During a routine quality check, a large brewer and packager noticed imperfections in a number of bottles set for distribution, which can result in possible glass in a drink. After learning of the issue, a swift recall was implemented, creating delays and consumer concern. In the food and beverage industry, the quicker the response and resolution, the greater the odds of ensuring safety and retaining consumer confidence in a brand’s reputation.
To prevent or mitigate issues like this in the future, the brewer turned to Siemens for its turnkey Blockchain-based Trusted Traceability Solution to expedite future recall scenarios throughout the brewer’s extensive supply chain (Figure 1).
Figure 1: There are many phases and steps required to grow, manufacture, process, package, and distribute product, and these procedures often occur over vast geographical expanses. Therefore, automated tracing and tracking solutions are invaluable to maintain organization and the ability to respond promptly in the event of a mishap. Image courtesy of Siemens
Beginning the effort, Siemens implemented a proof of concept to demonstrate the solution’s use of Blockchain technology, empowering the brewer to capture data across multiple facilities. It also leverages the cloud-based IoT platform, MindSphere, to display timeseries data in an intuitive interface.
The primary objectives for the new solution were:
- Reduce time to identify glass bottle defect sources;
- Refine data accuracy to optimize “safety margin” in recalls;
- Lay a foundation for upstream and downstream supply chain transparency initiatives.
After implementing Siemens’s Blockchain Trusted Traceability technology, the brewer experienced measurable improvements, including:
- Time reduction – impacted product tracking, which required 8 to 12 hours before, now only takes minutes;
- Resource reduction – previously, an impacted product search required five different operating teams, but it can now be completed by a single person;
- Recall reductions – the average direct cost of a recall is $9.5M, and the impact on sales and reputation is an estimated $50-60M;
- Highly reliable data accuracy – the recall product “safety margin” is now decreased by 25%.
The brewer’s previous traceability procedures were primarily manual with a high risk of human error, data housed and handled in spreadsheets, and communication discovery conducted via phone or email. It took an average of 8-12 hours for a stock-keeping unit to track the location of impacted product using the old methods, but with automated correlation of inputs and outputs in the new Blockchain-based Trusted Traceability Solution, product location feedback is nearly instantaneous. The proof of concept was so effective, the brewer is looking to expand and integrate the new technology throughout its supplier and distributor networks as well.
Over the years, Siemens has developed trust and rapport with its customers like this brewer, becoming more than an individual problem solver, but an advisor to help address business challenges with tailored solutions. As data is generated, managed, and communicated from sensor to edge to cloud throughout a supply chain with Siemens’ Blockchain-based Trusted Traceability Solution, security and integrity are fully built in, creating a reliable and transparent end-to-end solution (Figure 2). Additionally, the solution is machine vendor-agnostic, empowering data digitalization regardless of the manufacturer of equipment on each production floor.
Figure 2: The Siemens Trusted Traceability Solution uses Blockchain technology to securely and reliably aggregate data from multiple sources to create context and supply chain insights. Image courtesy of Siemens