BPM Business Process Management is a management discipline that aims to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and agility of business operations. It focuses on identifying, designing, implementing, optimizing, and monitoring business processes to achieve the organization’s strategic objectives.
- defining workflows;
- standardizing procedures;
- using technologies to automate and integrate business activities.
The manufacturing industry faces process management challenges similar to those encountered by service-based companies. However, one significant difference in the manufacturing sector is that a large part of the activity relies on machines, not just human tasks.
Nevertheless, this does not hinder the use of BPM tools. On the contrary, BPM tools, in addition to automating processes, offer great connectivity to software and machinery underlying industrial activities.
Industrial companies must cope with increasing competition. Digitization is, therefore, necessary, and to remain competitive, it is essential to have tools that enhance flexibility and productivity. This advantage is beneficial at all levels of industrial activities.
BPM allows orchestrating both human and machine processes, ensuring global consistency, regardless of the type of task. BPM tools can also improve the customer experience by providing dedicated interfaces, and reporting is crucial for an industrial company to consult its indicators at any time to optimize its business strategy.
The benefits of BPM BPM Business Process Management
Increased Efficiency: By identifying and eliminating bottlenecks, duplicated work, and inefficiencies in business processes, BPM business process management can help improve the overall efficiency of a company’s activities;
- Greater Flexibility: BPM business process management provides companies with the flexibility needed to respond instantly to changing consumer demands and market situations. This allows companies to adapt quickly to new opportunities or threats and maintain competitiveness in a dynamic market environment by evaluating and optimizing their business processes;
- Enhanced Customer Experience: BPM business process management enables companies to better understand their customers’ requirements and expectations. By mapping customer journeys and optimizing touchpoints, businesses can deliver personalized and consistent outcomes that increase brand loyalty and customer satisfaction;
- Better Risk Management: BPM business process management helps organizations identify and manage risks in their operations by identifying potential risk areas and implementing preventive measures where necessary.
- Regulatory Compliance: BPM business process management assists companies in ensuring compliance with necessary legal and regulatory standards, maintaining the reputation as a responsible company and avoiding penalties.
BPM business process management in food production
In companies producing food products, monitoring the production processes is of paramount importance for several reasons.
Firstly, the food industry is subject to stringent regulations and standards to ensure the safety and quality of products intended for human consumption. Monitoring production processes helps companies comply with these regulations and maintain high production standards. Through detailed recording of production activities, the path of products along the supply chain can be tracked, facilitating traceability and enabling rapid responses in case of contaminations or quality issues.
Secondly, process monitoring enables companies to identify and correct inefficiencies and wastage. Data collected during production can be analyzed to identify areas for improvement, optimize workflows, and reduce production times. This not only increases productivity but also lowers operational costs, contributing to overall profitability improvement.
Additionally, process monitoring ensures consistency in production. In the food industry, maintaining consistency in final products in terms of taste, appearance, and quality is crucial. Monitoring processes allows detecting any deviations from specifications and implementing timely corrections to ensure consistency and customer satisfaction.
Food safety is another critical area benefiting from process monitoring. Companies must be able to quickly identify potential sources of contamination or risks to product safety. Continuous monitoring helps prevent or mitigate potential problems before they can cause significant harm, safeguarding the brand’s reputation and consumers’ trust.
Process monitoring also enables effective quality management. Detecting anomalies or variations in production allows for immediate corrective actions to maintain high-quality standards. This is particularly critical in the food sector, where even small deviations from standards can have significant consequences on consumer safety and brand perception.
Implementing process monitoring systems also fosters transparency within the company, promoting communication and collaboration among different departments involved in production. Sharing information and data enhances understanding of the entire production process’s needs and encourages collaboration to achieve common objectives.
In summary, BPM Business Process Management and process monitoring are fundamental in manufacturing companies, especially in the food sector. These practices lead to operational improvements, ensuring regulatory compliance, enhancing production efficiency, guaranteeing food safety, maintaining consistency in production, managing quality effectively, and fostering internal collaboration.
