How to Successfully Adopt a Data Driven Approach
Data Ensures Food Safety for Consumers
Food safety is highly important to consumers. An important development in improving food safety has been the application of the hazard critical control point concept (HACCP), which calls for data collection from production through distribution to consumption. So, a large amount of data is collected in the food supply chain. Typically, processors have this data, but the consumer is still blind to where their food came from. There are only a few premium quality brands that provide farm or animal data to consumers on their products.
An example of this is food allergens (i.e. nuts, shellfish) to effectively manage food allergies. Packaged foods have the allergens data on their labels, which is healthy. Peanut allergies are a major issue. It can be an impossible task for someone with a peanut allergy to identify nut-free food while eating out in restaurants. This is because restaurants only have information on the food ingredients. Yet, they have no data on if the manufacturing process came in contact with any nuts, especially peanuts. This leaves the consumer with narrow food choices at most of the restaurants. Lately, this is changing as some of the big restaurant chains have created special menus with allergen data, which is available on their websites.
Data Empowers the Recall Management Team
A recall can hurt a processor’s brand and bring expensive lawsuits. Adopting a recall management practice with a data-driven approach is a great way for staying on top of the recall process. A data-driven approach allows for collecting data at key production points. This data provides the level of traceability required by the recall management team. This plant-wide data driven traceability empowers the team to take swift action on recall.
Data Enhances Plant Performance
Having accurate carcass yield data is the key to providing producers with valuable insight. Even a small amount of waste can result in large product loss. Therefore, yield reporting and analysis are a huge part of the production manager’s daily function. Thus, collecting data at key production points and making sense of the data for yield management improve plant performance.
Data Enables Process Efficiency
Collected data can be mined to identify efficiencies in operation, decrease production downtime, and monitor plant activity. In addition, data is a key element required to help implement the best business management practices. Data enables better decision-making, minimizes risk, and energizes stakeholders across the supply chain.
Though a data driven method provides reliable and measurable results, achieving a plant-wide data driven approach requires solid strategies to overcome a few key barriers.
What are the barriers to achieving a plant-wide data-driven approach?
Lack of culture and vision in the digital production platform domain are strong barriers to the adoption of a data-centric approach. Digital eco-systems can only work if all stakeholders can value the use of data and see the strategic importance of the data-driven approach to their company and customers.
Resistance to Change
Change has always met some level of resistance no matter what the industry is. Here we are dealing with employees who are already very comfortable with your current practices, processes, and systems. In addition, the management may also be comfortable with the status quo even though they see the value in implementing a data-driven approach.
Managers who are looking for new processes and technologies can quickly reach an information overload and get easily confused. They hear buzz words like, “to reduce costs”, “to improve time to market”, “to effectively compete” and “Due to government regulations”. Also, they will be inundated with technological terms like “big data and analytics”, “cloud”, “digital tools” and “Internet of Things”. When it comes to effectively collecting and using data in a food plant, processors need manufacturing processes and technologies that are beyond these buzz words. Solutions should be relevant and purpose-built for the meat processing industry.
Managers need to move past this buzz. First, take a holistic approach to evaluate the entire business operations. Then, gather the requirements based on your ecosystem (own operations, suppliers, distributors, and customers). After that attend tradeshows, and listen to supplier webinars and/or industry podcasts to understand technologies and processes. Finally, assess the available offerings and identify the proven technologies and processes. If required get help from a consultant.
Once you have successfully moved away from the buzz, speak with a few technology vendors to further educate. With this collective knowledge refine your requirements then moved forward with the technology vendor selection process.
Remember the transformation or change is not just about technology alone. It is also about people. It is very important to match the people in your team with the vendor’s team.
Once plant management decides to adopt a data-driven approach, they will inevitably encounter barriers during the implementation. Many of the barriers they will experience are directly related to employee training and effectively using the data that they are collecting.
How can these barriers be overcome?
When it comes to the plant floor, many meat processors are cultured using outdated technologies and practices. Sometimes, production processes are recorded on paper or in an Excel template. Industry organizations such as Meat & Poultry Ontario and the American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP) are a great resource when it comes to supporting the meat industry. In fact, Meat & Poultry Ontario recently held an industry day that highlighted a lot of automation technology. They demonstrated to processors various tools that are available to help implement and calculate the ROI of automation. Industry associations are great resources that can help processors achieve their data-collection goals. In addition industry associations, meat processors can take advantage of multiple sources of literature on the effective use of data and the strategic importance of a data-driven approach to serving consumers better and improving profits.
Management to Secure Employee Buy-In
Typically, people resist change. So, achieving employee buy-in is the first step in the process. Secondly, selecting an in-house project champion helps to mobilize the team to embrace the data-driven approach.
The executive team should focus on obtaining cooperation among various user groups. They should not treat this as a technology implementation exercise. This should be viewed and executed as a change management program, which involves incremental process changes, credible timelines, employee training, and celebration of success to achieve a cultural shift towards using a data-centric approach to improve operational efficiencies.
Bringing about change is often a very difficult process. A consultative approach combined with the expertise of the right solutions provider can help to break down silos and embrace change. People can be energized by having an outside change management consultant along with project champion(s), which will also simplify the implementation processes and ensure success.
Select the Right Solution
To gain an advantage with the data-driven approach, food plants need to have data-collecting devices, database software, and analytical software. Also, they require best practices for bringing the technologies and people together to collect the data. These devices typically include scales, scanners, printers, computers, mobile devices, and more. The manufacturing execution software (MES), warehouse management software (WMS) and plant floor ERP software are key pieces of the required software suite. These plant floor solutions should be able to seamlessly integrate with the back office and front office software systems, which are already in place.
Project Management via Solution Integration & Employee Training
Strong project management is required to bring the various technologies and best practices together. Solution integration is the best method for implementing a plant floor data-collection system consisting of hardware and software. A fully integrated solution provides plant operators with data collection at each required point throughout the plant floor. Also, this approach limits risk and brings proven practices to identify the ideal data collection points in the plant. Solution integration helps determine the right approach for making sense of the collected data.
Teams need to be trained on how to place the right data collection device at the right collection point, and on how to make sense of the data for improving the operational efficiencies within the food plant. Employee training is a key to a successful implementation of a data-driven approach. Finally, engaging an experienced and proven solution provider to configure and deliver the solution ensures a plant-wide adoption of a data-driven approach.
Carlisle Technology is the proven solution provider
The successful implementation of the data-driven approach leads to more efficiency. Carlisle Technology’s solutions are designed specifically for the meat industry and for achieving overall efficiency. Carlisle Technology’s solutions are fully integrated and streamline data collection across the entire production cycle, including receiving, processing, packaging, warehousing, shipping, and invoicing. Leverage Carlisle Technology’s more than 35 years of experience empowering the food industry with proven data collection solutions to improve food safety, traceability, and profitability.
Carlisle Technology has delivered successful plant-wide data collection systems and facilitated the data-driven approach in meat processing plants across North America. Symphony is the key software in the fully integrated solution for data collection. Click Here to request a demo on how this software compiles all the data components into a centralized database, providing real-time insight into daily production and complete visibility into the entire plant floor operations.
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