Complete tracking of products and ingredients is a must for any scale of meat processing operation. Along with being prescribed by E.U. Regulation 178/2002, it is typically also stipulated in contracts between suppliers and their customers. Such tracking essentially involves documenting the processing and manufacture of meat products from start to finish, thereby enabling the corresponding authorities to quickly remove any harmful items or raw materials from circulation if necessary. End-to-end batch management thus plays a key role: Ideally, this is completely electronic and integrated into a company’s flow of goods. ERP software provides the necessary technological foundation, mapping all goods movements and their corresponding batches within an operation – from goods receipt, production, and cold storage to picking and delivery.
Seamless batch management required
The software generates batch numbers directly in a data processing system, whether for finished products (spreadable meats, for example), semiprocessed ingredients (sausage meat, spice mixtures), or raw materials (fresh meat, sausage casing, spices). It automatically assigns a number to each incoming good and maintains the number on both semifinished and finished products through all subsequent processing steps, including carving, preparation, curing, aging, and packaging. After every production phase, the system creates a batch number for each new item based on the previous product’s number. In carving, for example, workers separate fresh meat into various unfinished elements, each of which receives its own batch number. The system thus generates “negative” bills of material: Instead of combining various ingredients into one product – a common occurrence elsewhere in food production – the meat processing industry first takes a single article (an animal) and turns it into several intermediate components.
A number for every ingredient
Unfinished products kept in cold storage until further processing also receive a batch number. Subsequent combinations produce further semiprocessed goods, which are also assigned new numbers. However, they also take on the characteristics of their respective output batches. As a result, it is possible to determine which components make up new intermediate products at any time – such as in the case of an uncured, uncooked sausage and the pork, beef, bacon, salt, spices, and casing that went into its manufacture.
Seamless, integrated batch management is now a standard function of ERP software for the food production industry. The FOODsprint solution developed by cormeta ag, for example, includes a batch cockpit that provides a clear overview of all goods movements and their corresponding batches on a single screen. This makes swift responses possible if necessary: Users can immediately create standard letters to all customers that have received products from a certain batch.
Batch management in the background
The FOODsprint cockpit is easy to use, determining a delivery’s batch number upon its receipt and providing processes that are configured to spare the user any additional effort. For instance, while many other solutions require manual input, FOODsprint automatically associates individual recipe components with one another and documents all further processing of these raw materials. This creates a type of “batch tree,” which the cockpit also displays. It is thus possible to track goods in any direction: Users can precisely determine both the origin of individual meat products and where and how they were processed further. In doing so, they can define which batches they wish to see on-screen. Meanwhile, all documentation of the processing in question runs constantly in the background.
Proof just a click away
With the FOODsprint cockpit, cormeta has developed an innovative procedure that goes above and beyond the meat processing industry’s certification standards in many respects. Any size of meat processing company can, with minimal effort, guarantee the highest possible product quality and safety. This type of safety cannot be measured in dollars: FOODsprint can, for example, enable a butcher shop or other meat producer to prove that it was not responsible for a contaminated batch and thus not liable to pay for possible damages. The necessary documentation is available at the click of a mouse.