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Posts Tagged ‘Lot Traceability’

Pet Food Distributors Require Wholesale Distribution Software with Strong Product Recall Management and Lot Traceability Functionality

Saturday, September 18th, 2010 by admin

In recent months and years, we’ve seen substantial issues with product recalls for peanuts, pistachios, and a variety of other food products consumed by humans.  Lately, there has been a lot of activity focused on the recall of pet food due to salmonella.

For those pet food distributors with strong wholesale distribution software like Enterprise 21, they are well positioned to manage this difficult situation as efficiently as possible.  When pet food is received by the distributor, the associated vendor lot numbers are recorded in the system as part of the inventory transactions.  At each step in the process, when the product is moved, picked, packed, and shipped, the given products and associated lot numbers are recorded.  Should the need arise, the complete scope of affected product can be identified through lot traceability – either forward traceability (when a vendor provides data about specific products and lots) or backward traceability (when a customer provides data about specific products and lots).

Likewise, having a comprehensive, well-defined, system-enabled recall management plan enables pet food distributors to manage the process efficiently with customers, vendors, and governmental agencies.  This includes having documented and repeatable processes and procedures and associated data available to define the scope of and execute the product recall.

Beyond strong lot traceability and recall management capabilities, pet food distributors will also appreciate Enterprise 21’s functional strengths in managing:
•    Multiple facilities for territory assignments and intra-company transfers,
•    Customer segmentation for sales analysis and customer pricing methodologies,
•    Pricing and promotions management by various units of measure, including rotation allowances and promotions with complex rule sets,
•    Order management with manual, EDI, and Web-based entry methods, and efficient customer returns processing,
•    Purchasing by managing vendors with multiple ship-from locations, vendor promotions and rebates, and vendor returns processing,
•    Inventory management and warehouse management with shelf life management, stock rotation, and multiple picking methods to support pallets, layers, and eaches,
•    Transportation management supporting route delivery plus common carrier shipping, and
•    Accounts receivable and receipt of payment including processing checks from parent organizations to pay off multiple child invoices concurrently and integrated credit card processing.

Pet food distributors will derive tremendous benefits from strong distribution management systems like Enterprise 21, including efficient management of lot traceability and recall management, while simultaneously improving operational efficiency and customer service.


New ERP White Paper: Five Critical Software Requirements for Improved Product Safety and Traceability

Thursday, February 25th, 2010 by Alex Smith

We just released a new white paper in the TGI Resources Library, Five Critical Software Requirements for Improved Product Safety and Traceability. Given the rise of increasingly stringent FDA and USDA regulatory requirements, companies in the food, beverage, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries are being forced to change their internal business processes and leverage new technology to help them meet evolving industry compliance requirements for product safety and lot traceability. TGI’s Five Critical Software Requirements for Improved Product Safety and Traceability white paper details the necessary ERP software features and functions required for organizations to ensure the highest levels of product safety while simultaneously gaining real-time access to ingredient and finished good lot information. To download the white paper from the TGI Resources Library, please click here.


Food Manufacturing Software: What Software Features Can Improve Product Traceability?

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 by Alex Smith

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) recently submitted a report to the FDA that discusses various ways in which food manufacturing software solutions and other technology tools can aid food processors in achieving more comprehensive ingredient and finished good lot traceability. For food manufacturers engaging in an ERP selection project, there are two primary functional requirements an ERP solution must meet to provide the food processor with the ability to track ingredient and finished good lots accurately and efficiently.

First, an ERP manufacturing software solution must provide both forward and backward lot traceability functionality. The system must be able to track the lot numbers of all ingredients received into inventory, when these ingredients were received, when these ingredients (and their associated lot numbers) were used in manufacturing, the lot numbers of the finished goods that were produced with these ingredient lots, and which of the food processor’s customers were shipped a particular lot number for a finished good. Such functionality gives the organization complete visibility to a particular lot of ingredient from a supplier from receipt into inventory and consumption in manufacturing to finished good shipment to a customer on a specific customer order. In the event of a product recall, system users must be able to generate lot history reports from directly within the ERP system to provide to the FDA and any other regulatory agencies to aid in the recall process.

Click here to watch the Enterprise 21 lot traceability demo.

