TGI - ERP Software Solution

Main Menu

Posts Tagged ‘Food and Beverage’

Creating Certificates Of Analysis And Pedigree Documents For Process Manufacturing

Friday, June 26th, 2009 by admin

Safety and control – these are two words that are commonly heard when discussing key elements in today’s life sciences and food and beverage industries. Public and private sector entities alike are taking more action to make sure companies who do business in these industries are adhering to strong safety and control practices.

One of the ways in which businesses work to protect themselves and those with whom they do business is by receiving and making readily available certificates of analysis (commonly referred to as COA’s) from suppliers along with the ingredients they buy for use in manufacturing operations. COA’s are documents which provide a quantitative analysis across a series of properties for the associated item. For example, a COA for soya lecithin powder or ginger extract would generally include microbiology results for properties such as total plate count, E.coli, and salmonella levels, as well as a variety of other properties.

Life sciences and food and beverage companies will typically receive ingredients and automatically place them on quality hold upon receipt. Then, these businesses will alert quality control (QC) specialists that there are items that need to be inspected prior to their release for use.

The QC department will run a series of tests on samples of the given product received and verify that the properties on the COA match up with the properties of the product being tested. Assuming these tests pass muster, the product is then released for further consumption in a manufacturing process. Should the product not pass the QC tests, laboratory personnel will then run further tests while involving the supplier’s QC personnel to help evaluate potential issues with the ingredients before determining what to do next.

These same types of QC tests are performed on finished goods which are manufactured by life sciences and food and beverage companies prior to their release for shipment to their customer base. Again, a COA is created to accompany the specific lot of produced product to the manufacturing company’s customers.

Another document which is becoming more prevalent in the life sciences industry is a pedigree document. A pedigree document traces the complete chain of custody of the given end item from original manufacturer through various distributors until it finally reaches a retailer for sale. State governments such as Florida have a predefined prescription drug pedigree document which must be passed along the supply chain with each associated company adding its information and signing off on the document throughout the channel.

Strong business management systems like TGI’s Enterprise 21 ERP system can be used by life sciences and food and beverage companies to automate and maintain strong product safety and control procedures including the creation of certificates of analysis and drug pedigree documents.


Food Distribution Software – Good Systems Enable Your Food Retail Customers to “Have it Their Way”

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009 by admin

One of the ways in which businesses can elect to compete is through a strategy of customer intimacy. In other words, enabling companies to make it so easy for their customers to transact business with them that they’d be fools to go anywhere else. So, let’s explore how a customer intimacy strategy applies to the food distribution industry and how a strong food distribution software solution can enable a business to achieve a sustained competitive advantage.

First, there are a multitude of methods by which orders can be placed in the food distribution industry. Of course, there are the traditional tried and true methods of phone and fax orders, where customer personnel speak with their vendor’s customer service or sales representatives or fax in their orders respectively. When phone orders are taken, good food distribution software solutions enable the customer service or sales representative to take the order in a rapid manner without slowing down the conversation with the customer. These systems can also present a series of other data including information about those products the customer orders most frequently and those products the customer has not ordered within their typical frequency. By doing so, there can be opportunities to upsell the customer or prompt the customer to remember to include additional SKU’s on the given order.

Additionally, there is an entire series of electronic means by which customer orders can be captured and entered into the supplying food distributor’s ERP system. These methods include traditional EDI processing, Web data entry via the supplier’s Web site, and several means by which handheld devices can be leveraged. Relative to handheld devices, if the vendor is performing direct-store delivery, the sales or delivery person can capture information about what products are needed in the next order directly in the customer’s store. Likewise, if vendor personnel are not directly in the customer’s stores on a day-to-day basis, the vendor can provide handheld devices to their key retail customers so customer personnel can enter orders directly into the handheld units as they walk the retail floor. These orders are transmitted directly into the food distributor’s inventory control system for replenishment.

Order acknowledgements and advance shipping notices (ASN’s) can be tailored on a customer-by-customer basis as well. Order acknowledgements can be delivered to food retailers via email, fax, or EDI. ASN’s can be sent by food distributors to their retail customers alerting them as to what products are being delivered associated with a given shipment.

Food retailers can have their vendors perform additional value-added services on their behalf to reduce requirements for internal operations at the retailers and speed product to the shelves. Unique product labeling and retail price marking are two relevant examples of value-added services food distributors can perform on behalf of their retail customers via good food distribution systems.

