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How to Prepare for Food Recalls with Tablet PCs and Traceability

The key to traceability in any supply chain is immediate access to detailed information.

Tablet PCs are the key to data capture, storage and retrieval that enable traceability.

Nowhere is that more meaningful than in the food and beverage industries. The number of food recalls is increasing. They’re even more frequent than might appear from the number of broad-scale incidents that make it to the national press. The public has developed a very strong interest – and increasingly higher expectations – regarding food safety.

In fact, a full 40% of American and British consumers say their food choices are driven by concerns about safety.

The problem is exacerbated by globalization of production and distribution of both fresh and processed foods. Since food recalls are now seemingly inevitable, everyone is anxious to improve tracking and tracing. As a result, we’ve seen increased government regulation as well as specific industry initiatives and requirements regarding quality and traceability.

Tablet PCs are as mobile as the food itself.

rugged tablet pc warehouse supply chain food and beverageThey provide the portability and versatility necessary for companies throughout the food supply chain to implement and adhere to the latest best practices. That’s essential, because time is a critical factor in food recalls.

Traceability requires ability to gather detailed data, integrate technologies and synchronize data collected by a variety of partners along the supply chain, obtain proof of delivery and streamline distribution and transportation to support real-time visibility. The bottom-line result is quick, effective response if the event of a recall.

Tablet PCs enable officials to communicate alerts faster and earlier. And they give you the ability to respond immediately. That can help protect you from damage to your reputation as well as food handling delays, both of which can be costly. As a side-benefit, tracking can also help ensure freshness by keeping things moving from field to consumer quickly, thereby reducing the potential for waste caused by decay.

Tablet PCs, especially those ruggedized for demanding working environments, are the perfect tool for the job, at every stop along the supply chain. Equipped with pertinent integrated features, they can be used to:

  • Instantly capture and upload data.
  • Retrieve customer account information and invoice details.
  • Electronically collect proof of delivery, signatures and payments.
  • Print invoices or receipts.
  • Support bar coding that substantially reduces the number of error-prone human touches and speeds processes.
  • Use GPS-enabled mapping to verify or modify routes.

Being fully prepared for food recalls requires integrated technology that supports a seamless flow of information among supply chain partners. That makes it easier to incorporate best practices and improve control throughout supply chain. And it improves everyone’s ability to keep up with evolving technology, processes and regulations.

Synchronized data allows creation of a central database everyone can instantly access. Capturing more detailed data enables better preparedness, with information such as Global Trade Item and lot numbers, expiration dates, production dates and GS1-128 labeling. But it also provides corollary benefits such as more dependable accuracy.  

Electronically capturing proof of delivery further substantiates traceability by making it easy to follow any shipment from warehouse to customer. With thorough data capture and instant availability, traceability becomes simply a matter of reversing the tracking process.

Preparing your operation in advance will allow you to handle food recalls quickly and effectively rather than allowing them to turn into a damaging crisis. You’ll also create productivity efficiencies that help keep total cost of ownership down and profits up.

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