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Navigating the Food Software Landscape: Discover the Best Solutions for Your Digital Transformation


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Navigating the Food Software Landscape: Discover the Best Solutions for Your Digital Transformation

7 Mar 2023

John McCurdy
Man on laptop in greenhouse

The increasing importance of software in the food and beverage industry is no great secret. The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology identified the “digitalization of food” as one of the five trends that will impact the market for many years going forward, demonstrating just how crucial it is for your organization to get the right solutions in place now.

And for further proof of the fact that digital transformation can keep your company competitive and successful in the future, we can also look at a telling finding of IDC’s Global Food and Beverage Industry Trends and Strategic Insights whitepaper commissioned by Aptean.

The research showed that more digitally mature companies have weathered operational shocks over the past several years considerably better when compared to their less digitally advanced counterparts. The former group maintained relatively stable revenue and profits while those that lagged behind in modernization suffered double-digit decreases in those performance indices.

Of course, even if you’re familiar with the full scope of purpose-built food industry software, we recognize that you may still be unsure how to tell when and why you need to deploy them and what to expect once you do. That’s why we’ve put together this post—it can act as a handy guide as you begin your journey, explore the options and craft your food software digital transformation strategy.

We’ll be covering a number of different solutions, the signs that your company could benefit from them, their key features and what advantages each can unlock for your operations. We’ll also highlight how Aptean’s food software offerings are differentiated from others on the market and how we’re the provider to trust for all of your business solutions.

Enterprise Resource Planning Software: The Core of Your Digital Transformation Strategy

Implementing an industry-specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) system makes for a great first step on your path to building a streamlined and cohesive tech stack. With an advanced solution—like Aptean Food & Beverage ERP—at the core of your tech stack, you’ll have the organization-wide visibility and specialized tools for a variety of departments you need to improve continuity and enable growth.

Top 3 Signs You Need a Food ERP

How can you tell that putting a food ERP in place is the right move? Watch for these key signs:

  • Data is locked in silos and visibility is compromised, making informed decision-making difficult

  • Supply and demand aren’t consistently aligned due to a lack of timely, actionable insights

  • Concerns over regulatory compliance and product quality persist, representing a risk

Features and Benefits of ERP for Food Businesses

The diverse array of features that ERPs offer food and beverage manufacturers covers a number of operational areas, from procurement and sales to fulfillment and distribution. Some of those considered most essential are lot tracking for bidirectional traceability, quality control for better customer satisfaction and production planning for optimal alignment of supply and demand.

The differentiating features of Aptean Food & Beverage ERP include flexible trade agreements for working with a variety of business partners, advanced pricing tools to accommodate complex scenarios and Business Intelligence (BI) that helps turn your data into actionable insights. All of these combine to help you maximize profitability and efficiency, which are vital priorities considering the rising cost of doing business.

The additional benefits of food and beverage ERP systems beyond those already mentioned are many, with improved food safety, better recall readiness, reduced waste from spoilage, greater assurance of regulatory compliance and elimination of error-prone manual tasks thanks to automation among them.

And with Aptean’s food ERP software, you also get a unique industry-specific solution plus the user-friendly interface and streamlined ramp-up that come with the underlying Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central platform.

Routing and Scheduling Software: Optimizing Your Distribution

If your food and beverage company handles the distribution of the products you manufacture—or, alternatively, specializes in distribution of food and beverage goods for other manufacturers—transportation management systems (TMS) can be indispensable. In particular, a logistics solution like Aptean‘s route optimization software can provide your fleet managers with all the tools they need to plan, schedule and map the most efficient routes.

