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Inside Retail & Centric Software

PLM is removing compliance bottlenecks for FMCG companies: here’s how

(Source: Centric Software)

As the regulatory environment globally becomes increasingly complex for food and consumer goods companies, many are embracing modern solutions such as Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) to streamline the compliance process and bring products to market faster.

Formulated products such as food and beverage or cosmetics and personal care items are highly complex to produce, generating reams of data and requiring teams to be agile and collaborative to get products to market on time.

Graham Jones, sales director ANZ with PLM software pioneer Centric Software, explains that PLM can provide up-to-date regulatory information in one centralised platform, while providing tools for recipe formulation with automated calculations (of costs, nutrition values, etc), specifications management, regulatory compliance checks, supplier collaboration, ingredient, allergen and nutrition declarations, artwork proofing and timeline and workflow management, driving the efficient creation of safe product portfolios.

“PLM allows teams to focus on developing exciting new product innovations rather than be bogged down by routine daily tasks such as data entry, collecting supplier responses and entering changes to ingredients that affect multiple products,” he says.  

“One of the largest food manufacturers in Australia has almost 50 people manually managing compliance paperwork for supermarkets and checking data. PLM can eliminate all of that work,” says Jones. 

As such, PLM can save a fast-moving consumer goods company as much as 35 per cent of their administration costs. 

PLM can be deployed to plan, design, develop, source, price and sell products in almost any retail category – and it is especially invaluable in the cosmetics and food & beverage industries, where regulatory compliance is required. It can be used throughout the entire life cycle of a product, from conceptualisation, planning, and pricing, through to compliance, labelling and inventory management and ultimately – if necessary – market phase out. 

SPC overcomes complexity

One food manufacturer, Australian giant SPC Global, last July selected Centric PLM to drive efficiency and growth in its business after evaluating digital transformation solutions in product development and further across its operations. 

From an IT perspective, SPC found Centric PLM to be preferable not only for its software and user-friendly interface but also for the underlying technology, such as Rest API, which enables full and seamless data integration with the company’s ERP system, said an SPC spokesperson.  

A key area where PLM is delivering compliance efficiency in the food industry is with the new Product Information Form Version 6 (PIF V6) adopted by the Australian Food & Grocery Council which allows companies to aggregate all the information about a product and share with retailers – such as ingredients, nutritional information, weight, packaging, and how the food should be handled. Previously this all had to be manually entered by staff of manufacturers and supermarket clients – now the PIFs can be electronically exchanged. 

“Imagine if you are a large manufacturer with 200 or 300 products and you have 500 PIFs going out and maybe 1700 to 2000 PIFs coming in from your suppliers – managing all those PIFs requires a team of people because of the manual nature of updating and checking the information regularly,” explains Jones.

“But with PLM software, you can automate that process, which is a huge saving in time, accuracy and resource costs.”. 

How PLM eased Mecca’s compliance challenge

Cosmetics retailer Mecca might operate in a different category to SPC, but the company’s challenges are similar – monitoring compliance of multiple ingredients and labelling regulations with hundreds of global beauty brands it works with.  

“Relying only on spreadsheets to keep track of ingredients and claims slowed us down. We needed a solution that could manage all our compliance documentation in one place,” explains David Cumberland, GM of risk and compliance at Mecca.

“We decided to introduce Centric PLM so that we could store all the information from our brands in one place, knowing it was accurate and up-to-date at all times.”

That means that teams at Mecca no longer need to manually look up product information and compliance documents – because everything they need is right at their fingertips thanks to PLM.

“Our reporting requirements are important to make sure we’re prioritising the wellbeing of our customers and staying on top of the latest regulations. As we grew as a business, doing this manually started to take up a lot of time. PLM simplified this process for us and ensured our data was accurate and traceable back to each individual product,” says Cumberland.

The result: Mecca’s teams have saved time, improved processes with brand partners, sped up the compliance process and streamlined new product introductions.  

Trial without error

The benefits of PLM reach further than achieving compliance. For example, any company might trial a product, discover it is not commercially viable, and abandon the project. Several years later, a similar concept might be mooted again and if PLM has been deployed, it is easy for the R&D team to access detailed information as to why the idea failed the first time, avoiding costly, repetitive mistakes. 

Ongoing supply chain challenges and fluctuating raw material prices often necessitate manufacturers to swiftly substitute ingredients. PLM takes away the need to manually identify and alter each product affected by an ingredient change. Teams can automatically identify recipe bills of materials impacted by such ingredient changes, delivering rapid and complete control over updates.

“By totally automating all the time-consuming processes involved in streamlining compliance, automating spreadsheet-intensive tasks and reducing costly human errors, companies can enjoy huge savings in resources – and improve accuracy – by deploying PLM,” concludes Jones. “That’s the business case of PLM software solutions.”

To learn more about the advantages and case studies of using PLM in the fast-moving goods industry, download Centric’s whitepaper “7 Brands and Retailers Embrace Digital Transformation for Sustainable Growthhere.

  • Silicon Valley-based Centric Software provides an innovative product concept-to-launch platform for manufacturers, brands and retailers of all sizes in the food and beverage industry, food service and grocery retail sectors. Centric Software works closely with customers to achieve more efficient project management and safer product development, execute a competitive retail and product strategy, increase agility, speed time to market and get closer to consumers, resulting in maximised revenues and margins.