Secondly, the food manufacturing software solution must deliver a fully-integrated wireless warehouse management system with RF and barcode scanning capabilities. By selecting a manufacturing software solution that provides the organization with the functionality to deploy RF and barcode scanning devices for use in inventory, manufacturing, and shipping operations, food processors can see improvements in ingredient and finished good lot data accuracy. Using such technology, lot codes can be generated automatically and barcodes applied for receipt of ingredients into inventory, finished goods produced and placed into inventory, and finished goods shipped to customers. An employee in the shipping and receiving or manufacturing department would simply scan the barcode and enter the quantity received, produced, or shipped – the system would automatically identify the lot number(s) for the items and store the data, reducing the likelihood of inaccurate ingredient or finished good lot information. As a side benefit, food processors can achieve improvements in overall warehouse productivity as a result of more streamlined picking operations and faster data entry with the use of RF and barcode scanning devices.

By selecting a manufacturing software system with fully-integrated forward and backward lot traceability and wireless warehouse management technology, food processors can strengthen their overall level of ingredient and finished good lot traceability while simultaneously improving ingredient and finished good lot data accuracy.


Food Processing Software: Improving Salmonella Analysis Tracking and Reporting

Monday, December 21st, 2009 by Alex Smith

In 2009, the food and beverage industry saw peanuts, pistachios, and prepackaged refrigerated cookie dough recalled and pulled off the shelves at retail stores and warehouses across the country for one reason: salmonella contamination. Many food and beverage businesses were then forced to shut down their operations for good, as their food processing software solution did not give them the ability to record and track raw ingredient lot numbers from suppliers, when those lot numbers were consumed in manufacturing, finished good lot numbers, and the finished good lot numbers that were ultimately shipped to end customers. As a result, businesses were forced to recall EVERYTHING that could have potentially been produced with a contaminated ingredient, a bad situation if you make packaged nuts and trail mixes.

To gain improved salmonella analysis tracking and reporting, food processors and distributors can leverage Enterprise 21’s food ERP software and integrated lot traceability functionality in a number of ways. First, raw ingredients purchased from suppliers can be flagged to be placed on quality hold each time the ingredient arrives into inventory. When the ingredient arrives into inventory, the receiving department would record, either manually or with RF and barcode devices, the ingredient that was received, the quantity that was received, and the lot number(s) for the ingredient received. The ingredient would then be placed in a holding area awaiting quality inspection. It is important to note that the ingredient received would not yet be released into available inventory to be consumed in manufacturing. Following the receipt of the ingredient, a person in the quality control/assurance department would be automatically notified that the ingredient was awaiting his or her inspection. As quality control personnel inspected the product, they could enter inspection values directly into Enterprise 21. Assuming the product is determined to be acceptable, it would then be approved and released into available inventory. If the product does not meet inspection criteria, the product can be rejected, and the quality department can specify a reason code for why the product was rejected.

Secondly, manufactured items can automatically be placed on quality hold each time a given item is produced. Again, as items are produced, they can be placed in a holding area awaiting quality inspection and testing for salmonella. Enterprise 21 would automatically notify the quality control department that a given item has been produced and is awaiting inspection. Quality control personnel can then test the manufactured product, enter inspection data into Enterprise 21, and then approve or disapprove the product to be released into available inventory for customer purchases. Inspection data can also be used to generate a Certificate of Analysis (COA), and this COA can be set to accompany the finished good each time the product is shipped to a customer.

Aside from improving the organization’s quality control inspection process and attaining improved visibility to quality inspection data, food and beverage companies’ customers will be much more comfortable doing business with an organization that can clearly demonstrate that any product shipped to them has been rigorously tested for salmonella contamination prior to shipment. This improvement in customer service ensures that the food manufacturer or distributor is adequately prepared for a product recall should one arise and increases the likelihood of repeat customer purchases given the sophisticated quality control and reporting mechanisms the organization has in place.


Enterprise 21’s Process Manufacturing Software Functionality Enables Process Manufacturers to Establish Procedures and Controls Necessary to Meet GMP Compliance

Thursday, November 19th, 2009 by admin

Process Manufacturers continue to strive to remain compliant with current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP).  At the core of cGMP are documented, repeatable procedures and strong controls.  So, what is the role of an ERP system like Enterprise 21 in cGMP?  It becomes a key enabler of the control aspects for process manufacturing enterprises including food, chemical, and life sciences manufacturers.

First, there needs to be control in the ingredients being acquired for use in the manufacturing processes.  Suppliers need to be qualified and held to high standards.  Good ERP systems like Enterprise 21 enable companies’ purchasing organizations to establish criteria for the qualification of vendors and suppliers.  Once given vendors become approved, they can be enabled in Enterprise 21 as valid suppliers for the manufacturer to do business with while monitoring supplier performance over time.

