<img src="https://secure.leadforensics.com/133892.png" alt="" style="display:none;">

The deadline of October is fast approaching for food manufacturers to access a digital fund to help drive technological innovation across the food and beverage industry. So, if you’re wanting to take advantage of this fund, you need to be quick as time’s running out. 

Food manufacturers are already focussed on product innovation. But, having a focus on digitalisation to help transform the way your business operates can also provide a competitive advantage - particularly when extra financial support may be available to get you there. 

The following article gives some simple guidance on: 

  • Whdigitalisation is key for food manufacturers 
  • What the Government funded scheme looks like
  • What your next steps should be 

Why is digital transformation key for food manufacturers? 

GraphImage credit

Digitalisation is focused on digitising various aspects of business processes to improve the way they operateThis can lead to improvements in efficiency, productivity, profits, customer satisfaction, service and more. 

In addition, you can reduce costs, save time and boost the efficiency of your core business functions such as product development, logistics and production.

The right digital strategy will also include an industry solution that will help you retain your traceability and compliance which is key in the food sector. 

So, what types of practical applications of a digital strategy can yield business benefits? 

The following are just some examples of where digital transformation can make a real difference. There are many more, but each needs consideration as to where business value can be achieved.  

  • Improve customer focus with technology - (like an ERP system) can centralise data from multiple sources enabling you to access the right customer information in real-time to provide excellent service or innovate products/services, and make the right decisions in a timely manner. 
  • Boost efficiency with automation - business areas such as purchase approval or automated warehousing, can help replace paper driven processes or reduce time-consuming manual tasks within your team. By using mobile solutions, you can take your digitalisation to the shop floor, enabling live updates to drive more informed decision making. 
  • Enhanced resource management - Organising staff schedules, for instance, can be made more efficient using tools such as algorithms within a solution. These tools can help you match the appropriate staff to the relevant task and machine learning can help ensure the process always improving, based on specific criteria. 
  • Make more informed business decisions - Predictive analytics and data conveniently displayed in customisable dashboards makes it easier for you to plan for the future. 
  • Optimise your supply chain - Technology makes it easier to control and monitor the flow of materials, assess material yields, understand associated costs and more. You can use this information to  build your resilient supply chain. 
  • Maintain quality control - Through a more centralised, digital system, you can gain more visibility over your manufacturing and production processes. So, you can ensure the best end-product for your customers. 
  • Reduce waste - Technology can help you reduce food loss and waste with the use of co and by-product functionality. Not only does this reduce your carbon footprint but it can also open new revenue streams. 
  • Managing allergens and ingredients Allergen and ingredient-related regulations are always changing. Ensure your business is compliant with an industry-specific solution that helps you keep up with new laws and consumer demands. 

 

So how does the Government scheme work and how can it support a digital strategy? 

innovation funding service

The Government scheme is designed to enable UK registered businesses to  apply for funding towards feasibility studies into digital technologies to transform supply chains in UK manufacturing. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. 

Essentially, the funding is to drive digital innovation in UK manufacturing supply chains and develop the use of digital technologies to become more efficient, productive, flexible and resilient organisations. These technologies must support better integration and optimisation of supply chain performance. 

The application period is open now until the 7th October 2020. 

To be eligible for this grant, you must satisfy the following conditions for any digital driven project: 

  • Have total eligible costs between £250,000 and £500,000
  • Start by 1 April 2021 
  • Last up to six months 
In addition, as a business, you must:  
  • Be a UK registered business of any size 
  • Collaborate with other UK registered businesses, academic institutions, charities, public sector organisations or research and technology organisations (RTO) 
  • Involve at least one SME 
  • Carry out its project work in the UK 
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK 

If you qualify then there is the potential to get the following grants to cover project cost if you are a Commercial focussed operation. Your funding request must not exceed the limits stated: 

  • Up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation 
  • Up to 60% if you are a medium-sized organisation 
  • Up to 50% if you are a large organisation 

For any funding, evidence must be uploaded for each expenditure with every claim made. These might include invoices, timesheets, receipts or spreadsheets for capital usage.  

You can learn more about the funding opportunity here. 

So how do I get started? 

Two creative millenial small business owners working on social media strategy using a digital tablet while sitting at desk-1With the current Government funding scheme under the headline of ‘Manufacturing Made Smarter’, which supports the implementation of digital technologies to enable more efficient, adaptive and resilient UK manufacturing supply chains, set to finish in October, there has never been a better time to consider how the right digitalisation approach could help your business. However, deciding where to start is the key challenge. 

The best approach is to focus on building a long-term digital strategy. Consider what pieces of technology will address your business needs and challenges, not just immediately but in the long run too. 

Here at Columbus, digital transformation is at the heart of everything we do, helping food businesses transform and optimise their ways of working across a number of technologies and industry sectors. 

The Best Practice assessment

As part of an initiative we are currently offering a two day ColumbusFood Best Practice Assessment which can help you to identify where you may be 'behind the curve' and highlight areas within your business that can help you to create a competitive advantage!  

This two day of on-site consultancy is available between now and the end of October 2020 which involves a Consultant-led review of your current pain points, business processes and future strategy linked to how you can digitally transform. 

An assessment report following the on-site time which includes... 

  • Business process review and maturity assessment 
  • A heatmap aligning gaps in best practice with pain points and future strategy 
  • Systems and infrastructure overview 
  • Recommendations on possible changes to meet future business objectives 

The consultancy and report are delivered at no cost and you have no obligations to proceed with Columbus, should we make any recommendations. We are passionate about driving business improvements for food businesses and want to share this with you. 