Top 3 Signs You Need Routing and Scheduling Software

For the main indicators that route planning software could improve your organization’s outcomes, consider these your “check engine” lights:

  • Deliveries are being delayed or missed due to ineffective planning, impacting customer satisfaction

  • Fuel costs and mileage are excessive, eating into your profit margins and causing unnecessary wear and tear

  • Your business isn’t able to accommodate late, off-day and emergency orders, negatively impacting potential revenue

Routing Planning Software Features and Benefits

As far as the features you can expect to see in purpose-built routing and scheduling solutions, automated route optimization for efficient planning, business rule accommodation for adherence to client’s preferences and live execution tracking for continuous improvement are all on the list. These combine to save time, miles and fuel while also enhancing the customer experience.

Aptean Routing & Scheduling Paragon Edition goes even further, providing differentiating features like specific food and beverage functionality for handling perishable products with care and capacity management to help ensure you’re making the most of the space your trucks have. Our software also features dispatch smoothing capabilities to prevent bottlenecks and scenario modeling to understand how operational changes could affect results on the road.

Further benefits of routing and scheduling systems outside of those covered to this point include reduced risk of misplacing paperwork through digital documentation management and savings on fines by preventing deliveries in restricted zones and overuse of drivers. What’s more, Aptean also offers complementary TMS solutions like electronic proof of delivery software (ePOD) and an omnichannel fulfilment system for those food and beverage distributors that need additional functionalities.

Overall Equipment Effectiveness Software: Boosting Efficiency and Performance

We alluded to the critical nature of efficiency in modern food and beverage operations earlier, and for the solution that helps you maximize your productivity and get more done in less time, you don’t have to look any further than overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) software. These solutions facilitate real-time performance monitoring and put up-to-the-minute manufacturing data at your users’ fingertips.

Top 3 Signs You Need an OEE Solution

Wondering if now is the time for you to deploy OEE software for your food and beverage organization? These are the red flags to keep an eye out for:

  • Lack of visibility into real-time production performance is leading to suboptimal results

  • Manufacturing data must be collected manually and suffers from inaccuracies

  • Process improvement projects are difficult to identify, prioritize and execute

OEE Features and Benefits

Among the core features of OEE systems are advanced reporting and analytics for greater insight into production, automatic data collection from connected equipment for real-time metrics and quality management tools that digitize the process and help promote adherence to standards. These keep your key decision-makers in-the-know regarding performance and help fuel continuous improvement through quick identification of issues so that they can be rectified.

Aptean’s OEE solution for food and beverage manufacturers also comes with the differentiating features of dedicated tools for production floor operators, mobile accessibility and intuitive pre-built dashboards for data visibility for even more advanced analytic capabilities. What’s more, the software offers tracking of times for changeovers, sanitation and clean-in-place procedures so that those steps can be monitored and efficiency can be improved where possible.

Better equipment effectiveness and process efficiency are the main benefits of OEE solutions, but they can also help reduce manufacturing waste through swift detection of production errors and machinery malfunctions that are resulting in scrap. They can also serve to promote organizational awareness with intuitive visualizations of real-time results as well as better utilization of your assets.

Enterprise Asset Management Software: Keeping Equipment in Tip-Top Shape

Speaking of assets, if maintaining your manufacturing machinery in optimal condition is an objective at your organization—as it is at most—you’ll want to look into enterprise asset management (EAM) software. These solutions help you implement a robust preventive maintenance program that promotes proactive upkeep of your equipment and enhanced visibility into asset performance.

Top 3 Signs You Need an EAM Solution

To gauge for yourself whether or not implementing an EAM system would be a prudent measure, ask whether these issues are holding your operations back:

  • Unplanned downtime due to equipment breakdowns is interrupting production and hampering effectiveness

  • Maintenance work orders are difficult to manage due to paper-based format or aging legacy systems

  • Costs related to maintenance are excessively high as a result of inefficient use of technicians and difficulties in maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) inventory visibility

EAM Features and Benefits

Two of the features most fundamental for food and beverage EAM software are fully digital work order and documentation management and proactive preventive maintenance planning to address declining asset conditions. These help you promote visibility and prevent problems before they occur, and meanwhile, advanced machinery analytics help keep your staff aware of how assets are performing.