As ingredients go through various processes, Enterprise 21 documents and time stamps each of these transactions and their associated operators for complete traceability of those parties involved at every step in the chain.  These processes include:

  • Receiving,
  • Movement to a quality control holding area,
  • Quality control evaluation, approval, and release for use,
  • Product putaway,
  • Manufacturing picking and staging,
  • Consumption in manufacturing, and
  • Putaway of any excess inventory not consumed in manufacturing.

Before manufacturing occurs, authorized personnel can establish one or more manufacturing processes by which to produce a given product and the product’s associated formulation and recipe.  The identities of the personnel who establish the production routings and associated formulations are documented in the system, as are the identities of all personnel involved in the workflow process to review and approve these items prior to their release for production.

When a product is being produced, the manufacturing personnel involved in the processes associated with that production are recorded in Enterprise 21.  Also, electronic signatures can be used for supervisory personnel and management to sign off at key points during the manufacturing processes acknowledging the product has been made in accordance with documented procedures and associated safety standards.

As the product is produced, it too will undergo a series of quality assurance tests in order to gain approval for shipment to customers.  The individuals who perform the QA tests are documented in the system, as are the warehouse personnel who move and put away the finished goods inventory.  Finally, as sales orders are entered for given items, the personnel who pick, pack, and ship the finished goods to fulfill those customer orders are also documented in the system.

In addition to the documented controls of all individuals involved in the complete process from ingredients to customer shipments, all associated lots are recorded in Enterprise 21 to enable complete womb-to-tomb lot traceability.  Ingredient lots from suppliers flow into manufactured lots of produced products, which are ultimately shipped to customers.

Strong ERP systems like Enterprise 21 enable process manufacturers to meet cGMP guidelines through the complete product and process flow throughout the manufacturing enterprise.


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.


Establishing the Complete Chain of Custody of Your Products through Lot Tracking

Thursday, March 19th, 2009 by admin

One of the hottest topics in process manufacturing is lot traceability. The definition of lot traceability is the process of tracking given material lots throughout the enterprise and beyond. Lot traceability includes tracking lots forward from ingredients through manufacturing processes into finished goods, which are ultimately shipped to end customers. This also includes tracking lots backwards from finished goods back into the manufacturing processes and then back to the ingredients consumed in the production processes.

In ERP systems with strong process manufacturing support like Enterprise 21, companies who have a need to track lots should be able to do so easily and in an automated manner. This is a key element for establishing good system and procedural controls within one’s business, and should the need arise for a product recall, make the isolation process easy and straightforward while minimizing the amount of product necessary for inclusion in the recall.

Most companies without a modern ERP system that includes sophisticated lot tracking software functionality are managing their lot data in a suboptimal manner. Many of these companies may simply be recording lots on hard copy logs, using a series of spreadsheets to key in this data, or a combination of these methods. Not only does this process create a large amount of manual efforts, it leaves operations vulnerable to a significant amount of data entry errors and potential compliance issues.

What a good ERP software package like Enterprise 21 offers is two-fold. First, one can establish and record lot properties, which is a series of corresponding values for a given product’s physical characteristics. This practice is a key element in the quality control (QC) process. Second, one can record the complete chain of custody or pedigree of lots through the enterprise and beyond. Both of these steps are critical requirements for strong lot traceability and compliance.

Relative to system-enabled lot analysis for ingredients, when ingredients are received, the associated lots are recorded. Those received lots would typically be placed on QC hold and the inspectors alerted as to the need to inspect and analyze these lots. The inspectors would perform their analysis and record the values for the associated ingredient lot properties. Assuming the values observed and recorded were within the acceptable range for the various lot property characteristics, then the given lot of ingredients would be released to available inventory for consumption in manufacturing processes.

A similar process can be performed for system-enabled lot analysis for manufactured goods. When manufacturing occurs, the associated lots are recorded. The produced lots can likewise be placed on QC hold and the inspectors alerted to take action. Once the inspectors perform their analysis, the values of the produced goods’ lot properties would be recorded. Assuming all of the lot properties were within spec, the produced goods would be released to available inventory.

While there can be other complexities to one’s operations with packing and repacking of product into various containers with associated lots recorded, the lots shipped to a given customer would be recorded, thus providing complete visibility as to which finished goods lots were shipped to customers associated with given sales orders. This process establishes a complete chain of custody from ingredient lots received, which are consumed in manufacturing yielding manufactured lots, which are then shipped out to customers.

Once this data is recorded in the system, both forward and backward lot traceability can be performed. Forward lot traceability is the tracing of ingredients from suppliers through production processes out to customers in finished goods lots. Backward lot traceability is tracing finished goods lots back from customers into production to determine which other customers received product from those specific produced lots and back to ingredients received from suppliers, if necessary.