Western Pallet Magazine August 2021 - Page 20


Maintaining WPM Conformance in Challenging Times

Maintaining ISPM 15 compliance for wood packaging material (WPM) aided by strong training, QC review points and an IPPC checklist.

There is no question about the many challenges faced by facilities in today's business environment.  Maintaining conformance in the IPPC program is certainly one of these.  Problems maintaining conformance can be the result of several factors, but these can be minimized with comprehensive training and an oversight program. 

A well-trained labor force is necessary to ensure quality levels are preserved, but employee turnover has been a big issue in maintaining quality control on many levels and the IPPC program has been no exception to this.  It is a constant challenge to keep employees trained in IPPC requirements which allows for conformance related to bark, mark legibility, obliteration, and heat chambers to be met.  While we completely understand this issue, conformance is still required.  We see many ways this is accomplished at facilities and no one process fits every facility working to reach conformance.  However, we do see some common ways that success is achieved.  

Having a strong internal training program is one way to help prevent conformance issues.  This can be in the form of short classroom style training sessions in a breakroom, using the TP training modules on our website, followed by on-the-job implementation of the training received.  Having a knowledgeable QC person in place working with employees to develop good quality control practices and implementation of what was learned earlier helps many facilities attain better conformance in the IPPC program. 

Also, establishing areas for quality review through the manufacturing process has proven to be effective. This can include check points where more seasoned employees review WPM for conformance before moving to the next stage in the process.  Having a system in place that identifies which employee was involved with WPM determined to be non-conforming helps to identify individuals that require additional training.  Once the WPM is fully manufactured, an area can be established to provide final approval for conformance before being placed in a finished goods location as ready-to-ship and ready-for-review for conformance by TP or ALSC.  In this situation, it is best to create an addendum showing these areas of review along with the finished goods area so there is a clear understanding of where the delineations between in process and finished goods are located.

Finally, having a checklist of IPPC issues for someone to use to review material against also helps maintain conformance.  This is typically performed at the end of the quality control process, so material that is approved as finished goods can then be staged as ready-to-ship or be reviewed for conformance by TP or ALSC. 

These are only a few suggestions on how conformance can be met.  As stated, every facility needs to determine what quality control processes are most effective and efficient for their operation.  The important thing is to have one in place to ensure the IPPC requirements are consistently met.