Ensuring stronger supply chain management

Lieferkettenmanagement Milch
© Antonenko

Food scandals and production errors by food manufacturers are prompting the dairy industry to strengthen protections in their supply chains. Always in the public spotlight, the dairy industry faces significant competitive pressure as well consumers’ demands for safety and transparency. These factors make it essential for this industry to achieve reliable supply chain management to ensure transparency, efficiency, control and safety.

The Internet of Things (IoT) provides many new opportunities for improving supply chain management, but the technology available must be used correctly in daily operations. This is sometimes easier said than done as a dairy’s management team doesn’t usually consist of IT experts. For this reason, it’s advisable to turn to external service providers to properly set up an IT-based supply chain management (SCM) system. Many well-known companies in the supply industry have already recognized this and have considerably expanded their portfolio to cover more than traditional machinery and packaging so they can better fulfill the needs of dairy companies.

Tracking and tracing

A leading provider of systems and solutions for sterile cardboard packaging, for example, is using new digital technology and special track-and-trace solutions to ensure every individual item of packaging offers 100% connectivity and traceability. This kind of traceability gives manufacturers greater control over the supply chain — from the raw materials right through to retailers’ shelves. Track-and-trace systems, which are able to improve quality control, production efficiency and recall management, are usually at the heart of such solutions. They ensure every single product can be accurately traced across all processes involved. An integrated system designed to collate and store data throughout the entire product life cycle assigns an individual QR code, which appears on the relevant packaging item, to each data set.

Comprehensive and systematic supply chain management

Various types of supply chain management software now available can be used instead of obsolete Excel files — and they can produce some rather impressive results. These software solutions can be used to analyze data and plan better as well as to automate processes along the supply chain. Software is instrumental in minimizing dairy product spoilage, for example. However, the processes in question are extremely complex and increasingly diverge the more the food companies use these systems and generate data at all individual stages of production. This means the dairy industry has its own big data to handle as the manufacturers typically get their raw materials from a range of different milk producers, acquire various ingredients from all over the world and use a huge number of different packaging designs.

Special software is therefore required to gain a comprehensive overview of the entire supply chain: Relevant solutions make it possible to automate processes and improve the quality of decision-making. This enables companies to leverage the potential to make efficiency gains and significantly reduce costs. Consultancy firms advise their clients to develop a roadmap for properly driving digitalization in any SCM organization.

According to the Gabler dictionary of economic terms, “supply chain management” (SCM) means the development and management of integrated logistics chains, including material and information flows, throughout the entire value-added process. This involves all stages: from the extraction of raw materials and processing all the way through to the products reaching their end consumers.

Professional industry-wide events such as drinktec 2021 provide an overview of automated SCM: The world’s leading trade fair for the beverage and liquid food industry will take place between October 4 and 8, 2021, at Messe München in Munich and it will cover all topics relating to production, filling, packaging and marketing in the beverage industry. Have you developed innovative new types of supply chain management technology for the beverage industry that you would like to present to an international audience? Then join us at the next drinktec.

Roland Sossna

The trained dairy expert, agricultural engineer and freelance journalist Roland Sossna is part of the editorial staff of the trade magazine molkerei-industrie (dairy industry) and IDM International Dairy Magazine. He regularly presents outstanding innovations from the dairy industry on the blog.