Posted by Selerant on Sep 26, 2018

The 2018 North American User Conference kicked off yesterday at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego! Global experts from R&D, IT, Regulatory, and other groups at top food companies converged to share best practices around the theme of “Growing Innovation."

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Keynote speaker Barbara Ruhs discusses the intersection of consumer health and wellness choices, retail changes and product labeling.

Top Innovation Trends

Presentations from Selerant users and food experts explored emerging international opportunities in product innovation, how these trends are impacting system design, collaboration and business processes, and how manufacturers can mitigate these changes efficiently within a complex global product lifecycle.

Innovation in Health and Wellness: Reacting to Consumer Needs

Keynote speaker Barbara Ruhs, M.S., R.D.N, kicked things off with a discussion on how food manufacturers can closely align with modern consumer wellness choices. With natural products and transparent labeling a mainstay in supermarkets, Ruhs said manufacturers have new opportunities to closely partner with dietitians working at the retail level, noting, “What’s good for consumers and what’s good for business is true now more than ever.”

Terry Howell, Executive Director of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Food Processing Center, mirrored this sentiment with an illuminating talk on current sustainability and food security research. By using PLM to identify and maximize the use of resources and improve supply chain coordination, Howell believes food manufacturers are uniquely positioned to help address the 30% average loss rate in the global food supply.

Innovation in Implementation: Tackling Complex Corporate Structures

Increasingly, manufacturers are relying on out-of-the-box PLM abilities to react quickly to changing competitive strategies while innovating across the supply chain.

New Avon's Director of New Product Development Ryan Shea described how an acquisition drove his team to achieve an 8-month PLM implementation. Identifying minimally viable projects, focusing only on legacy inputs that affect downstream systems and limiting customization were critical to this timeline. “This wasn’t a short-term project for short-term gains. Selerant was the right mix for us of rigidity and flexibility,” he said.

Jimmy Bookstore, VP of Product Development at Brown-Forman, showed how Devex’s precision created a competitive advantage when moving into emerging markets. By using one system to manage multi-layer formula traceability, internal groups can all work together to compare the profitability of product lines, respond to questionnaires, manage exclusions and more.

Ghirardelli’s Director of Industrial Performance & Project Management Caspar Mulder presented a unique use case of how to create a single shared PLM instance across three competing subsidiary chocolate companies. Harmonizing a complex web of list values, data structures and user roles was greatly aided by relying on flexible out-of-the-box user access and workflows to reduce customization time.

Innovation in Collaboration: Leveraging PLM as a Common Language

PLM isn’t just an idea or project repository; food manufacturers are increasingly using Devex as a single point of truth for cross-functional collaboration.

Kim Garrett, Product Lifecycle Manager at Lindt & Sprüngli chocolatiers, outlined how to turn a disorganized innovation process into a standardized procedure across Marketing, Safety, QA and more. She noted, “PLM isn’t going to do our jobs for us or come up with ideas for us, but it will give us the rails to do it in a systemized way.”

Using Devex as a cross-functional tool between R&D and manufacturing facilities also reduced costs, data redundancies and bottlenecks at a large protein manufacturer. “It’s critical that we can define very descriptively in a way that our team members can understand the product and process. It makes a big difference in our finished product attributes and our yields,” said the brand’s Associate Director of FSQA Technical Services.

Continental Mills showed how Selerant’s data analysis provided a standard framework for tracking internal inefficiencies and implementing a process-enabled culture. Senior Manager of Process Quality David Alexander said that Devex’s search and reporting abilities offer critical insight into where ingredients live in numerous levels of use.

Selerant’s Professional Services Director Lucio Pieroni demonstrated how a confectionary company transformed 30 subsidiary companies into a cohesive transnational corporation by using PLM as a common language for specifications, raw materials and recipes. Each company can now talk about their products in a standardized way and analyze how to transfer manufacturing between facilities and countries in a matter of hours.

New Selerant Innovations

Conference attendees also received a comprehensive overview of how Selerant itself has driven PLM system innovation in 2018.

Selerant COO Sunil Thomas outlined Selerant’s leading accomplishments in 2018, which included the launch of the new Selerant global brand identity, a larger library of thought leadership publications and appearances at industry conferences, and participation in the London Stock Exchange Elite Program.

Solution Manager Neil Brooke recapped the latest features launched in Selerant 3.6 and 3.7, such as the enhanced user interface, visual label creation, optimized regulatory data collection and more interactive formula changes.

Paul Cegles, Selerant PPM Director, provided a detailed dive into Selerant’s Business Process Re-Engineering framework. He demonstrated how Selerant’s Professional Services group can perform formal gap analysis of current processes, model more efficient innovation processes and map them into to existing Devex functionality.

Stay tuned for new recaps as the conference continues! All conference presentations will be made available on the Selerant website shortly following the conference.

Topics: Food Safety, Specification Management