By Paul Damaren, Executive Vice President, Business Development at RizePoint
Everyone within the food industry – including processing and packaging organizations – should be using the latest technologies for real-time supply chain monitoring. Otherwise, you might not know about a food safety breach in real-time, and won’t be able to tell definitively whether one of your incoming shipments was impacted. Also, you won’t be aware of potential disruptors in the supply chain – including weather events, transportation delays, and labor strikes – that could negatively impact your business.
In this fast-paced, but high-stakes, industry, if you had the opportunity to use a crystal ball to see into the future, wouldn’t you take it? What if this magical crystal ball could help you mitigate risks, avoid business disruptions, and anticipate any other challenges? Think of real-time supply chain monitoring as a crystal ball that could provide insights about things currently (or potentially) happening within your supply chain.
Now, imagine that innovative technologies – like Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, blockchain, and predictive analytics – are powering your crystal ball. These tech tools are providing you with the valuable insights necessary to make more informed decisions and prevent business interruptions. Using these insights, you’ll be able to pivot, as needed, to change vendors, reroute deliveries, discard contaminated food, or take other actions to thwart the disruptions.
Increasingly, businesses all along the supply chain are relying on real-time supply chain monitoring – using advanced technologies – to optimize operations, efficiency, accuracy, performance, communication, and transparency. And you should be, too!
Here are 10 essential reasons that your organization should use real-time supply chain monitoring, which will allow you to:
1. Identify potential risks and disruptions
Tech tools provide access to accurate real-time data. Is there a torrential storm coming that could delay deliveries? Could a labor strike disrupt your supply chain? By leveraging these critical insights, you can anticipate potential disruptions within the supply chain and take proactive measures to minimize interruptions and maintain business as usual.
2. Prioritize food safety
Regardless of your organization’s role within the supply chain, it’s essential to prioritize food safety and quality. Using tech tools will improve visibility and transparency, allowing you to see where your food came from and ensure that proper food safety protocols have been followed during every step in its journey. Vendors throughout the supply chain should willingly (and continuously) share food quality audits, assessments, and reports. If you have any concerns that a vendor isn’t upholding the highest safety protocols, take immediate action, such as switching to a different supplier.
3. Optimize operations
Leverage real-time data to identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, delays, or other issues, to improve supply chain performance. For instance, Conagra Brands digitized its supply chain to improve visibility and forecasting, better predict consumer demand, optimize processes, and improve efficiency and productivity. The organization also adopted AI and machine learning tools to drive insights and optimize operations, with impressive results. The company, which expects to save $1 billion from this effort over three years, increased operational output and production capacity, while improving productivity and order management, and reducing energy waste, manual work, costs, and out-of-stock items.
Organizations should use this as a best practice. Regularly assess and update supply chain monitoring systems, incorporating feedback loops and continuous improvement practices to enhance responsiveness and agility.
4. Elevate communication
It’s essential to have clear, ongoing communication throughout the supply chain. Provide visibility and transparency about your safety, quality, and compliance protocols, and expect all other vendors to do the same. Every supplier along the supply chain should be willing to share food quality audits, assessments, and reports on a continual basis. If you have any concerns that a vendor isn’t upholding the highest levels of safety and quality, change suppliers immediately, since any breach in safety or quality can irrevocably damage your organization’s reputation, as well as jeopardize the health and safety of anyone who consumes the food you’re processing or packaging.
5. Find (and fix) problems
Supply chains are volatile, and you never know what you’ll encounter on any given day. Therefore, use tech tools to stay vigilant. It’s notable that food brands are now exploring RFID, commonly used in retail, to better trace products, boost safety, quality, and compliance across their networks, and avoid costly, damaging food safety breaches. Whenever a problem is identified, any potentially contaminated products can be immediately pulled.
6. Make more informed decisions
Leaders within this industry need to make quick decisions – but they also need to be the right decisions – to improve key performance indicators (KPIs), while reducing waste (and costs) associated with excess inventory, labor expenses, transportation inefficiencies, etc. Data can help immensely with this effort.
When Nestlé implemented a SaaS-based supply chain management solution to manage its supply chain, the brand gained real-time insights into their operations, and enhanced efficiency. They could see a comprehensive view of their entire supply chain, including purchasing, processing, and packaging. This allowed Nestlé to manage their inventory, transportation, and other logistics, to ensure their supply chain was resilient, flexible, and sustainable. As a result, the brand has significantly improved their efficiency, effectiveness, and bottom line.
7. Meet stakeholder demand
Key audiences are supporting brands that are doing the right things: following safety protocols, prioritizing ESG initiatives, implementing diversity efforts, boosting sustainability, etc. Real-time supply chain monitoring provides increased transparency, allowing organizations to effectively communicate their responsible, ethical, sustainable business practices to their stakeholders, boosting trust and gaining support from these critical audiences.
8. Improve sustainability
Sustainability is important to today’s customers, employees, investors, and other key audiences, who expect and demand transparency about organizations’ sustainability practices. Use real-time visibility solutions to minimize inefficiencies throughout the supply chain. These insights will help you make decisions with sustainability in mind, such as ensuring more environmentally friendly materials are used for packaging. Tech tools can also help your organization optimize delivery routes, reduce idle time, and lower carbon emissions to reduce your environmental impact.
9. Enhance inventory tracking
Tech solutions like RFID tagging can help organizations enhance real-time inventory tracking, improve inventory accuracy, and provide better online capabilities. For instance, when Walmart started using RFID to see the real-time location and status of items within the supply chain, they helped ensure product availability, improve order fulfillment, and boost customer satisfaction.
10. Make improvements to save money
Real-time data analysis facilitates better decision-making, which can reduce costs associated with excess inventory, stockouts, transportation or staffing inefficiencies, etc. Rely on real-time supply chain monitoring to help your organization save significant money by optimizing inventory levels, improving demand forecasting accuracy, and optimizing labor (and related expenses).
There are significant advantages to using tech tools for real-time supply chain monitoring. This effort can help your organization improve visibility, transparency, communication, inventory tracking, efficiencies, cost-savings, sustainability, and stakeholder support. Consider supply chain monitoring to be your magical crystal ball, providing key insights into the future so you can plan accordingly to minimize any business interruptions.
Paul Damaren is Executive Vice President, Business Development at RizePoint, a technology leader in the food safety, quality management, compliance, and social responsibility space. RizePoint’s quality management software solutions help companies, including Starbucks, McDonald’s, Marriott, and more, keep brand promises through their quality, safety, and compliance efforts. Customers gather better data, see necessary actions earlier, and act faster to correct issues before they become costly liabilities. Check out RizePoint’s new website to learn how these solutions can help your company.