Featured in this post
Tackling Common Operational Issues With ERP for Food and Beverage Manufacturers
Tackling Common Operational Issues With ERP for Food and Beverage Manufacturers
Jul 11, 2023Aptean Staff Writer
Food and beverage manufacturers have no shortage of important groups to satisfy and issues to address. From the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) to profitability and—most importantly—customers, the demands are many and varied.
Being a professional in this market, you’re also likely concerned with maintaining consistent quality, maximizing profitability and managing regulations and recalls. There are also constantly shifting consumer preferences to which you must adapt, as well as a pressure to fully utilize your facilities’ capacities by producing both your own branded products as well as some for private labels as a contract manufacturer.
All things considered, there’s a lot on your business’s proverbial plate, but not shifting with the trends and modifying your processes will result in money left on the table and lower customer satisfaction. Consider that the U.S. Census Bureau now estimates that the average household consists of only 2.55 people, down from 3.67 about 65 years ago, and it makes sense that smaller package sizes are becoming more and more desirable.
How can you ensure that you’ll be ready for changes to come and prepared for the unforeseen? Technology that unifies and integrates your disparate systems and departments and creates a single source of truth will keep your business nimble and able to identify and address issues as soon as they arise.
Not just any software platform will do, though. An industry-specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution for food and beverage manufacturers could be the critical factor for your organization’s future success.
Let’s go over several common scenarios in which a purpose-built food ERP can be the difference between just getting by and excelling at all that you do.
Issue 1: Lack of Real-Time Inventory Visibility
ERP solutions enable live inventory updates and projections that maximize your efficiency.
Imagine a snack foods company that tries to track and manage its operations with several different systems, each with their own databases. The employees have to enter data manually, leaving room for human errors and slowing down processes.
Inventory data is not accurate or easily accessible and departments act as silos of information, hampering daily running and the ability to prepare for the future.
An ERP for food manufacturers gives you up-to-date inventory levels and locations, allowing you to allocate and project your needs accordingly. It also provides complete visibility of your batch tickets, sales orders and purchase orders so you know what’s in the works and what’s coming down the road.
Issue 2: Disorganized Lot Tracking
Due to its importance, lot tracking should be at the heart of your ERP system.
Say that, among your many raw materials, sugar arrives at your facility for use in multiple batches or recipes. It’s required on you as the manufacturer to know where and when that sugar will be used, as well as the quantity that will go into the recipe and what products it ends up in.
That’s the level of food traceability necessary to make sure you’re minimizing lost inventory, managing expiration dates effectively and covered in case of a recall. But, in reality, without a comprehensive system in place, lot tracking can often be disorganized, time-consuming and miss vital information.
An ERP solution created for food businesses like yours will provide total visibility into your lotted inventory, ensuring accuracy in material movements and use in recipes. That lets you isolate food safety issues quicker and determine just what products were affected—plus, the system will automatically notify employees when issues arise so action can be taken immediately.
Issue 3: Unacceptable Variations in Quality
ERP can make your batch processing much more precise, and thus more consistent.
Because different materials come in different amounts and are measured in different units, you have to change your approach to measurement frequently during your processes. You also need to be able to account for volumes lost due to evaporation, line loss and remnants left stuck to mixing vessels.
These nuances could leave you susceptible to unacceptable variations in quality and quantity.
With automatic unit conversion functionalities, food ERP can relieve your employees of this cumbersome and time-consuming step. The best among these solutions can also account for the losses that occur during manufacturing and ensure that yields are satisfactory, which leads to reliably excellent products being shipped to consumers. All together, these features streamline and improve the precision of your recipe management process.
Issue 4: Excess Risk Exposure During Recalls
Reports take minutes, not hours, with an industry-specific ERP system on your side.
You’ve just been notified you have to conduct a product recall—what’s next? You need all the details tied to the relevant lot number. From there, if the issue is with an ingredient or raw material, you must determine where it was used and what products are now compromised.
