Management solutions provider BridgePoint has developed iPlex Vendor Process Management (iPlex VPM) software to help food processors achieve increased efficiency in their plant operations. The company argues that the growth in outsourced manufacturing means that processors need a comprehensive tool to manage inventory all along the supply chain.
BridgePoint claims that the software provides visibility to the entire life cycle of an order, from the acquisition of raw materials through to the final delivery to customers. By adding distributed order event management to the iPlex solution suite, BridgePoint claims that the software can provide its customers with visibility "inside the four walls" of their partners' factories, distribution centres, and warehouse operations, as well as "outside the four walls" shipment visibility.
"BridgePoint's customers are increasingly using our solutions for vendor compliance," said David Smith, director, product strategy, BridgePoint. "iPlex VPM is a natural evolution of BridgePoint's solution line, allowing our customers to look further back in their supply chains and truly manage and optimise vendor activities."
The purpose of all this of course is fundamentally to reduce overall order and financing costs. But in addition to the financial benefits of long-term analysis, Smith says that updates regarding the manufacturing process can enable manufacturers to make improved tactical decisions and react quicker to changing situations.
For example, if a production delay occurs at a manufacturing site, the iPlex VPM user is notified in near-real time and can rectify the situation immediately. This is especially useful in food production, where changes in order are a common occurrence.
Complete traceability in the supply chain has become a key concern for those operating in food processing. Supermarkets, feeling the heat from public concerns over safety, are demanding to know exactly what happens to a product at every stage of production, and legislation will soon be in place that obliges producers to provide detailed accounts of the supply chain.
"Traceability is all about record keeping," Scot McLeod, Ross Systems vice president for marketing, North America told FoodProductionDaily.com. "It means keeping track of raw materials through to shipping a final product, and everything in between." This increase in accountability means that producers are under a lot of pressure. "Imagine if you supply a retail chain, and you have 30 customers," said McLeod. "Each one makes up a large percentage of your business. If you are not protecting them, then you will lose them.
"For example, if a customer phones up and demands information on a certain product at a certain point in the supply chain, a company with a fully automated system should be able to trace it within three hours. If they can't, then the customer is likely to take their business elsewhere."
Stringent legislation, consumer concerns about food safety and growing pressure from retailers have therefore forced food manufacturers to look at every possible means of ensuring traceability and efficiency throughout the supply chain. It is this market that BridgePoint hopes to tap into.