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Dealing With Disruption in the Food Industry


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Dealing With Disruption in the Food Industry

Jul 17, 2023

Aptean Staff Writer
Egg crates stacks on lift in warehouse

Disruptions are nothing new in the world of food and beverage businesses. Shipping delays, adverse weather events that impact growing and harvesting conditions, sudden surges in demand and occasional equipment and technology malfunctions are all potential problems that come with the territory.

Clearly, becoming more resilient to disruptions and preparing your company for future challenges should be a priority in this environment. Some of these issues are inevitable and will arise at some point regardless of what measures you take, but being as well-equipped as possible to handle what comes your way will lessen their impacts, save money and mitigate risks.

In this blog, we’ll take a look at four of the most common food industry disruptions and how an industry-specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution can help your organization to overcome them.

Disruption #1: Supply Chain Uncertainties

A variety of events over the last few years have laid bare the inherent weaknesses in our existing supply chains. Between the pandemic, geopolitical conflicts and ongoing transportation delays many businesses—including plenty in the food and beverage category—faced stalls in the flow of critical material requirements, impeding on their ability to satisfy customer demands and focus on business growth.

What makes matters worse during many food supply chain disruptions is the lack of clarity surrounding the delays and uncertainty over when and how the problems will be overcome. To remain agile and make the best decisions in these scenarios, companies need to know where their goods are being held up and when they can expect movement to resume. So those that don’t have the right technology in place are left in the dark.

Solution: Supply Chain Management Tools

While part of this problem must be addressed at a more fundamental level by shifting our approaches to purchasing and distribution—including the advisable measure of working locally where possible to avoid long travel times and limits on international trade—the right software platform can also be a powerful asset on this front.

The supply chain visibility that a food ERP system can provide is invaluable in times of disruption, as knowing where your ingredients and products are and what may be holding them up is easy when all the pertinent information is at your fingertips. Leading solutions like Aptean Food & Beverage ERP also provide flexibility, allowing you to substitute new suppliers for those who can’t reliably ship on time and easily introduce new sales channels as alternative sources of income.

At a higher level, having full control over your supply chain information allows you to become a more data-driven organization. You’ll be less reliant on the expertise of specific team members and instead be able to make informed decisions with confidence and the agility that today’s market demands.

Disruption #2: Worker Shortages

A lack of qualified personnel in the food and beverage industry continues to be a worldwide concern, with low pay, lack of benefits, workplace health risks and rigid schedules all contributing to the lack of interest from potential applicants. As a result, many organizations are struggling to maintain sufficient production and sales numbers, and others are having to pivot or going out of business entirely.

A range of factors—from the lingering effects of Brexit and the pandemic to The Great Resignation and quiet quitting—mean labor and talent shortages are persisting. The impact is particularly acute in the food industry, as businesses face shortfalls or skills gaps across the supply chain, including farm workers, manufacturing employees and truck drivers. Combatting the effects of these shortages will require a multi-pronged strategy that encompasses increasing appeal to attract new hires, improving conditions to retain existing staff and implementing technology to maximize current resource.

Solution: Automations and Integrations

If you're facing a food worker shortage, you must look to technologies that can let you “work smarter, not harder” and eliminate limitations with digitalization. That can involve smart sensors, barcode scanners and other Internet of Things-enabled equipment, all of which are better managed by a central ERP platform that routes the readings collected directly into a single, unified database and makes the data available across your organization.

Here again, Aptean's food ERP software has the upper hand on competitors, with its Microsoft Dynamics 365 foundation allowing for seamless updates and all the latest integrations with new machinery and applications. With an intelligently designed system in place that can handle the tedious tasks of information capture and routine checks, the staff you do have can concentrate on the responsibilities which are most critical to your organizational successboosting productivity and improving efficiency.

Disruption #3: Demand Volatility

Sudden surges in demand for a certain item or category can force businesses like yours to scramble in order to capitalize on the opportunity and fulfill a maximum number of orders. Likewise, an abrupt drop-off in the market for a product type can leave a food and beverage company at a loss—both for how to make up for the decrease in sales and for what to do with unsold excess of the given good.

