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Perishability can – and must – be managed


When the clock is ticking: Supply Chain Excellence for perishable goods

It doesn't have to be fresh milk or a bag of salad: many products have a best-before date (BBD). For milk, it is a few days, for other foods perhaps a week or two. But even tinned food doesn't last forever, medicines have an expiry date and the "pot life" of paints or adhesives – the time between mixing (i.e. filling in the case of 1K components) and processability – plays an important role. This is why it is crucial to always keep an eye on replenishment lead times and ranges of coverage for products with an "expiry date". Stocks must also be subject to strict control to avoid wasting valuable resources and materials. After all, the product should be on the market on time and labelled with the necessary BBD.

By: Gerald Scheffels for ifm

Goal: Safety on the timeline

Many renowned manufacturers from the food & beverage and pharmaceutical industries, as well as from the automotive supply industry and industrial production in general, rely on SAP to monitor and control purchasing, scheduling and inventory management. In this way, they create transparency by being able to carry out up-to-date and reliable analyses across all process stages of the value chain at any time. This provides security on the timeline.

However, many users still see a need for optimisation here – not in terms of the amount of information, but in terms of the overview. It would be desirable to put an end to "transaction hopping", where users have to jump from one transaction to another to work through the to-dos. This is confusing and error-prone, as something can easily be overlooked.

On the road to “Supply Chain Excellence”

Users will find the ideal complement in the SAP-certified software from ifm. It closes gaps in the SAP standard and ensures greater usability. For example, the Role Administration Cockpit provides all users with exactly the information they need for their roles. In addition, key information is summarised and, where possible, displayed graphically. Drag-and-drop and drill-down functions allow details to be displayed as required. An organised structure also ensures fast and reliable action in the daily worklist. Alert systems guarantee that users can keep everything in view at all times and are prompted to act in good time.

Looking at the timeline in production, warehousing and distribution, ifm’s Supply Chain Excellence software is exactly the right solution. It combines strategic planning and operational doing in one system and thus supports supply chain managers and logistics managers as well as production planners and MRP controllers.

Efficient production of blends with perishable raw materials

A good example of how ifm's Supply Chain Excellence software helps users is the production of food in containers.

Perishable raw materials are required for the production of various beverages: Milk, malt, fruit juice or even flavourings that lose their taste over time. For price reasons, it is best to order the (perishable) material in large quantities. If the raw material is required in different quantities on different machines at the same time, the container would have to be divided into smaller batches. An additional work step is then necessary (perhaps under special hygiene conditions), the provision of suitable containers is required and the withdrawal must be measured or weighed. In addition, the shelf life of many perishable resources is shortened after opening. Therefore, there is always a risk that the substance will spoil faster than it can be consumed.

Supply Chain Excellence counteracts this. The software considers the general conditions (which users must of course be familiar with) and helps to create a plan that takes all variables into account – including the duration of perfect usability and functionality. In this way, the best possible quantity and container size can already be determined during the ordering process, taking into account all criteria – including shelf life and price.

Adhesives, oils, plastics, ...: Quality and function are often time-bound

As striking as the food example is, the same challenge also applies to other industries. For example, some adhesives can no longer be used in automotive engineering for safety reasons just a few weeks after mixing or opening a container. Lubricants lose quality over time or change their tribological properties and can damage machines or drives instead of extending their service life. Plastics and elastomers can become brittle, porous or break. This poses a major risk during production, but also during the use of the end product.

Best: Harmonise costs and timeline

These examples show: There are many "perishable" products. When planning production or processing, simply looking at the best price is therefore not enough. A large number of variables need to be considered. This requires a system that keeps target ranges, replenishment lead times and safety stocks in view AND also takes procurement prices, order bundles and container sizes into account.

Supply Chain Excellence from ifm is one such system. And despite the complex challenges, it offers a maximum of