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Today’s consumers want more information around how their food is being produced and the journey it took before it reached the shelves. Plus, the growing complexity and globalisation of food supply chains means tracing products successfully is more vital than ever for food safety and quality.

Fortunately, there are technologies food and drink businesses can implement to improve supply chain visibility and ensure the safety of consumers.

In episode five of the ColumbusCast podcast, I’m joined by Business Development Manager Laura Gilbank and Dynamics 365 Consultant Chris Nichols to discuss my interview with The Grocer on overcoming blind spots in traceability.


Here’s an overview of the five common blind spots I’ve experienced and what you can do to combat them.

1. Clean-downs

The first thing you need to ask yourself is – are they being performed as efficiently as possible?

For example, when performing a significant clean-down, there’s lots of paperwork involved (physical process instructions, health and safety checklists, sign-off sheets, etc). Filling out forms manually can be time-consuming and laborious tasks for your team to complete and increases the chances of human error.

With mobile solutions, your workers can easily record this information electronically on devices in real-time, taking away the manual processes needed when processing paperwork. You can also attach photographic evidence and record physical signatures on devices, helping you provide an extra level of evidence of due diligence.

Scientist in protective suit standing with arms crossed in the factory

2. Maintenance

The biggest impact of having a fully integrated asset management software system is felt in the production department. For example, by incorporating maintenance into production schedules, you can ensure production capacity is correctly reflected and optimise both production and maintenance activity.

Plus, workers can use touchscreens on the shop floor to record their activities. One of these actions might be to make a maintenance request in real-time, which highlights how solutions can help ensure production and engineering departments are working hand in glove.

3. Training records

Food safety and quality isn’t just about your production processes – it’s about the people involved as well. For example, your operators on the production line must have the right certification/training to perform their tasks.

And you need to be able to prove your staff have the right skills in areas like allergen handling and machinery operation for situations such as a product recall. Traditionally, this information is kept in disparate systems, meaning different departments are having to pull documents from different locations to get information ready for these types of situations.

The right solution helps pull your evidence chain together, making sure you have quick access to information like:

  • Employee records
  • Production activity
  • Time in attendance

4. Transport and distribution

Traditionally, the goods-in inspection is the first time you’ve got any knowledge of a product. But today’s suppliers are gathering their own data which they can collect out in the field even before a crop has been harvested.

So, using technology to record this information presents a big opportunity for you to gain earlier insight and visibility into product quality data. Technology also allows you to think about maximising yield and the consignment profitability associated with that.

Portrait of manual worker and manager scanning package in the warehouse

5. Ease of data capture

Firstly, you need to think about system integration – have you got lots of systems in your business and are they all talking to each other?

With integration, we’re trying to do two things:

  • Reduce delay - we’re making sure information is being kept up to date on a real-time basis
  • Drive improvements in accuracy – this is achieved because people aren’t having to re-key or glue data together to bring it into a single report

Secondly, if your data can’t be gathered electronically, then you need to consider how you can reduce the data input burden on your workers. For example, in a factory, this normally means eliminating paperwork by introducing tools such as mobile devices.

These solutions allow your workers to give instant feedback (e.g. immediately raise issues/concerns) and help show you’re following the best practices to maintain food quality and safety.

Interested in learning more? Scroll up to the top of this post to listen to the episode. Or, search for 'ColumbusCast' in your podcast app.

Is your traceability system fit for purpose?

To deal with the pressures being placed on today’s supply chain, it’s vital your business has a robust food traceability system in place.

In our best practices guide, we look at the challenges associated with implementing an effective traceability system and what you need to maximise your food traceability.

Download it below.

Teach me about traceability


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