- Food and beverage manufacturers face new FDA traceability regulations and consumer expectations.
- End-to-end supply chain traceability is achievable through mobile inventory solutions and barcoding.
- Digital agility extends benefits to field services, maintenance and talent acquisition while reducing costs.
Digitization is transforming every aspect of our lives, including the food and beverage industry. Modernization opens new opportunities for increased oversight and growth.
Despite this, some food and beverage manufacturers continue to be slow to adopt. They hold onto manual processes or balk at technology costs. With increased regulation and consumer awareness, however, the old status quo is unsustainable.
Efficient technologies for inventory management may provide the answer.
Here are four ways going digital with mobile inventory technology can help food and beverage industry modernize:
1. It Enables Farm-to-fork Tracking
The FDA’s new FSMA guidelines expand both the scope and intensity of food product and ingredient tracking. Manufacturers must be able to trace each required ingredient from harvest to production to delivery as a final product.
Such granular oversight is impossible with paper processes. This necessitates digital tracking technology. Mobile inventory technology uses barcodes to track inventory movements at key points through the supply chain. Each time an ingredient or product is scanned, that data instantly updates the ERP.
With traceability software and barcoding, this effectively automates traceability (“track-and-trace”). Material records are always up to date, making locating products or ingredients at any point in your supply chain accurate and efficient.
2. It Extends Traceability to Delivery, Field Services
Demand for food and grocery delivery services has exploded thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. To avoid shortages and stockouts, suppliers must now deliver food products faster than ever, with greater transparency.
This means traceability can no longer be a passive or reactive process. Manufacturers and suppliers must instead provide real-time insight into all inventory movements. Track-and-trace inside the four walls may not be enough. Extending traceability into the field services is crucial.
As with the barcode scanners, field mobility solutions equip field services personnel with mobile devices to replace paper printouts. Using tablets, smartphones or mobile computers, delivery drivers and maintenance techs can access and update critical data in the ERP.
Flexible online and offline solutions connect offsite workers, even in areas with limited network connectivity. Field services mobility is a must for consignment inventory and vendor-managed inventory (VMI) in food and beverage. Users also gain signature capture, GPS and Google Maps integration, Direct Store Delivery and other capabilities.
Together, mobile inventory enhances customer service and compliancy.
3. It Increases Operational Agility
In today’s rapidly evolving political and economic climate, you must incorporate technologies that increase your ability to pivot priorities when needed. Customers may suddenly need more or less of one product due to changing customer demand. Contaminated food items may necessitate a rapid and total recall.
Recall readiness ensures your company’s ability to enact a recall without undue loss.
Mobile inventory solutions provide this needed agility. Barcode scanning helps with:
- Prevention: Safeguard against recalls of contaminated food items. Support compliance with audits and federal regulations without cumbersome paperwork or added labor. Save labor with digital processes.
- Projection: Anticipate and satisfy demand fluctuations quickly. Adjust production schedules quickly to avoid stockouts and meet customer expectations. Increase profit margins in competitive markets.
In one example, a manufacturer saw demand skyrocket overnight for its DIY garden kit thanks to pandemic stay-at-home orders. The company added a mobile inventory solution to enable quick shifts in production to satisfy customer expectations.
4. It Attracts a Longer Lasting Workforce
The employment landscape is shifting. As more digital natives enter the workforce, they expect to work with the latest technology, even at the warehouse operations level. Companies that rely on cumbersome manual processes simply won’t be as attractive to potential talent: Why work harder for the same wages when another company uses simple, intuitive mobile technology to do the same work?
Workers who can accomplish more in less time feel the satisfaction of a job well done. This makes them more likely to stay longer. The longer workers stay, the lower your company’s onboarding and training costs will be.
Mobile inventory technologies also create new employment opportunities in data science and cross-departmental collaboration. Attracting and retaining this digitally knowledgeable workforce can lead to more opportunities for growth and market security.
Mobile Solutions that Grow with You
Entering into the modern digital landscape can be daunting. But resistance to change is no longer tenable. New regulations and rising customer expectations require a quick pivot to digital transformation. Competitiveness and compliancy demand it.
To ease the transition, focus on cost-effective technologies that can support you now and also grow with you. Mobile barcoding for inventory management is one such technology with low TCO and short ROI.
Digital inventory solutions can help you automate supply chain traceability. You can then build on this same platform to increase operational agility, digitize field delivery services, and attract and retain more talent. Each step lowers overhead costs and increases efficiency, bringing you closer to a more profitable future.