Investing in these strategies can lead to significant competitive advantages and market leadership, contributing to the creation of safe and high-quality food products for consumers.
BPM business process management in food production: a use case description
The project involves automating phases related to the production process and information management of a well-known Calabrian company operating in the agri-food sector. The company is market-oriented, and its success is attributed to its history (the family has been involved in this activity since the 1500s), product quality, and brand identity built over the years through significant investments in marketing and communication.
The company’s strategic goal is to provide greater reliability to its customers through the introduction of:
- effective mechanisms for product traceability and certification;
- predictive data analysis.
It also aims to introduce automatic user profiling and social advertising strategies while optimizing production processes.
The manufacturing structure includes a series of plants and equipment that combine tradition and craftsmanship with the need for mechanization and product standardization. Various CNC machines are present in different company departments, providing control and monitoring capabilities throughout the production process.
The main phases of the factory’s production cycle include:
- Receiving and analyzing raw materials: The company selects and acquires locally sourced resources, subjecting them to quality analysis. If the results meet the standards, the subsequent phases of the production cycle proceed.
- Storage: Raw materials are stored in designated areas awaiting processing.
- Product processing: This phase involves activities such as cutting and shredding, extraction and settling, concentration and cooking, and pasta processing with possible flavoring additions.
- Drying and polishing: The product undergoes drying and polishing processes.
- Packaging and warehousing: The final product is packaged and stored.
- Shipping: The finished products are shipped.
As part of Industry 4.0, appropriate techniques for product traceability and certification were studied, covering the entire production process from raw materials to the final product. The project focused on designing methodologies for data integration, storage, and analysis, including classification and prediction techniques relevant to the company’s marketing efforts. Specialized techniques for production process optimization were also proposed.
The project aimed to improve the identification and traceability of raw materials, semi-finished products, and final products, as well as the entire production process, using blockchain technology. The blockchain, originally developed to support cryptocurrencies, found applications in eliminating intermediaries and enabling peer-to-peer interactions among untrusted parties.
For product traceability, the various actors in the system (raw material suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, sellers, consumers) are peers with conflicting interests. The blockchain serves as a distributed ledger where all have copies of data, validated through cryptographic functions, with an append-only mode ensuring that data can only be added and not modified. Data is validated and unified through consensus algorithms.
Currently, product traceability is incomplete, as the indiscriminate storage of raw materials does not allow them to be correlated with batches of finished products. Implementing blockchain allows managing the involved actors better and providing consumers with real product origins, demonstrating extraction from locally sourced raw materials (a distinctive element valued by the company) and adherence to the entire sequence of planned production activities.
Traceability activities increase consumer trust in the brand. Additionally, the company can diversify its product range by certified differentiation in the production process and better manage quality evaluation, correlating any problems with specific production batches, suppliers, and conditions.
The traceability architecture design considers all stages of extraction, processing, and commercialization of the product. Alignment between the physical element and its digital representation is ensured using IoT technology. Sensors and actuators are managed to guarantee alignment between the physical element and its digital representation.
The platform PlugAIn, developed by Revelis, was used for extensive monitoring of all production stages and direct communication between resources involved in each stage, enabling further optimizations and predictive fault analysis.
The web platform developed for the company allows users to monitor the production process and view a dashboard comprising various graphs that provide an instant overview of, for example, the semi-finished goods warehouse, using indicators capable of generating alerts when performance falls below predefined objectives. Users can also set parameters that trigger information on critical situations to optimize performance and guide the organization in the right direction.
BPM Business Process Management: the benefits obtained in the use case
Extensive monitoring of all production stages and direct communication between resources enable further optimizations and predictive fault analysis. For example, the company can intensify the processing if the raw material storage conditions are not optimal or reorganize warehousing based on shipping schedules.
The case study provides a concrete and essential application of the research conducted, much of which is widely applicable to other potential use cases. The absence of automation in the considered reality for both production and data collection and analysis allows the implementation of advanced solutions capable of providing significant benefits.
Author: Emanuela Tarantino
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