Food industry gains a stronger grip with less administrative hassle
24 October 2017
Food producers know precisely what they buy and what they sell. What happens in the steps in between is, however, often captured in different systems and documents. This sub-optimises the management of production effectiveness. So how do food manufacturers gain a stronger grip without turning the company into an administrative office?
It's all about production, as quickly and efficiently as possible, in the food sector. The problem is that the mass balance sheet, tracing and Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) leave much to be desired at most companies. Registration on the factory floor, management reports, production line data, itemised inventory, accurate product admin and a watertight tracking and tracing process in one comprehensive overview is more a wish than the reality. Conventional wisdom is that the factory floor must not become an administrative office or that better registration of production phases does not justify the required investment.
The know-how is in-house, but all over the place
An overview of this nature delivers enormous benefits. It clarifies the mass balance sheet and enables action to be taken at those moments in the production process when the loss is most apparent. Companies can typically not achieve this with their own ERP solution because it does not offer enough detailed management information. The information is spread around the organisation in various documents and Excel sheets. Moreover, IT support often grew along with the company, with little attention paid to integration.
Different systems give different output
For this reason, many smaller and medium-to-large food producers work with a bookkeeping system with a separate package for the factory floor. Not often is this a seamless process. If the company accountant needs to review the details of a transaction, then he will need to look in a different bookkeeping package. In addition, what we often see is what we call island automation. Companies have a bookkeeping package, a quality assurance package, a factory floor package and another one just for logistics. An integrated ERP system ensures that companies can make use of the same data and the same logic. This reduces the error margin - and data no longer needs to be converted from one system to another. It also enables uniform reporting.
Management fully up to date
Thanks to an integrated ERP system, management and the factory floor are much better aligned. ERP systems contain all production process information such as procurement of resources, the ingredients that determine the final product and ultimately the financial overview itself. This data can feed the Business Intelligence dashboards with food-related infographics and statistics. This shows management the production lines that need to be replaced, which employees need additional coaching or guidance and the products that deliver a healthy or an insufficient margin.
More data, greater insight, higher efficiency
Combine this information with process technology data and the result is greater insight. Temperature, air pressure, light intensity and waste is measured per process, but this information is often not combined with ERP system data. And when it is, it is self-evident that if one particular team works the evening shift, there is significantly more slicing loss. It also becomes clear that the raw materials used by a certain vendor can result in a more expensive production process with equipment operating at a higher temperature.
A fully paperless environment
Thanks to RF scanning, both the logistical flow and the production cycle become a closed process. Not only does this result in efficiency benefits, but it also facilitates compliance with the mandatory tracking & tracing process laid down by law. Upon arrival, the procurement instructions are processed and labelled according to batch inventory. This stock is stored and the traceability assured according to set parameters. This enables a processing workflow up to and including the order pick and shipment handling to be organised in a fully paperless manner. This gives a food manufacturer greater oversight and even less administration thanks to automation.