It’s official, food and beverage manufacturing SMEs are among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, but EDI paper-to-digital solutions could be instrumental in their fightback.

Research by specialist business bank Aldermore shows food and beverage manufacturing firms have, on average, lost 52% of their turnover during lockdown. This compares to an all-sector average of 34%.

And with further trading and supply chain uncertainty around a potential no-deal Brexit, an impending global recession and a feared second wave of Covid-19, food and beverage manufacturers must ensure their operations are shockproof if they are to survive and prosper.

The good news is that Electronic Data Interchange (EDI solutions) can quickly and safely deliver a raft of benefits for struggling food and beverage producers, including simplifying processes, aiding compliance, speeding up payments and strengthening embattled supply chains.

What are EDI paper-to-digital solutions?

EDI for food and beverage manufacturing is a mature technology, which enables producers to work with suppliers and retailers much more efficiently and at a significantly faster tempo.

It enables manufacturers to swap error-prone systems based on double-keyed data, paper, email and spreadsheets in favour of cutting-edge computer-to-computer system integration.

Thanks to EDI solutions, business-critical documents (such as purchase orders, invoices, bills of lading, shipping information and inventory documents) can flow directly from one company’s computer system to another’s, automatically with little or no human intervention.

How can EDI solutions help food and beverage manufacturers?

The need to strengthen cashflows and cuts costs, without impacting product quality, will be key factors in the survival of food and beverage producers in the weeks, months and even years ahead.

At a time when sector revenues have been halved, EDI solutions can accelerate the “order-to-cash” cycle for hard-pressed food and beverage manufacturers, strengthening all-important cashflows, while speeding up dispute resolution, cutting order lead times and automatically flagging up rejected invoices.

EDI solutions also drive significant cost savings thanks to paper-to-digital automation. This enables food and beverage manufacturers to reduce significant back-office labour costs and re-deploy valuable admin personnel to other business-critical areas.

The fact that EDI paper-to-digital is cloud-based means food and beverage manufacturers enjoy a single, real-time view of business-critical data. For example, there is no more waiting to retrieve vital information about an order number or production date in the event of a recall. All the data a manufacturer needs to trace a product all the way through their supply chain is at their fingertips.

EDI solutions deliver real-time insights

With volatile supply chains and rapidly changing retailer/consumer demands, successful manufacturers will need this real-time, cloud-based insight if they are to optimise operations, identify problems before they escalate and capitalise on new opportunities the moment they arise.

Food and beverage wastage can also be reduced, saving money, thanks to granular lot tracking. Origin tracking can also be added to determine the exact farm and field a specific product came from, allowing food and beverage manufacturers to quickly and accurately isolate ingredients which may pose a potential health risk.

Benefits such as these not only increase the agility and efficiency of food and beverage manufacturers. They also ultimately enable producers to increase capacity, handle higher volumes and generate more profit.

Sounds great, but where’s the catch?

Surely, as the old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it?”

But the sad fact is, the conventional, disconnected and fragmented protocols for sharing business-critical data between trading partners have been broken for decades.

Growing numbers of food and beverage manufacturers have already realised this, adopted EDI paper-to-digital solutions and gained a significant competitive advantage over their peers. The food and beverage manufacturers who cling on to antiquated paper systems risk missing out on growth and efficiencies at a time when opportunities may be few and far between.

Some producers may initially discount EDI because value-added network (VAN) costs can be high, unpredictable, and difficult to manage. The answer is to choose a provider that doesn’t base their pricing on VAN charges in the first place.

This means manufacturers are not charged for every individual message or document transmitted across your trading network. This makes it easy to manage costs even when trading volumes increase.

Food and beverage manufacturers can also reduce risk to zero when switching to an EDI solution by setting up and fully testing their new system in a live environment before turning off the old system.

Put simply EDI is a low-risk way to automate complex data flows, help producers stay compliant and allow them to focus on efficiency, growth, innovation and product rather than paperwork.

If you feel you would benefit from Paper-to-Digital EDI from Transalis, why not talk to us? You can reach us on 0845 123 3476 or go to EDI Product Bundles

EDI Bundles from Transalis