Product Quality

Establishing quality control standards to meet customer expectations with every order and every delivery.

Why Product Quality Matters

GRI 416: 103-1 | 103-2 | 103-3 | 416-2;
103-1
Explanation of the material topic and its Boundary

103-2
Explain management approach components

103-3
Evaluate management approach

416-2
Incidents of non-compliance concerning the health and safety impacts of products and services
The quality of our products lies at the heart of our business. We hold ourselves to the highest standards, as product quality is non-negotiable for our customers and is critical to providing outstanding customer service. Every year, our customers’ expectations increase, leading us to focus on continuous product quality improvement. Greif’s financial success depends on our capacity to reliably produce high-quality, defect-free products that meet applicable specifications and fulfill our customers’ expectations at all our manufacturing facilities.

Governance

0.49

Corrective Action Rate

Demonstrating continued progress in our efforts to produce high-quality products that meet our customers’ needs. 

We evaluate product quality based on the structure and integrity of our products and compliance with applicable specifications for each item we manufacture. In 2021, 58 percent of Greif’s 202[1] eligible global production sites were certified to ISO 9001 standards for quality management, including 94 percent of our 111 Global Industrial Packaging (GIP) production sites. We maintain product quality centrally through our quality standards and track performance on two product quality indicators: Corrective Action Rate (CAR) and total customer complaints. Additionally, select facilities use order reliability rate as a product quality indicator. Each month, regional presidents, vice presidents and general managers are updated on our performance on these indicators.

We use our integrated quality system, Greif QS, to communicate quality standards to our production network. Greif QS houses a suite of applications that ensure quality and consistency in our products and processes through all our facilities. Examples of these applications include:

  • Complaint Response/Corrective Action Systems
  • Internal Corrective and Preventive Action Systems
  • Audit Management System
  • Calibration Systems
  • Supplier Management Systems
  • Management Review System
  • Document and Training Management Systems

Our global approach to our quality management system aims to create a consistent customer experience from the products they purchase to the same customer service processes across the globe. We updated our global product quality policy to set standards and a uniform approach to product quality across our GIP operations. Our product quality team is working to identify the best product quality management practices and, once identified, introduce these practices as our standard practice. In 2020, we initiated our Commitment-Based Safety/Quality (CBS/Q) program and provided all supervisors and managers with leadership training to facilitate the CBS/Q program and promote a culture of safety and a culture of greater accountability. In 2021, we updated the CBS/Q program to better guide employees’ commitments. Learn more about this program in the Health & Safety section of this report.

Our global product quality task force within our GIP business unit has conducted an analysis concerning the internal factors that contribute to our most common customer issues. We leveraged the results of our Voice of the Customer study to understand the product quality topics most important to our customers. As part of our work to increase proactive communications with customers—a primary takeaway from the study—we offered virtual plant tours at our manufacturing facilities. To learn more about our Voice of the Customer study, please refer to the Customer Service Excellence section of this report. The global task force is responsible for developing a global strategy roadmap for product quality initiatives. The task force also leads four subcommittees supporting the following work streams:

  • Back to Basics – Bring quality standards to the shop floor in a visual quality system
  • KPI Metrics – Develop a global product quality dashboard
  • Best Practice Focus – Improving our culture of product quality and root cause problem solving
  • New Methods and Technologies – Cultivating innovation around materials and control systems

In 2021, we began piloting and reinforcing our Visual Quality System (VQS) through our Back to Basics work stream. We implemented the system in a few facilities and plan to expand it in 2022. This year we also adjusted our KPI metrics including continued tracking of the CAR rate and started to monitor the number of leakers and the leaker CAR rate every month. Our Best Practice Focus work stream introduced a quality alert system that sends out a global alert when a complaint or failure mode occurs. The system fosters a collaborative culture where colleagues can learn about events at other facilities and take action to ensure a similar incident does not occur at their facility. We also implemented our Second Approver process, which allows the system to recognize when complaints of a certain severity occur. If a complaint meets a particular threshold, the complaint is escalated to a technical expert to review the corrective action and provide expert input and feedback. This year we also introduced our Troubleshooting guide, which assesses the failure mode and the representative defect and provides possible root causes, thereby streamlining the process of remedying the issue. In 2021, we began to develop a new method of measuring drums and also started to automate critical inspections that impact product integrity and plan to implement this method in 2022.

