5 quality management strategies for F&B manufacturing (and how tech can help)
It’s hard to overstate how crucial safety and quality are in food and beverage manufacturing. Your reputation rests on consistently producing high-quality products while meeting hygiene and nutrition guidelines and maintaining a particular flavour and texture profile. It’s a balancing act with high stakes and part of what makes F&B such a challenging, fast-paced industry.
With stringent nutrition and hygiene standards, increasing competition and customer expectations at an all-time high, quality management is more important than ever. That’s probably why so many businesses in the industry are looking to tech for help. While older, disconnected tech systems tend to leave room for errors and missed opportunities, advanced enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms connect and enhance at every touchpoint – from your supply chain and ingredient tracking to inventory management and workflow optimisation.
How does this connect with food safety and quality assurance? It’s about closing information gaps that can lead to errors, finding opportunities to streamline and optimise work processes, and connecting business areas for comprehensive visibility.
Here’s how ERP tech can help on your quality management journey:
1. Transparency and traceability
In food and beverage manufacturing, quality control starts long before the ingredients hit the production floor. That’s why it’s crucial to have clear oversight across your whole supply chain – visibility lets you quickly trace a product from start to finish and pinpoint the origin of any health or quality issues.
The right ERP solution connects every part of your supply chain, eliminating silos and knowledge gaps. This helps you establish full traceability across your product lines – where ingredients are grown, processed, shipped and handled before they reach your manufacturing plant. Traceability helps optimise your operations, offering customers transparency if things go wrong. With track and trace functionality, you can quickly identify hygiene or quality issues, adjust lead times to prevent shortages and manage recalls effectively. For example, if a batch of product is found to have higher levels of bacteria, you should be able to identify the source of the contamination as well as the product lines and batches likely to have been affected, so you can recall the right items and reassure the public about the safety of your other products.
An ERP creates an environment that prioritises safety and transparency, so you can build trust with your customers, regulators and other stakeholders:
Connect all the elements and stakeholders involved in your supply chain.
Create full traceability from raw ingredients to distribution.
Build trust with regulators and the public.
2. Inventory management and tracking
Inventory management is complex in every industry, and even more so in food and beverages, thanks to a higher volume of product, more product lines and more complex supplier relationships. Despite that complexity, many manufacturers still use spreadsheets and other manual systems to track their inventory, leading to errors and waste.
If your inventory management methods are disconnected, you’re likely to lack understanding of the cost of production and distribution, see higher levels of waste, and strained relationships with your vendors and suppliers. Poor inventory management can also impact the quality and safety of your product. For example, if you’re unable to track use-by-dates and ensure that products are distributed in time, you could end up with expired product on shop shelves. For your customers, it can also mean slow delivery times or lack of stock when it’s needed, which is not ideal for your business reputation.
An ERP system optimises inventory management with sophisticated batch tracking and stock management tools. These help you track use-by dates and distribution, forecast market fluctuations, meet demand and minimise spoiled or wasted product. Incoming and outgoing inventory can be tracked automatically, with instant updates through your ERP platform:
Automate stock tracking and management.
Minimise human error, spoilage and waste.
Analyse sales, stock levels and production to forecast demand.
3. Data, compliance and connected workflows
Managing the huge volumes of data generated by a food and beverage manufacturing company is a challenge in itself. It’s also, perhaps, the most crucial part of the job. If you don’t have an effective, centralised way to track all the data that swirls around your business – from stock levels and batch numbers to production processes, distribution data and sales – it’s impossible to meet regulatory compliance rules, let alone manage your business effectively.
If you work in the industry, you’ll know that food safety standards require businesses to record data related to the production and sale of food products. You must also retain this information and make it available to regulatory bodies as requested. What happens if you can’t provide accurate production and supply chain data? You could be fined – or worse – for failing to meet food safety standards, even if your production process is safe.
An ERP system tracks production and supply chain data through a single platform for easy access and accurate, up-to-date information. Instead of hunting through old spreadsheets or manually tracking batch information, you can search by date, location, batch number or product to find the information you need. Better yet, you can trust that it’s accurate:
Track production and supply chain data automatically.
Retain data in a centralised platform for easy access.
Comply with local food safety regulations and provide compliance information as needed.
4. Better business decisions, better results
Data is a crucial part of your day-to-day tracking and record-keeping, but it also comes into play with broader decision-making. If you don’t have access to comprehensive data about production times, costs, sales trends, audit scores, internal operations, staffing and everything else in your business, it’s difficult to spot issues and improve outcomes. And, if you’re unable to optimise operational processes, improving your product can also be tricky.
This is where the centralised connectivity of an ERP system is invaluable. Instead of gleaning business data from a range of disconnected systems and spreadsheets, you get a fully-realised, connected view of everything in your business in one place. With this information, you can track day-to-day fluctuations, identify issues as they arise, and use those insights to improve your product over time. For example, if you can access data around customer complaints, returns and call centre records, you can spot quality issues when they pop up. You might receive an influx of calls and emails complaining about a particular product spoiling on the shelf and use that information to switch suppliers or change the way you package your product.
It’s about having access to as much information as possible to gain real-time insight into what’s happening across your business. The more you know, the better the decisions:
Collect and view data in real-time.
Identify and resolve issues early on.
Gather insights to inform decision-making.
5. Streamline quality control
Quality control isn’t just about hygiene – although that is crucial. It’s also about ensuring that your product meets taste and texture expectations, looks and feels good, and complies with regulatory standards and label descriptions – for example, ‘low fat’ yoghurt must contain less than 3% fat. Maintaining these standards every day across hundreds of product lines is what makes food and beverage manufacturing so challenging.
The good news is that an ERP system is one of the best ways to optimise quality control processes. With records in one place, it’s easier to track and check production processes in real-time and spot errors or risks. Because everything is integrated and connected, you gain full end-to-end visibility across your production line.
For example, your in-process record-keeping – the day-to-day tracking of safety touch points like internal product temperatures and cleaning processes – can be recorded and stored in your ERP system. If you have an issue with a batch, you can go back and find those records in seconds. If a safety check has been missed, you’ll know where the issue is and how to resolve it.
The goal is a unified, accessible record of processes in your business, giving you greater control over safety and quality without compromising production times or efficiency. Automated recording and data access usually makes speedier, more effective production overall. With full visibility of processes, you can also look for bottlenecks and gaps that could be slowing you down and create smooth, streamlined workflows:
Track and record key points in your production process.
Streamline key workflows to accelerate production.
Integrate systems for a full view of operations.
Connection and control in your food and beverage business
Food and beverage manufacturers are facing a host of challenges right now: strict compliance rules around food safety, allergens and nutritional labelling; extreme competition; changing manufacturing processes; not to mention inventory control, pricing, recalls and supply chain issues. When you consider safety and quality assurance, things become even more complicated. It’s an industry fraught with risks – no wonder many manufacturers are turning to tech solutions for help.
As we’ve seen, modern cloud ERP systems can be transformative for manufacturers, offering a way to connect systems across – and beyond – the business, including every part of the supply and distribution chain.
MYOB Advanced Manufacturing is a good example. Connecting data collection and record-keeping ensures that your business works with accurate, up-to-date data for decision-making and to help you meet regulatory standards. It’s designed to give you comprehensive visibility in every part of your business, so you can control everything from your production process and supply chain to your distribution workflow. When you’re working with high volumes of product – and high risk of safety or quality issues – it can make all the difference.
Need to change the way you handle safety and quality in your F&B plant? Find out more about MYOB Advanced Manufacturing.