In the midst of all the pandemic chaos, companies in just about every vertical industry have been forced to make hasty fallback choices of material suppliers — suppliers that usually haven’t been vetted as closely as their primary sources. The result of this was that a lot of companies found themselves waking up to learn that their traditional source of a core ingredient suddenly became unavailable. It could have been the result of a natural disaster, process defect, labor shortage, transportation outage, a rupture in their own supply lines or some other reason.
Particularly in the case of food and health industries, whose products are ingested by consumers, the material variations between suppliers — even for the same ingredient with the same specifications — are real. And with a growing number of consumers on specialty diets or experiencing acute allergies, those food item details can make a huge difference to their health. The way a material item has been handled along the length of its journey before being introduced into the plant’s material flow can have a tremendous impact on its quality. As a result, producing companies are forced to deal with levels of process variability they’ve never experienced before.