When it comes to mobile data capture devices, there are probably two areas where we could all think of this technology being used. The first is in general industry; factory floors and warehouses where handheld devices are used to keep a tab on units being manufactured and products being stored. The second ‘natural home’ is the supermarket, where we regularly see barcodes being scanned on shelves or at the checkout.
There is, however, one sector relating to production and consumption where mobile capture technology is of vital importance – the food and drinks industry. Rather than being a ‘nice to have’ add on, the ability to accurately capture and use data is a business essential. There are a number of reasons for this, all relating to TRACEABILITY.
Here we’ll look at 3 main areas of importance – Contamination, Counterfeiting and Confidence.
Looking at each in turn, the need for true diligence in production which becomes very apparent: –
- CONTAMINATION – Most of us can probably remember at least one scandal where food products had to be recalled due to them containing either physical or bacteriological matter with potential to do harm. A recent case relating to hospital sandwiches, unfortunately resulting in deaths, clearly illustrated the importance of traceability. The complexity of the food chain means that there are many stages, including collection, processing, transport, storage and preparation. There may be numerous companies and a huge number of people involved so, if a recall is required, the ability to refer to data accurately collected at each point in the journey can reduce time, cost and potential risk.
- COUNTERFEITING – One crime never far from the headlines is the selling of counterfeit goods – passing fake products off as the genuine article. Sadly, the likelihood of corners having been cut and safety standards having been ignored means that the goods can be hazardous to health. Commonly we hear about alcohol scams, as there is much profit to be made by avoiding duty and switching ingredients, however recently there have been many stories relating to the illegal slaughter of animals and the introduction of the resulting meat into the human food chain. With risk to health, and of course profits at stake, the huge benefit of mobile data capture for genuine producers is very obvious.
- CONFIDENCE – Consumer confidence is key within the food & drink industry. When reputation is tarnished, sales fall and it is difficult to get things back on track. The horsemeat scandal was just one in a series of setbacks suffered by the meat industry, coming at a time when many had just recovered from the BSE, swine and avian flu outbreaks. Consumers are now more concerned than ever about the traceability of their food and the provenance of ingredients, so the ability to reference every product back to source, and through its journey to plate, is one which boosts confidence and ultimately also justifies additional production cost.
The three areas highlighted above explain why the power of mobile data capture is increasingly being harnessed within the food sector. The availability and functionality of the technology is also a significant factor in its rapid uptake.
If you would like to learn a little bit more of exactly how you could achieve diligent control and total traceability within your own processes, then speak to PLM Global. We are experts in hardware, software and application and can help you choose exactly what is right for you.
For more details please get in touch.