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Creating a Connected Workforce in the Food and Beverage Industry and the Role of Digital Transformation

Creating a Connected Workforce in the Food and Beverage Industry and the Role of Digital Transformation


Food Industry Solutions

Creating a Connected Workforce in the Food and Beverage Industry and the Role of Digital Transformation

28 Sep 2022

John McCurdy
A food facility worker reviews records associated with a product line.

The phrase “connected workforce” is trending of late, but there remains some confusion over exactly what it means and why the concept is so important. Certainly, businesses want their employees to be engaged and feel comfortable with the systems they use to carry out their responsibilities—but, is that enough to constitute a fully empowered and optimized staff?

As a food and beverage professional, you know that it takes many individuals working across a variety of disciplines and moving forward together with a clear vision in order to achieve key organizational goals. For that reason, your people have to be one of your top priorities—they are an invaluable asset, and without them, there really is no company at all.

Let’s take the time to explore the idea of a connected workforce in more detail and highlight the reasons for the increased attention on this topic, particularly in the food and beverage industry. We’ll also discuss how the process of digital transformation can reinforce your efforts on this front, as well as the ways in which Aptean’s software solutions are designed with accessibility and improvement in mind.

What Is a Connected Workforce?

Before we go any further, let’s establish a working definition for our central idea. A connected workforce is a staff that leverages employees’ unique skills to succeed as a team; places high priority on accountability and performance improvement; and truly owns the processes and technologies used in their organization.

Connected workforces also effectively involve individuals across all demographics, including different age groups. They combine the experience and extensive best practice knowledge of older workers with the advantages of digital natives—millennials and Generation Z professionals—including digital fluency, adaptability, an integrated mindset and statistical savviness.

As time goes by, the latter group is playing a larger and larger role within their organizations, as they can use their familiarity with modern systems and devices to unlock greater efficiency, identify opportunities for growth, facilitate better collaboration and take on leadership roles. That isn’t to say that the value of their seniors is diminishing, though—indeed, as some of them approach retirement age, the importance of older workers and their decades of expertise will only grow.

Thus, a connected workforce involves everyone, from those in entry-level jobs on the factory floor to the food and beverage industry veterans in the C-suite offices. What brings them together is their shared belief in the business’s mission and key objectives, as well as a willingness to learn new technologies and means of interaction to facilitate an optimal approach.

Why Is a Connected Workforce Important?

The lingering effects of the pandemic—which saw workers leaving in droves—along with the “Great Resignation” caused by a culture shift and a lack of appeal compared to other fields has led to a severe labor shortage in the food and beverage market. In the U.S. alone, there were as many as 10 million job openings in the industry in June 2021.

There are many reasons to believe the issue will persist around the world into 2023. In fact, the manufacturing industry as a whole continues to suffer from this issue, as 45% of facilities are still experiencing labor shortages, according to Jason Miller, interim chairperson at Michigan State University’s Supply Chain Program.

For further proof, consider that talent and labor shortages were named the third-most concerning external pressure for food and beverage businesses in IDC’s Global Food and Beverage Industry Trends and Strategic Insights 2022 whitepaper commissioned by Aptean. Additionally, lack of skills and labor shortages ranked as the second-most problematic gap if not addressed in the same survey.

Even more telling, though, is that the whitepaper also found that lack of talent and skills was the top barrier to digital transformation, which makes getting the most out of the qualified staff that you do have—and retaining your top talent—of the utmost importance. It also stresses the need for better outreach and marketing, including recruiting through new channels like social media and demonstrating a commitment to social responsibility.

Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t call out the most obvious reason that having a connected workforce is critical, and that’s to remain relevant and competitive in a landscape as dynamic and challenging as that of the food and beverage world. Without the right people on your teams, you’re not likely to succeed in the long term, especially as consumer demands and government regulations continue to ramp up.

How Digital Transformation and Aptean’s Solutions Foster a Connected Workforce

The process of digital transformation—that is, an initiative focused on harnessing the power of modern technological solutions for greater productivity and effectiveness across all departments of an organization—has been proven as a sound strategy for improving outcomes and future-proofing operations. In the food and beverage industry, it’s seen as an imperative, as the high rate of change and crowded marketplace demand that brands act with agility and insight to remain profitable.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions make for ideal foundations for digital transformation, as they serve the entire company with purpose-built tools and a “single source of truth” that facilitates better decision-making and communication. Our purpose-built food and beverage solution, Aptean Food & Beverage ERP, has several advantages that can help your workforce become more connected, which in turn will fuel your modernization initiative further.

For starters, there’s the fact that our solution offers unique, industry-specific technology built on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform, which lends it a user-friendly interface that’s intuitive for those familiar with Microsoft’s other programs and apps. Aptean also offers flexible cloud deployments for our food ERP, which is perfect for modern businesses that want a lightweight setup, as well as their on-the-go and tech-savvy younger workers who need offsite accessibility.

What’s more, Aptean Food & Beverage ERP was designed with busy food and beverage facility workers in mind, so we incorporated simple point-and-click and drag-and-drop functionality for simple and natural interactions with the system. The fully configurable dashboards of our platform also let employees access tools and find information in the way that best serves their purposes and lets them be more productive.

Our supplementary “beyond ERP” solutions take this a step further with even more features that foster a connected workforce. For example, Aptean’s overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) solution for food and beverage companiesAptean Process Manufacturing OEE—improves worker accountability through real-time performance reporting.

Furthermore, our OEE solution integrates with shop floor systems to automate the data collection process and promote continuous improvement via a dedicated module. The system also offers tools for collaboration so that your employees can communicate within the application and work together to address issues with ongoing projects.

Meanwhile, our food enterprise asset management (EAM) system, Aptean EAM, modernizes maintenance management with an updated interface, contextual panels, robust grid capabilities and type-ahead searching to make both learning and navigating the software simple. That way, your staff spends less time stuck in additional training and more time making a difference toward your mission-critical objectives.

Our EAM platform also digitizes work order management—eliminating the need for cumbersome paper systems and the binders and filing cabinets used to store them. Additionally, its document management features keep paperwork, manuals, photos and even videos that are relevant to particular equipment associated with the machinery in the system for easy access in the future.

Trust Us for Your Food and Beverage Business Software

Here at Aptean, we’re proud of our track record of service to the food and beverage industry, and we know our teams’ collective decades of experience and expertise is a strength that not all other providers can claim. We strive to act as a partner to each and every one of our clients, offering advice on best practices and sharing knowledge learned over years that can be put into practice for better results.

That extends to the implementation process as well, during which we help food and beverage companies create a roadmap for the deployment of their ERP and any additional solutions they choose to leverage. And if your business chooses a cloud setup on the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, you can also look forward to regular updates that will consistently optimize your system.

Now, if you’re ready to learn more about how Aptean’s business solutions for food and beverage businesses can help your company create a more connected workforce and accelerate your digital transformation, contact us today. You can also request a personalized demo.

Aptean Food & Beverage ERP Customer Success Stories

These 10 clients from across various food and beverage sectors achieved more with our solution.

Sandwich stacked with toppings.