To set our EAM solution apart from the pack, we implemented dedicated MRO inventory management and purchasing capabilities in addition to the functionalities discussed thus far. These help to ensure that you have the replacement parts you need on hand when maintenance needs to be conducted and keep your stock of important components at optimal levels.

Besides better operational continuity with fewer breakdowns and malfunctions, EAM systems’ benefits also entail increased profitability through improved asset reliability, asset lifecycle management and better efficiency due to streamlined maintenance processes. You’ll also enjoy enhanced strategic decision-making thanks to the aforementioned analytics features, which help you plan more effectively and keep downtime to a minimum by promoting regular equipment upkeep.

Product Lifecycle Management Software: Driving Innovation

With consumer preferences for food and beverage products in constant flux and new trends emerging all the time, innovation through new product development (NPD) is vital for keeping your brand relevant and capturing your share of the market. Product lifecycle management (PLM) software keeps all of the many team members involved in this process on the same page and accelerates time to market with specialized NPD tools.

Top 3 Signs You Need a PLM Solution

You can know that your company is in need of an industry-specific PLM system if you’re suffering from any of these obstacles:

  • The NPD process is slow and disorganized, resulting in potentially avoidable errors and delays

  • Competitors are launching innovative new products and gaining an edge on your business

  • Existing business systems don’t offer the agility necessary to keep pace with trends

PLM Features and Benefits

PLM systems are known for product design features that allow for fine-tuning of recipes, project and task management functionalities that keep the NPD process moving along and tools for dealing with a variety of ingredients and other components. This kind of software also digitizes the documentation related to your new products, including the original brief, compliance forms and nutritional information.

Aptean PLM Lascom Edition—which is our PLM solution for food and beverage manufacturers—also packs advanced formula functionalities to facilitate nuanced iterations, integrated labeling tools for ensuring the proper disclosures are included on packaging and substance screening to identify allergens that must be declared. Meanwhile, the supplier portal facilitates collaboration with external partners, which is very useful when branching out into new territory and testing different materials.

Getting your new goods on store shelves faster is a leading benefit of PLM software, but it can also increase your assurance of compliance with regulations and eliminate errors that might result from different teams working with their own version of product specifications. Much as ERP solutions act as a “single source of truth” for your operations, a PLM can be the unified database you need for success in NPD.

Aptean: A Proven Provider of Leading Food Software

We realize we’ve given you a lot to digest in this post and you may have questions that weren’t specifically addressed here. Luckily, our dedicated professionals are here to help, and they have decades of collective food and beverage industry expertise, as well as an in-depth understanding of today’s challenges and best practices, to help you navigate your path forward.

Additionally, our implementation teams are ready to act as your guides once you’ve decided on the steps you’ll take toward digital transformation. They can assist in creating a project roadmap for rollout of any of the above systems.

On the topic of deployment, we’re also proud to offer most of our solutions for food and beverage manufacturers via the cloud on a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. This implementation method affords you greater flexibility and scalability while also delivering enhanced cybersecurity, stronger data protection and greater accessibility.

It’s also worth highlighting that our ERP software for the food and beverage market was recognized by independent consulting firm Frost and Sullivan with the 2022 Product Leadership in North American ERP Software for the Food and Beverage Industry. That demonstrates the quality, reliability and performance of our system are a cut above.

Finally, consider the advantage of trusting a single provider for all of your food software needs—we strive to provide a cohesive experience across our full solution suite and can help accelerate your digital transformation with our wealth of experience in the food and beverage sector.

So, ready to learn more about our portfolio of food and beverage solutions and how they can help modernize your business and unlock better outcomes? Reach out to us today or request a personalized demo.

How To Thrive During Food and Beverage Market Turbulence

Prioritising modernisation, optimisation and a sound strategy is necessary for success in the food and beverage industry. Increase operational agility in a continually changing (and often unpredictable) manufacturing landscape.

Forklift moving crate of fruit