Resource Roundup: Top 10 Blogs, Webinars, & More from 2020

Brian Sharp
Contributing Writer

The Food & Beverage industry proved its resilience in 2020, perhaps more than any other time in history. Here at SafetyChain, we watched as companies overcame enormous pressures to keep shelves stocked and employees healthy in the midst of ever-evolving CDC updates and guidelines. While safety and agility have always been critical to success in the industry, COVID-19 called for quick thinking when supply chains were disrupted, as well as an even stronger commitment to safety - both of our food and employees.

As the months pressed on, many companies not only survived the pandemic but actually thrived in spite of it. We’ve been inspired by the creative solutions companies have deployed to keep operations running smoothly, from using our tool for employee screenings to leveraging mobile forms for safety checks. As always, we wanted to share these valuable insights and ideas not just to help our customers, but to promote success across the industry. Here are some of the resources our customers, partners, and prospects found most helpful this year.

Food & Beverage Companies Adapt in the COVID Era

By now, we have a firm handle on the best practices for controlling the spread of COVID-19 across Food & Beverage facilities. Back in March and April, however, there was tremendous uncertainty around how the virus could impact food safety and the supply chain. As time went on and safety measures were successfully enforced, the shift focused to business stability. With COVID-19 demanding so much attention this year, it’s no surprise that the following was among the most popular webinars of 2020.

1. The Economic Impact of COVID-19 on US Food Manufacturers

In late spring, food economists Laurian Unnevehr, Ph.D. and Dawn Thilmany, Ph.D., shared their projections on how COVID-19 would impact the food industry financially. Being that we’re only several months out from their original forecast, their insights are still relevant today.

Watch the webinar here.

Compliance Challenges Persist  

In 2020, compliance continued to be a high-level priority for Food & Beverage. Many companies have several programs to satisfy, including GFSI, FDA, and customer requirements. Here were the compliance-related topics that drew the most attention throughout the year.

2. The Magic of Internal Audits

Audits help satisfy regulatory expectations, ensure compliance, and support continuous improvement. They’re useful for driving a number of key outcomes, and when implemented correctly, they could even help your company become more productive and profitable. Yet, they’re among the least favorite activities within the Food & Beverage industry. One of our most popular webinars of all time, our January presentation was led by food safety and quality expert Jeff Strout of Merieux NutriSciences, who shared mistakes, insights, and advice on internal audits.

Watch the replay here.

3. A Guide to GFSI Compliance & Certification

Our November blog takes a deep dive into GFSI certification, including what it entails and the benefits of becoming certified. It also offers guidance for selecting the right GFSI standard for your plant and a step-by-step guide to acquire and maintain certification.

Read the blog here.

4. Remote Audits: Adapt and Advance with Digital Certification

COVID-19 made traditional audits risky. Plant managers understandably want to limit any outside personnel entering their facilities; plus, social distancing requirements mean auditors couldn’t stand over operators’ shoulders for a close look into activities. Food companies need a way to audit their suppliers to continue controlling risks, without compromising social distancing guidelines. Our webinar walks you through the remote auditing and digital certification processes to conduct effective assessments from afar.

See the webinar replay here.

The Industry Prepares for the FDA’s New Traceability Rule

The FDA released the FSMA Proposed Rule for Food Traceability in September 2020, which will put new requirements in place for companies that handle any of the 16 items on the Food Traceability List. Audiences were eager to see which foods make the list and what the requirements will entail, so it was to be expected that the webinar on the topic would have been one of the most heavily attended of the year. There’s also a blog you can read for a quick recap.

5. The FDA Traceability Rule (webinar)

This FSMA Friday presentation details the upcoming changes that will be in effect once the traceability rule passes, including proper practices for documentation and tracking any foods on the traceability list. 

Watch the FDA Traceability Rule webinar here.

6. A Guide to the New FDA Traceability Rule Requirements

Get a quick recap of the proposed rule in our blog if you don’t have time for the full webinar.

Read the recap here.

Food Manufacturers Seek to Learn More About Their Plants

There’s a wealth of data being produced in food manufacturing plants every day. Yet, there are still hurdles to becoming more data-driven. For one, paper-based data capture is inefficient and bogs down operators. It also introduces the risk of human error. For another, once that data is collected, it often gets filed away without being analyzed and leveraged for strategic decision making.

Food & Beverage manufacturing leaders are increasingly looking towards analytics to help them drive continuous improvements. They know it’s possible to use data to their advantage, but are often unsure of where to start. Here are a few of the resources we published to help manufacturers unlock the value of their data.

7. 5 Key Performance Indicators for Food Industry

Key performance indicators (KPIs) measure success across a range of areas, including safety, quality, yield, and productivity. These metrics give plants fodder for goals and benchmarking, but are only effective if they’re analyzed regularly and that analysis is actually used to guide decisions. Use our guide below to look at the most popular KPIs for the food industry, as well as an infographic featuring a KPI checklist.

Read the list in this blog.  

8. A Guide to Conducting Root Cause Analysis in Manufacturing

In July, the FDA recommended using technology for root cause analysis (RCA) and predictive analytics in their New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint. This allows companies to identify the reasons behind problems and efficiencies faster and more accurately. One of our most popular blogs this year outlines the whys and hows of using implementing software for more precise, powerful RCA.

Read the blog here.

Executives Start Planning for Plant Management Software

Managing facilities from afar with work from home arrangements, remote audits, and an increased need for smooth operations: these COVID-related factors all had executives in Food & Beverage and CPG thinking about plant management software more so than ever. Even when COVID-19 is a distant memory, however, the need for plant management software won’t subside. Paper-based systems, spreadsheets, and point solutions simply can’t collect and interpret information in a way that helps leaders make strategic decisions to drive continuous improvement.

We created the following resources for CEOs, CFOs, and other decision-makers to guide them through the process of calculating ROI and identifying opportunities for improvement in their plants where technology can help them excel.

9. ROI Guide

Understandably, executives need a firm grasp on the hard-dollar savings plant management software can deliver. Our guide offers typical cost savings you can expect to see, so you can simply plug in your plant’s numbers for a tailored calculation.

Download the ROI Guide to Plant Management Software

10. The Executive Guide to Plant Management Software

What challenges is our plant facing that software could help you solve? Which features should a platform have to solve them effectively? How do you choose the right provider for your needs, and once you’re ready, what are the best practices for implementation? Our in-depth guide answers all of these questions, offering checklists, savings calculations, step-by-step guides, and more.

Read more about the Executive Guide to Plant Management Software here.

Another bright spot in an otherwise tough year was our Customer Summit in October that yielded great product training, thought leadership, customer success stories, and much more. What we learned most from that incredible day-long event was how resilience powered so many of our customers through one of the toughest years for CPG Manufacturers, and humbled that so many trust SafetyChain to drive improvements across compliance, quality and production.

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