Smart tech helping manufacturers safeguard supply chains
By Danielle Dadello, Country Manager AU at Unleashed Software
Thursday, 02 April, 2020
The first three months of 2020 have been marked by increasing hurdles and pressure for food manufacturers — first, reports signalled food recalls were on the rise, with mass pesto recalls through to mouldy doggy snacks igniting fire about food manufacturing processes. And today, the food industry is watching the business effects of COVID-19 take hold, with new impacts on the supply chain and everyday practice taking hold each day. With this in mind, it’s time for an upheaval in the way food manufacturers use technology and supply chain processes, both to keep food on the shelves and to remain resilient when massive supply chain disruptions like COVID-19 start hitting businesses.
Supply chain health is critical to the smooth running of food businesses, and customer satisfaction and safety, but at their core, supply chains can become unlinked. For example, a poorly monitored supply chain point can see food products contaminated early on in the manufacturing process, only to hit consumers when it’s too late. And, the ripple effects of coronavirus are hitting supply chain processes hard, with many overseas warehouses and manufacturing sites slowing down or ceasing production.
Cloud inventory management software and smart tech is providing food manufacturers and retailers with newfound visibility into all points of their supply chain and product journeys, to not only help them prevent food recall events, but to better bounce back when unforeseen challenges affect supply chain sites. Technology is handing manufacturers the power to continue to place consumer safety at the forefront, and rely on trusted supply chain partners to keep things going when times get rough, even when faced with a global pandemic.
Know your suppliers
When times are good, developing relationships with backup suppliers can be life-saving when times get tough. Having backup supply chain sites means that in times of supply chain breakdown, you can keep business going by adjusting supply chain routes and specifics quickly, without needing to frantically search for new supplier options. Taking the time to really get to know these backup suppliers before you potentially draw on them in the future is also important, because last-minute supplier scrambling can sometimes link you up with untrustworthy or overpriced suppliers who can hang you out to dry.
As the business effects of COVID-19 worsen, the most at-risk Australian food businesses should set their sights on suppliers based locally, where possible, who are less likely to have operations affected due to coronavirus concerns. In fact, sourcing backup suppliers across varying regions to your usual suppliers can be beneficial, as often supply chain disruptions are caused by regionally specific economic crises, environmental events or political tension. For preventing food recalls, staying afloat during COVID-19 and more, trusted alternative suppliers are crucial.
Keep agile while maintaining standards and visibility
As they grow and adapt in these times of uncertainty, food manufacturers need to take into account increased regulatory requirements, which often demand manufacturers update their ingredients, supply chain points and dispatch processes to fit revised food safety concerns. The food processing supply chain is long and complex, with many opportunities for potential contamination and multiple points for products to be sent out to different consumer end-points.
COVID-19 adds an extra challenge here, where biosecurity concerns and staff shortages have left international processing ports unable to process shipments and deliveries of food items. Cloud-based tools are particularly useful here as manufacturers can receive real-time updates on where their goods are at all times, and ensure nothing gets lost or compromised along the way. And preventing food recalls can go hand in hand. Manufacturers can use tech to have a clear idea of where their stock is, and its status, at every step in the production process. This helps reduce the chances of recalls in the first place, and when recalls do happen, smart supply chain tracking makes it easier to identify where production mishaps occurred.
Smart tech as a safeguard
While we can’t often predict food recall instances or catastrophic events like we’re seeing with COVID-19 today, we can enact preventive steps through cloud inventory management systems to help manufacturers of all sizes react quickly if a recall or supply chain breakdown occurs.
Food manufacturers using smart tech are at a significant advantage — offering greater insight into their supply chains to help them bounce back and keep things running smoothly when contaminated stock hits the shelves or stock yet to be delivered is stalled and threatened. As regulations tighten and COVID-19 teaches us how vulnerable our supply chains can really be, these are just some of the ways smart technology is transforming the food production process for manufacturers, retailers and consumers themselves.
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