The Supply Chain Mapper system is being introduced by food industry software specialist Qadex and has been a year in the making. It allows users to map their supply chain – from farm to fork – and share these maps with their customers, thereby assisting with full ingredient traceability and risk assessment.
The platform enables users to achieve full supply chain visibility for multi-component processed foods, collaborate and share data with multiple customers, and manage site and product profiles. Once updated, it can be shared with any number of customers and sharing settings can be changed at any time.
The product can generate extensive reports and analytics showing the status of all outstanding requests and clearly shows with which customers users are sharing data.
Qadex managing director Stephen Whyte said the product avoided the complex charging structures of rival services and was simpler to grasp and navigate. Charges involved in the free flow of data across the supply chain were also being used as an excuse for withholding data, he claimed.
“Charging has become an obstacle to supplying data. What we have done is remove that obstacle. There’s now no reason why a supplier can’t supply data unless they are unwilling. Those who are unwilling get a red flag and that becomes part of the risk assessment.”
Users simply register on the site, set up their solution, add their product details and request supply chain maps from suppliers at the click of a mouse. The system handles the rest.
“It’s one tool in the toolbox, not a panacea for all ills,” Whyte told Food Manufacture. “The first phase is going live this week, the next goes live later this year.”
Following registration, users are automatically enrolled in Qadex’s Training Academy, which gives them free access to extensive training materials and frequently asked questions.
Supply chain maps enable ‘chain of custody’ mapping, in which users’ full supply chains can be seen in chronological view or map view. A zoom function allows users to focus on supplier locations and countries of origin.
Whether they are procuring ingredients directly or through agents and brokers, the system enables users to drill down to storage locations, right back to individual farmers and fishing vessels.
“It gives you transparency, so you can see what’s coming from where,” said Whyte. “There are so many angles [from which] they need to be looking at supply chain data. The big challenge is how you use that data to identify the highest risks, but ultimately what you have to do first is get the visibility.
“Once you have that you can then ... say, ‘right, we can review our supply chain around, say, modern slavery …’.” Users could interrogate data from suppliers from countries where modern slavery was prevalent and use the system to flag up potential risks, he explained.
Data could be exchanged and made visible quickly using the system, so decisions could be made on current, rather than outdated, facts, said Whyte.
“The system gives transparency, then we have enterprise planning solutions that will pull in the data and do a risk assessment and highlight where you need to focus on food safety, ethical or sustainability issues.”
The results of site audits conducted anywhere in the world could be viewed instantly on the system and enable suppliers to respond quickly to regulators and the media on an emerging issue, he said.
Most of the modules in the basic Supply Chain Mapper package are designed to be free to use by all tiers of the supply chain, from farmers to retailers for up to three years. After that time, full data sharing would become subject to reasonable charges. Optional extra services could also be added by users at a cost, said Whyte.
Planned additional functions include a facility to manage customer compliance data for the EU’s Food Information for Consumers Regulation and a tool to update site certification and assurance status and share this with customers.