Hand with cloud computing symbol against blue sky.
Hand with cloud computing symbol against blue sky.

By Jason Chester, Director of Global Channel Programs, InfinityQS

It’s been more than two years since the start of the pandemic, and we’re still seeing its lasting impact on the way we work. Nearly every industry has had to adapt, and food manufacturing is no exception. 

Food companies have faced unprecedented operational challenges, brought on by COVID-19 and exacerbated by reliance on outdated technology infrastructure and legacy systems. For many, adapting has meant rapidly adopting new digital tools to tackle specific areas of weakness—such as deploying solutions to automate routine data collection activities for limited onsite teams, or to keep remote workers connected to plant floor operations. 

The cloud has made it all possible, thanks to its flexibility, speed, and ease of deployment.

Digital transformation goes tactical

These case-by-case deployments mark a drastic shift in the manufacturing industry’s approach to digital transformation. While digital initiatives have long been on company agendas, they were considered enterprise-wide, long-term projects with high costs and risks. Now, food manufacturers are realizing that tactical, targeted cloud implementations can make digital transformation a tangible reality. 

Moving forward, it’s time for food companies to transition their pandemic response into post-pandemic strategy. This means applying cloud solutions to single processes, areas, or plants with the greatest need or opportunity for improvement. 

Deployments can then be expanded incrementally across the enterprise. With each step, food manufacturers gradually move closer to their ultimate digital transformation vision, where operations are agile, efficient, and generally more resilient. 

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3 benefits of cloud implementation

The cloud offers multiple key benefits that make it the ideal path for moving away from paper and legacy systems. These include: 

  • Rapid deployment and scalability: As mentioned above, cloud solutions are quick and easy to deploy, without disrupting operations. There is no hardware or infrastructure to set up, and many solutions offer out-of-the box configuration. All food manufacturers need is a SaaS subscription and a device with an internet browser to start solving problems fast. The cloud also makes it easy to increase or decrease the size of implementations as needed to meet evolving business needs.
  • Reduced IT costs and labor: SaaS-based cloud solutions reduce both upfront and long-term costs—breaking down one of the biggest barriers for digital initiatives. SaaS licensing models mean companies can pay for only what they need, rather than requiring huge upfront investments. On top of that, system management and maintenance are handled by the SaaS vendor. This frees up internal IT resources and minimizes IT support costs.
  • Immediate access to innovation: Cloud-based tools are regularly updated and enhanced, ensuring that the latest and greatest version is always available to users. Updates happen seamlessly and automatically, so companies don’t have to worry about upgrading or replacing systems as technology evolves in the future.   

All these benefits mean food manufacturers can start small without overwhelming their teams, see fast ROI, then expand with larger deployments.

So, where do you start? Moving quality management to the cloud. 

Get the journey started with cloud-based quality

Why start with quality? Because quality data can tell manufacturers much more than if there is a problem in the production process. Data generated on the plant floor hold the insights that food manufacturers need to continuously improve products and processes, best utilize resources, decrease costs and risk, and meet compliance requirements across their entire organizations. 

In short, data is their most powerful resource for manufacturing optimization.

To surface and act on these insights, data needs to be easily accessible in real time, from anywhere. Many plant supervisors and quality managers learned this the hard way during the pandemic, when they suddenly shifted to remote work—yet the data they needed to make quick, critical decisions stayed isolated within plants on paper files, spreadsheets, or legacy systems.

A cloud-based quality management solution addresses this problem head on. Data from all processes, lines, and plants within an organization is centralized and standardized in a cloud repository, from which it can be aggregated, analyzed, and compared. The resulting insights are accessible from anywhere, at any time, for key stakeholders. They can make faster, data-driven decisions to protect products, productivity, and profitability, even during times of disruption. 

Ultimately, the benefits of cloud—and the power of quality data—deliver rapid and ongoing transformation for food manufacturers. They create a solid foundation for smarter, data-driven operations, ready for anything the future may hold. 

Jason Chester is responsible for the implementation, management and overall success of the InfinityQS Global Channel Partner Program. With more than 25 years of experience working directly within the Enterprise IT industry, he has gained a deep understanding of how information technology capabilities can deliver significant and sustainable business value to end-user organizations. Currently, Chester’s main area of interest is the business impact of next-generation information technologies on industrial and manufacturing sectors.