Traceability: The Importance of Supply Chain Visibility and the Technologies that Power It (en-US)

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Aptean Food & Beverage Traceability:ERP The Importance of Supply Chain Visibility and the Technologies that Power It Key benefits of best practices and top ways to improve performance

Food and beverage manufacturers must be masters of many domains. From new product development and highly technical processes to company culture and profitability, there’s no shortage of critical areas for businesses like yours to address, and all demand careful planning and excellent training.

Still, none of the above are as complex or important as the matter of traceability. Knowing exactly where your materials came from and where they’re headed is difficult, exacting work—but it’s far less difficult than facing the potential ramifications of not ensuring that you can trace ingredients backward and forward in the supply chain.

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There are a number of reasons that your organization must prioritize excellent traceability practices, as well as several ways in which complete visibility into your resources and products can pay off with better reliability and customer satisfaction. We’re also here to provide useful, proven strategies for improvement on this critical front, with each having its own unique benefits.

3| Traceability: The Importance of Supply Chain Visibility and the Technologies that Power It 4 Key Reasons to Strive for Complete Traceability

Why is traceability so important? There are numerous reasons, and some deal with the punitive consequences of not addressing the matter fully, while others focus on benefits your business can enjoy as a result of putting the right measures in place.

Another well-recognized set of standards for traceability are those established by international non-profit GS1, which center on safety and visibility. Following with these standards also ensures that your organization is in compliance with Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), British Retail Consortium (BRC) and International Featured Standards (IFS) rules. Additional info on other traceability regulations around the world can be found in this blog post Fines and potentially worse penalties face companies that are found to be operating outside of regulations, so there’s really no excuse for not guaranteeing total compliance. Thankfully, technology like enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions make adhering to necessary standards a much simpler process with automated quality

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act stipulates that all food and beverage manufacturers must be able to track their ingredients and products backward and forward by at least one step. The standards are about to get much stricter, though, with the Proposed Rule for Food Traceability soon coming into effect to impose additional requirement and stipulations.

1. Maintaining Compliance with Regulations and Standards

“We work with suppliers that require a two-hour recall, and with our Aptean Food & Beverage ERP, we are usually able to meet these requirements in just 90 minutes.”

Andrew Bushnell, ERP Analyst, Creminelli Fine Meats

2. Ensuring Recall and Audit Readiness

Mistakes can happen in complicated processes, especially when a complex manufacturing process involves a large number of materials. When something does go awry—an expired ingredient is used in a batch, or a lot becomes contaminated—you need to know right away and have precise information on what went wrong, what was used and where the affected products are now. This, of course, becomes even more critical when your facilities deal with allergens. Uncompromising food safety standards should be a goal unto themselves, but considering 13 of the 26 USDA food recalls in 2020 were due to undeclared or misbranded allergens, the risk of an allergen getting into a product that should not contain it is a massive financial and public relations liability.

This makes the need for traceability even more clear, and an ERP system like Aptean Food & Beverage ERP is an excellent solution to the problem. By collecting and compiling data into a single database and updating in real-time, you always know where your resources are at any stage of the supply chain and can narrow down contamination to individual runs and lots so you know exactly what has been compromised.

Requirements The U.S. FDA requires product recalls for the following scenarios: » Product became contaminated (any stage of the supply chain) » Unlisted allergens are present in a lot or batch » Products came in contact with allergens during processing » Foreign materials were found in a batch » Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) regulations weren’t followed

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“We work with suppliers that require a two-hour recall, and with our Aptean Food & Beverage ERP tools, we are usually able to meet these requirements in 90 minutes,” says Andrew Bushnell, ERP analyst for Aptean client Creminelli Fine Meats. “I have personally had several auditors mention how fast we are able to do this and how great it is to have all the documentation available within a few clicks.”


4. Protecting Reputation and Maintaining Demand

It follows logically from the previous section that a business with measures in place to limit contamination and control its negative impacts will also have less waste. Lots and runs won’t have to be scrapped due to errors in manufacture, so you’ll get more out of the raw materials you purchase as more will end up in viable products that can be sold.

Traceability features of ERP platforms also gather and maintain complete data on your ingredients, so you’ll have a better grasp of just what you have, what you need and what needs to be used next according to “firstexpiry, first-out” (FEFO) methodology. That, in turn, informs your purchase planning so that you can dial in and make sure you’ve got enough—but not too much—of the resources you need.

