F&B: How to Achieve Product Traceability & Inventory Accuracy

Product traceability is one of the essential ingredients needed for Food & Beverage (F&B) businesses to scale and succeed. But when manual warehouse processes are also a part of the recipe, the integrity of your data can become compromised and cause problems like wastage, inefficiency and contaminations.

The good news is that inventory accuracy and real-time traceability are both achievable goals in this space. In our 40+ years of experience, we've identified 4 common challenges that drive F&B companies to replace error-prone processes with robust NetSuite Inventory Management systems like RF-SMART to achieve success:

1. Maintaining product traceability
2. Managing perishable goods
3. Manufacturing efficiency
4. Scalability and growth

We tackle these challenges in a recent episode of the Taking Inventory podcast together with F&B manufacturer Kevito Group, makers of Chatime teas. Kevito Group shares how they transformed their operations and overcame industry-specific pain points like food traceability by introducing a purpose-built mobile solution.

1. Maintaining Product Traceability

With risks and regulations pertaining to allergens, contaminations and spoilage, it’s critical that F&B businesses track their products and ingredients across the supply chain. This is commonly achieved with the use of lot numbers and batch codes, which can be recorded and viewed in NetSuite.

Manually capturing this data can be laborious and extremely unproductive though - and there is an ever-present risk of human error and inaccuracy, which can lead to serious repercussions if a product needs to be recalled.

A mobile barcoding solution will allow you to collect this information automatically and accurately, delivering real-time traceability in NetSuite.

License Plating is another way to uniquely identify a box/pallet/container/tote in NetSuite by contents (item, lot, quantity) and its location. RF-SMART’s License Plating functions are built within NetSuite, allowing quick and easy movement of pallets on your mobile device.

 Customer Example:  
Inventory is received at the warehouse by the Kevito Group team, the makers of Chatime tea, with lot and batch numbers applied. B
arcodes are easily scanned using mobile devices, and the data is transacted into NetSuite in real-time, ensuring food traceability. There is no requirement for manual data.

2. Managing Perishable Goods

Procuring, producing and holding inventory can be a balancing act in the food and beverage industry. Making sure there is enough product available to distribute or manufacture is essential. Simultaneously, a surplus of perishable inventory will result in waste and revenue loss.

F&B businesses commonly operate on a FEFO (First Expired, First Out) model. In practice, FEFO can be tricky to maintain without proper location management, insufficient inventory accuracy and lack of product traceability.

With a cloud-based mobile inventory management system like RF-SMART, you can automate and increase the accuracy of your processes in three steps:

  1. Label your inventory and locations with barcodes
  2. Use handheld scanners to direct staff and track the movement of goods
  3. Utilize real-time operational data in NetSuite

RF-SMART customers typically experience 99%+ inventory accuracy. This added layer of control makes it significantly easier to make precise purchasing and production decisions, helping you manage perishable goods more efficiently to keep costs down.

 Customer Example:  
Kevito Group has three separate warehouse areas and often undertakes inexperienced, part-time staff to manage periods of high demand. RF-SMART removes the ambiguity of which products need to be picked first, protecting the business against waste and inefficiency 

3. Manufacturing Efficiency

The benefits of mobile extend beyond tracking finished goods – if you’re a food and beverage manufacturer, a WMS can enhance your production process too.

Without automation, manufacturing staff are often lumbered with additional responsibilities outside of their expertise – like counting, transcribing and enter data into NetSuite; this is neither productive nor efficient.

Here are three examples of how RF-SMART can help streamline their roles and create efficiency:

  1. Assembly Builds - Leveraging mobile scanners through the assembly process gives you accurate visibility into your stages of production. Workers can pick and complete inventory as necessary with the confidence that the technology will direct them to select the correct items and quantities. The added benefit is that your finance team will know exactly how much each product costs to build.
  2. Work Orders – If your operations are more complex or you require more sophisticated functionality as you scale, there are advanced functions available to support you. Work order issuing, work order completions and backflushing all come with the RF-SMART Manufacturing Execution module.
  3. Mobile Work Order Reporting – For complete visibility and real-time traceability, Mobile Work Order Reporting allows businesses to track task durations and quantities at a worker level.

 Customer Example:  
"The beauty of it is that the baker can set up a work order and then the rest of it can be picked up on the RF-SMART scanners. The whole build of the work order and the movement of goods between the various stations…is all controlled from the scanners." - David Nehme, Kevito Group

4. Scalability and Growth for NetSuite Food and Beverage Customers

With changing consumer trends, seasonal peaks and tight turnaround times, it can be challenging to maintain growth in the F&B industry. Here are three reasons why a competent WMS vendor can help you scale and meet your future goals:

  1. Knowledge and Experience – If you’re exploring a WMS project for the first time, you may not have a full understanding of the best practices and variables that will impact your implementation. The RF-SMART team comes with 60+ years of collective NetSuite experience, and we are dedicated to delivering tailored advice and support from the moment you engage with us. Our customers can attest to our commitment to your success and we’re confident that we have worked with businesses like yours before.
  2. Productivity and Training – As you scale and take on additional staff, it’s not ideal to have a system that’s difficult to navigate or learn. Our products are intuitive and easy to use by design, meaning your team can hit the ground running with their day-to-day responsibilities. The ROI you can achieve is measurable and significant.
  3. Adding Functionality – Your supply chain needs will evolve as your business does. RF-SMART can supply and support new hardware, and provide additional users and functionality as and when you need it.

 Customer Example:  
"When we were assessing possible platforms for the warehouse, we looked at a number of solutions. What was attractive about RF-SMART was that
it wasn’t just a platform that was being proposed – it was years and years of experience." – David Nehme, Kevito Group

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