While each facility implements the applications most relevant to their operations, Greif QS enables us to utilize critical control points in the manufacturing process to discover and correct deviations from production specifications before a potential defect has the opportunity to reach a customer or impact production negatively. We report potential quality issues through our ERP system, and when a quality issue is identified, corrective procedures are documented and conveyed through the appropriate communication channels. If we identify a reoccurring product quality defect, a Product/Process Audit is launched, conducted by an internal team of engineering, quality and product representatives. The team uses specific criteria to assess a facility against the processes, standards, equipment and tools used during production. This enables the team to work with the facility to resolve the reoccurring issue and improve the product quality process. Evaluation teams also leverage the root-cause corrective action tool that assesses the severity of a quality complaint based on a number of indicators, including financial impact, frequency and type of complaint. Providing objective criteria to evaluate complaints allows us to better prioritize and address the highest risk complaints. As part of the Caraustar acquisition and ongoing integration process, we integrated legacy Caraustar sites into the full suite of tools within Greif QS.

We continue to use our Quality Management System (QMS) scorecard to better evaluate the performance of the applications within Greif QS. The scorecard generates an organizational health report based upon all the tools centralized within Greif QS, including customer complaints, internal corrective actions, management reviews and supplier evaluations. We updated the scorecard to include UN-related compliance and food safety items. The Greif QS Steering Committee, consisting of quality leaders from our Global Industrial Packaging, inclusive of Tri-Sure and Flexible Products and Services (FPS) divisions, reviews all applications and requests for new applications to determine and prioritize improvements that will provide the most benefit to global product quality performance. The committee supports regional Quality Councils comprised of the regional business unit and product management leadership.

The Management of Change tool within the Greif QS identifies and categorizes changes to raw materials, suppliers, processes and other indicators that could impact product quality. Management of Change uses a series of questions to determine the severity of the change and initiates a review process prior to the approval of the change. Once a change is approved, it is communicated to the impacted functions throughout Greif. This tool allows us to engage departments across the organization and generate tasks to ensure compliance and also informs the commercial team, who is then able to notify our customers of changes as quickly as possible. We also incorporated our UN certification process into Greif QS. Within Greif QS, we defined the required specifications to achieve UN certification for relevant products and can now manage the manufacturing process to ensure we remain in compliance. Within Greif FPS, we also maintain UN certifications through annual, third party audits at all Greif FPS factories. Additionally, Greif FPS has two approved UN testing laboratories located in the Rheine/Mesum and Samandıra plants. Having two approved laboratories allows Greif to receive UN certificates quickly and efficiently. We plan to update the Management of Change tool in 2022 to align with organizational updates.

We continue to emphasize improving our food safety programs. In 2020, a market analysis was conducted on food safety requirements and practices, including topics such as sanitation, pest control and traceability, to establish a baseline good manufacturing practice (GMP) program to implement across Greif. Based on those requirements, we developed a new ISO/GMP system integrating our food safety requirements with our current manufacturing processes across the business. 100 percent of GIP North America facilities are compliant with the new standards.

In GIP, we continue to execute our strategic quality roadmaps. The roadmaps help ensure that product quality initiatives are identified through a standardized process, align with Greif’s strategic objectives and our 2025 goals and support continuous improvement. GIP leadership reviews the roadmaps annually and provides a three-year plan for our focus initiatives and detailed project plans for short-term initiatives. Outcomes of the initiatives factor into individual and team performance goals and contribute to improvements to Corrective Action Rate (CAR), customer complaints and ultimately Greif’s Customer Service Index (CSI) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) performance. For example, we have implemented a Product Safety and Quality Culture Assessment system within the FPS segment of GIP to define and maintain a clear and effective plan for the development and continual improvement of product safety and quality culture.

As part of our three-year roadmap, we introduced a new material certification process to integrate the ERP system with Greif QS at the item level. The integration allows us to maintain raw material certifications and link them to finished goods more effectively. This update increases the transparency of materials as they are translated into finished goods. We expect to complete this integration in 2022.

