In this interview with CIO Applications, Selerant’s CEO Carlo Colombo, and CTO Jacopo Colombo discuss how they help food and beverage companies cater to today’s informed consumers through their PLM solution Devex, and how Devex guides these companies through the full process—from ideation to manufacturing through to distribution.
What are the biggest challenges that the food and beverage industry faces today?
As one of the most heavily regulated industries, the food and beverage industry has a granular focus on product development. Moreover, the industry is comprised of multiple segments, and in-depth domain knowledge of each of these segments is crucial for a business to be successful. Looking deeper, the regulations for creating a product are defined based on the end product. That is, regulations differ based on whether a brand plans to develop a beverage for adults, or a new instant formula for babies, for example. While each product has to go through a complex manufacturing process, regulatory requirements add to the burden. In addition, multinational food and beverage companies willing to operate in many countries face manifold challenges. The major obstacle is to align with the unique regulatory requirements of the individual markets in which they want to operate. The compliance measures are incisive in many advanced markets where new food products are verified and validated down to the ingredient level.
To overcome these operational predicaments, companies aim for a single, centralized PLM solution that allows them to be compliant with all the regulatory requirements. A multinational company with several lines of businesses within the food and beverage space, for instance, expects the PLM solution to be agile and flexible enough to handle different products in diverse ways. We also see a growing demand for the centralized management of various back-office business functions.
Due to limited control over data sources and the use of multiple development tools such as paper-based systems and spreadsheets—brands are exposed to the danger of mislabeling products, which can lead to product recalls. have complete control over the data sources, they need an integrated PLM system that guarantees a single source of truth.
Inside the food and beverage industry, compliance is inseparable from every stage of the product lifecycle. Our PLM solution stands for this challenge. We have blended our 30+ years of experience in the industry with our best-of-breed solution that promulgates best practices establishing, fortifying, and streamlining unique business and product development process needs of our clients. We have the right mix of talent and expertise, including software developers and experienced industry experts who have worked for food manufacturers for many years.
Our solution allows firms to conceptualize every stage of product manufacturing and understand the implications from the compliance perspective
Another factor is environmental sustainability. Most companies ignore sustainability until the product enters the market. With our solution, clients can understand the possible environmental impact of a product when the product is in its design stage. You can simply start developing an experimental product and immediately visualize the environmental sustainability data, like usage of energy and water. With this information, manufacturers can calculate the environmental footprint of their product and ensure the ingredients and packaging meets the standards. This ability is important, as brands are keen on securing their image and are cautious about non-compliance across markets, especially in this age of social media where consumers are quick to offer feedback, both positive and negative.
Could you highlight a few client success stories that highlight the value of your Devex PLM solution?
One of our customers, a large global consumer products goods company, sources ingredients from multiple suppliers and countries. Being able to drill down by country, ingredient and cost analysis is imperative to not only know which formulas are in use but to also quickly tailor production strategies to be as cost-efficient and compliant as possible. This company uses the full scale of Devex PLM to track limits on ingredient usage by market. The decision may be driven by regulatory, economic, climatic, product type, or a combination thereof.
In another instance, we helped a multi-national cosmetics company consolidate legacy business systems into a more agile operation. We integrated all of the systems into just one, including the tools for ideation (spanning new product development and portfolio projects) and validation projects. We also implemented robust systems that they could use to develop product formulas and manage compliance. They could also generate labeling, manage packaging component specifications, and integrate all the information into their manufacturing system, JD Edwards.
What lies ahead of Selerant?
We aim to further expand into regions such as North America, Europe, Australia, India, and China and also the Asia Pacific region. We invest heavily in R&D and continually reshape our PLM solutions in terms of technology, functionality, and ease of use. We are working in the areas of AI, machine learning, and natural language processing to bring about new possibilities in automated compliance management and labeling.