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You have no doubt heard phrases such as “tomorrow starts here” or “disrupt or die”... but what do they mean?? 

In the new digital age, every business is looking for ways to increase efficiency and achieve their operational goals with a robust digital business platform.

Food companies are feeling the pressure to transform and modernise their business processes in line with changing consumer preferences. This includes streamlining their supply chain, improving production efficiency, enhancing quality control and compliance, all while increasing margins AND reducing waste - not a lot to ask for??

So, how will 'digital transformation' enable your food business to excel into the future?

By leveraging digital transformation, food businesses will be able to address many of these traditional pain points mentioned above, such as accurate tracking, recipe management and quality control.

Food manufacturers are accomplishing an agile demand planning function with the help of modern ERP, complemented with advanced analytics and enhanced reporting capabilities. 

Improving your customer experience

As a food business, you are probably serving your customers from dawn to dusk and are propelled (and challenged) by changes in consumer demand.

To ensure growth and survival, you must enhance your demand planning with further accuracy, ensuring less complexity, as well as consolidating vast amounts of data to improve visibility in your supply chain processes.

This will contribute to improving your customer experience as you will further understand their priorities and be able to provide enhanced visibility.

Ensuring success within the digital age

The most successful digital transformation initiatives underway in food companies today typically combine the right ERP foundation with other, valuable technology applications.

Collaborating effectively with customers and resellers to create product improvements will enable your business to deliver profitable, immersive customer experiences and reduce the risk and costs associated with product innovation; boosting your competitive advantage.

Keen to learn more?

To discover how you can get started with moving your business into the digital age, check out our industry report. We cover the steps you need to take to succeed with digital transformation in the food industry.

Discover your roadmap to digital transformation

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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. 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