Formulation software is critical to a food manufacturer’s PLM process. It performs roles that ERP, CRM and MES systems can’t do effectively for food & beverage. Mainstream PLM systems are not designed for food. They lack critical functions specific to our industry – meaning you still end up using spreadsheets as work-arounds. Their configuration is often too inflexible for the fast-moving nature of regulations and emerging risks in the food industry.
Product Lifecycle Management means different things to different people, but in general, it refers to the overall process for bringing products to, and maintaining them in, the marketplace. Key elements are systems to design new products, manage suppliers, manufacture products and market them.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems take care of the sales side of things. Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) and Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) normally handle manufacturing, finance, planning and ongoing supplier management. But these systems do not tend to handle the supplier and ingredient onboarding processes or recipe development well enough for food manufacturers.
Enter formulation software
What does formulation software do and how does it link to other PLM systems in a food manufacturer? You may or may not have mapped the formulation development lifecycle for your organisation, but it probably looks something like the diagram below. Your formulation software should standardise and speed this process up across your organisation.
The Formulation Development Lifecycle
It performs the following roles within your organisation.
- Manage suppliers from a technical point of view
- Collect and approve raw material and packaging specifications
- Speed up and drive compliance in product development
- Ensure what you make (your BOM) is compliant
- Create and control product technical information, such as specifications and pack copy
Common interactions with other PLM systems are:
- Receiving codes, descriptions and costs from the ERP or Master Data Management system
- Sending BOMs to the ERP or MES systems
- Sending technical pack copy or label data information to the artwork management system
- Sending technical requirements for new raw materials and packaging to the purchasing system