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Greig Codd examines how the many and varied businesses that make up the food and beverage industry can benefit from a ERP system.

With a turnover in excess of €1 trillion and over 2.5 million employees, the European food and drink sector makes an enormous contribution to Europe’s economy, with organisations of all shapes, sizes and scopes playing a key role in a vibrant sector that includes more than 285,000 SMEs. However diverse the business within the sector might be, from restaurants and bars, to breweries and wine merchants, food manufacturers and ingredient suppliers, the common challenges they all face on a daily basis are how to effectively manage a complex supply chain, meeting stringent regulatory requirements and satisfying ever-changing customer demands, all while securing cost and efficiency savings wherever possible. Seemingly pulled in every direction, an already stretched sector is being asked to do more, with less, something which can prove to an insurmountable task even for major household names.

Food and beverage ERP software

Faced with this raft of challenges, more and more businesses from within the food and beverage industry are turning to technology for help, specifically ERP for the food and beverage industry. By bringing together all business information, joining-up disparate functions with one business-wide solution, the right ERP system, tailored to suit the specific requirements of the food and beverage sector, provides the real-time visibility across the entire organisation that’s needed to better manage the business. It’s this anytime access to data, data that provides vital insight into how all business processes and procedures contribute to wider business performance, that enables decision-makers to make robust, timely decisions that ultimately lead to the increased levels of control and agility that are required to optimise operations.

Increased visibility, traceability, quality and compliance

Not only does this increased business-wide visibility lead to improved decision-making, but the level of detail and insight that Food ERP solutions provide ensures greater compliance when it comes to the crucial issues of traceability and quality control. So stringent are the regulatory requirements that food and beverage companies face, manual processes, which once were enough, now struggle to keep up, unable to provide the breadth and depth of information from across the wider supply chain that’s needed no fulfil both traceability and quality control obligations.  What an industry specific ERP solution can do is provide the ability to easily map all traceability transactions, providing full transparency and visibility over ingredients, recipe and production management, not only fully complying with traceability regulations but enabling you to better understand and better react to any required recalls. The same can be said of quality control, by putting in place stringent quality checks at every step of the supply chain, from goods-in to the finished product reaching the customer, as well as advanced batch control, you can improve quality control, strengthen legal compliance and ensure greater visibility over shelf lives and expiry dates for optimum efficiency and less waste.

Inventory optimisation

The fact that all spreadsheets, solutions and databases can be amalgamated into one food software solution, managing all key business processes, provides the level of detail in real-time that food and beverage businesses need, breaking down silos of information for slicker, more efficient operations. Automated inventory management functionality enables businesses to optimise their inventory levels for substantial cost savings and less wastage, with advanced materials requirements planning capability linking seamlessly to production to provide automated replenishment and order forecasting.

Supply chain management

Supply chain management is built-in, recognising that businesses are so much more than what’s inside a single factory or retail outlet, helping to better manage suppliers and partners across the manufacturing and delivery process for ultimate efficiency. In-depth sales reporting and profitability analysis enables businesses to track precise costs in real time, enabling any adjustments to be made to ensure optimum profitability. It’s this friction-less working across the supply chain, with the added agility and flexibility that result from increased business visibility, that ensures high service levels and the all-important increased customer satisfaction.

The technological advantage

As more and more food and beverage companies are recognising, there’s still a lot of undiscovered value in technology, particularly when it comes to ERP solutions specifically designed to meet the distinct needs of the food and beverage sector. The right ERP system can provide the necessary levels of agility and flexibility to keep pace with not only the market, but with customers and competitors too. For growing food companies in particular the need to access comprehensive, real-time business-wide data is a necessity rather than a nice-to-have. It’s only with this 360° view of operations that food and beverage businesses can ensure timely, robust decision-making, with the vital ability to spot any potential problems before they have a real impact on the bottom line.

For more information on how Sapphire’s software solutions for the food and beverage industry could help your business, visit our stand Z247 at the UK’s leading food and drink event Foodex 2018.

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