Standards of Excellence
Canadian folding-carton producer expands into new markets thanks to new safety, quality and continuous improvement standard certification
February 26, 2020
As a rising player in the Canadian folding-carton industry, it is unsurprising that Beneco Packaging and its online subsidiary company SoOPAK.com began to look for ways to secure its position.
Equipped with the ability and flexibility to deliver quality products with great efficiency and quick turnaround, Beneco’s desire for change was inspired by the need to expand into a plethora of different industries for their loyal clients.
“As our client base continues to expand and grow, we’re catering to an increasing number of pharmaceutical and food packaging customers,” says YaJun (Carol) Jiang, president of Beneco Packaging and SoOPAK.com.
With 35 years of experience in the printing, packaging and folding-carton industries, Benneco Packaging’s vice-president of operations and process improvement Roy Amm is very familiar with the benefits of credible third-party food safety certification. Jiang agreed that Beneco needed to take the necessary measures to flourish in the new markets.
“The company is going into the right direction,” Jiang says. “It is time for us to go into that next level to make sure we’re running the business under the highest standard in the industry.”
After a few days, the Beneco team was able to come to a conclusion of what he believed Beneco would need in order to be successful in the future.
As a team, Beneco realied that some of the biggest market opportunities for folding-carton packaging in this country, lie in the food and pharmaceutical industries.
“The first thing many of these companies demand is a recognized accreditation, which offers them some form of food and pharma safety,” Amm told Canadian Packaging in a recent interview.
To expand into these markets, the Beneco team decided to begin the process of getting the company IFS PACsecure (International Featured Standard) certified.
Originally standing for International Food Standard, the IFS safety program was first founded in 2003 as a GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) recognized standard for the assessment of packaging material suppliers and converters.
A result of cooperation between IFS and PAC (Packaging Consortium), IFS PACsecure offers a number of benefits to companies who are striving for excellence in quality and safety.
The objective of this standard includes adherence to the GFSI guidelines, reduction and time in cost for retailers and suppliers, comparability throughout the food supply chain, and establishment of common benchmarks and evaluations.
In addition, the program also works with accredited certification bodies, in the likes of SAI Global Assurance Services, as well as skilled IFS audit staff.
For Beneco, having an IFS PACsecure certification allows them to help clients to easily distinguish themselves from the crowd.
The accreditation provides a great advantage for their sales to approach prestigious clients who are more rigorous than the average standard in vendor selection and will only work with vendors who are capable and rightly accredited.
“Earning the IFS certificate is a logical result of our strongly expanding activities in this marketplace,” Jiang says.
“To provide first class service to these clients that require strict adherence to quality and safety, we are continually seeking ways to assure our valued customers that we operate at the highest quality standards and produce innovative, high quality, short-run customer-focused packaging products and services all under our own roof.
Concludes Jiang: “Our completion of these two new certifications underscores our commitment to meeting and exceeding the expectations of our customers and becoming their trusted partners.”
Once a company acquires an IFS PACsecure certification, the facility will also automatically receive GFSI and HACCP (Hazard analysis and critical control points) certifications, which is often viewed as an added bonus.
After being told about the program in February of 2019, Jiang wanted the facility to be officially IFS PACsecure certified by the summer of 2019.
In February of 2019, Jiang wanted the facility to be officially IFS PACsecure certified by the summer of 2019.
Fully committed by Ms. Jiang, lead by Amm, supported and enforced by all management level and employees, Beneco pushed the project forward.
Together with the external IFS consultant, the management team formulated comprehensive plans and contingency plans with timeline, milestone and actionable items.
Other than keeping up with production and business growth, the team has put IFS accreditation as a priority.
The management had repeatedly communicated the goal for Beneco to be accredited, provided training, conducted mock audits and emphasized the benefits of obtaining IFS, not just to the company but also to each individual department and employee of Beneco.
The process normally takes over a year for the certification to go through, as it is a timely and thorough procedure.
Just like the company’s ardent belief in JIT (Just-intime) delivery, Beneco got their IFS PACsecure certification in an impressively quick manner.
“It was two months outside of Jiang’s ask,” Amm shares. “We achieved our accreditation in September of 2019.”
Adds Jiang: “We obtained IFS in a record-breaking time because we believe that obtaining IFS is a strategic move for us and we had allocated our precious resources, including time, money and people, to it.
“We were determined, persistent and willing to work on it until we were successfully accredited.”
Beneco’s recent certification has proved to be a timely one, as food safety scares and recalls often make news headlines, and can tarnish a company’s good name forever.
Beneco can sleep comfortably, thanks to the strict safety protocols that their IFS PACsecure certification requires of them.
Now when customers ask if they have an accreditation, Beneco are able to state that they have the IFS PACsecure certification.
“We now offer with IFS a 100-percent traceability system back to source––that’s our objective, to make sure that that’s responsibly managed,” Amm says.
As one of two folding-carton companies in Canada to have their IFS certification, it is important for Beneco facility continues to adhere to the guidelines of the IFS PACsecure regulations.
“They don’t continuously manage the program and then there is a rush to get it ready for the next audit or they simply let it drop,” Amm explains.
“I am against that, and I am not prepared to say that I spent seven months getting this system in place to just let it die.”
The Beneco team has also been making sure that the safety protocols begin first with Beneco’s steadfast employees.
Employees on the premises have undergone extensive training and must adhere to a number of safety and sanitation protocols, which begin the moment they enter the 49,000-square-foot plant.
In addition to setting up designated safe zones, sanitation sinks have been set up to routinely wash hands and a number of signs stressing personal hygiene, the importance of wearing gloves and hair restraints have also been set in place.
Adjusting to this new culture started as a struggle for facility workers, who through old force of habit, would inadvertently walk onto the production floor with a cup of coffee or forgetting to remove jewellery.
“Even with this IFS system, we acknowledge that someone will walk into the facility breaking a protocol, and we have empowered all of our staff who can stop you in that instance,” Amm shares.
“It is not just my responsibility––it is everyone’s responsibility, and that mandate is clearly accepted.”
With the success of the accreditation at their Scarborough facility, Jiang also shares that there are plans for Beneco’s Mississauga location to become IFS certified in 2021.
“We all are very excited,” Jiang says.“The facility is now seeing better management, better output and better quality control and a better future.”
With their next audit scheduled for September 2020, Beneco believes that they will continue to reap the benefits of having an IFS PACsecure accreditation set in place.
This opportunity with Beneco helped Amm to overcome his post-retirement indecisions, as Jiang took him on as Beneco’s vice-president of operations and process improvement.
“For me, I’m going from a situation of semi-retirement funk into a situation where I feel rejuvenated now working in this organization––it’s a huge and humbling dynamic,” Amm concludes proudly.