Using technology to create stronger foodservice supply chains

Steve Millward, General Manager at Bakers Basco looks at some of the latest innovations that are helping to drive closer monitoring of equipment within the supply chain.

Baskets

A supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link and it’s imperative for any business to ensure that their systems are closely monitored in order to detect, assess and rectify any problems to avoid a domino effect.

If one cog in the constantly turning wheel of delivery and distribution were to shut down – or be removed entirely – the interruption can be felt throughout the chain. So what can be done about it?

The cost of loss of equipment through theft and unauthorised abuse can run into millions of pounds across the year – something no business wants. And that’s not just in terms of the replacement cost, but also through the effect on operations that the loss of the seemingly most insignificant of products can disrupt. Few industries are hit harder by this than the baking sector, and arguably nowhere else is the source of the problem such a surprise. The humble bread basket is the unlikely target of repeated theft that has blighted bakery business for years. Perpetrators come from both inside and outside the industry, costing bakers across the UK a small fortune through loss and disruption – the bread basket is a key part of the supply chain.

Lucky then, that technology has opened up new means of tracing and tracking items as they pass along the supply chain. Such innovations can prove crucial to driving efficiency and cost savings, at the same time addressing key requirements such as sustainability.

As one of the buzzwords for the foodservice industry over the next 10 years, transparency is key – and that is closely linked with traceability. Both are crucial to maintaining an effective supply chain, and it’s particularly important to know exactly where your equipment is at any given time, as well as having the ability to react and respond to any issues or anomalies in real time.

Technology such as GPS location tracking can be a huge help. Using GPS to track assets is allowing bakers to monitor the movements of their equipment in real time via a mobile app and internet portal. If equipment is tracked outside of its authorised supply chain, then bakers can respond quickly by taking the necessary recovery steps.

“The use of tracking technology says that the chances of abusers being detected increases with the innovation,” said David Howlett, Managing Director, Fine Lady Bakeries & member of the Basco scheme. “Losses have gone down as a result of this single piece of kit.”

Attrition has been a tremendous issue for bakers for many years but now, thanks to technology, the ability to efficiently crack down on the loss of returnable transit packaging in the supply chain is no longer just a dream, but a reality.

To date in the baking sector, this technology has only been applied to equipment, but for bakers – and across other industries, too – it also has huge potential on the operations side of the business to help improve the logistics model overall.

By Steve Millward, General Manager, Bakers Basco

About Bakers Basco

Bakers Basco was set up by five of the UK’s leading plant bakers in 2006 to buy, manage and police the use of a standard basket for the delivery of bread to retailers and wholesalers. The company currently manages a pool of approximately three million Omega Baskets, which are used by bakers including Allied Bakeries, Fine Lady Bakeries, Frank Roberts & Sons, Hovis and Warburtons to deliver bread to their customers. Find out more at www.bakersbasco.co.uk.

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