Aptean: Response time, accuracy and flexibility key in traceability system

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Aptean's TraceExpress system
Aptean's TraceExpress system

Related tags Food safety Enterprise resource planning

A good vision for food firms looking for supply chain traceability is to look at requirements on pharmaceutical companies, according to Aptean.

Food and beverage manufactures should use track and trace technology to protect the brand, manage a recall if and when it happens and minimize risk, it said.

Aptean has Customer Relationship Management, Complaint Management, Enterprise Resource Planning and Supply Chain software applications.

It looks at managing inventory, productivity, quality, and reducing lead times - requiring coordination across the enterprise, from back office to production.

Traceability for brand protection

Jack Payne, vice president of solution consulting at Aptean, told FoodQualityNews traceability is important for food safety, brand protection, efficiency improvement and cost decreases.

“Food safety is not a static topic, regulations are getting more stringent over time. If you look back there were similar requirements in the pharmaceutical industry 10 or 15 years ago,” ​he said.

“There are three keys, timeliness or response time, accuracy so the information you have is correct and flexibility to trace from any point to any point.”

“Needs today and needs in the future will change as regulations, like the Food Safety Modernization Act in the US, get more stringent. You need a system that provides the response that is relevant and can grow with you.”

One system, called TraceExpress, can search information for product and lots, suppliers and receipts, production, customers and shipments.

The graphical tool lets the user see the path for ingredient that need to be traced, so it is possible to minimize risk to the company and customers.

Payne has been working with the Ross ERP solution for process manufacturers and helping customers for the past 20 years.

He continues to work with the product management and development organization in providing input into future functionality requirements and with the services organization in application of new functionality.

TraceExpress Viewer is a component in the Ross ERP suite enabling forward and backward trace functionality to identify suspect materials and the type of finished goods in the event of a product recall.

It provides information on the chosen lot such as the supplier associated with it, the inventory for the lot, where it was produced or transferred to, and where it is at the moment.

Traceability back and forwards

Payne said it was important to have full traceability - back and forward so it starts at the suppliers and goes through to customers.

“Typically, the food manufacturers’ basic transaction is receiving goods from suppliers, packing and shipping and the inventory and accounts need to track all transactions, the lot information, supplier lot number, your lot number and the shelf life,” ​he said.

“The prevention side is key, there are controls in the system to see who qualified suppliers are, specify incoming inspection requirements to prevent a recall and respond if it happens.

“In a HACCP plan you have critical control points where they need to track information. Instead of paper tests, integrated in the system are warning limits and out of tolerance limits. We can also notify whoever needs to be notified to make corrections if it is a tolerance issue.

“Multiple site visibility is possible, we deal with customers who have an intermediate and ship to other factories to provide the packaging, or if you grow through acquisitions it allows management of traceability between sites.”

Food manufacturer needs to record their do day to day activities, said Payne.

“Small manufacturers use a pen and paper and index cards to track visibility or Excel spreadsheets. Any volume or complexity and it becomes cumbersome to record and retrieve information like this,” ​he said.

“The worker on the shop floor does the recording but it is not typical for them to do the tracking, usually someone in the quality area does that.​ 

“Response time in a recall is key, to find out what customer received what products and what products are affected. For example, the customer found the contamination problem and there was multiple production during that time you can filter and select products and get a consolidated list of customers and facilities to make a notification saying x period of time products we are recalling.”​ 

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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