Today’s fresh food manufacturer faces unique challenges that manufacturers of other types of goods do not. This especially holds true with the inventory that fresh food producers work with. “The goal of any company with inventory is to have enough inventory to fulfill demand. When you add in the complexity of fresh food items that have a short shelf life, it compounds the need for an inventory system,” says Kendrick Hair, vice president of development at Fishbowl Inventory in Orem, UT.
Non-food companies can buy more inventory at the front end and sit on it to avoid running out of the stock they need. “The ability to over buy to reduce stockouts is not an option for food companies,” hair says. “Not only does it increase a company’s carrying cost, but the excess inventory would spoil.”
A solid inventory software program gives the fresh food producer the tools needed to address product tracking, strategies for dealing with production disruptions and figuring out the right balance on hand inventory, “so you don’t have an overstock or shortage,” Hair says. To handle these situations, an inventory management system needs to provide producers ways to effectively address issues that arise in a user friendly manner and provide the necessary functions to do so accurately.
“A proper inventory management system will solve issues by helping a fresh food producer track the following; inventory quantities, total asset value with the ability to filter by warehouse and item, and offer traceability and tracking to give cradle to grave visibility with recall protocol,” Hair says. “This starts with tracking batch or lot numbers and can also include production and expiration dates. Inventory software should also use minimum and maximum inventory alerts and re-order alerts with purchase order automation to streamline ordering and re-ordering.”
A system that helps producers set safety stock levels helps to manage and prepare for unseen events that cause problems. A sudden increase in customer demand or a late delivery will be easier to overcome. Management will be able to right inventory levels quicker, with more accuracy and with the least amount of reduction in quality. “It can also help track inventory shrinkage to identify loss due to waste, damage, spoilage and theft,” Hair says.
Inventory software companies will utilize the technology and innovations available to continuously improve their products to stay competitive and improve customer service. “Fishbowl has the ability to suggest minimum/maximum quantities per item and automate the purchasing process,” Hair says. “This allows companies to not only avoid spoilage, but it streamlines the process of purchasing and ensures only what is absolutely needed is purchased.”
Kendrick Hair, vice president of development at Fishbowl Inventory lists important technologies in the inventory software landscape.
• Barcoding and scanning
• Lot number and expiration date tracking
• purchase order automation
• The ability to calculate landed cost on items received
• Supply chain management
• Vendor performance report
• Customized dashboards that provide visibility of inventory and manufacturing processes
• forecast and planning tools
• Production planning and execution
• Mobile device integration
• Tools for cycle counting and adjustments