The Need for a Standard Reference Model for Food Chains

Previous authors of this column have pointed out the necessity for tighter integration of the food chain, the need for collecting key data along the supply chain for traceability, and the various technologies that are available to measure, collect...


 

Benefits of a reference model

One of the main advantages of a reference model is that it provides a common language that facilitates communication, specifications, and benchmarking. The FIRM framework was developed to conform to this objective. It can be used in many ways: in a descriptive mode to document the processes and product movements at each site and between sites; in a prescriptive mode to specify the standards and specifications to be used for processes and product movements to maximize shelf life, minimize waste and minimize risks; as a means of enforcing data collection points and the monitoring of key performance indicators along the supply chain.

Computer implementation of FIRM for a particular food chain allows simulation of a recall and trace back. This is a major advantage when studying various configurations and data implementations and is less costly than actual pilots. When coupled with a data collection layer, the metrics can be used in a dashboard to compare planned with actual data, providing the basis for predictive analysis and traceability. d

Amar Ramudhin is the director at the Center for Supply Chain Management and Technology, Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistics Institute.

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