Within the Paper Packaging & Services (PPS) business, each CorrChoice facility has full testing lab capabilities to conduct extensive performance testing and real-time data collection to monitor product quality and ensure products adhere to our range of expectations. Raw materials are tested to ensure consistency and share these results with our suppliers as more consistent raw material performance provides a more consistent finished product. The labs also allow us to work closely with customers to evaluate material combinations and performance to provide the correct specifications for their end-use at the most cost-effective levels. This year, a governance program was developed and rolled out for all testing facilities, including certification requirements for all test technicians. We also standardized our equipment packages for testing facilities to create uniform methods and procedures. Approximately 90 percent of our equipment upgrades have been completed and plan to finish all remaining upgrades in 2022.

Collectively, our product quality efforts aid in our continuous improvement to customer priority areas: leaks, on-time delivery, contaminants and aesthetic quality.

[1] As of October 31, 2021.

Performance

GRI 416-2
416-2
Incidents of non-compliance concerning the health and safety impacts of products and services

CORRECTIVE ACTION RATE*

CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS

ORDER RELIABILITY RATE**

 

FY 2015

FY 2016

FY 2017

FY 2018

FY 2019

FY 2020

FY 2021

ORR - RIPS NA*

99.61

99.70

99.75

99.80

99.80

99.80

99.90

Data is reported for Rigid Industrial Packaging & Services North America (RIPS NA), Asia Pacific (APAC) and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) as indicated.
*CAR measures customer complaints per 100,000 units produced
**Order Reliability Rate defines the rate of failure between orders produced and estimates non-compliance with voluntary codes, reported for RIPS North America only. No regulatory failures or resultant fines have been identified.

Highlight Stories

Real-time Quality Management

Greif’s CorrChoice facilities, part of our Paper Packaging & Services (PPS) business, have implemented a set of tools that enable us to monitor and correct for potential quality issues in real-time. The tools establish alerts for a variety of factors that may impact quality, such as temperature and material storage capacity, and correct any deviations before they fall out of specification. This ability allows us to reduce waste, track potential recurring deviations and avoid long runs of products that would not meet customer expectations. As part of our Zero Defect System, our production lines are lined with ultrasonic sensors capable of detecting any separation or variation that may occur during the manufacturing process, such as differences in caliper spacing and paper weights. The system tracks defects as they move down the production line, removing defective products and recycling scrap.

Quality Management
Highlight Stories

Greif Quality Day in Belgium

In 2019 Greif’s GIP facility in Ghent, Belgium took steps to further improve awareness on quality by conducting “Quality Day,” a four-hour workshop with a dedicated focus on quality in products, processes and customer service. A total of 89 colleagues participated, going through specific interactive sessions designed to provide participants a different perspective on quality and how it can be improved. Many colleagues reported that they gained better understanding of their specific contributions towards quality and were re-energized to make a positive difference in improving overall customer satisfaction.

Quality Day
Highlight Stories

Quality Task Force

In 2014, our CAR data indicated that leaks were the most common quality complaint from customers. In response, we initiated a Zero-Leak Program to eliminate leaks from our products. When a leak complaint was received, it was escalated to the regional vice president and general manager and our engineering team was tasked with developing a concrete resolution to the problem and disseminating it to all facilities. Our focus on reducing leaks led to a 67 percent reduction in leak complaints from 2014 to 2018, as well as significant improvements in leakers in our Tri-Sure business.

In 2020 we kicked off a new global quality task force specifically to look at our most prominent customer issues related to product quality. Our focus was to analyze both external and internal factors to determine common trends. Through this we determined that our largest internal issues also correlated with our largest external issues. The largest customer issue continues to be product integrity. The group developed various action plans aimed at resolving these internal issues with the ultimate goal of reducing our largest customer issues. New metrics were created to keep track of the progress of these initiatives.

Leaker Rate FY 2019 FY 2020 FY 2021
Asia Pacific 0.37 0.14 0.29
Europe, Middle East and Africa 0.23 0.23 0.12
North America 0.22 0.22 0.16
Latin America - - 0.07
Quality Task Force
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SUSTAINABILITY HIGHLIGHTS

58%

Of Facilities ISO 9001 Certified

Including 94 percent of our 111 GIP production sites.

0.49

Corrective Action Rate

Demonstrating continued progress in our efforts to produce high-quality products that meet our customers’ needs.