Cathrine Bakke Adolfsen, Quality & Continuous Improvement Manager in Halden, tells us more about the certification and why it is so important.
BRCGS, what does it mean?
BRCGS stands for British Retail Consortium Global Standards and is a certification standard that includes product safety, food safety and product quality. Or more specifically food safety related to packaging purposes in our case.
Why do we have certification in BRCGS at VPK Halden?
Being part of the customers’ chain, most of the packaging we produce is delivered to the food industry. Within our strategy we have been a trustable key driver. Our focus on excellent hygiene and food safety is therefore a high priority. It was both natural and sensible to implement BRCGS and to become certified.
Is this available at the other VPK Nordic sites?
VPK in Norrköping and Randers has already used BRCGS for some time. Halden is therefore the third plant in the Nordic region to be certified.
What was the goal?
Even before the site was completed, we had a goal of becoming BRCGS certified. The plant was therefore built with a structure that took the certification into account. That made it easier for us to implement. The goal is security for quality management systems - we have such good control over our processes and know that we deliver great quality to our customers. We act proactively through good routines, while also reducing the amount of questions and concerns from customers.
What is the significance of the certification for the customer?
First and foremost, it is a security for the customer. They know that we live up to a high standard in the production of our products. The customers doesn't have to bother themselves with unnecessary preparation, as they know in advance which guidelines and rules we follow. The BRCGS certification lets the customers know what we do and ensures that we deliver in accordance with the requirements described in the standard. BRCGS not only provides greater security for the customer, but also ensures more satisfied customers. This is an addition to ISO.
You mention ISO, so why have BRCGS too?
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is better known in Norway and is something we have had for many years already. In contrast to ISO, BRCGS is more specific - simply explained, ISO contains guidelines, while BRCGS contains rules. While ISO 9001 and 14001 respectively covers quality and the external environment, BRCGS covers hygiene and product safety to a greater extent.
How does the process work, and when were you audited?
The certification is something we have been working towards since the end of 2020. There were a few delays due to covid. The audit took place from November 30th to December 2th, 2021. After the audit, we received a report with some deviations that had to be closed. The deadline for closing the deviations was four weeks, but already on December 21th all the deviations were closed, and we submitted the evidence. Then we waited anxiously for the certification along with a grade. The grade is given based on a grade system for goal achievement for revision. We passed with grade B and received the certification December 23th – what a Christmas present!
Who has contributed?
Everyone! BRCGS involves most departments. From operators who must get used to new guidelines, to the maintenance department that contributes with new structures, HR, sales, product development and so on - everyone has been involved. I myself have had much of the main responsibility, but with good help from the HARA team who are responsible for risk analysis and have an important and central function in achieving BRCGS.
An extra thank you to ..?
Marius Hagberg (HMS Leader / Safety Manager) and Raymond Thoresen (Packaging Consultant) who started the preparatory work with BRCGS in Halden and had laid a good foundation when I took over the baton. An extra thank you to the quality team in Norrköping who helped us with our first internal audit in BRCGS. We have received many good tips and advice from our site in Sweden along the way.