by Susan J. Wilkinson Smarter Food Supply Networks, IBM Global Business Services
Counting your chickens before they hatch has always been something moms and other wise pundits counsel against, but when you’re the British Columbia Egg Marketing Board, you have to.
The Board, which manages the supply of the 816 million eggs produced in British Columbia (BC) each year, is now using advanced business analytics from IBM to capture, integrate and analyze production and inspection data from more than 130 egg producers to determine when to add or replace chickens and scale production to meet seasonal demand. Now they instantly know how many baby chicks they need today to meet the demand for eggs 36 weeks from now, as well as how well individual producers are performing against provincial averages. Eventually, they will even be able to pinpoint the flock a particular egg came from in the event of a disease outbreak.
Previously, the Board was managing data via an aging system comprised of a patchwork of spreadsheets, disconnected solutions and manual processes, rendering the ability to access reliable, current data and gain insight difficult if not impossible. Now real-time production data from all farms is captured electronically, providing a current view of supply across the entire province and enabling the Board to perform complex calculations involving chick maturation and egg-laying life-spans to determine the number of chickens needed to meet demand, and scale hatchery operations accordingly.
Data relating to egg safety and other inspection criteria is also collected and entered into the system by on-site inspectors via tablets, a process improvement that has helped the Board reduced inspectors’ workload by 66 percent, and netted $100,000 in annual savings.
The economic benefits of applying better visibility across supply chains could be huge, when you consider each year, $15 trillion is lost as a result of inefficiencies from wasted products in the global supply chain. In addition, there is $1.2 trillion globally in excess inventory stockpiled in supply chains.
Perhaps equally beneficial is the transparency these types of systems create, and the resulting ability to enhance or reestablish trust with consumers. The growing number of product contaminations and recalls and excessive claims by manufacturers has significantly heightened consumer concerns about food safety and eroded consumer trust.
In fact, consumers and governments now hold brand owners fully responsible for everything related to their products, and the rise of social networking tools enable consumers to uncover actual or perceived practices and create a public relations crisis within a few hours.
These systems offer not only the ability to respond to food safety legislative requirements for record-keeping, but can also validate the certifications of food marketed as Organic, free range, or Kosher and help prevent damage to brand or corporate reputation caused by taking too long to identify and remove contaminated product from store shelves.
Increasingly, consumers are demanding more and better information about the safety, origins, ingredients, processes, and practices relating to the food they buy. Consumers want to make purchase decisions based on their specific needs and values, i.e. allergens, carbon footprint, sustainable agriculture, or fair labor practices.
The example provided in BC shows how, beyond compliance and risk mitigation, a great many other business benefits can be enabled through visibility across the extended supply chain. These benefits create quantifiable business value—value that could pay for traceability systems and get stakeholders on board.
Some content from this blog post was originally published by foodlogistics.com