Food and beverage process manufacturers face a number of complex and unique challenges in a fast-paced, unpredictable industry where the penalties for mistakes can be disastrous.
Evolving government regulation for safety, disclosure, environmental considerations can be time consuming and complex while successfully forecasting demand, responding to trends, minimising inventory and managing cost of production all have to be juggled.
To manage such complexities and to ensure product quality, cost and compliance are all balanced, businesses need a comprehensive and flexible software system with a strong track record of meeting the requirements of the food and beverage industry.
Here are the top 5 features that food and beverage manufacturers should look for in a software solution:
Carrying out detailed ingredient tracking and tracing can be time-consuming for businesses without a robust system capable of handling complexity. More so, those businesses then lack an ability to quickly retrieve information and react to circumstances in the event of a problem. Software and systems must be able to capture the how, when and where of your raw materials and ingredients right from their point of origin all the way through any intermediate production as well as the ingredient in the ultimate, final product, providing end-to-end or farm-to-fork traceability.
For example, if you use salt as an ingredient in a recipe, your software should be able to tell you where it came from; when and where it was used and in how much quantity; and to whom did the finished product go.
Shelf-life or Expiry date traceability
Approaching date thresholds including its ultimate use by and sell by dates for a particular batch of product is a constant concern. Strong reporting, alerts and built-in mechanisms to manage shelf life gives workers and managers the tool to manage ingredients and products nearing or past their expiration dates.
As a related point, the limited shelf life of ingredients and finished product means inventory optimisation is one of the most wanted feature in a software solution. The Aberdeen Group recently found that over half of food and beverage companies struggle to anticipate demand, leading to wasted stock or lost sales from understocking. A software solution with integrated inventory management that enables you to manage your stock efficiently will help you make smarter decisions reducing surplus or shortage – thus increasing sales, keeping customers happy while reducing wastage.
Single-source system/System integration
Multiple systems for multiple departments creates blind spots in the business and islands of information. A single-source system allows you to see your entire business related data – financial, production, quality, inventory and more – in one integrated system. This can improve co-ordination between departments using real-time information to make smarter decisions and better co-ordination. This seamless flow of data among various departments but also from interfaced machinery and processes via data feeds will allow you to mitigate risk, predict seasonal trends and improve overall revenue.
Managing recipes or bills of material can involve all sorts of technicalities, exceptions and challenges. There are information inputs and outputs throughout the process to show quantity, costing, formula, operation and process and quality measurements. Typically, the unit of measurement can differ where you buy your ingredients in pounds, store them in kilograms, yields are in litres but distribute them in tonnes. Therefore, it is vital that your software is able to handle all kinds of conversions easily. Apart from that it should be able to assist you in version control (which version will be used in production) and formulation (what ingredients are being used to create the end product) for overall product and process consistency.
Traditional Enterprise Resource Planning software or ERP is often unable to meet complex requirements. If you have to resort to extensive Excel spreadsheets to manage manufacturing processes your current system may be holding you back or if you are encountering commercial challenges around managing stock, managing demand and managing processes then Sage X3 could address these. Businesses that require the robustness, flexibility and scalability to support a dynamic and agile business’ needs should consider a Business Management Solution, such as Sage X3.
With benefits like faster & simpler compliance; accurate forecasting; lot tracking in under 4 minutes; allergen, shelf-life & expiry tracking; built-in process manufacturing and data sharing through EDI, Sage X3 offers a significant advantage over legacy systems and other, less powerful systems.