On the other hand, if it’s a finished product lot, you need information on all of the ingredients used, including the date and time that they were used. And of course, you’ll also need to produce a traceability report to prove your compliance with FDA standards.
If all that data is not digitally stored, easily accessible and accurate, your recall process will take longer and your business will be exposed to more risk.
A food and beverage ERP will make reviewing the pertinent information and pulling the necessary reports simple. And because the platform is fine-tuned for your business’s operations, identifying where errors were made and improvement can be realized is just a matter of diving into the data in front of you.
Issue 5: Insufficient Formula Management
Achieving consistency in taste and performance is much easier with the functionality ERP solutions for food and beverage manufacturers provide.
Put yourself in the shoes of a craft beer brewer with a loyal customer base—you want to delight consumers every time they choose your beverages, and that takes all ingredients passing quality requirements, formula management practices and checks performed throughout the manufacturing process up to the completion of the final product.
Issues will necessitate halting your operations; thus, it’s vital that you know as soon as a material or product falls out of acceptable ranges so that you can rectify the problem promptly and lose as little production time as possible.
Full control over your formulas within your food ERP system—including mixed units of measure, ingredient parameters and special instructions—gives you the necessary level of insight to identify how issues might arise. You’ll also be able to capture how your recipes have changed over time and what the results of those changes were, which will be important for both analysis and regulatory reports.
The ideal formula management tools would take the following into account:
Accurate lot management and tracking solution
Precise batch sizing and scaling for use in production
Robust R&D functionalities
Flexible quality control and management
Built-in compliance measures to satisfy FDA, cGMP and Bioterrorism Act requirements
Additionally, this should be a core feature of your ERP, not an add-on. This area is far too crucial to be treated as an afterthought.
Issue 6: Limited Capacity for New Product Development
Excellent R&D tools built into your ERP let you experiment with iterations and develop new offerings without disrupting normal production.
Regardless of how successful your current products are, you can likely envision situations that call for creativity, be that launching new lines of your own or tailoring one to current consumer desires. That will require a lot of detailed, complicated work and plenty of trial and error, but you need a system that can manage those procedures effectively. And, most importantly, a system that provides the capacity to explore these new developments without impacting your current operations and existing production.
A food and beverage ERP solution enables your teams to store, manipulate and tinker with new product information without impacting daily operations. Your R&D team will be empowered to find your next great line—and the ingredients, costing and margins that will come with it—thanks to the formulation functionalities of your system.
Better yet, since your ERP integrates all departments, once R&D has perfected their new recipe or formula, it can easily be transferred to the mass production environment, manufactured and launched to your customers—all while maintaining efficiency of your processes and profitability of existing products.
Choose a Solution Developed and Implemented by Experts To Meet Your Needs
To solve these common issues and many more, you'll need an ERP system that delivers specialized functionality for food manufacturers straight out of the box. This sort of purpose-built food ERP can help you take on all of your manufacturing, quality, inventory, financial and sales concerns via a single unified interface.
Enter Aptean Food & Beverage ERP—a tailored system that's developed, implemented and supported by experts in your industry. Here’s a look at what you can expect from our solution, broken down by module category:
It’s of paramount importance that you find an ERP tailored to food and beverage manufacturers, but it’s just as critical that the vendor providing it can act as a partner and provide guidance on implementation and best practices to improve your business on an organizational level.
Aptean is just such a vendor, with decades of experience in the food and beverage industry and a solution made for businesses like yours in Aptean Food & Beverage ERP. We provide the systems that food and beverage manufacturers rely on to get ahead in the fast-paced marketplace.
Now, if you’re ready to learn more about our ERP for food manufacturers and how our excellent industry solutions can propel your business to greater heights, contact us or request a personalized demo.
Ready to start transforming your business?
We’ve got the specialized food ERP solutions you need to conquer your industry challenges.