Product Data Management 4.0 – The Importance of Digital Transformation for QM in the Food Industry

Do you know the biggest adversary of digitization? He is white, can weigh tons and usually needs a lot of space. We are talking about paper. Many food companies continue to rely on manual and paper-based data storage and product data management (PDM). This is neither sustainable nor able to meet the requirements of Industry 4.0 and thus Product Data Management 4.0. But it is precisely these digital requirements that are essential for every company that wants to survive in the long term. It’s time that PDM evolved into PDM 4.0. What that means, read in this article.

Industry 4.0 – what is it?

The fourth industrial revolution, the “next big thing”, a future project. Industry 4.0 has many faces that describe a specific process: the intelligent networking of machines and processes in industry through new information and communication technologies. There are many different ways for companies of all industries to use this intelligent networking. In the automotive industry, they are assembly robots, in the logistics industry self-propelled forklifts, in the energy sector technologies such as smart homes. The digital transformation makes it possible. It is a trend that has also arrived in the food industry and is reflected in Product Data Management 4.0.

In the end, Industry 4.0 and Product Data Management 4.0 have one overarching goal: to achieve greater efficiency in the industry while at the same time conserving resources. The key technology to achieve this is the Internet. It already enables machine-to-machine communication, the Internet of Things (IoT). This makes processes in industrial production faster and easier. And that benefits the end of the profitability of a whole company. More flexible production, optimized logistics, resource-efficient circular economy and the use of data are the biggest advantages of digital product data management 4.0 – also for the food industry.

What does Product Data Management 4.0 mean for the quality manager?

For food companies, the quality manager plays a crucial and vital role. He is responsible for ensuring that a manufacturer meets the ever-changing demands of the markets while complying with all legal requirements, standards and internal processes. To be able to guarantee this, a quality manager must know his company as well as all associated processes and procedures from the ground up. This also applies to product data management. Due to the digital transformation, this is even more complex and comprehensive than before. Classic IT solutions of the PDM disappear and make space for new technologies. This creates other potential savings and a more optimal distribution of added value is possible. This in turn fosters low complexity costs and higher productivity as the overall margin increases. Quality is given a whole new definition – and product data management 4.0 has to ensure it.

For the quality manager, product data management 4.0 therefore primarily means bringing together the quality assurance of “his” products with new business models and successfully introducing and implementing new test and acceptance criteria in the company. Here, digital transformation supports it with technologies that enable faster, more accurate and more efficient work.

That’s why nothing works without product data

For food companies, it’s about securing market share and staying competitive and sustainable. No question, any competitor can always be faster, offer cheaper goods and spread them wider. But what matters in the end is not just the mass. At some point, quality is about quantity. And this is where Product Data Management 4.0 comes in. After all, the customer or customer of all manufactured products ultimately decides on the economic success of a company. And with the digital transformation, quite a few customers have evolved.

Demanding accurate, accurate and highly detailed product information is commonplace for buyers today. Especially the new consumer group of the so-called Millenials attaches great importance to a transparent access to all information. They want to know exactly where their food comes from and what ingredients hide in them. In order to access the relevant data, this consumer group mainly uses the digital channels of the Internet. Whether it’s simple websites or apps that scan QR codes, this is a major challenge for the food industry, as it is not about a few goods, but about thousands of products.

These product data must be made available to users and customers at the right time, in the right place and in the right language. There are also third-party platforms, such as Amazon or mercateo, which require industry-specific specification standards (e.g., BMEcat or GTIN). The increasing number of distribution and communication channels does not make that easier. In order to keep track of the challenges in this jungle, it is advisable for food manufacturers to rely on Product Data Management 4.0.


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