4 Misconceptions About Traceability Technology
By iFoodDS Team
August 22, 2022
Many supply chain participants are hesitant to adopt traceability technology, citing a range of concerns from cost to complexity. Some companies will continue to keep paper records even as FSMA Rule 204 is finalized. However, the limitations of paper recordkeeping make it difficult to fully comply with the rule, especially the requirements to create electronic records within 24 hours of an FDA request.
iFoodDS has been deeply involved in the industry conversation around traceability, FSMA Rule 204, and technology. We’d like to present the 4 most common misconceptions we hear about traceability technology and show how you can gain a return on your investment.
1. Traceability Technology Is Too Costly
Technology can be a major investment, especially for small to mid-sized food companies. On top of this, you may already be working with multiple vendors to fulfill your customers’ requirements. Many organizations are hesitant to sign up with yet another vendor and add to their expenses.
This leads to the misconception that traceability technology is simply too costly. However, solutions are available at different price points. Also consider the benefits you’re receiving with the platform and how they can offset other expenses like the clerical cost of maintaining, storing, and retrieving paper files.
Navigating FSMA Rule 204 is an additional cost in terms of time and resources. Traceability vendors can help offset some of these resource costs by providing training and support during and after the implementation process.
Lastly, companies need to weigh the risks of noncompliance with FSMA Rule 204 against the cost of technology. Penalties under Rule 204 can include hefty fines and potentially harsher consequences.
2. There Isn’t Enough Return on Investment to Justify the Cost
When it comes to evaluating a technology investment, cost is only one half of the equation. Return on investment (ROI) is also crucial. A common pain point for the industry is being required to invest in certifications, tools, and technology that simply assist in compliance with industry regulations rather than offering something more. This leads to a perception of technology as a burdensome cost of doing business.
A good vendor will offer you a solid ROI for the solution they provide. This could be cutting other expenses, saving you time and resources, improving overall efficiency, or directly increasing revenue. Consider these ways a traceability solution could benefit your organization beyond FSMA compliance:
- How many hours does your team currently spend on data collection and recordkeeping? What is that time worth to you?
- How much more could your team accomplish with an efficient labeling and data collection workflow?
- How would a faster recall response impact your bottom line? What if you could prove in minutes that your products were not impacted by a recall?
- What if you could quickly identify which growers/suppliers are providing the Key Data Elements you need to record your own Key Data Elements? How would that impact your overall sourcing decisions?
A good traceability solution will provide these key benefits and more. Comprehensive digital platforms have the advantage of placing the data at your fingertips through online dashboards and reports. This reduces the time and effort it takes for you to access Key Data Elements and trace products.
3. Technology Will Be Too Difficult to Use and Disrupt Our Current Processes and Workflows
The complexity of some of the solutions on the market can be daunting. Some companies turn away from technology completely due to this perception that it is too difficult to use. However, iFoodDS has seen many traceability systems that are straightforward and user-friendly. Some systems use familiar tools like mobile devices to make the solution more accessible for employees. For example, iFoodDS offers its pallet level traceability solution through a mobile app. Any vendor you choose should also provide training during the initial set up and ongoing resources and support afterwards. This will alleviate the burden of learning new technology.
Another common concern we hear is that technology will disrupt the current workflow since it requires employees to learn a new system and adapt the way they accomplish their tasks. While there is some truth to that, we’ve usually seen the opposite results in the end. Technology often makes your workflow more efficient, even if that requires changes up front.
Look past the initial transition period and consider how a new platform will impact your processes in the long term. Think about how much time and manual effort is currently required for everyday tasks, versus how much time and effort technology could save you.
If you implement a technology solution, you should be continuously evaluating the impact on your organization. Often, there is a brief learning period and then employees settle into the new workflow. Once your team has ramped up and is comfortable with using the new technology and processes, you’ll be able to reevaluate how time is being spent.
Traceability Testimonial: OP Murphy
As an example of how traceability can enhance your processes, we’d like to share the experience of one of our clients, OP Murphy and Sons. Janie Huerta, Food Safety Product Monitor for OP Murphy, spoke about how her team has benefitted from the iFoodDS traceability system: “We decided to work with iFoodDS because we wanted a solution that used up-to-date technology, but was easy to use and not too costly. It needed to be easy for our packing facility team to learn and use, without affecting productivity. By combining traceability with food safety, and passing along vital information to our distributors, we can be confident that they will always have the freshest, most wholesome products to sell to their customers.”
4. My Data Won’t Be Stored Securely
Where Do I Start?
If you’re considering a digital method to capture Key Data Elements, you’ll quickly find there are a multitude of traceability vendors in the marketplace. The first step is to ask yourself what features and capabilities you’ll need. Next, determine your budget and also set some target metrics that define return on investment. Determine which vendor will help you meet key goals in your organization.
If you’re interested in learning more about iFoodDS’ case-level, pallet-level, and full supply chain traceability solutions, contact our team for a free consultation.