Factors affecting accuracy in the quality control checking of fresh produce labels: A situational and laboratory-based exploration
journal contributionposted on 21.06.2019, 08:06 by James H. Smith-Spark, Hillary B. Katz, Thom WilcocksonThom Wilcockson, Alexander P. Marchant
Manufacturing industries often rely on quality control staff to ensure mistakes are detected before products are shipped to customers. Undetected errors can result in large financial and environmental costs to packaging companies and supermarkets but the contributors to such error are underexplored. The research reported in this paper investigated human error in the quality control checking of information displayed on the labels which accompany packaged fresh produce. Initial work sought to understand the demands of label-checking in the packhouse environment, through interviews with key quality control staff, in situ observations, and the study of historical error data held by a fresh produce packaging company. This work highlighted the dynamic and cognitively challenging environment in which label-checking occurred, while the historical error data indicated both the scale of the packhouse’s work and the infrequency of error occurring. In a separate strand of laboratory-based research, experienced and novice label-checkers were presented with a simulated label-checking task and a battery of computerised and pen-and-paper tests. These tasks were administered to determine whether cognitive abilities could predict label-checking accuracy in a controlled laboratory environment. Stronger abilities in two cognitive processes (information processing speed and inhibition) predicted greater overall accuracy and higher detection of labelling errors. In identifying potential contributors to human error in the quality control checking of product labels both in situ and in the laboratory, the results are relevant to manufacturing, wherever information is printed on labels, especially when labelling processes depend upon human data entry and human quality control checking.
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