We all remember how the pandemic saw a spike in the demand for frozen foods, as well as for shelf-stable products, and many experts conferred that these elevated levels and food trends could persist for years and will be here to stay. Going forward, events like disease outbreaks, weather events and viral trends could cause similar shifts, and the seasonality of certain goods will always create some variance in purchasing patterns.

Solution: Planning and Forecasting Features

Every food and beverage business wants to get ahead of the curve in terms of changes in demand, but for that you need technological tools that can create reliably accurate forecasts. Purpose-built food ERP platforms come with dedicated features for this purpose that combine past sales data with emergent trends to create a precise picture of the months to come.

This insight can inform smart purchasing on the part of your organization, ensuring you have what you need to meet the public’s appetite without over-buying and ending up with excess that can’t be sold before it goes to waste. It will also provide you with the opportunity to ramp up production if a big spike is expected in the near future.

Disruption #4: Service Interruptions

Whether it’s a power outage or a server down for maintenance, service interruptions are nothing new. That doesn’t make them any less of a problem, of course—nothing can quite ruin the productivity of your facility and staff like the failure of a critical system or resource at an inopportune time.

More recent global disruptions haven’t necessarily made these sorts of outages any more frequent, but the lingering uncertainties of the supply chain, workforce availability and demand volatility have compounded the issues that they create. When a business is already struggling to get the materials and staff that they need to operate, uptime becomes even more precious, putting a greater premium on reliable service.

Solution: Cloud Deployments

While we must accept that the occasional adverse weather event may knock out power or water at your facility for a period of time, there’s a method of implementing vital systems—like your food ERP solution—that makes them more flexible and resilient. We’re talking, of course, about deploying and maintaining your food platform from the cloud.

At Aptean, we can boast 99.9% uptime or greater for cloud implementations of our food and beverage ERP because we have IT teams dedicated to that purpose and redundant offsite servers that can provide coverage should an interruption occur with another. Better still is the fact that our cloud deployments also facilitate troubleshooting and updating the software, as that’s all handled by our qualified professionals, letting you concentrate on doing what you do best—producing great food and beverage products.

Finally, our solution’s uncompromising security measures will also safeguard your operations against any interruptions that might occur due to the actions of malicious outside infiltrators. You can rest assured that your data, as well as that of your customers, is safe and won’t be accessed by unauthorized parties.

Digital Transformation Drives Resilience

We’ve covered various forms of disruption in the food industry and the ways in which ERP systems help mitigate these challenges. But taking it a step further, you should consider the value that a complete digital transformation could have for your company in terms of holistic, organization-wide improvement—not to mention considerable savings and improved profitability.

Not only is a digital transformation initiative likely to boost your key performance indicators (KPIs), but it will also make your business more prepared for the hurdles you’ll need to clear in the future. Today’s food and beverage markets evolve quickly, and that makes change and adaptation a constant in the industry.

To tackle these challenges and kickstart your digital transformation you'll need a full technological toolkit at your disposal. An advanced, industry-specific solution like Aptean Food & Beverage ERP acts as the ideal foundation to keep your operations stable, automating tedious manual processes, eliminating mistakes and preventing duplication of work. As you build out your technology stack, you may also consider our food product lifecycle management software to streamline your new product development process and help you combat supply chain disruptions by reformulating your products.

We also offer comprehensive enterprise asset management and overall equipment effectiveness systems that can help you improve asset reliability and maximize uptime on your production line. And finally, our transportation management system tools can help your business optimize both driver and vehicle utilization, minimizing the impact of worker shortages and significantly reducing logistics costs.

No matter the solutions you're looking to implement, we're ready to help your business tackle food industry disruptions with innovative software designed for the nuances of your industry and a collaborative, by-your-side approach to support.

So, if you're ready to rise above disruptions in the food industry, unlock measurable benefits from day one and accelerate your business growth get in touch with our team today. You can also find out more about Aptean Food & Beverage ERP and how it can help your business or schedule a personalized demo to see it in action.

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Si estás listo para llevar tu negocio de alimentos o bebidas al siguiente nivel, nos encantaría ayudarte.

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