In the last couple of years, the food manufacturing sector faced unprecedented challenges. Restrictions imposed by the pandemic led to supply chain issues, logistical problems, and staff shortages. At the same time, consumer demand for off-the-shelf food products surged, putting tremendous pressure on food manufacturers and distributors.
But constant change is inherent in the food industry, and these companies have to be highly adaptive and accommodating of dynamic market scenarios.
In today's digital era, food manufacturers have the opportunity to embrace new technologies to stay resilient even during a crisis and continue producing food to satisfy consumer demand.
“Digital transformation is a fundamental reality for businesses today. Organizations of all sizes realize that to delay digital transformation further is to risk obsolescence.”
– Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
To chart a successful transition into the digital age, food companies must devise a clear vision and purpose of their digital initiatives, supported by technological expertise.
Devising a digital strategy for food manufacturers
A robust digital strategy defines ways to adopt and integrate innovative digital technologies, improve operational processes, and optimize costs.
Digital transformation should serve as the means to an end, laying the foundation for increasing production efficiency, reducing time to market, ensuring quality compliances, and increasing profitability.
Food companies must identify areas where digital technologies can improve their existing processes, eliminate waste, and monitor progress toward continuous improvements.
They must work with the right technology partners, employing innovative technologies to support their business goals. Only then will the digital strategy genuinely serve as a catalyst for change, taking the food manufacturing business to the next level.
The 3 key steps on the journey to digital transformation
Let's look at three key concepts that are essential to formulating a robust digital strategy:
The first step in the digital journey is to digitize all business information. Convert information from analog or paper-based formats to digital using professional document scanning services.
The next step is to convert manual processes and interactions to digital workflows. Digitalization leverages data and technologies to improve existing business processes, increasing productivity and efficiency.
Digital transformation refers to a point in the digital journey where a company uses a gamut of advanced technology solutions to streamline and automate processes, monitor performance, analyze business data to derive insights, and help stakeholders make informed decisions that drive growth.
DRS offers digital strategy and transformative solutions to deliver end-to-end digitization, automate processes, optimize costs, and help with compliance.
Understanding food manufacturing challenges and benefits of a comprehensive digital strategy
Digitize data to build traceability and trust
Today's discerning consumers want to access and validate information about food products and be informed about what happens to their food - from farm to fork. They make their food choices based on where the food comes from, whether it is sustainably grown or ethically procured, and its overall impact on their family, community, and environment.
Food manufacturers need to satisfy their customers' demands for information about products by giving detailed information on every label, including ingredients, nutritional information, advisory on allergens, preservatives used, and other information.
Digitizing all documents and data across the procurement, manufacturing, and distribution process is the only way to manage such information at scale without exorbitant increases in labor and costs.
By the time a food product ends up on our dinner plates, it has been through many stages of production and distribution. There is an inherent risk of food contamination in this extended supply chain. So, it helps to have a digital system that records a product's journey.
Companies must adhere to stringent quality standards to maintain the uniformity, consistency, and quality of manufactured food products.
Digitizing data through the manufacturing, packing, and distribution chain helps build traceability. Paperless traceability minimizes the risks of costly product recalls or contamination issues that can damage your brand's reputation.
Digital trends in food manufacturing
Any food company looking to grow and achieve digital maturity will need to work with technology partners and digital transformation experts who understand the food industry.
Here are a few digital trends that food manufacturers have witnessed and are looking to adopt as part of their transformation strategy:
All digital technologies collect, generate and transmit massive amounts of data. As a result, food companies must accelerate their migration to the cloud to become nimbler and more responsive to rapidly changing market conditions.
AI/ML technologies and real-time data analytics also play a key role in helping food companies respond rapidly to market trends, drive growth, and avoid food waste. Data analytics processes vast amounts of data to identify patterns and correlations and gain actionable insights that can help remove bottlenecks and optimize operational processes.
Another compelling application is AI/ML-based software to improve efficiencies in accounts payable processes, compress the procure-to-pay cycle time and reduce inventory costs. In addition, AI/ML technology will help food manufacturers move to digital operations, data-backed decision-making, and build more sustainable business models.
With advanced technology set to play a key role in food manufacturing and distributions processes, you need a technology partner like DRS Imaging with deep technical expertise and an understanding of the food business.
The DRS advantage: Boost process efficiency, product quality, and safety
DRS offers document scanning services and an intelligent data capture solution to extract information from paper documents using advanced OCR, ICR and OMR technologies. For example, it can easily capture data from raw material dispatch notes, goods receipt notes, batch inspection reports, packaging labels, goods dispatch invoices, payments, delivery notes, and more. This information can then be easily shared with existing systems to get real-time updates, carry out proper inventory planning, ensure batch traceability, monitor deliveries in real-time, and meet quality compliances.
Mercury, our Enterprise Content Management system, stores digitized documents securely on-premises or on-cloud.
FileBound, our business process automation solution, streamlines routine, manual tasks such as validating data, comparing data from different systems, and electronically routes requests to relevant approvers using automated alerts and notifications to ensure faster approvals.
Our consultants work with food companies to streamline data management and re-engineer their processes to deliver efficiency, reduce supply chain costs, and improve process visibility.
Do you want to gain a digital advantage for your food manufacturing business?