Access and hard copy records, resulting in the following problems:
- Client/consumer deviations were taking over 23 days to close and involved considerable management and employee bandwidth.
- 45% of internal deviations were not being closed properly at all.
- Impossible to drive accountability across different collaborating teams.
- People wasted time a lot of time trying to tie different systems together.
- Hard to get visibility into the quality processes and data.
- Difficult to retrieve data and prepare for management and other reviews.
- Low engagement between teams needed to complete quality processes, especially preventative actions.
- Too much daily firefighting resulting in there being no time to spend on longer term strategic objectives.
“Everything was so spread out across so many different platforms, excel documents and access files that, at some point, we wondered whether we even had a quality system…it was really a lack of visibility, a lack of follow through. Were deviations even being closed properly? What was the outcome of our GMP audits?”
What made Van's Kitchen choose Unifize?
David Cline and his team spent considerable time investigating alternatives to their existing system. Initially, they tried to develop more in-house solutions with their IT & administrative team. However, this only ended up increasing the number of different systems and databases that they needed to manage their quality processes.
David also looked at various other software including eQMS and statistical tools but they didn’t fit with his goals. Eventually, David travelled to the ASQ Lean Six Sigma event in Phoenix Arizona in May 2020 so that he could learn more about the latest solutions and methodologies for managing quality. This where he met Ben, who was exhibiting Unifize at the same event.
David and his team were quickly able to see that Unifize’s conversational and collaborative approach to managing quality was exactly what he needed. In particular, the following things really stood out about Unifize:
- The simple, easy-to-use interface meant that his team was able to pick up how it worked almost instantly.
- Unifize was quickly able to map to his processes rather than forcing him to change his system to fit a new software.
- Unifize’s pricing model was completely transparent and eliminated his risk until after it was proven to work.
- Unifize was cloud-based, meaning David and his team could manage the implementation entirely on their own without the need for involvement from their overloaded IT team.
- Unifize offered support throughout the onboarding process, and would help him make any changes he required on an as-needed basis at no extra cost.
What were the results?
In July 2020, Van’s Kitchen went live with Unifize to manage client/consumer deviations, GMP audits, area audits, BPG audits, sensory tests, corrective and preventative actions.
The results were almost instantaneous. By using Unifize, Van’s Kitchen was able to:
- Reduce the time-to-close deviations from 12+ days to 3.3 days (73% decrease)
- Increase the closure of deviations from 45.5% to 100%
- Get up and running in less than 1 day with no involvement from the IT team
- Achieve single point accountability across 6 collaborating teams
- Reduce time to close of consumer incidents by 30%
- Increase visibility into 7 core quality processes by bringing everything into 1 place
By the end September 2020, the Van’s team was planning to roll Unifize out to various other functions within the organisation, including preventive and breakdown maintenance.
_“For me, it’s knowing and having confidence that our system is addressing all the deviations and incidents…having the confidence that we are capturing, documenting and closing them so that we can truly learn from them”