Global Food Chain Visibility: Icicle ERP Traceability Software Creator Featured in Food Engineering Magazine
How do you solve the data traceability problems associated with a global food supply chain? Wayne Labs, Senior Contributing Technical Editor for Food Engineering Magazine, recently asked that question in the recent article, “Tracking Distribution Through Data: Who Should See What?” Labs interviewed Icicle Technologies Founder & CEO Steven Burton for his insights into the technological challenges – and opportunities – for new traceability solutions, including Icicle ERP traceability software.
Practical Solutions for the Global Food Supply Chain are on the Table with Traceability Software API Integrations
Traceability continues to be top of mind for the global food industry. Food and beverage manufacturers connected to the US supply chain are required to track and trace thousands of Key Data Elements (KDEs) to comply with new regulations like FSMA Traceability Rule 204. The Food Engineering article includes interviews from a wide range of software providers, all focusing on the importance of building a complete traceability chain and closing data gaps and silos along the way. Burton, who comes from a software development background with over a decade experience in the food industry, focused on the practical impacts of different strategies and technologies. Above all, he emphasized that the “one-step-forward-one-step-back” approach is a solid foundation to build from rather than a limitation to be overcome.
“What we’re lacking most is a mechanism to capture only the portion of the traceability chain, only when we need it,” quoted Labs in the article. Rather than try to create a giant repository of data for the whole supply chain, Burton pitched another, simpler option: “Everyone in the supply chain should be required to maintain their supply chain information in a standard format and expose it using a standardized application programming interface (API) available to regulators—and only regulators—on demand.”
The opportunities posed by APIs, which allow unrelated software systems to communicate with one another, are underscored by the recent news from the USDA and US FDA. The Food Engineering team pointed out that the USDA has announced that they will make recalls and public health alerts available to any software developer through an API. Labs wrote that “The API will act as a bridge, allowing software developers to leverage FSIS recall data to create new value-driven products for consumers or incorporate them into existing digital services and mobile apps.”
With this information easily integrated into Icicle ERP traceability software features, recall and alert information can be shared instantly and easily across the food supply chain. The US FDA announced similar plans for recalls and alerts in the food and beverage industry (and pharmaceuticals) under the project openFDA. In Canada, recalls and safety alerts from Health Canada, Transport Canada, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are now available through an API as well.
GS1-Compliant Barcodes and Scanning Capabilities are Affordable Traceability Software Tools for the Global Food Industry
One of the main tools supporting the argument that APIs are the way to go is the affordable and widely available barcode technology that is already harmonized in the GS1 global traceability system. Labs quoted Burton again: “The great thing about GS1 barcodes is that they are very affordable and practical to implement, as are the scanners and label printers necessary to use them. With them, you can create a seamless flow of information that can be passed onto your carriers, customers, etc., as well as pulled from your own suppliers if they use the GS1 system, too (regardless of what other technologies they employ). That data flow doesn’t have to be entered manually or involve complicated operations—just simple scanners that are already useful for inventory management and generally improve logistics workflows, eliminate human errors and boost efficiency.”
Icicle ERP’s integrated traceability software solution can connect all aspects of food manufacturing from food safety and quality to production and maintenance to procurement and sales to transform the profitability of growing food businesses. In addition to opening the door to traceability excellence, the key point for manufacturers is that their own data is as valuable for their business decisions as it is to regulators.
Burton’s insights into the feasibility of blockchain technology for food industry traceability were also highlighted at the end of the article in a section titled “Blockchain for Product Tracking? An Alternative View.” You can read his entire comments on LinkedIn or in the Food Engineering article.
How Will the Food Industry Take the Next Step to Data-Driven Technologies?
“While software interconnectivity can be achieved to its fullest, Icicle’s Burton suggests it still comes down to people,” Lab wrote. Burton noted that “organizational change is 60% of any technology initiative; if workers aren’t in the habit of recording data, it’s really hard to change that culture. You need to sell the workforce on adopting new ways of doing things, and the best way to do that is to make their job easier. That’s what we do, we try to improve worker’s day-to-day lives.”