10 Jun
2016

Cloud-Based Solutions Empowering the Food Industry

Companies in the food industry are challenged to continually invent (and reinvent) products while also finding ways to keep costs down. Software as a service (SaaS) platforms and cloud computing are being adopted by the food industry to carry out multiple operations. 

Automated manufacturing paired with cloud software offers speed and precision, which enables commercial kitchens to offer more products to a growing customer base. But the question is whether automation is feasible and affordable for smaller companies. Here are some of the ways small and medium-sized companies can capitalize on a range of cloud automation solutions.

 

Enterprise Resource Planning

The food industry has been adopting cloud solutions for back-office tasks like accounting, buying supplies and tracking sales. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions provide even more integration and power with the cloud.

For example, food manufacturers can make sure they meet safety procedures and standards issued by regulators as well as grow and update their business with an ERP because it offers multiple layers of data. Jensen Meat Co. encountered these benefits when it was looking to update its software solutions. Before moving to Plex, its three systems were separate and disconnected, which meant its employees had to pull data three times. This was inefficient and introduced risk because information could be missed or incorrect. Plex worked with Jensen to develop an ERP solution for the food and beverage industry that enabled the company to trace its process manufacturing. Jensen’s CFO Sam Acuña explains, “Now, within minutes we can easily do forward and backward traceability through batch or lot numbers if needed.”

Some other features that are tailored to the food industry include recipe planning, food mixing and cooking procedures, billing and invoicing, and deliveries to restaurants and grocery stores. Jensen uses Plex to stay within USDA regulations for deliveries, for instance. The ERP solution lets sales and operations communicate efficiently so they can stay within the 21-day period that is required for delivering fresh meat.  

 

Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management (SCM) solutions are sometimes packaged within an ERP. They are meant to streamline relationships between the company, suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and partners. With these tools, businesses can track their products from farm to table. For example, a commercial bakery may source eggs, flour and milk from numerous vendors across the region or multiple states. Supplies of these fresh ingredients vary in quantity, quality and price, so a bakery must be able to track the ingredients to ensure the best product. 

 Coca-Cola is a great example of a company transitioning to the cloud to fill the gap between its supply and demand. Coca-Cola uses CSC to fulfill the delivery side of its operations so it can quickly deploy products in multiple countries at a fast pace. Senior vice president and CIO of Coca-Cola Esat Sezer explains, “We are basically tying those two ends of the business process together: the manufacturing side, which drives the supply of our product, and the shelf-replenishment side, which drives the demand part of our product.”

 

On-Demand Networks

Food ordered on-demand, such as groceries or post-midnight tacos delivered to the doorstep, is a lucrative direction in the food delivery industry. Restaurants and markets are beginning to offer products on demand through apps for their local clientele. Companies such as GrubHub give local restaurants the ability to serve patrons at home automatically. Customers use the app to find specific restaurants or types of food near them, and then the app’s cloud-based software filters the options to provide them with a match.

This trend looks like it will continue to grow in the future as more food purveyors aim to reach their customers online. These types of businesses just need to make sure they can be reached and paid for on mobile devices.

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