When the given distributor performs direct-store delivery, the electronic notification of the product delivered can be provided and an electronic proof-of-delivery can be captured which can be provided to the retailer. When shipping is done via common carrier, retailers may elect to have their distributors mark the product for store-level delivery though the actual physical delivery may occur via a retailer’s distribution center. This, too, will help to speed product to the shelves for consumers.

Finally, after the transaction is completed, delivering clean invoices is another element of delighting the customer. Whether these invoices are printed and delivered at the store via a mobile printer, delivered electronically at the point of delivery via DEX processing, printed and sent from the food distributor’s back office operations, or delivered out of the food distribution system via EDI processing, customer transaction processing can be tailored easily to customer preferences (or demands).

Food distributors can become invaluable partners to their retail customers through a combination of strong processes, systems, and technology. TGI’s Enterprise 21 ERP, which can be leveraged with Versatile Systems’ Mobiquity Route™ for direct-store delivery and route accounting, provides food distributors with the opportunity to establish and maintain a competitive advantage in their respective marketplaces.


Despite a Troubled Economy, the 2009 International Dairy-Deli-Bake Show Should be a Fruitful Event for Exhibitors and Attendees

Friday, May 29th, 2009 by Alex Smith

For the past several years, TGI has been a consistent exhibitor at the International Dairy-Deli-Bake (IDDBA) show. This year will be no different, as we will be exhibiting at the 2009 IDDBA show held in Atlanta, Georgia June 7-9. Surprisingly, it looks as though we will be one of the only, if not the only, food processing software suppliers exhibiting at this year’s show.

Given the current state of the economy, it is certainly common for companies to scale down their normal trade show calendar. It is also highly likely that in addition to fewer exhibitors, overall attendance at trade shows across the country will be lower in 2009 compared to prior years. Trade shows require a significant investment in employees’ time and company money for both exhibitors and attendees; however, unlike many industries, the food and beverage industry has been largely unaffected by the downturn in the economy in 2008 and 2009. If you think about it, food is one of life’s absolute necessities – people are always gonna have to eat! Unlike new cars, flat screen TV’s, and other “luxury” items (like my girlfriend’s weekly, and unnecessary, manicure and pedicure), food is a must no matter what the state of the economy may be. In fact, numerous studies have shown that in times of economic downturn, people actually eat more! I recently read an article in the May 2009 issue of Food Processing magazine that stated that despite the economy, food processors are increasing their overall dedication to new product development compared to prior years, a clear sign that food companies are making strategic moves to differentiate themselves from the competition.

As I result, I anticipate attendance at this year’s IDDBA show to be relatively strong despite the existing economic climate. The IDDBA show provides an ideal avenue for cheese, dairy, deli, and bakery companies to showcase their new products to thousands of attendees at a time when food consumption and new product development is on the rise.

For more information on the 2009 IDDBA show, please visit www.iddba.org. If you are attending the IDDBA show, please feel free to stop by and visit us at booth 4070.


Integrated Lot Traceability: A Critical Ingredient for Today’s Small Business Food Processor

Thursday, May 7th, 2009 by Alex Smith

I received a call recently from a small business owner who made a statement that I found to be quite profound, alarming, and unfortunately, characteristic of far too many small business food manufacturing and distribution companies. He said, “This whole situation with the peanut epidemic has really woken everybody up around here and made us realize it’s time to get a lot tracking software solution that will protect us in case of a recall. Is that something you guys might be able to help us with?”

This small business owner, despite being in the business of processing various nuts and fruits, was fortunate enough to have avoided the existing peanut crisis and was not forced to recall any of the company’s products. Nonetheless, he did say that the current peanut situation had made many of his existing customers call and inquire as to the company’s ability to manage any unforeseen recall. These customer inquiries, then, led the small business owner to call TGI.

My conversation with this particular small business owner only made me more aware of what many of us who develop and sell food manufacturing software have been aware of for some time now – there are a lot (no pun intended) of small food processing companies who do not have an adequate lot tracking software solution to protect themselves in the unlikely possibility of a recall. Smaller food processors frequently resort to entering raw ingredient and finished good lot numbers manually in Excel spreadsheets. Aside from the obvious problem of an employee entering a lot number incorrectly, the task of tracking the specific raw ingredient lot numbers used in specific manufacturing runs to produce multiple products that were eventually shipped to multiple customers is a near impossible feat to accomplish without data entry errors using Excel. Consequently, organizations of all sizes turn to food ERP software solutions with complete forward and backward lot traceability, such as Enterprise 21, to arm the company with the management and tracking tools necessary in the event of a food epidemic and subsequent product recall. While this type of software functionality is a must for any sizeable food processor, more and more food processing companies of all sizes are recognizing the need to migrate to a software solution that can account for the company’s lot tracking needs. As the small business owner I spoke with told me, “If we had been hit by the peanut recall, we would have gone from a small business to out of business.”

