As shows like ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ and more recently, ‘The Great British Bake Off’ remind us, when it comes to food, timing is everything. And what’s true for your kitchen is even more so for the food manufacturing industry, where managing multiple ingredients, complex processes, and often a diverse range of products for an increasingly demanding customer base is a daily challenge. Central to it all is the need to ensure that the right quantity of the right materials/ingredients are at the right place to undergo the right processes at the right time. Unlike your kitchen where a mistake might at worst ruin a meal, a mistake for a food manufacturer might not just ruin an entire batch of thousands of products, it might jeopardise a vital business relationship with a customer or supplier.
Food manufacturers have therefore long understood the necessity of accurate planning and scheduling for successful food production and have typically relied on specialist IT solutions to provide assistance in this area. However, the process of actual food production exists in the context of, and relies on, all the other interconnected business processes that sit either side of it. For example, sales orders need to connect fully to purchase orders, demand forecasts, stock control, production planning, warehouse, and delivery. Often the common thread running through all these connections, and the wider link of the supply chain, is the need for complete trust that every process involved is handled in a timely, accurate, and completely transparent way. As competitive pressures increase, the criticality of timeliness becomes even more acute across the entire business.