Hayter’s Farm Switched to Cloud-Based HACCP and Never Looked Back: A Case Study
Meet Dave Maguire, HACCP Coordinator and the oldest grandchild of Harry Hayter, who founded Hayter’s Farm 70 years ago in Dashwood, Ontario. Hayter’s Farm is a third-generation family business that raises and processes turkeys all on one site. In 1999 they obtained their HACCP certification and became a federal poultry facility. Since then, they’ve added six additions to their facility and they are exporting their products across Canada as well as to the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, just to name a few places. They now have their eyes set on the European Union.
Hayter’s is one of Icicle’s early users, signing up just five months after Icicle launched in 2013. Since those days, Icicle has expanded far beyond a food safety application and Dave and his team have worked with us every step along the way. (Check out the full case study below and watch the abbreviated version in the video above.)
The Challenge: Managing Multiple HACCP Plans
When Dave stepped into the HACCP role, he didn’t have a lot of experience with the HACCP system and especially all the paperwork that comes along with it. As they expanded their production – and their number of HACCP plans rose from two to four – it became increasingly daunting to manage all the information necessary to create and maintain the plans. Dave started looking around for software solutions to help him out.
He ended up downloading samples of what was available online back in 2013, but one software system stood out to him as a cloud-based solution. Dave himself didn’t have much IT experience – his brother is the IT guy at their business but he didn’t want to distract him from his other work – but he could easily imagine how a cloud-based system would make it easier for him and his employees by replacing their pen and clipboard system with something more dynamic and more useful.
The Process: Hayter’s Brings It All Together in One Place
With the cloud, Dave foresaw, they could use mobile devices around the plant and integrate the software directly into their daily work. And he was right – bringing the cloud into Hayter’s HACCP program was much more exciting for his QA staff. “It was a lot easier for them to buy into the new software,” he told us during our interview for this case study. “They were completely aware and comfortable with the application. As we started using it we just found that we were able to capture way more data on the plant floor versus paper documents.”
Dave began setting up his HACCP plans in Icicle by typing up and transferring his paper documents. All his SOPs became SOPs under certain prerequisite programs and he found he could even scan pictures of documents and attach them in Icicle. “It was very seamless,” Dave explained.
In the beginning, Dave grouped his products into broad categories (plan A for whole birds, plan B for ground products, plan C for cutting). Now he is in the process of delineating each single product Hayter’s Farm produces and amending their HACCP plan around this. As a result, Dave is really excited to be able to have more granular production records and be able to implement Icicle’s traceability module fully – “all in one platform, at one click of the button,” he told us.
“Having Icicle made it really easy to incorporate new HACCP plans with the process flowcharts and the processes and all the hazard analysis – that was very quick and easy to input into the system.”Dave Maguire, HACCP Coordinator at Hayter’s Farm
Adopting a Strategic Approach to Implementation
Dave takes a staged approach to working with Icicle, moving different parts of their production into the system one area at a time. At the time of this interview in spring 2020, Dave was training his QA staff and shipping and receiving staff on bringing their purchase orders and order receiving into Icicle. When someone creates a purchase order in Icicle, the shippers can also receive it using Icicle on their tablets. The QA staff then comes in and does the incoming inspections in Icicle as well. By taking a slower approach, Dave makes sure that all of his workers are familiar and comfortable with the process. Once people stop asking questions on a day-by-day basis, he determines that they’re ready to move onto the next step.
Next, he’s really excited to get started on moving their traceability program into Icicle. He plans to start with sausages and then continue to burgers in the next month. By year’s end, he aims to have every product going through this process. “If you can break it up into smaller pieces, it allows you to troubleshoot a lot easier and it doesn’t seem to be such a daunting task,” Dave explained.
Eliminating Human Error
Getting his staff on board was fairly straightforward for the team at Hayter’s Farm; he found that they loved features like Icicle’s Smart Hazard Suggestions and other areas of Icicle that use algorithms and data to predict what you’re going to write based on your past documentation. “It actually almost pre-writes it for them,” Dave explained. Removing the laborious process of filling out forms saved employees a lot of time and removed some other problems entirely, such as bad handwriting or papers getting wet or smudged. “With the Icicle system, it’s fantastic,” Dave said. “It’s very hard to make a mistake.”
