The Food Inspectors Story – Data is the New Commodity

The problem: Improve quality control data collection and reporting
The industry: Food & Agribusiness
The solution: Industrialised tablet running custom Windows software synchronising data to server
The value-add: A new marketable product: data verified industry expertise and insights

Of all the many projects we have taken on in 2017, this one with a quality auditor client within the food and agribusiness industry has been one of our favourites. Thankfully, the food & agribusiness industry is heavily regulated and requires significant compliance overhead. If it weren’t, the odds would be greater that the next juicy fillet you order with your favourite red would not be quite as sumptuous as you imagined.

For years our client has successfully provided service to his large food processing customers through site inspections on the factory floor. However, recent times have changed and the demand for better information about audit results have driven them to build a system that inspectors can use to record results, on location, in real-time.

Over a 6 month period, designed, built, tested and implemented a system across multiple sites throughout Eastern Australia running on industry toughened touchpads that allow factory based auditors to record results with one or two screen touches. At the end of every shift, data is extracted from the device and collated at a centralised server for automated reporting.

On the surface, this appears to be the end of a simple story. Reports were needed, and an IT system was implemented that provided reporting. Great story.

Of course, there’s always more to an IT story than that. After a couple of months of operation, and a considerable pile of data had been accumulated, our quality auditor client began to share with us what they already understood about their business: They were uniquely positioned to provide industry insights to their clients, suppliers, and peers; they just needed the data to back up what they already knew.

From the data collated, our client is now potentially able to report back to factories on the effectiveness of their processes and training compared to their peers. They are able to report to individual farmers on the prevalence of quality issues in their produce vs. other farmers. They are even able to advise industry regulators on the geographical prevalence of issues (eg. detection of a disease outbreak in Tamworth) and whether locality based legislation may need to be adjusted to accommodate.

And so phase 2 of the digital transformation project has commenced. Armed with a new commodity, data, systems are being extended to include improved automated reporting tools and Business Intelligence dashboards to take it to market.

Just like that, the food & agribusiness quality assurance business has never been better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *