Those who have ordered glassware or wine bottles for a loved one know how stressful it is to make certain the package arrives safely. Though organizations use specific packaging standards and delivery services have policies in place to protect fragile items, there's always the chance that something can go wrong. Fragile packages have to endure many hands, transport vehicles/fleets, and locations to arrive at their final destination. If one participant in this process makes a mistake, the item can be damaged.
Though food items are not always as fragile as glassware, they are also some of the most demanding products to transport. Temperature control, storage requirements, a product's shelf life, and humidity levels are just some of the factors involved in the transport process.
If spoilage or waste occurs, the consequences can be severe. Because of this, making improvements to transport remains one of the top goals for operators all across the United States.
Read ahead for the best practices to improve food logistics in the supply chain.
Food Logistics Tips for Suppliers
Ensuring food and beverage products reach their end destination safely can be one of the more challenging activities in the food industry. Operators continue to find bottlenecks and inefficiencies in logistics due to the large number of participants involved in exchanging and transporting goods in the food supply chain.
Other concerns include optimizing storage temperatures, implementing proper packaging, maintaining quality during long journeys, and preventing spoilage. Because food waste and spoilage are costly, dangerous, and damaging to a company's reputation, operators continue to seek better ways to transport items and ensure safe/timely deliveries.
Best practices for optimizing food logistics include-
1. Employ Supply Chain Technology Systems
Preventative measures are the best method to avoid contamination and spoilage during transport. Fortunately, operators now have access to modern technology systems that utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve traceability.
Many technology systems are effective because they collect data at every single point of the supply chain, including the farm, warehouses, pickup locations, and more. Bluetooth devices, RFIDs (Radio Frequency Identification Devices), robotics, and scanners are some of the options available to operators.
These solutions can monitor temperatures, packaging, and track packages. Technology systems can also help to detect spoilage and contamination before the item ever reaches its final destination. This can prevent an outbreak, protect a company's reputation, and pinpoint other problems along the transport journey.
2. Utilize Sterile Packaging & Proper Cleaning
Fresh meats and other food items are especially susceptible to contamination and cross-contamination. Sterile packaging prevents microbial contamination if the item is removed from the sterilized container during transport. Though sterile packaging may seem like an obvious solution to improve logistics, many companies aren't certain how to optimize this process to receive the best results.
Preventative measures are even more important than ensuring items are placed in sterile packaging. Sanitation must be the primary concern before an item is ever packaged or put into a shipment bundle. Every piece of machinery must be regularly cleaned and disinfected. Any involved water spouts, tanks, or nozzles must be free of contamination to avoid foodborne illness from spreading.
Logistics trucks or fleets must be sanitized, even if products are already placed in sterile packaging. In summary, sterile packaging is not enough if the remainder of vehicles, machinery, and surfaces are not regularly disinfected themselves.
3. Incorporate Excellent Training Materials
Though there are a large number of actors involved in the supply chain that are outside of an organization's control, it's essential that proper training materials are given to as many people as possible. Knowledge of all food safety regulations and preventative measures should be required by everyone who is involved in transporting products.
Organizations should make certain that their partners or third-party vendors are also informed on the latest safety guidelines. Operators should be aware of their partners' education and quality measures to make certain everyone's goals are aligned. Proper education and training can prevent food safety problems, foodborne illness, or improper storage of items before they happen.
4. Conduct an Audit & Audit Trail Report
Recordkeeping helps ensure that processes are operating fluently and all participants are abiding by food safety standards/procedures. Performing an audit is another preventative measure that helps avoid contamination and other foodborne illnesses.
Every machine, technology, piece of equipment, and system should be reviewed as part of an audit. Make sure to pinpoint inefficiencies or regular bottlenecks that continue to arise. Utilize the data collected by any monitoring tools as part of the audit to see which areas of logistics need the most improvement.
Audit trails are a system that documents all of the information related to food transport. Keeping records of past audits or other relevant materials can help protect the company in case a food safety issue arises.
In short, the organization should do everything possible to protect itself and make improvements where needed. Utilizing audits and audit trail reports are essential components to improve food logistics and a company's reputation.
In conclusion, here are the top food logistics tips and points to remember-
- Making certain that food items arrive safely and on-time is one of the more challenging aspects of running a food-related operation.
- Managing logistics efficiently helps prevent foodborne illness, contamination, waste, loss, or a damaged reputation.
- Top tips to improve food logistics include utilizing monitoring tools, sterilization, proper education, and performing an audit/audit trail.