Paul Moylan, food industry marketing lead at Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation Inc. reports that food manufacturers are beginning to investigate the pros and cons of different tracking and tracing solutions, determining how the industry can best respond to new governmental regulations and growing market pressures for traceability.
“The same processes used to enhance production consistency, comply with government regulations and improve supply chain efficiency can also be used to help establish brand value and provide a quantifiable return on investment,” states Moylan. “Timely information from tracking and tracing applications can help drive greater efficiencies and create more responsive enterprises.”
In a world faced with growing food safety issues and heightened awareness of the perils of terrorism, an increased focus on the safety and protection of international food supplies is driving the current push to track and trace food products throughout production. The United States’ Bioterrorism Act of 2002, for example, may end up having more impact on the food and beverage industry than all other regulations combined, according to Moylan. One of the law’s key components requires food companies to maintain a careful record of tracking ingredients and products.
Combined with increasing requirements from business partners and customers in the distribution channel, governmental regulations are pushing today’s food manufacturers to review existing systems and determine what new systems might be required to ensure compliance. For most companies, the shift to new technology and tracking systems represents a significant leap forward.
Savvy manufacturers, according to Moylan, use tracking and tracing tools to identify the best opportunities for improving operations. By tracking operations and identifying the costs of each step of the production process, plant managers can better identify areas in which to focus continuous improvement efforts.