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Gerardo Franchini looks at the importance of software in managing yield in the food industry

As the next in our series of blogs looking at the ten technological commandments for modern food businesses, this blog focusses on what some regard as the holy grail of the food manufacturing sector - the issue of yield. Although the need to manage yield is common across most process or semi-process manufacturing industries, the levels of complexity involved in the food industry can certainly make it a more challenging task.

How individual food companies manage yield can be very different from one business to the next, dependent on the actual product that’s being manufactured, the ingredients involved, and the very nature of the production process itself. What at first glance can appear to be quite straightforward, can soon turn into a planning nightmare. For example, the list of ingredients within a recipe may have variations across different batches in terms of colour, size or quality, which can obviously have quite a dramatic effect on yield.

It also depends on what you want to get out of the yield management process, with some businesses choosing not to plan yield at all, preferring instead to focus on post-production yield analysis. Others keep it relatively simple, comparing planned with actual quantities produced, while others will compare actual quantities of final product with amounts of certain ingredients consumed in the manufacturing process. Add to this the many sources of yield loss (or gain) and the difficulty of quantifying all of these, and you can see why yield planning is a daunting task for many food businesses.

One way in which many modern food businesses are simplifying the yield management process is through the use of food industry-specific technology. With the right system, you can incorporate planned yield percentages into recipes, using in-built analytical tools to work out actual yield, defining the planned yield and, for added flexibility, an additional yield can be defined at the ingredient level.

That’s not to say that every solution will solve all yield woes. Due to the many different methods that are used for determining actual yield, yield management and the associated analysis, most software implementations need custom code to be developed in order to ensure the solution works in harmony with the customer’s chosen methods of yield calculation. This can lead to inevitable and unwelcome time and cost increases, which for already pressurised food businesses, can mean the difference between making a profit and suffering a loss. There are intuitive, sector-specific solutions available which provide the customer with the full flexibility to define the methods for how actual yield is calculated for each individual recipe, without having to invest in custom code development. Not only does this enable the customer to increase efficiencies in yield management and analysis relatively simply, but it also lowers the TCO, making it an increasingly attractive proposition for the food industry.

With the right solution in place, modern food businesses stand to benefit from accurate and timely yield planning and analysis. The technology is there to help food manufacturers to find their way through the web of complexity that often accompanies yield management, but it’s ensuring that the most effective solution is implemented that will ultimately reap the most rewards.

What to look for in a yield management system for the food industry?

  1. If it has any hope of dealing with the yield complexities involved in food manufacturing, it must be a solution specifically for the food industry.
  2. Flexibility is key. The less custom code development required, the better.
  3. The solution must accommodate your way of working; you shouldn’t have to dramatically change your processes to suit the solution.
  4. Ease-of-use is vital to ensure maximum buy-in throughout the business.
  5. Most expensive or biggest doesn’t necessarily mean the best fit for your business.

For more information on how Sapphire can help your food business with yield management and other challenges, visit our website or contact us.

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