Enhancing raw materials usage through blend optimization

Food & beverage Digital evolution Business applications ERP services

You have a new recipe for a food product for your business. Simply put, it is ingredients in, finished product at the end. Seems simple enough, all you need is to set up a bill of material with the recipe quantities and start the production, right? But what if the composition of those ingredients varies with each batch? Or maybe the finished product requires different quality specifications depending on the time of the year? Then the calculation begins to be a little more difficult.

Food and beverage manufacturers require precise quality controls due to both food safety standards and recipe requirements. Ingredients and finished products not only have to be within quality limits, but can result in very different products in terms of taste, depending on how close it is to the recipe.

While quality is a key concern, costs cannot be ignored. Ideally, you want to be able to find the perfect balance between quality and cost, before making an informed decision on what raw materials to use, and how much of it to use to optimize quality and costs.

This is where blend optimization comes into the picture. Blend optimization looks at both quality specifications and costs at the same time. Standard blend optimization leverages a mathematical model called linear programming, which is a mathematical method for determining a way to achieve the best outcome.

Blend optimization will provide you with the ability to:

  • Minimize cost of blends
  • Meet demands of final products
  • Save time spent manually calculating accurate blends
  • Reduce out-of-specification products
  • Control the use of ingredients in inventory

Does it sound too good to be true? Well, it may be in the real world. Standard blend optimization will only provide you with a solution between minimum and maximum quality limits. However, in the food and beverage industry, that is not enough. Food and beverage processors need to produce the best quality products possible, not just a product within specifications. 

Close adherence to recipe target levels means a better product, so what is missing in the standard blend optimizer is the ability to specify those recipe target levels. RSM US LLP’s blend optimizer provides a least-cost solution to accurately blend ingredients with fluctuating potencies to meet quality specifications. The blend optimizer also uses RSM’s proprietary Conformance Quality Optimization (CQO) approach to reduce quality deviations and increase adherence to target potencies which is differentiation from any other blend optimizers that food manufacturers should be very excited about.

A few other factors you might want to look for in a blend optimizer are:

Support multi-period, multi-location and multi-finished goods blends

You may start off thinking that a single production blend capability is good enough, but the mathematical method of linear programming only guarantees an optimized solution when you put in all possible ingredients, and this means it could be in multiple locations, for different time periods and for several different types of finished goods. RSM’s blend optimizer also features the transportation cost minimization option for blending in multiple locations.

Future supply

Without the consideration of future supply, your long-term planning is not going to be too useful in the real manufacturing world. You will need to accurately input new inventory to make sure that the blend solution is really the best quality and least cost solution available.

Item expiration

Blend optimizers would be useless to food and beverage manufacturers if they do not consider item expiration. It must be able to utilize old inventory first, and be flexible enough for users to control how early to use up inventory to eliminate waste. Blend optimizers can be a cost and time saver, automating mixing and blending operations, however, it is important to find the right one. If your business is searching for a blend optimizer, be sure to find one with functionalities that are most suitable for your specific industry.