- Food Safety & Quality Assurance (FSQA) folks understand that vulnerabilities in the supply chain are only going to get worse.
- There are many emerging technologies that can keep non-compliant (regulatory, non-regulatory, customer-driven) ingredients/finished goods from coming in or going out.
- But the FSQA community still struggles to get funding for new technology solutions in the low-margin F&B industry.
These three points really struck me at the recent Food Safety Tech conference in Schaumburg, IL – a very engaged and vocal gathering of professionals seeking solutions for food safety & quality assurance (FSQA) vulnerabilities in the supply chain. So how do you get buy in to spend dollars for emerging FSQA technologies? You need to show a Return on Investment (ROI) based business case – with hard-dollar savings.
Think of the F&B technologies in mainstream use today – most are around supply chain and manufacturing. The business case for these solutions was simple – they saved time, they saved money and increased efficiencies. The new generation of technologies that enforce safety & quality compliance have the same business case: they save time, they save money and they create efficiencies. FSQA technologies – especially those that gather and analyze safety/quality data at every point in the supply chain and analyze to specs for realtime loss prevention – have hard-dollar savings associated in the five main categories: I’ll discuss each at the 3,000 foot level:
- Time and labor: Are your FSQA experts entering – vs. analyzing safety and quality data? How much time can be saved if information was entered electronically by suppliers, directly from testing equipment and/or sent automatically to customers to speed throughput? Time = money and efficiencies.
- Reporting and analysis: Less than 5% of all FSQA data requires action. How much time is spent going through hundreds of tests to find the few that are non-compliant? How much time is wasted holding product prior to release? How much inventory is lost to spoilage or inability to re-work? What if the right people received the actionable items in realtime? How would that speed throughput? Again, time = money and efficiencies.
- Materials and yield: Most recalls aren’t the ones in the headlines – they’re internal. FSQA testing results weren’t caught in time … the commodity was used in product and can’t be re-used or re-worked. But what if test results were analyzed in real-time – even from hand-held devices in the field? Problems caught early can be corrected (a re-work for a quality issue, for example). And if it’s a safety issue – the problem is caught before the commodity contaminates other product – increasing yield and reducing waste.
- Compliance risk mitigation: Government, non-regulatory and customer audits are going to to increase – along with the time/cost associated with audit prep. Imagine if all safety and quality tests/information were electronically scheduled – with results time and date stamped and sent in real-time to relevant individuals along the supply chain. Technology can help you be audit ready every day.
- Withdrawals, rejections and retrievals: The sooner problems in the supply chain are detected, the sooner losses are prevented in real-time – loss of loss of inventory, revenue, customer confidence, consumer confidence, and, ultimately, market value and brand. Because so many FSQA innovations are cloud-based for easy access by all participants in your supply chain, the prevention of just one internal or external recall … or one rejection by a customer prior to shipment … or one retrieval from a customer compliant after shipment – can often pay for the system. And after achieving return on investment, future costs = hard-dollar savings.
Most vendors have tools to help you calculate ROI – call your vendors. That hour spent today can save thousands of hours – and hundreds of thousands of dollars – sooner than you think. Looking forward to having you share your thoughts on this topic.