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Leveraging technology to build a resilient dairy supply chain

June 16, 2023

Authored by RSM Canada LLP

Cynthia MacKenzie, CPA, CA, MBA shared this article

ARTICLE | June 16, 2023

A resilient dairy supply chain is one that can withstand disruptions and continue operating at or near capacity. Dairy products are an essential part of many people’s diets, and any interruptions in the supply chain can have serious consequences for consumers. Strong relationships with dairy farmers and other key partners can help ensure that everyone is working together to minimize disruptions. Given the disruption the world has gone through in the past few years, and the uncertainty that still lies ahead, everyone has put their focus on building more resilient supply chains.

Dairy end-to-end supply chains

As consumer preferences have changed over the recent years, the dairy industry has seen a direct impact. The oversupply of milk is one major issue, which has led to decreased prices for farmers. This is largely due to increased production efficiency and evolving consumer preferences. In addition, the extended dairy supply chain starting at the farmer and extending to the processor, distributor, retailer and finally the consumer needs to be able to withstand disruptions and continue to operate at capacity while following the tenants of quality and food safety.

These additional challenges to an already complex industry emphasize why having visibility into the full supply chain in real time has become a critical factor to be able to act quickly if an issue arises and if possible, in a proactive manner. This is where technology can fill a current void and help capture data during the process as it is generated, connect the data in a centralized view to create real-time visibility and generate both warnings as well as automate actions to quickly address any identified problems.

Microsoft’s newly introduced Supply Chain Platform is doing exactly that. It connects data from different parties in your supply chain to create a centralized control center. Built on top of the Power Platform, a rich framework allows you to create custom workflows, reporting views and integrations to your existing systems.

Safe supply chains

When we talk about a safe supply chain, a multitude of areas come to mind that need to be considered. In this article, we won’t be focusing on food safety—look out for an article later in this series on that— but instead, we focus on other critical questions, including: 

  • Are we safe from an inventory perspective?
  • Are we safe from a technology perspective?
  • Are we setup to handle any supply chain disruptions?

Considering the first question, it is no longer a safe strategy to rely on tribal knowledge and how things always have been done. Utilizing technology is now imperative to capture data from within your organization and utilize it to support the demand planning process to have enough inventory and capacity available in case of a disruption. Having that visibility allows your company to react and provide effective communication when a disruption does occur.

Utilizing a modern ERP platform like Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance & Supply Chain or Business Central are important tools to store, analyze and process inventory data to plan for appropriate inventory levels. Beyond that, powerful machine learning/artificial intelligence-based tools are available that utilize that same data in the ERP system to better predict what the future holds and where your organization may have blind spots to keep the supply chain moving.

By introducing new technologies to support the business, connecting with new suppliers and enabling employees with work from home or enhanced mobility policies, cybersecurity is becoming even more of a critical topic. Bad actors traditionally have focused on other industries, but with many food and beverage companies stepping deeper into the technology world, and the lag on investments in that space, a unique opportunity has emerged for them.

Utilizing a cloud-first strategy, Microsoft brings a unique suite of solutions to the table that are integrated, secured and allow you to interact with customers, suppliers and employees in a frictionless way.

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