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The Benefits of ERP for Food Businesses
The Benefits of ERP for Food Businesses
14 Jul 2021Jack Payne
Food and beverage professionals like you are always on the lookout for ways to give their business a competitive advantage. It could be higher-quality ingredients, an innovative new manufacturing process or a new technological device that could save the organisation money—the key is that it delivers benefits for your production capacity and profitability.
Of course, when it comes to identifying which of the potential improvements in front of you are worth pursuing, many factors must be considered. How much money, time and resource will your company have to invest? How long will it be before you see results? Will it be worth it in the end?
It can be hard to find accurate answers to those questions, but there is one solution that is guaranteed to have a lasting positive impact, regardless of the size or nature of your operations, and that’s an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. The implementation of these platforms can be a long and involved journey, but the transformative results make it well worth the effort.
It’s no exaggeration to say that ERP for food and beverage businesses can improve nearly every facet of your business. Read on to learn more about the key benefits that these solutions offer.
Establishing Comprehensive Visibility
As food and beverage businesses grow, whether organically or through mergers or acquisitions, their needs change as they expand. Basic business software or even manual record-keeping might be enough to get by in the beginning, but those methods quickly become outdated and don’t provide the transparency and agility necessary to run larger, efficient operations in such a competitive industry.
ERP software for the food and beverage industry breaks down the information siloes that might exist in your individual departments by acting as a unified “source of truth” across all teams and facilities. All of your facts and figures—from quality metrics and yield analysis to financials—are maintained and updated via one highly accessible interface.
That increased visibility of information is vital for making important decisions on the fly, and the built-in analytics tools that ERP solutions tend to have are extremely useful for gleaning actionable insights. You’ll be able to crunch your efficiency numbers, get to the root causes of your issues and improve on a holistic level.
What’s more, the best of these systems facilitate real-time data collection, meaning what’s on the screen can be trusted to be accurate at any given time. Through integrations with smart sensors and scales and automated checks, you’ll have a constant stream of the latest readings to keep your finger on the pulse of your critical processes.
Promoting Consumer Transparency and Recall-Readiness
For today’s consumers, knowing where their products come from and how they are made is of utmost importance. They want to know that food and beverage manufacturers’ materials were responsibly and sustainably sourced, and often show more loyalty to brands that are transparent about what’s in the things they eat and drink.
Specialised ERP for food and beverage businesses is the best way to ensure end-to-end supply chain traceability. It’s no longer enough to only capture information one step forward and one step back—your organisation needs all the details from every stop and critical tracking point (CTP).
Naturally, some of your efforts on this front will centre on fostering the right relationships with your suppliers, vendors and distributors in order to coordinate sharing information. But the beauty of an ERP system is that it does all the heavy lifting of maintaining and updating these records, preserving and adding to them throughout your ingredients’ journey from source to factory to store.
This focus on complete data collection will also keep your company better prepared in the case of a food safety emergency. While you’d of course rather not have to issue a recall, excellent traceability is necessary for your business’s readiness should that situation occur—but that topic warrants further dedicated exploration...
Ensuring Food Safety and Compliance
No food and beverage business wants to deal with a recall or withdrawal, and increasing consumer demands—as well as more stringent government and regulatory body standards—make it clear that food safety is a serious matter. Luckily, food ERP platforms help you tackle this monumental challenge with confidence.
Industry-specific solutions like Aptean Food & Beverage ERP are designed to keep organisations like yours in compliance with all relevant regulations and ensure you’re ready in the event of a recall or audit. You can’t be caught scrambling if it’s found that your products contained an unlabeled allergen or other hazardous material—you need all the paperwork and records in hand at a moment’s notice.
The aforementioned traceability tools of ERP for food businesses capture the granular data you need to determine not only what ended up in your products, but also what surfaces and other materials they may have come into contact with. This is crucial for manufacturers who work with allergens, as well as in cases where contamination has occurred and you need to know exactly what may have been affected and where it is in the supply chain.
Boosting Customer Satisfaction and Brand Reputation
Today’s consumers are increasingly discerning, and customer satisfaction and brand reputation remain among the most important concerns for food and beverage businesses like yours. If you want to make sure that every product that leaves your facility is up to snuff, you’ll want the quality assurance functionalities that food ERP solutions provide.
From automated checks with smart scales and sensors to intelligent AI-driven image analysis for detection of anomalies, an ERP for food and beverage has the tools to guarantee that everything coming off the end of a line is meeting your organisation’s standards. And because these systems are updating in real time, you’ll be able to rectify your quality issues before they become a serious problem.
Whether it’s consistency, volume, appearance or another factor that’s most critical for your products, industry-specific food ERP platforms can track your readings and flag deviations from perfection. In turn, this bolsters customer loyalty and, in the end, your bottom line.
Improving Efficiency and Productivity
We’ve mentioned some of the applications for automation already, but it’s worthwhile to discuss this feature of ERP for food and beverage organisations in-depth. Humans are prone to make mistakes, but when your critical procedures are scheduled in advance by your system and carried out automatically, you’ll never have to worry about slip-ups resulting in otherwise avoidable consequences.
