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Must-Have Features in a Food Industry ERP
Must-Have Features in a Food Industry ERP
Jul 22, 2021Jack Payne
Today’s food and beverage businesses require advanced technological tools to move at the speed that the marketplace demands. In recent years, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems have become the gold standard to unlock the agility and actionable insights that you need to compete.
Of course, it’s not so simple as grabbing any old ERP platform off the proverbial shelf and expecting results. As a food and beverage industry professional, you need to be on the hunt for a true food industry ERP—one that comes with functionalities suited to your very specific processes out of the box—so that you can avoid costly customizations and cumbersome workarounds that could delay your return on investment (ROI).
Let’s examine some of the most important features of food and beverage ERP solutions so that you’ve got all the relevant information as you consider the available options.
Real-Time Inventory and Stock Management
It may seem obvious, but knowing what you have on-hand and being able to rely on the fact that your figures are always up-to-date is a serious advantage in the food and beverage world. After all, running out of a critical ingredient at the wrong time can be a nightmare, and materials going bad before they’re used is a huge source of waste.
ERP systems designed for food and beverage manufacturers harness the power of integration and automation to ensure that your stock levels are accurately reflected in the interface. They also make finding what you’re looking for much easier, as they capture more information than just quantity—you can know where a specific lot is, when it was received, when it expires and more with an advanced solution like Aptean Food & Beverage ERP.
Another useful capability of this feature is automatic reordering of ingredients when stock falls below the threshold that you set. Your business will never be without the materials necessary to run your lines and fulfill orders.
Recipe and Formula Management
The recipes behind your products are vital to your success, so you need sophisticated tools to ensure precision of ingredient levels, timing, mixing procedures, cooking processes and more. In certain sectors of the food and beverage industry, formulas can become quite complex, but a real food industry ERP will be able to handle the nuances and granular details of even your most challenging configurations.
Automatic unit conversion is a huge time-saver when it comes to adjusting and tracking amounts making it a must-have feature in a food manufacturing ERP solution. You should also look for the ability to integrate with smart sensors, as you need to closely monitor characteristics like temperature, consistency and fill level to ensure your products meet your own standards for excellence.
In this way, good recipe management makes a real impact on food quality control, which in turn boosts customer satisfaction and brand reputation. Plus, with accessible and easy-to-use tools that give you complete control over formulas, your research and development team will be empowered to test out potential new product lines for viability.
Traceability and Recall Readiness
Complete traceability forward and back along your supply chain is a must in today’s food and beverage manufacturing landscape. Not only is it important for consumer confidence in the transparency of your products, but it’s also critical for food safety.
No business wants to face an emergency recall situation, but with the right food industry ERP on your side, what could otherwise be catastrophic is much more manageable. You need a solution that captures all of the vital data associated with your ingredient lots so that you can identify:
where your problematic materials came from
what products they’ve been used in at your facilities
what other lines they may have come into contact with
where the affected products are headed.
Purpose-built platforms like Aptean’s food manufacturing ERP also make completing the necessary withdrawal paperwork and communications easier, as a workflow can be established beforehand and certain steps can be automated. It can also automatically schedule your own audits, making sure they are conducted routinely and properly—simplifying another preventative measure.
Finally, keep in mind that extra care will be necessary if your business uses any ingredients with allergy concerns, especially those pertaining to the eight most problematic groups: milk, eggs, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, wheat and fish. Undeclared allergens are consistently the leading cause of product withdrawals, and thus the need for allergen management and traceability functionalities such as those mentioned here, is all the more important for organizations that deal with such items.
In part because food safety is such a critical matter, regulations and standards for food and beverage manufacturers are becoming ever more stringent. In the U.S., additional requirements for traceability will likely be added to the existing provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2021, and the European Union recently established a new definition of the “food safety culture” that all food and beverage businesses are required to follow.
As such, it’s vital that you’re aware of what regulations are applicable to the sectors your business operates in, as well as how to best ensure that you follow all necessary procedures. Food industry ERP solutions make this so much easier, as the best among them—including Aptean Food & Beverage ERP—have measures built in to ensure compliance and automate your checks and audits.
Whether your priority is conforming to HACCP, SQF, BRCGS, ISO, FSSC or cGMP standards or simply satisfying the requirements of the government or regulatory body that your organization reports to, an industry-specific ERP should have the tools to effectively manage and meet all compliance requirements. Bringing you watertight confidence and peace of mind, without laborious workarounds, additional manual processes or costly customizations.
Variable Weight Management
Primarily a concern in the meat, seafood and poultry industries—where it’s frequently referred to as catch weight—variable weight of products can be difficult to track without the right technology. Food industry ERP are thankfully equipped with the functionalities necessary to effectively monitor and account for this factor.
By using data-rich labels and connected devices like barcode and QR scanners, the granular information of many different distinct product weights can be collected and maintained in your unified database. The data remains tied to the product as it moves along the supply chain, so it’s effectively accounted for when it comes to quotes and margins as well.
This feature in particular shows just how big of a difference it makes to have a purposefully designed ERP system. With a generic offering, your options would be limited, and you might have to resort to manual record-keeping—but a thoughtfully engineered solution specific to the food and beverage industry heads off those headaches before they occur, allowing your company to keep pushing forward and making progress.
Selecting a Superior Solution
When it comes to narrowing down your options in an ERP selection process, keep in mind these vital features and note the key differentiators between the various offerings and vendors. Not all are created the same, and considering you only want to spend time and money in an involved implementation once, it’s important to make the right choice.
Make sure you identify your key processes—those that are most central in your success—and compare how well-suited each of your candidates is given your operations. Also, when you’re evaluating food and beverage ERP solutions, ensure that the system you select can scale with your business, as you’re making a long-term investment with this deployment.
Food Manufacturing Metrics That Matter
Food manufacturers rely on data to make decisions regarding their organization’s operations. Data provides visibility into process efficiency—however, not all data should be weighed equally. How do you know which metrics to prioritize for decision making?