Food and beverage manufacturers, processors, distribution and storage operators have been challenged with information management related to their food safety compliance programs since the onset of both regulatory and industry requirements.
As an independent ERP consulting firm, it’s a topic that comes up often as project teams look to Ultra to understand the best way to work through enterprise system selection to help with meeting mandates.
Much of this attention on documents and records management was originally emphasized by the industry requirements of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Standards.
Today, document management is central to the benchmarked standards (i.e., BRC, FSSC 22000, IFS and SQF), as well as many customer-specific requirements and various rules under the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
This has sparked a food safety revolution in the supply chain across the U.S. and globally, including at major retailers like Walmart and Costco.
Information Management Needs
With the seemingly endless rollout of regulatory statutes, industry certifications, and global requirements, the need for documented programs continues to evolve, leaving companies seeking the right solutions.
The ERP project team must evaluate systems that are able to help meet many regulatory and certification requirements to be competitive in today’s food industry supply chain.
This results in the demands to maintain various programs, data and records that must be consistent within their information requirements, and both a challenge and opportunity to align systems, functionality, documentation and records for food compliance and business purpose
The information requirements are comprehensive and complex, with specifications that are unique to each company needing to comply. It becomes even more complicated to implement information management systems by participants at different levels, as system functionality and configuration must meet specific requirements for each company. Further, certain legal and trade requirements for programs are “must do” imperatives for legally compliant operation as part of the supply chain.
The Challenge of Compliance
The problem lies in how companies meet the requirements for data and records that are accurate, up-to-date, and accessible at all times for their documented programs.
As a further complication, both deviations and corrections must always be fully validated and verifiable. Not properly managing data and records can lead to potential non-compliance to both legal and trade laws and significant business risks.
These information system conditions and requirements create several questions when considering Food ERP:
- Which systems will best support company needs?
- Which solutions should be implemented to alleviate risks?
- How can all the necessary information requirements be addressed?
Regulatory/Trade Management Systems
The role of an ERP consultant adds some clarity. Recent history shows that much effort has been placed on various regulatory and trade management systems.
This puts the focus on special systems for compliance purposes that are independent of other business systems, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and or Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES). These unique systems offer specific regulatory or trade capability but are not based on the overall manufacturing process.
The outcome is that the regulatory-based systems focus on information that is reported from manufacturing systems like ERP but are likely not aligned or integrated. In many cases, the information shared must be downloaded and possibly exported without complete visibility of its integrity or accuracy. With the focus on regulatory compliance as an independent requirement, the potential benefit of using integrated process information is not commonly seen within the F&B market.
ERP functional features streamline the process and the approval conditions of the various ingredients and products to better manage, monitor, and control necessary tracking information.
Manufacturing operations that plan and deploy physical product through the work order system can provide the key manufacturing process controls and records needed to assure the release of pure and unadulterated food.
This functionality can provide the information and records documenting the cause of adulteration, the proper segregation of material, and a record certifying proper disposal of contaminated goods. In both of these ERP functional areas, the process and the approval condition of the various ingredients and products can be managed, monitored, and controlled with all of the necessary tracking information.
Within storage and distribution, the required storage and handling criteria, including refrigeration, can be managed and tracked to ensure food condition is properly maintained through these activities.
ERP in Food and Beverage Safety Compliance – Learn More
As business improvement consultants, we hear all about these issues and many others as we advise food and beverage clients.
We’ve touched on just a few issues of note when it comes to ERP in Food and Beverage safety compliance.
- Food and beverage processors can learn more about the expanded food safety advisory services.
- For further insight, read 5 Questions to ask about Food and Beverage Enterprise systems.
Looking for insight on enterprise technology selection and evaluation at your organization? Contact Ultra for the best way to get started.