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Building end-to-end supply chain transparency in the food and beverage industry

September 24, 2020 By Mikael Bengtsson

Efficiently catering to the needs of modern-day consumer demand for transparency and sustainable manufacturing practices, maintaining food safety, and meeting ever-changing regulations are all major challenges for virtually all food and beverage manufacturers regardless of size.

Without a doubt, building end-to-end supply chain transparency is a major task that requires extensive collaboration and coordination between stakeholders. Trying to get there in one giant leap might be biting off more than you can chew. Instead, companies should start by focusing on integrating traceability into internal operations, and then over time look to expand upstream and downstream the supply chain.

Supply chain transparency and traceability should be part of the overall food safety initiative—as opposed to pursuing a traceability endeavor all on its own. This level of commitment increases the odds that a company will not only make forward progress on traceability capabilities, it also demonstrates that the company regards lot traceability as an integral part of food safety. Everyone from the executive level to the factory floor need to be trained and involved.

Supply chain traceability is a first step towards Industry 4.0. Here is how to get started:

  1. A modern, robust ERP system—To start with, determine what, if any, traceability functionality is already present in the ERP system. A modern, robust ERP system is likely to have this functionality built in. Ease of use is also critical because the very people who would need it the most—internal quality assurance managers—rarely use the ERP system otherwise, and they must be able to search the database quickly. An easy-to-use interface with a graphic representation of trace lines makes it simple for them to quickly find root causes.

  2. Determine data to track—Traceability is a full system containing data collection, unique identifiers for tracking, together with sharing and analyzing of data. Determine how granular the data needs to be. The data can be tracked at a very broad level, such as capturing an individual truck load as a single lot, or at a deeper level, such as recording the day and time that pallets fresh of ingredient shipments arrive. If a manufacturer produces products that are marketed as organic, non-GMO, or free-range, the company might even choose to track ingredients at the farm level.

  3. Agile recall readiness—Because food safety regulations change frequently, it’s important to have the agility to quickly adapt processes. Increasingly, regulations include standards for recall speed, so manufacturers must prove that they can find and withdraw all potentially contaminated food from the supply chain within a specified time, including the identification of where the raw materials and packaging came from, how they have been transformed, how the raw materials were consumed and where the finished products were shipped.

  4. Be one step ahead—Even when traceability systems and processes are in place, organizations should not consider their jobs done, and just “wait for trouble.” Instead, they should perform recall “fire drills,” with employees assigned well-defined roles. This way, should an actual food safety issue happen, organizations will be much better prepared to quickly limit the impact of the recall.

A sustainable food supply depends upon a sound supply chain. Traceability concerns should be extended into the supply chain as food safety and quality issues can be managed more readily if each partner in the supply chain can identify the direct source and direct recipient of traceable items.

To learn more about how to build end-to-end supply chain transparency, download the best practices guide “Benefits of improving supply chain transparency in modern food and beverage manufacturing”.

Filed Under
  • ERP
  • Manufacturing
  • Supply Chain
  • Technology
  • Food & Beverage
  • CloudSuite Food & Beverage
  • Worldwide
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