In Enterprise 21, lot traceability occurs for both raw ingredients and finished goods. Enterprise 21 tracks the receipt of raw ingredients and their associated lot numbers from suppliers, the use of these raw ingredient lots in manufacturing runs, and the lot numbers of finished goods (and the lot numbers of the raw ingredients used to produce those finished goods) that were shipped to end customers. This software functionality provides food processors complete lot traceability that begins with the supplier and ends with the customer. Enterprise 21 goes one step further to provide complete recall management, tracks the receipt of recalled goods back into inventory, and allows for any necessary accounting entries to be made for expenses incurred to the business as a result of the recall.

With rising levels of competition in the food processing industry and continuously changing compliance regulations in a global economy, complete lot traceability software functionality is becoming increasingly critical to smaller food processors’ sustained business growth and longevity. For the small business owner, lot traceability is worth more than just peanuts.


The Migration from QuickBooks to ERP Software: Problems, Solutions, and Common Questions

Monday, April 20th, 2009 by Alex Smith

Many small business manufacturing and distribution companies run some combination of QuickBooks for managing accounting transactions and Excel spreadsheets to maintain inventory levels and record production scheduling. For these companies, the mere thought of migrating from these widely used and recognized tools can be intimidating for even the most technologically savvy small business owners. That being said, with proper data migration and training, small business executives and employees can learn new, more efficient practices in a timely manner to help run a small business more profitably.

One common issue software users have as an impetus for migrating from QuickBooks to more sophisticated software solutions is changing the business’ costing methodology. QuickBooks, while highly intuitive, only allows for one costing methodology. Enterprise 21, however, offers more flexible costing methods to best suit each small business’ specific needs. Enterprise 21 small business ERP software allows for average, standard, LIFO, and FIFO costing as granular as on a product-by-product basis.

A relevant example of this is when a small business within the food and beverage industry migrates from their existing entry-level software package. Many start-up or small food processors do not have the ability to use FIFO-based costing, yet they require it in order to meet their accounting and costing needs more adequately.

In addition, small business owners are frequently concerned with moving their existing data maintained in QuickBooks, Excel spreadsheets, or other small business accounting software packages into more advanced software solutions. Though small businesses have fewer employees than larger organizations, that does not exclude them from often times having hundreds or even thousands of products, ingredients, parts, vendors, and customers.

The thought of spending employee time and resources to enter each individual record manually with this volume of data is simply not practical (or affordable) for a small business. Fortunately, TGI developers have standard routines and tools in place to load existing data contained in QuickBooks, Excel spreadsheets, and other small business software packages directly into the proper fields within Enterprise 21 with little to no manual data entry. The data is then rigorously tested (in a test environment) to check for accuracy and consistency, and to make sure no errors have occurred in the migration process. By migrating existing data rather than manually entering it into the new system results in substantial time and cost savings to the small business.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, small business owners question in what ways their day-to-day business operations must change in order to adopt a new, technologically- and functionally-sophisticated software package. To achieve a rational and sizable return on investment (ROI), both small business owners and employees must be flexible and open-minded in adopting new, more efficient business practices and processes with the implementation of a new software package. The goal in selecting a new manufacturing or distribution software package should be, ultimately, to enable daily business operations to run more effectively, efficiently, accurately, and profitably. A fully-integrated ERP software package can do this with ease.

A fully-integrated software package eliminates the need for data entry and transacting business in a multitude of software packages concurrently; every entry and transaction would be performed in only one software package, allowing for improved data accuracy and visibility. Initially, employees may struggle to grasp new methodologies because the way they perform their daily jobs and tasks could be radically different. They will, however, also be significantly better. The new manufacturing or distribution software system will offer process improvements and provide a structure for adopting best practices. With adequate training and practice, software users will adopt new, better business processes and practices that will ultimately result in better, more efficient operations and an increase in the productivity and bottom line for the entire organization, thus allowing for future and sustainable business growth.