Cleaning and maintenance are absolutely vital for businesses like yours, so the fact that food ERP platforms can ensure that all necessary sanitation and upkeep are performed is invaluable. Better yet, advanced solutions like Aptean Food & Beverage ERP can also schedule these activities for the most opportune times and minimise production downtime.
Safety inspections and quality assurance measures can also be automated and calibrated to take advantage of the connected devices you’re using in your facilities. Meanwhile, the parties responsible for monitoring these aspects of operations can easily keep tabs on performance with a consistent flow of the latest data reflected in the interface.
Finally, touching again on the human factor, it’s important to keep in mind that should an employee leave your organization, you lose any information they have that has not been recorded. Thus, digitally preserving all data relevant to your critical processes is all the more important, and food and beverage ERP systems are the perfect way to enter and maintain such vital knowledge.
As running costs continue to rise across all industries, every business is looking to minimise costs wherever possible. Thankfully, a food ERP system helps you reduce costs in a variety of ways. We’ve covered some of them in the sections above, but it’s worth drawing them together here, as reducing costs is a driving force in many decisions to implement ERP software and can create a solid foundation for any business case.
First of all, you know that getting the most out of your resources is critical—whether that’s your people or your production line. The automation and productivity benefits mentioned above ensure that you’re keeping downtime to a minimum, maximising the use of each and every machine and focusing your staff on the highest-value tasks. In short, a food ERP allows you to boost productivity for every minute of your production schedule.
When it comes to making every penny count, your ingredients and raw materials are another key factor. A specialised ERP for food businesses includes expiration management tools to reduce ingredient spoilage—ensuring you don’t have to waste raw materials and hold up production, or the fulfilment of orders, because of missing ingredients.
Finally, an advanced food ERP helps you minimise the costs and risks associated with regulatory non-compliance and recalls. Whether it’s the Global Food Safety Initiative, the Food Safety Modernization Act or Food Standards Agency rules, every food business must comply with a range of traceability regulations. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties, costly recalls and even significant brand reputational damage—none of which are great for your bottom line. To help mitigate these costs, ERP systems for food and beverage business offer a range of tools to ensure compliance and cut the number or potential fines, lost sales and damages you’ll need to pay out.
The best software tools in your arsenal will always combine cost saving tools like those we’ve listed above with profit-boosting capabilities to ensure you maximize ROI and safeguard your investments.
In this respect, food ERP software excels. For example, the most advanced systems, such as Aptean Food and Beverage ERP, include trade management capabilities offering your organisation the flexibility to establish separate plans with each of your trade partners. These can include variable prices, promotions, rebates, broker commissions, royalties and billbacks—all to improve the profitability of each trade agreement and maximise revenue based on the deal in question.
Additionally, the best systems on the market will also offer business intelligence (BI) and analytics functionality to help you unlock a cycle of continuous improvement by collating and visualising data on historical trends and providing actionable insights. These capabilities empower you to make confident data-driven decisions, quickly rectify problems that affect your bottom line and implement changes that will further optimise processes and boost profitability.
Aptean’s advanced pricing capabilities also allow you to create pricing hierarchies and advanced discounting methods for specific clients. Using our advanced algorithms, you’re able to calculate the optimal price based on the shipment or requested delivery date—ensuring you maximise the value of each customer and order.
It’s clear that reducing food waste can have a significant impact on many of your wider organisational goals—from reducing costs to boosting sustainability initiatives,—but employing waste reduction tactics consistently throughout your business can be tough. Enter tailored ERP software for food businesses.
These organisation-wide digital systems provide a number of features to help you combat waste from end to end. First-expiry, first-out (FEFO) and expiration management functionality ensure you get the most out of your goods before they spoil, while quality control features help reduce the amount of goods you have to throw out because they don’t meet your brand’s high standards.
Another often overlooked waste reduction strategy that food ERP software can help you with is accurate production planning. By using historical data and more precise demand planning abilities, an ERP ensures you’re producing optimal volumes of each product, so you don’t end up with more supply than you can sell.
Worth the Work
Given that ERP systems designed for food and beverage businesses are capable of delivering all of these benefits, you may be wondering what the necessary steps are to implement such a solution and what you can expect in both the short and long term once you have a system in place.
Deployment timeframes can vary based on the configuration of your organisation but typically range from a few months to a year for a very involved implementation. You’ll start enjoying the advantages before the process is even complete, though, and can expect a return on investment in savings and better profitability in as little as nine months.
What’s more, cloud-based setups can help save both money and time, getting you up and running sooner and with a smaller initial investment. Aptean Food & Beverage ERP is well-suited for these scenarios, as our team of industry experts handle all system maintenance and updates while redundant systems keep uptime at 99.9%.
If you’re ready to learn more about Aptean and how our solutions can help your food and beverage organisation unlock the benefits above and more, contact us today.
Aptean Food & Beverage ERP Customer Success Stories
These 10 clients from across various food and beverage sectors achieved more with our solution.