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Minor, unplanned events can have a significant impact on production scheduling and your ability to keep production on track. And inefficiencies hidden in your processes, happening each and every day, could greatly affect product quality, output and consistency, adding up to a noticeable loss over time.

Technology, such as a cloud ERP, can help you improve production planning. With the right tools, you can identify and fix inefficiencies and be better prepared for unexpected events – even predict and prevent them.

When you don’t seize technology opportunities that lend themselves to better production planning, particularly if you’re aware you’re having food manufacturing challenges that technology can solve, you put yourself at risk. That risk comes with a cost. The potential consequences of letting your production line get off-track include:

  • Food waste and shrinkage
  • Reduced quality
  • Inability to quickly respond to the unexpected
  • Inconsistency from one production order to another
  • Production delays
  • Reduced customer satisfaction

If you migrate to an industry-specific cloud ERP solution, like Microsoft Dynamics 365 integrated with ColumbusFood, you’ll have the benefit of a centralized system that allows you to take advantage of data analytics, machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT) technology and more. You can manage your most consequential responsibilities, including: tracking for traceability; managing warehousing, storage and inventory; conducting optimal production scheduling; managing and optimizing maintenance; and segregating materials, including allergens and organics.

1. Food Waste and Shrinkage

Reducing food waste, food spoilage and shrinkage greatly contributes to increased profitability in food manufacturing. An ERP system has capabilities that help prevent and reduce shrinkage by helping you identify, adjust and avoid challenges in food production planning and scheduling.

For instance, conducting inventory management and shelf-life tracking in your ERP helps ensure you’re rotating inventory optimally by expiration date. It allows you to control and optimize the movement of products in your warehouse. And performing vendor analysis using data pulled into your ERP, such as inspection data, rejection quantities and yields of batches, helps keep better tabs on vendors’ batches and hold them accountable.

Machine learning, built into Dynamics 365, helps improve production planning and reduce waste by determining exact, often non-intuitive reasons for shrinkage. It reveals the drivers of shrinkage so you can identify why certain production orders have lower yields. It does this using the wealth of data available with each production order, finding trends and common denominators.

Additionally, with real-time data from your production line, your ERP system can alert you to issues as they occur so you can act immediately and prevent further product damage and waste.

2. Quality Control and Improvement

As with reducing shrinkage, your ERP’s machine learning technology helps improve quality and output in production. Using similar data points from your production orders, you can clearly identify the causes of quality issues and solve for them. The source might be a vendor’s products, a certain combination of employees and equipment, or an immediate issue with equipment that needs attention.

Part of quality control in production planning and scheduling is ensuring proper segregation of and sanitation for organics and allergens. You can manage all of this from your ERP, ensuring proper identification of organics versus non-organics and managing sanitation work orders and changeovers after a product containing an allergen moves through production.

Post-production, such classifications and information tracking will help you manage safety recalls, enabling traceability for those items in your ERP.

With organic and free trade items, you can manage the different labels and classifications within your ERP as well, ensuring you’re warehousing and assigning product attributes and rules in such a way that you’re not mixing organic with non-organic.

3. Traceability

A traceable supply chain allows a food manufacturer to easily track compliance and failures, ensuring suppliers are complying with regulations and identifying issues along the journey that may cause problems. Greater traceability drives food safety, but it means manufacturers have to spend more on compliance. But an industry-specific ERP solution with real-time data collection and traceability from source to consumer allows for a speedier and more efficient resolution to problems and reduction of risk overall.

For example, frozen fruits manufacturer Jasper Wyman & Son sells through retail, ingredient and foodservice channels; data entry and management for these channels were previously handled manually. But with the real-time data collection achieved after they implemented ColumbusFood, they gained full traceability back to the field where the fruits were harvested.

4. Maintenance and Repairs

An ERP integrated with Internet of Things (IoT) gives you tremendous visibility over your production. Monitor your equipment and machines to catch issues before they lead to downtime. Capture real-time metrics on your production line and integrate it so that completed orders are automatically updated, which allows you to reallocate your workforce to different tasks, reducing errors and increasing efficiency.

Proper maintenance is imperative to keep production running smoothly and to ensure quality outcomes. An ERP like Microsoft Dynamics 365 can help you connect your factory, monitoring your equipment for issues and pulling insights from factory data so you can design optimal maintenance schedules. With Internet of Things (IoT) technology, you can check the status of your production equipment remotely from anywhere.

In your ERP, you can manage preventative maintenance, scheduling regular scale recalibrations, belt and wheel adjustments, part lubrication and more. Your IoT devices can send alerts to your ERP system and maintenance team if a machine shifts in efficiency by a specific amount. And you can integrate the production and sanitation process, building it into the production process. If you have a sanitation step, it can trigger a work order, all in the same system. Additionally, each action and detail will be tracked, which helps you maintain audit trails for inspections.

These are only a few of the ways a centralized ERP, along with IoT technology and other capabilities, helps in overcoming the production challenges facing the food and beverages manufacturing industry and in improving operations. Having these capabilities in one location, accessible from anywhere with real-time visibility, alerts and insights, gives you greater control so you can produce consistent, quality products with every production order.

Next Read: Digital Transformation in food manufacturing Industry

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