How ERP Software Helps You Ensure Compliance in your Meat Processing Plant
May 20, 2020
The food industry has faced many changes over the past decade. The introduction of global food supply chains, shifts in public mindset towards ideas of sustainability and healthy eating, and ever-changing government rules and regulations regarding food safety have forced food companies to meet these new demands or risk going out of business. While the entire food industry feels the pressure of these changes, meat processing companies are often some of the most vulnerable in terms of compliance, profitability and overall success.
Meat processing is a complex business. Between meeting consumer and supplier demands, addressing safety and compliance concerns and dealing with the unique requirements of the industry itself – like catchweight, by-products, lean percentage, etc. – meat processors require a software solution that will support these unique issues instead of exacerbating them.
That’s where an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution built for the food industry comes in. In terms of overall compliance in your meat processing plant, technology designed to address the distinct needs of meat processors (like the ability to comply with strict quality standards, track by-products bi-directionally through the production process and better manage delicate inventory) is required to meet the safety and quality standards consumers, suppliers and partners demand.
Below, we outline how a food-specific ERP solution can help your meat processing company remain compliant and ensure success.
- Keep Up With Ever-Changing Rules and Regulations
The meat industry faces some of the toughest rules and regulations when it comes to food safety – and for good reason. Contagious diseases like foot-and-mouth disease (which could cost producers and the public $188 billion if an outbreak occurs) and bacterial diseases like salmonella (which resulted in the recall of more than 12 million pounds of beef in 2018) are extremely dangerous and costly to both processors and the public.
But with strict rules and regulations in place ensuring outbreaks like the above don’t occur, it can be difficult for meat processors to ensure compliance while attempting to run a profitable business. Fortunately, meat processors can rely on the functionality of a food-specific ERP to help.
In order to comply with the USDA’s strict regulations around recordkeeping, for example, establishments that grind beef are required to maintain adequate records concerning suppliers and source materials for raw ground beef. Some of these records include supplier lot numbers and production dates, the names of all beef components being used and any materials carried over from production to the next, and the date and time when grinding equipment is cleaned and sanitized.
An ERP for the food industry comes equipped with recordkeeping functionality that can help users maintain thorough documentation at every level of production. This makes pinpointing where in the supply chain a product, by-product or co-product is infinitely easier and will assist with your recall preparedness efforts.
- Accurately Track and Trace Raw Materials
All food companies face strict traceability requirements from suppliers, customers, partners and governing bodies. While many meat processors in the past could get away with manual tracing and tracking efforts, the increasing demand for full traceability means that if your company doesn’t have the software in place to accurately manage recalls, you risk losing new business and existing customers.
Lot traceability is inherent to almost all ERP solutions. But while a generic ERP will provide users with a snapshot of where a product is in its current state, leading ERP solutions with food-specific functionality will merge inventory records to give you a full end-to-end view of your entire production process. That means that you’ll have the ability to track raw materials from receiving into production, track finished goods from supplier receipt to customer invoice and identify the raw materials and resources that produced the finished products.
This ability to track batch-specific quantities bi-directionally also ensures that meat processors have the ability to track and trace every ingredient used in the processing of a product, even if it’s a minuscule amount (like a spice, for example). This is imperative to meat processors who face increasing demands for 100% traceability and are required to perform mock recalls in minutes to adhere to customer requirements and certification audits.
- Comply with Quality Specifications
Meat processors deal with a high-level of variability when it comes to making quality decisions. Unlike food processors or manufacturers in other sub-industries whose products receive either a pass or fail when a quality check is performed, the variability in quality conditions of a meat product makes the quality check process for meat processors unique and complex.
Here’s an example: A sausage company looking to purchase trimmings has a specification in place that says it will accept products with a lean percentage from 59% to 64% and will reject or hold any receipt outside of this range. Because your company utilizes an ERP to effectively track the quality conditions of raw materials and finished goods, you supply this sausage company with trimmings with a 60% lean percentage, which falls right into the company’s specifications.
Having the ability to quality check raw materials and finished goods based on supplier receipts, inventory, manufacturing and customer shipments ensures you’re able to measure and compare actual quality results to individual customer specification limits. An ERP tailored to the meat industry will come built with predefined industry-standard characteristics such as grade, fat or lean content. Having full visibility into available raw material inventory and characteristics ensures you can easily comply with customer-specific quality specifications.
- Manage Safety Amidst Global Issues
As the novel coronavirus changes the way the world operates, it’s imperative that meat processors start thinking about what business will look like post-pandemic. It is likely that regulations and requirements set forth by governing bodies, suppliers and customers will demand that facility and worker safety be placed at the forefront of all operations, forcing meat processors to rethink the way their business functions. In response, processors may increase the scheduling frequency of their cleaning and maintenance processes, reduce the number of staff scheduled for various shifts, move operations to remote sites and much more. But without a system like an ERP in place to help manage these changes in operating procedures and ensure compliance, your meat company may not have the capacity to address these changes while still maintaining profitability.
An ERP built for the food industry helps manage changes in scheduling and maintenance and provides you with the oversight you need to identify any bottlenecks and inefficiencies to ensure you’re still hitting profitable production targets. Warehouseing functionality built into an ERP also allows you to manage ever-changing customer order policies and new requirements of logistics partners. And in terms of inventory management post-pandemic, as global supply chain standards inevitably shift and fluctuate, an ERP with meat-specific functionality will ensure that the best inventory rotation methods and quality standards are always met.
If you’re a meat processor struggling to comply with consumer demands, safety standards and quality specifications, Aptean’s suite of food and beverage products might be right for you. Aptean for Food and Beverage is designed to address the needs of food manufacturers and processors looking to accurately account for all raw material and finished products, increase visibility across departments and ensure success and continued growth. If you’d like to learn more about Aptean, reach out to us now.