In the first of a series of blog posts about the food and drink industry, Pinnacle Consultant Ross Pairman looks at how Sage 200 can help with the critical issue of traceability.
The trouble with spreadsheets
Food safety is constantly in the news. Product recalls often hit the headlines and necessarily incur reputational and financial loss for the food or drink manufacturer in question. I believe that consumer pressure and social media are having a big impact here – word gets out and spreads much more quickly nowadays. You can’t keep the problem under wraps.
"Food businesses must be able to identify the businesses from whom they have obtained food, ingredients or food-producing animals and the businesses they have supplied with products, and produce this information on demand.’’ The Food Standards Agency
I’m often surprised at how many companies still try to manage traceability using spreadsheets, which are clunky, error-prone and have no in-built safeguards that guarantee their processes are being consistently followed. These businesses are all too aware of the risks. However, they have no way of accurately pinpointing the root source and identifying which batches are affected. Should there be even a hint of trouble, should a customer or a supplier flag up a problem, they have to recall and write off huge volumes of stock ‘just in case’. It makes them very vulnerable indeed. While the reputational hit might not be so dramatic when internal quality control systems detect a problem before the stock is shipped, the impact on the bottom-line will still be significant.
So how can Sage 200 help?
Every food and drink business has its own unique way of doing things. The great thing about Sage is its flexibility – you're the boss and are always in control. It’s entirely up to you to decide which components of your recipe (a more generic term is ‘bill of materials’) you want to be able to trace. So, if you're manufacturing ready-meals, do you want to trace the raw food ingredients – the beef, potatoes, mushrooms, flavourings… and the packaging or do you prefer to track just the beef as being the riskiest element? You then book the selected items to be traceable into your warehouse in coded batches.
Then you can track which batch(es) of finished product a particular supply of beef has gone into. Should an alert then be sounded, you have pinpoint accuracy as to where the beef has been used. Should a recall be necessary it will be rapid and highly focused: waste and cost are minimised and customer service is maintained. Businesses considering Sage 200 often ask me how long it takes to get forwards and backwards traceability on Sage. I tell them: As quickly as someone can log onto the system and run a traceability enquiry – and that’s very quickly indeed! Contrast that with having to do this manually. Think of the panic that strikes if an issue is flagged up, as well as the hours spent trawling back through pages and pages of notes and spreadsheets. If a customer decides to put your systems to the test, how quickly could you respond with full backwards and forwards traceability?
In the next post, I’ll cover how Sage 200 helps manufacturers to keep their production processes firmly on track and how it minimises the risks of misplaced inventory, contamination or goods leaving your factory without the proper checks. Just add Sage; With over 50 clients in the food and drink sector, Pinnacle can help you to find the optimum Sage solution for your business.