From paddock to plate – getting food to consumers should be seamless, but unfortunately it is often spoiled by recalls, missed use-by dates and costly mistakes. To improve a product’s journey, CompuSoft Australia has come up with a solution that allows businesses to make the most of their produce and avoid being wasted, by using a software management system.
CompuSoft developed FoodSoft – an extension to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central – which is designed to give food suppliers, manufacturers and distributors the insight they need to operate efficiently. It can replace several existing systems, and give businesses an easy, centralised way to manage their processes.
FoodSoft tracks produce, ensuring the right goods are delivered to the right company, and alerting clients to food that is nearing its use-by date. The company’s head of sales, Stephen Tritton, said the system helps distributors buy bulk food that is then split up and sent to customers, including restaurateurs and supermarkets.
“What these businesses presently have, are systems that do not track increased stock arriving. They do not track use-by dates or batch numbers. But batch numbers are becoming more important with HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control points).”
Tritton uses an example of a baking facility that could have a scenario where a batch of dough becomes contaminated. If this happened, manufacturers of the biscuits, and stores stocking the products, need to be able to recall an item as fast as possible, he said.
FoodSoft would help find the products affected by the contamination, while leaving uncontaminated biscuits on shelfs, rather than having to remove them all if no secure tracking systems were in place. “Most food distribution businesses don’t have the ability to track. Managers and owners can easily collate the information they need to meet regulatory requirements and ensure quality control and traceability – right across the business.”
Similarly, if the wrong product gets delivered, CompuSoft’s software will inform the recipient immediately, which minimises wastage and costs, said Tritton. “Let’s say it’s frozen goods – quite often what happens is when you don’t have our system you take all the stuff off the truck. You then put it in your warehouse where you wait for the invoice to arrive. You then check the invoice and realise it’s the wrong product. Often at this stage, the supplier would not take products back as they do not know whether the frozen goods were stored correctly during the time it took to realise there was an error,” he said.
“Our system counts and receives items as they arrive – identifying immediately that the wrong items have been delivered.” FoodSoft enables customers to determine, at a glance, what’s happening across the business at any point in time. Suppliers can use “batch and lot” tracking to easily recall products. This is enhanced by features such as damaged stock controls.
FoodSoft can also help manage product distribution by tracking the use-by date to ensure the oldest goods get sent first. “There’s a lot of waste that happens from not doing this,” said Tritton. The system warns staff when things are getting close to getting to the use-by date.
Swapping manual orders for an online system
Many cafes and restaurants order goods from distributors manually, but the process would be easier, for all parties, if the distributor had a good online platform in place, he said. Often with manual orders, the distributor does not have a record of which flour or oil a company orders, which can slow down service when an employee must look through records to find the right product for that restaurant, said Tritton. Businesses can empower their staff by providing them with the right information to make the right decisions, at the right time. The system promotes smarter decision-making. “Our system will show the products that a client regularly buys. It also allows the client to order electronically. That removes a lot of time wastage and errors.”
Error-prone data entry is eliminated by automating and simplifying key processes and enhancing control – for example, by offering pantry lists into which clients can simply input quantities. With connected, streamlined data, everyone can access the information they need, when they need it.
One system for all
The cost of implementing FoodSoft is usually absorbed in the first year, as businesses are switching to an automated system and can cut on staff costs, said Tritton. “Let’s say order entry people cost $50,000 per-year, per-person. If you can get 20 per cent of your orders in electronically, through apps and e-commerce, you can hire two less people. That’s a huge saving year-on-year. Our system will be paid for in the first year,” he said.
“The main reason it’s based on Microsoft is that it’s a worldwide mature platform. It integrates with Office 365. It’s easy to transition to because the average person is used to using Microsoft products. Being a Microsoft product, it works across all platforms, including Apple. It talks to other systems seamlessly.”
CompuSoft also trains staff so they get maximum use out of the software, said Tritton. This can be done outside of work hours to ensure minimal disruption to a business. CompuSoft staff work with companies to ensure they use the features that will most benefit their business.
The team at CompuSoft has over 30 years’ experience in helping businesses in the wholesale food, manufacturing and distribution sector in Australia and New Zealand. The company is a Microsoft Gold Partner and staff specialise in creating innovative solutions based on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central platform.