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

There is an increasing responsibility on food manufacturers to gain complete traceability of all the supplies, ingredients, materials and finished products throughout the supply chain.

By having full visibility of the entire lifecycle of all products and product components, from production to the point of consumption, means that in the event of a quality concern the relevant actions can be taken quickly and efficiently to either contain or recall ‘at-risk’ products.

Improved traceability can be readily achieved through the implementation of food focused solutions such as ERP, but these can require a large investment and time to implement, and certainly cannot provide a short-term solution.

Reliance on purely recording details in a spreadsheet or on paper, means traceability becomes a rather time-consuming and error ridden process. This can lead to a “recall it all” approach because its faster and safer, but incurs a higher direct cost.

However, there is thankfully an approach that can improve traceability using tools such as Power BI which can collate and display information from a variety of data sources, and doesn’t require substantial time and money to implement, providing a very realistic short-term solution to the issue of Food traceability which can make a significant difference.

What is Power BI?

Power BI is a tool from Microsoft which is rich in features and designed to create intelligent visualisations based on business data, supporting you in your decision-making processes. Power BI Pro provides the ability to create graphical data visualisations, in both independent or collaborative environments, which can then be shared between employees.

How can Power BI help you?

PowerBI

Power BI can provide the ability to manage data storage from a variety of sources and enable cleansing, joining and merging of sources such as spreadsheets. In essence, it doesn’t matter where the data comes from providing it exists, and if it exists, it can be extracted using items such as standard connectors where applicable.

This then provides rapid information breakdown and enables easy access to understandable data which means your Power BI users can quickly and easily make increasingly informed decisions in relation to business needs. So, if you retain data relating to ingredients, batch IDs, locations, delivery addresses etc, you should be able to easily analyse and filter information accordingly to determine for example the extent of use and coverage associated with a particular batch of ingredients.

These analysis reports can be created and customised to suit your business’s needs, via natural language queries rather than complex query coding reducing any learning time for users.

They can also be run on a variety of devices which means you’re not reliant on being on your desktop or in the office to access relevant information and make decisions.

As a result, it provides a solution to analyse relevant data, which can be applied even to smaller scale businesses and enables a single tool to be used for data analysis rather than multiple separate solutions.

How do I start?

  1. Identify data sources
    The starting point initially requires time to validate sources of data and identify any cleansing required to ensure data integrity. This time should be focused on the data needed to support traceability evaluation.

  2. Determine required outputs
    The next step should be on the what the outputs need to be in the form of standard reports, ad-hoc reports, drill-downs and queries, alerts etc.. Proof of Concept (PoC) outputs can then be created where required, using a subset of the data, so that you can see what the end result would look like and ensure it meets expectations before the full set-up occurs.

  3. Train your users
    Training is also key in terms of how to use Power BI, so that the customer is not solely reliant on the supplier and is then able to amend or adjust as needed.

  4. Manage compliance
    Finally, compliance and GDPR also need consideration with regards to data classification from a GDPR perspective and any other compliance requirements. Security, similarly, is also a key step when it comes to determining who can have access to relevant data sources and outputs.

ColumbusFood can help your food and beverage business

Support for doing this can be achieved using a partner to assist where needed... Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Should these reports be built in house or should you engage a partner to create these for you?
  • Should you create these internally and will you require training?

Consider the timeline vs cost. It may be that initially you use a partner to create the reports on your behalf, then arrange training for your key employees going forward so your reports are created internally.

The approach can be flexible!

Whichever path you decide to take, you will also need the following:

  • Power BI account
  • Power BI Pro Trial Licence
  • Power BI Desktop

Only once you have these in place can you begin.

How can I link Power BI to traceability?

If you capture the relevant information regarding attributes, batches, products, Customers etc.. then you have the ability via Power BI to collate and report on the relevant information which could be accessed and filtered quickly in the event of a potential quality issue arising.

This enables the extent of any issue to be quickly evaluated and appropriate action taken. The example below shows what can be achieved in a very short period of time.

Power BI 2

Defining and implementing an Analytics and Business Intelligence project can happen in a relatively short period of time, and at Columbus we have the industry expertise and the scale to get your ideas off the ground and turn them into reality quickly, using our flexible, rapid approach. Take a look at one of our case studies here!

So, if you need to find a quick route to solving your existing traceability needs and managing the potential impact of any quality issue more effectively then reach out to us here and find out how you can get started.

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