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Supply chain disruptions can create scary and uncertain times for both businesses and consumers. For example, we’ve seen the recent surge in demand for energy, labour and transport create the perfect storm and put significant pressure on the global supply chain. 

But the answer to fixing the FMCG food supply chain isn’t de-globalisation. Your focus should be on creating a more stable and agile supply chain that's resilient to unpredictable events (or that can easily adapt to them). 

Let’s look at some of the ways you can do that: 

  1. Revisit your sourcing and distribution strategies 
  2. Transform your manufacturing operations 
  3. Modernise your warehouse management 
  4. Make the most out of your existing assets 
  5. Build a robust project plan and get your teams onboard 

1. Revisit your sourcing and distribution strategies 

The impacts of COVID-19 and Brexit has raised deeper questions about the origins of our products. Previously, it might have been more cost-effective to source your raw materials from Europe, but factors like rising shipping costs are making it unworkable for businesses. So, consider sourcing suppliers closer to home.  

Investing in the right technology can also help you make more informed choices. For example, use tech to create what-if business scenarios that allow you to make decisions based on factors like costs, risk and growth. 

fmcg food supply chain

2. Transform your manufacturing operations 

If you can connect all your assets with your people (regardless of location), you gain real-time insights. This can help boost production uptime and reduce operational risk.  

Technology like Internet of Things (IoT) and AI can enable this level of connectivity and automatically transfer data from all your machinery. This helps you make more informed decisions and reduces the chances of human error as data entry is automated.  

You’ll also gain more visibility over your processes e.g. regular, automatic updates on your equipment’s performance makes it easy to keep up with maintenance. Managing resource utilisation and product standards also becomes easier as you can monitor raw material levels.  

3. Modernise your warehouse management 

Efficient warehouse management helps you simultaneously: 

  • Prevent product shortages when demand is high 
  • Prevent having too much dead stock when demand is low 
fmcg food supply chain

To achieve this, you need end-to-end visibility of your stock and operations. Tools like IoT can give you real-time data on: 

  • The capacity and consumption of your goods 
  • The heatmaps of your warehouse processes 

By automating as many manual processes as possible, you can eliminate human error, free up your employee’s time and boost productivity. Software like Microsoft Dynamics 365 comes with all the tech needed to support warehouse modernisation. 

But it’s not as simple as implementing D365 across your business. You need to find the right partner with the necessary expertise in the food industry who can ensure your implementation follows best practices, proactively monitor your platform, provide 24/7 support and more. 

At Columbus, this is what we specialise in. We’ve amassed over 30 years of experience helping the food and drink sector embrace digitisation.  

Interested in finding out more about how we can help you? Get in touch with us today by clicking the button below. 

Contact us

4. Make the most out of your existing assets 

Instead of constantly investing in new tech to replace your old systems, focus on maximising the life of your current assets. You can do this by: 

  • Implementing specific solutions that complement your maintenance process which helps you avoid downtime of your critical assets 
  • Planning and performing predictive and preventative maintenance on your assets based on the real-time performance data collected 
  • Closing the knowledge gap in your teams by ensuring workers know how to perform the necessary asset maintenance. Consolidation of data, knowledge sharing and cross-team collaboration are all tools that can help 
fmcg food supply chain

5. Build a robust project plan and get your teams onboard 

Improving the stability and efficiency of your supply chain should be treated as an ongoing project. Start by understanding your current business processes as this helps you decipher what needs to be improved and why. Then, evaluate what technology on the market could fit into your processes and solve your specific challenges.  

But system implementations and innovation projects are about more than just technology. If you want your change/transformation to deliver long-lasting, business-wide benefits, you must also focus on value.  

Value creation doesn’t have to be financially driven – you can create value by: 

  • Refining processes 
  • Improving employee morale 
  • Increasing customer satisfaction 

Our ColumbusCast episode outlines why it shouldn’t always be about ERP and walks you through how we help our customers hunt value. Watch the video now by clicking on the button below. 

Watch the ColumbusCast episode

You also need to gain your employee’s buy-in – from your workers on the shop floor to your leadership team – for your change/transformation to be accepted. Be prepared to answer the “what’s in it for me” question – what’s the change about? How will it impact them? And what will they have to do? 

fmcg food supply chain

In our roadmap, we cover the recommended approach to manging change, including: 

  • Creating and promoting your change vision to ensure maximum engagement 
  • Understanding the impact of change on your organisation 
  • Crafting change journeys that are personalised to your business 

Read about these points in detail and more by downloading the roadmap below. 

Read the roadmap

Gain full visibility of your supply chain by transforming your people, processes and technology  

As the FMCG food supply chain becomes more complex, the chances of you experiencing disruptions increases. However, by increasing visibility into your supply chain across: 

  • Stock levels  
  • Supplier performance 
  • Asset maintenance 
  • Employee productivity  

You can stabilise your supply chain and identify/resolve issues before they become major problems. In our checklist, we cover some key steps you should take to optimise your supply chain. Download it now by clicking the button below. 

How to improve your supply chain


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