So, why not use this as a start point in assessing where you are and where you need to get to? Once you have a plan, you can then look to access the Government funding available to help you on your journey

Topics

Discuss this post

Recommended posts

A key benefit of an ERP system is its ability to unify business systems, processes and operations. So, you might be wondering whether you even need specific ERP software for the food industry. The answer is yes because food products have a life of their own. They constantly change their behaviour, often unexpectedly. That’s why you need food ERP software and not a generic alternative. In this blog, we take a deeper look into the reasons why: Deal with the variances of ‘living’ products Cater for products that need special treatment Manage the goods in and out stages Handle the complexities Prepare for the inconsistency Satisfy supply and demand Deal with the variances of ‘living’ products Whilst a standard ERP system can cover most requirements during the conversion process, it can’t handle the variances of food products. The uniformity and quality variations of ‘living’ products in the food industry can vary considerably during the manufacturing/production stage. Food ERP software is designed to cater for this. In addition, food ERP systems need to be tailored to deal with “attributes” of food items such as size, field, country of origin and so on. Whilst investing in a standard ERP system will get you some form of substitution functionality, a food ERP solution provides enhanced functionality in this area. This is extremely important when dealing with organic and conventional items where it can accommodate multiple attributes. Food ERP systems also provide the capabilities to change pieces of information after they’ve been scheduled or started. Cater for products that need special treatment Manufacturing resource planning (MRP II) is a major part of an ERP system. Food ERP software must go beyond the traditional “make to stock” or “make to order” process of standard ERP systems. This is because food products with a shorter shelf life or that have a nature bound harvest cycle require special treatment. For example: A standard ERP system doesn’t always support sudden changes in processing times. It’s important to have food industry ERP software in order to protect against unforeseen changes to weather or product quality Products with natural growing cycles are only ready when they’re ready, which doesn’t always fit with demand-driven MPS Foodstuffs that have a very short shelf life need their own scheduling algorithm Manage the goods in and out stage Food ERP software is needed when dealing with the intake of raw materials i.e. the “goods in” stage. This is because compared to other industries, the expectation of foodstuff can be much looser. Items can be of multiple varieties or breeds with their own differing specifications. In addition, your ERP system must have enhanced QA functionality to account for extensive quality and customer safety checks to incoming products. For provenance, food businesses need to ensure allergens and the points of origin for the products are as stated. Standard ERP systems generally don’t deal with units of measure, so food industry ERP software often features added functionality to account for this. Once products reach the finished goods stage, having a food industry-specific ERP system will ensure “best before” and “use by” dates are catered for to avoid customer service and safety issues. Handle the complexities The demand planning process is largely the same for food or non-food businesses. But that doesn’t mean you should dive in and invest in a generic ERP system – the food industry has some added complexities that need to be considered such as: The food industry is supply driven. There could be a demand for a product at a certain point but that doesn’t mean the raw materials will be in season or available Lots of products in the food industry are parts of wholefoods or whole crops. Demand for one fraction of a harvest or slaughter may give rise to other fractions that may have a different demand profile Food products can be affected by the weather. Perishable food businesses are in danger from unpredictable weather conditions that can affect daily demand   Prepare for the inconsistency In terms of warehousing, most ERP systems with a built-in warehouse management system (WMS) will cover the functionality needed, however foodstuffs do have some extra requirements during storage. You’ll need food ERP software to monitor positive or negative changes in foodstuff (think of unripe fruit turning to ripe fruit). In terms of inventory, standard ERP systems are used to dealing with consistency. But when we’re talking about foodstuff, it’s rather the opposite – food inventory is inconsistent, driven by its environment, changes all the time and its life can be short. Basically, the level of information required here is too much for your traditional ERP system. Invest in food industry ERP software to gain more detailed information at the item level, such as attributes, secondary units of measure and quality specifications. At Lot level, food systems usually include in-depth data on origin, residency times and allergens. Satisfy supply and demand Supply and demand work together in the food industry and investing in food ERP software will cater for these requirements. Supply decisions are made with the following key questions in mind: What are the main weather conditions? What is the micro-level demand? What is the current quality of stock on hand? What is the current storage situation/capability? What is the maturity of products in the fields/hatcheries/greenhouses? A standard ERP system will not be able to handle these variances unless it’s modified. However, modifications are tricky and the complexities at this level cannot be underestimated. Mistakes can be made when trying to turn traditional supply processes/algorithms into predictive software. Ready to invest in food ERP software? Although it might be tempting to choose the cheapest ERP system you stumble across, having the right solution is just as important as implementing one. The key is to ensure that the ERP and physical processes match at a detailed level. As ERP is a big subject, we’ve created a guide which takes a detailed look at the differences between a generic ERP system and food industry ERP software. Download it now by clicking the button below.
To say 2020 was a challenging year would be an understatement. Whether you were supplying the hospitality, travel or retail sector, your experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic may have been very different. Similarly, the unknown of Brexit loomed large throughout the year and despite a deal being struck with the EU just before Christmas, challenges remain in the food supply chain.
In the food industry, keeping up with the latest technology has become somewhat vital if businesses are to stay competitive. The right technology investments can also stabilise your business’ supply chain in the event of unpredictability.
What does the future have in store for the food and drink industry? In this blog post, we’ll be covering some of the top trends, from the up and coming technology in the food and beverage industry to what today’s consumers expect.
Having the correct ERP system in place is vital for any business to achieve the results it desires. After all, within each industry, businesses have their own specific requirements that they need from an ERP system.
right-arrow share search phone phone-filled menu filter envelope envelope-filled close checkmark caret-down arrow-up arrow-right arrow-left arrow-down