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Food and beverage businesses want to be in the news for some reasons—launching a popular new product or making strides in sustainability—but would certainly rather avoid the storm of negative press that comes with a recall or other food safety issue. A serious incident of that nature not only harms the organization’s reputation, but it also dampens demand in the future.

To wit, a Harris Interactive poll found that 55% of consumers would switch brands at least temporarily following a recall, while 15% said they’d never purchase the recalled product again and 21% said they’d avoid all products from the responsible brand. Food and beverage companies with superior traceability measures in place enjoy better consumer confidence and more stable operations. And with a platform like Aptean Food & Beverage ERP on your side, your organization can have instant access to dependably accurate data that allows you to manage any concerns with agility.

3. Reducing Waste and Spoilage

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Most food and beverage business have at least some sort of traceability approach in place, even if it’s pen and paper records or spreadsheets saved to an individual hard drive. For these organizations, the first step to improving in this area should be to eliminate these outdated methods of data capture and move to a fully digital system (like an ERP).

Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology can be an excellent foundation for establishing a traceability plan. The variety of tags and their applications goes beyond simply knowing what’s where—they can also be used to monitor temperature and even consumption habits.

Purpose-built ERP platforms can accommodate traceability approaches based on RFID nicely, allowing your organization to gather and analyze tremendous amounts of information within a single, unified interface.

Batch barcoding scanners offer even greater efficiency, as they compile all information scanned while in use and then transmit the data all at once when returned to their docking station. This is ideal for inventory processes, especially when a large order is received and the system needs to be updated with the associated material and product information.

Another “successor” to traditional barcodes, QR codes can capture huge amounts of information and are just as easy to scan. This technology has become especially popular with fresh produce businesses, but it can serve most any food and beverage organization looking to improve their traceability efforts.

QR Codes

Aptean Food & Beverage ERP also integrates well with a number of tracing technologies that will make your processes more efficient and accurate while gathering all of the information necessary to paint a complete picture of your supply chain.

Industry-specific ERP solutions are built to sync with smart scanners and sensors, so it makes sense to pair QR code technology with such a system.


This has been mentioned already, but it’s critical to automate your organization’s scanning, checking and logging processes. Not only do you reduce the risk of human error and increase efficiency, but you can more easily capture complete information, including exact dates and times of material movement, nutrient content, lot numbers for ingredients, quality assurance readings and complete finished good shipment data. Devices that use Internet of Things (IoT) technology are great for this purpose and work well with ERP platforms to keep all of your facts and figures up-to-date and easily accessible. That kind of visibility allows you to act on insights quickly, avoiding issues and capitalizing on opportunities as they arise.

These tried-and-true tools for quickly gathering and logging information on lots and products can still be very effective when used in conjunction with ERP technology. Just keep in mind that individual employees with scanners will be less reliable than an automated scanning process along your production line.

As with barcodes, it’s best to automate the scanning of QR codes to relieve the burden of memory and accuracy from your employees.

Traceability: The Importance of Supply Chain Visibility and the Technologies that Power It

Barcodes and Scanners

Getting on Track with Traceability

“Product withdrawals were costing us around £250,000 a year. We are now looking at a situation where we have not had any product withdrawal costs for a year, so thankfully the system has paid for itself,” says Brian Crane, dispatch manager for Aptean client and produce provider G’s.

Aptean Food & Beverage ERP comes with traceability functionalities built specifically for food and beverage businesses and was designed with decades of industry experience. The solution also integrates with all manner of technologies used for bidirectional tracking of ingredients and products.

Aptean is one of the world’s leading providers of purpose-built, industry-specific software that helps manufacturers and distribu tors effectively run and grow their businesses. With both cloud and on-premise deployment options, Aptean’s products, services and unmatched expertise help businesses of all sizes to be Ready for What’s Next, Now®. Aptean is headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia and has offices in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Plain and simple, food and beverage brands that make a commitment to traceability are less likely to face the potentially devastating effects of a food safety issue and have a far better understanding of their supply chain from start to finish. They also save money on what would otherwise be costly recall and withdrawal processes.

Are You Ready to Learn More?

Interested to see how Aptean Food & Beverage ERP can help you better manage traceability at your food company? Contact us at or visit


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