Automation News

Supply Chain Monitoring In The Food And Drink Industry

22 Dec , 2016  

By now the repercussions of the 2013 horse meat scandal have surely been felt by all in the food and drink industry. Any lessons learned have been cascaded throughout the supply chain, with more stringent supplier and certification body auditing having been underway for some time now.

According to George Hall, Product Consultant at Ideagen, unannounced audits are now commonplace, with the BRC and larger supermarket chains, including Walmart and Tesco, making these part of their terms of working and simply expecting their suppliers to comply. Would this level of scrutiny have been part and parcel of the industry had the horse meat scandal not come to light?

A lot of this tracking of information relies on suppliers. To ensure the information provided is correct, that they meet a specified code of conduct and certain standards, such as BRC or ISO 22000, can require a lot of time and effort within an audit process. Spreadsheets – full of fancy colours and manual reminders – are most often the format of choice for ensuring suppliers are checked on time and often.

A manual process comes with its own risk, such as target dates being missed or simply being overlooked as it relies most often on a visual assessment of the data contained within. Similarly, any issues you may have with a supplier often results in many days’ worth of emailing and calling to ensure any Corrective Actions have been applied and further control measures implemented to prevent any recurrence. The reliance on manual reminders here can have serious repercussions should a target date be missed, which could, in a worst case scenario, result in the delayed shipment of a product to a customer.

Automation is a key enabling technology in ensuring that the necessary expectations of tracking and tracing are in place.

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