Currently, the pharmaceutical industry leads traceability efforts. The food industry is not there yet, but soon will be. As world population grows, production increases, creating bigger quantities of goods that demand freezing, chilling and storage. Each one of those steps presents increased risks. Unless companies manage those risks appropriately, by tracking and tracing, the risks will become unmanageable. In the event of a recall, you'll have to dispatch an army of vendors to every store and remove everything that's there, because you will not be able to determine what's good on the shelf and what's not good. Then, you'll have to replace the recalled goods, straining production, while customers vocally complain about a lack of inventory. The financial burden will be incredible.
Many executives remain skeptical of investing in traceability because the wrong solution can necessitate manual tracking and tracing. In these cases, personnel walk around lines and distribution centers with paper forms, recording compliance with passive requirements and Bioterrorism mandates. All this hard copy must be transferred to a database to generate the necessary reports. When visiting companies, I'm surprised by the cumbersome and haphazard processes in place. When executives discuss with me their business, within a few hours we find ways to dramatically reduce the number of steps. The executives come to understand how to encompass improved processes into their CP solution, letting the system do the work.
Change management is inevitable. Business process reengineering will become a concept embraced by CPG management and operators, within both manufacturing and distribution realms. The segregation of duties, propelled by traceability functionality, will ensure that all personnel recognize which batches to consume, mix and ship. This new culture of absolute interior responsibility will change business practices.
Heydenrych is industry solution manager for itelligence Inc., Cincinnati.