Training Employees to Catch Deviations
Icicle also made it easier to train employees and get food safety right. Even early on, Dave was able to use the devices he now had out on the floor to take pictures of deviations that would then be stored in the proper place in Icicle. Employees could refer to these photos if they encountered any similar deviations in the course of their work, and if there was a food safety issue, they could capture photographs before and after corrective measures were taken, creating a perfect digital trail for any audit and making it easy for any staff with questions to reference the procedure step-by-step, even from a tablet.
Streamlining Inspections with Real-Time Data in the Cloud
Right from the start, Dave realized that giving employees access to Icicle would help the whole team. When it came to the inspection staff, that made a huge difference because employees had access to everything they needed in real-time. Instead of chasing each other down for documentation, his inspection staff could pull up all their written procedures and have all inspections records right there in one place. “So they could do their auditing right from their own office without having to track us down,” Dave said, “and it was seamless and timeless.”
Extra time for employees translated into big gains for Hayter’s:
“They [Employees] are able to spend more time doing inspections and looking around the plant and I found that their vision tended to get wider […] Now they have it all there, they can look around more and see the interaction with people and the product versus just the product and the process itself.”Dave Maguire, HACCP Coordinator at Hayter’s Farm
Great Customer Support, Every Step of the Way
Dave is an early adopter of Icicle and has appreciated the close relationship from the get-go. His first interaction with Icicle was on a demo with Steve Burton, Icicle creator and CEO of Icicle Technologies Inc. “He was really gungho on the software and so was I,” Dave remembered. “We were both kind of pushing each other, saying what can you do with this or can you do this and it was really neat to see how the cloud-based system really evolved.” In 2015, Hayter’s Farm and Icicle won a Frost and Sullivan award in cloud computing for the technological strides taken together.
Customer service continues to be an important part of Hayter’s Farm’s relationship with Icicle:
“When it’s perfect, it’s perfect. Steve and Fan and the whole Icicle team has been fantastic. Anything, question, problem I had it’s usually within 3-4-10 minutes that I get a response. And even being out in the Eastern Standard Time, if I have a problem at 7am, I’m always shocked when Steve emails back at 7:10.”Dave Maguire, HACCP Coordinator at Hayter’s Farm
Acing Inspections and Audits, Easily
Hayter’s Farm is HACCP certified and in full compliance with the Safe Foods for Canadians Act, which came into force beginning in 2019. They also have BRC certification and participate in third-party audits every year on animal welfare, certified by Whole Foods for their animal welfare program as well as the Global Animal Partnership program (G.A.P.). All of these certifications and programs are managed in Icicle.
When Dave first started using Icicle for inspections and audits, it was 2013 and most inspectors and auditors were unfamiliar with automation software like Icicle. Dave was nervous about how the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) would take to this new approach, but when his first major audit rolled around in 2014, it went seamlessly: “The auditors were really impressed at the way the software and everything was coming together. I’m seeing more and more of a buy in from the CFIA because I give them access,” Dave observed. “It’s very open and transparent, they go in and see documents being generated and verified in real-time.”
Dave credits Icicle with helping Hayter’s become BRC-certified, an important milestone for a company expanding into new, international markets. Through BRC, they’ve dealt with several different auditors over the years but a clear consensus in favour of Icicle has emerged.
“We’ve got nothing but wonderful compliments about our food safety system from auditors because everything is organized, all the documentation is there, the HACCP logs are there – it’s just one click and they can see everything.”Dave Maguire, HACCP Coordinator at Hayter’s Farm
The Result: Icicle Gives Hayter’s Farm More Time to Focus on New Projects and Markets
Over the past seven years, Dave and the team at Hayter’s Farm have seen many changes to the Icicle system, contributing their own feedback to make the system better and better. There is no looking back at the way things used to be done.
“It’s definitely freed up a lot of time for us to focus on new projects and expand food safety. Icicle just makes our whole program stronger and stronger. We’re not messing around trying to find a paper document anymore; everything is right there in the system.”Dave Maguire, HACCP Coordinator at Hayter’s Farm
Dave wrapped up our case study interview by summarizing: “A big thank you to the Icicle team. You guys deliver a great software system, the support’s fantastic, and without you our food safety program wouldn’t be where it is.”
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