While there are many new additions to flavorings, presentations, pack sizes and other format-based attributes of meat, the core product remains essentially the same. This means that meat distributors have begun to hone their offerings in the treatment, transport and storage of that product to remain competitive. If your current or potential meat distributor doesn't utilize the IoT and supply chain data in their handling, it may be time to find a new one. Careful and transparent supply chain control leads to a better presentation, taste and perception on the consumer end of the food supply chain, after all. Companies that are still using "analog" meat suppliers as tech marches forward could find themselves outmatched among competitors.
Rapid Issue Isolation
When dealing with edible products, particularly items like raw meat, a company needs to be especially careful about food safety. If something does go awry, a recall can severely damage — or even deal a fatal blow to — a brand. Consumer safety needs to take first priority, but the ability to track whether a problem has resulted from food processing, transport or storage comes in a close second. When there is a "paper trail" that tracks data such as temperature fluctuations and durations of food storage, finding the source of problems is infinitely easier than bringing an entire supply chain to a screeching, panicked halt and exhaustively hunting it down. IoT accountability also allows companies to maintain a consistent state for all food products leaving the warehouse, enabling them to enforce minimum standards.
A facilities or product inspector won't likely accept manufacturer-produced data at face value, but that doesn't mean that the IoT doesn't make the process of inspection and certification significantly easier. James Andrews of Food Safety News explains that inter-connected technology in the IoT is particularly useful for safeguarding refrigerated products, such as meat. With a steady stream of temperature, overall volume, transportation time and similar data at the ready, a company can more easily discuss needs and goals with regulators, allowing them to keep their records both current and accurate. A retailer or wholesaler can then pass these consumer confidence-boosting achievements forward, incorporating them into marketing and sales materials. In the modern scandal-dotted food industry supply chain, reassuring supply chain data is worth its weight in gold in terms of oversight.
Setting Higher Standards
Urging your entire food supply chain to adopt modern measures is not the herculean task it seems. A single supplier with a commitment to new supply chain methods can start a literal chain reaction, working with the nodes closest to their own to recommend technology and sync data. When you partner with an IoT-equipped meat distributor, they are able to offer a level of transparency that can be used as a standard in your partnership discussions elsewhere. While this may mean a culture or priority shift on the part of your procurement team, it's ultimately a move in the right direction as compliance needs grow ever more complex in the food industry.
Ready for the Future
Simply put, supply partners and distributors with a current stake in futuristic technology will experience less culture shock when innovations drive food improvements later. Bob Barr of MBT Magazine points to remote manufacturing concepts such as 3D printing as potential points of opportunity for IoT-linked companies in a scant few years. Food can indeed benefit from remote manufacturing capabilities.Your supply chain data is more than numbers in the hands of an agile meat distributor; it's a component of a larger push towards efficiency, improvement and a breakaway from the limitations of a linear supply chain. Is your current distributor ready for what tomorrow brings? Staying on the cutting edge means driving new solutions and transparency, not just in your own company, but along your entire food supply chain.