Grower and Harvest Management: Streamlining via Tech

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Food manufacturers who process commodities from growers face a unique challenge in procurement and supply chain management not seen in most manufacturing environments.  Whether it’s tree nuts, produce, or grains, any company that is dealing with grower and harvest management and/or seasonal product cannot forecast in the same way as other industries – specifically, mother nature will often dictate when and how much product they can purchase!  Of course this risk is mitigated through crop projections and advanced farming techniques; however, to stay ahead of the curve, there are a couple of key things these companies can focus on to be successful:

  • Streamlined Inventory Receiving
  • Automated Grading and Reconciliation
  • Real Time Visibility to Growers

Receiving

Increasing throughput at a seasonal processing facility all starts with the ability to receive product as quickly as possible – the quicker trucks can be off-loaded, the faster the truck can return to the field.  To accelerate the receiving process, there are a couple of key steps an organization can take:

  • Weigh items via integration to truck scales so that quantities can be captured in bulk
  • Distribute lot and quantity data to bins/totes as a single step to streamline traceability
  • Bulk management of goods

Grading

Once the product has arrived, the next step is to understand the quality of the product that has arrived.  These quality grades will guide key decisions including: Payments to Growers, Processing Sequence and Food Safety Requirements.  Whether completed by an outside laboratory or internal QC specialists, the faster this data can be captured electronically, the sooner the organization can react and process the lot.  To successfully capture this grading data, processors are:

  • Capturing this data at the point of receipt through mobile devices (Tablets/Phones)
  • Link photos directly to test results
  • Implement a review and approval process ensuring data accuracy

Grower Portal

Finally, providing visibility to the receipt quantities and grades is key feedback to those managing the fields. This is most easily done through an online portal that provides access to inventory counts of the received goods. Not only does this data provide the calculations for payments, visibility to this information facilitates:

  • Real time improvements by farming operations to improve quality in harvest and transport
  • Acquisition of additional growers and brand visibility
  • Reduced time spent by office and production teams in communication during the busiest time of year

Implementing a single solution to manage the Receipt through Grading and Grower Visibility is key to those companies managing a commodity purchase/harvest as they often get one shot per year to get it right – inaccuracy in a crop can lead to a problem for many years to come. Grower and harvest management can be tricky – but by integrating some of the technology-driven approaches above, processors can drastically reduce the risks while still maintaining operational efficiency.

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