When you sit down to dinner at night with your family, you may be thankful for many things, but good TMS software (Transportation Management System) is probably not one of them. We all recognize the importance of providing our families with fresh and nutritious food; and often, we probably think it is up to the government to ensure that our food is safe and free from contamination. In reality, the FDA determines the guidelines but we count on our network of food distributors and carriers to implement and maintain the necessary systems for successful compliance; and the best in class distributors rely on world class TMS software.
Under the FDA, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law by President Obama in 2011; the goal of FSMA was to create a series of rules to proactively secure our food supply from contamination. The proposed Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food Rule is the last in this series and is focused to, “prevent practices that create food safety risks, such as failure to properly refrigerate food, inadequate cleaning of vehicles between loads and failure to properly protect food during transportation. Specifically, the proposed rule would establish requirements for: vehicles and transportation equipment, transportation operations, information exchange, training, records, and waivers.”
The FSMA establishes the responsibility for food safety within every link of the supply chain. A Transportation Management System can help to simplify the processes and ensure compliance without risking exposure or adding labor to monitor and collect the necessary data.
Once a transportation provider has been approved by meeting the necessary criteria and has signed the transportation agreement, then the TMS software, with profile options, can run carrier selection based upon various routing guides and ranking. Shippers tend to have multiple products with different temperature types, often with certain fruits or vegetables impacted by ethylene gas or requiring icing or other special handling instructions. A transportation optimizer can then perform routing and selection by customized business rules. Some of the optimization options may include constraints for weights, packaging types and allowances for on-time performance or most economic routing. Once a carrier has been selected, the TMS software ensures that all providers remain compliant; contract management and certificate/insurance validation will monitor and maintain current files.
Post-carrier selection, the TMS software handles the tendering process via EDI 204 or web interface and with solid business rules in place, the system can provide exception management with appropriate warnings flagged for immediate review. Administratively, streamlined document imaging tagged to each shipment tender will help maintain the records for the required information exchange of prior cargos, equipment washing and temperature control. Whether transportation is outsourced or controlled with an in-house fleet, these practices are in place to secure food safety every step of the way. The FSMA requirements for ensuring food safety via sanitary transportation are much more detailed; but a TMS solution is a good first step to quick compliance and ease of transition.
Donna Del Rosso, the Managing Director of Halo Logistical Group, provides consulting services for business planning, organizational development, sales strategy and process improvement. Complementing 20+ years of industry experience with a MBA, CSCMP’s SC Pro certification and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Donna has focused on serving retailers, food distributors and manufacturers with both dry and perishable supply chain/business solutions. http://www.linkedin.com/in/donnadelrosso