Corporate Culture | Dashboards and Data Viz | Manufacturing

With the turn of each day, our nation is facing new consequential circumstances as the spread of COVID-19 continues and stay-at-home orders remain in place.

As we carry on efforts to flatten the curve and our healthcare workers put forth extreme perseverance, one critical area of business is being stretched to meet heightened demands: the food industry.

“[Growers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, brands, restaurants, delivery drivers, and e-commerce solution platforms] are the frontline and point-of-impact that serves to feed America.” – The Food Institute

Image of agriculture farming on plot of land

Manufacturing and other subsequent functions of the supply chain rely on the vital role that agriculture and farming play in effectively sourcing them. While many across the agriculture sector are faced by common challenges from labor shortages; a lack of consistency unfortunately exists in terms of those capable to meet the means of survival. Small farms and ranches are specifically hindered given their now lack of direct sales to restaurants and local markets. If social distancing measures remain in place through the end of May, they could expect to see up to a $688.7 million decline in annual sales, according to a report done by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. For farming systems with a stronger economic footing, the pressure to meet needs of increased consumer demands still hits them head-on as they collaborate with large-scale manufacturers and distributors.

Shifts in Manufacturing

Food manufacturers have also been starkly challenged by alterations to their environment from various directions. These include but are not limited to; impacts correlated from the economic toll on their suppliers as just mentioned, managing labor shortages as well, or working day and night to meet the surge in consumer demand.

As the severity of COVID-19 has grown exponentially, there’s no question that grocery shelves across the nation have seen increased scarcity. Consumers are purchasing an ample amount of products in an effort to stock up and have what they need to stay home and ensure proper health precautions. The degree and longevity of this surge is just one of the many unparalleled outcomes that is testing the “normalcy” that once defined these systems.

Image of a full grocery store prior to COVID-19 outbreak

Image of an empty grocery store, much like after the COVID-19 outbreak

Now more than ever, food manufacturers are seeing firsthand how critical their functions are while simultaneously being pushed to fulfill in ways they never have before. As they maintain focus on managing daily operational overloads, they are also working overtime to take proactive measures and uphold all required health and safety standards.

The level of uncertainty that derives from this pandemic is forcing many manufacturers in this industry to become agile overnight and expedite strategic plans that were structured around a much different timeline. While some find themselves fortunate to feel the pull of demand on their products, they have no other option than to learn quicker, adjust faster, and pivot stronger.

As operations are pushed to the brink, an ultimate threshold on production still exists when the safety of everyone sits at the forefront. As time progresses, it becomes more and more difficult to keep up with orders, to the point where turning down orders is no longer a question of ‘what if.’ It is up to manufacturers to optimize their tactics throughout this indefinite period of change that will undoubtedly create a lasting impact long after the pandemic.

The key to doing so is maximizing operational adaptiveness. In order to effectively understand the needs coming in, the levels being produced, and the anticipated steps to be taken, manufacturers must situate themselves in the moment.

They must act in real-time.

(Check out live manufacturing dashboards here).

Putting Adaption into Action

Each day is unlike the last as our country sees changes in legislation, the economy, and more specifically, changes in consumer behavior trends.

How many shoppers are shifting to online grocery delivery and does that affect the products they deem necessary? What is now seen as essential today that was not last week or the week before? Do realistic goals need to be adjusted given capabilities of their suppliers?

These are the pivotal factors that influence how manufacturers measure targets, and therefore how they define those measures into consistent metrics.

Image of Employee in Food Manufacturing Plant Productively Working

However, these metrics can only provide so much value if they are reported beyond the window of timely responsiveness and not transparent to everyone involved. As food manufacturers find opportunities to adapt, making data-driven decisions with real-time dashboards is crucial if they are to deliver at the volume expected of them. To improve effectiveness, companies can take it one step further and provide mass viewing of live data through wall displays. Gaining the attention of everyone on the floor will boost morale as teams work hard to match performance to the greater overall mission of feeding their fellow Americans.

By bringing data to the forefront through operational intelligence and dashboards, manufacturers can hone in on every aspect of their operational system.

They can:

  • Streamline orders
  • Gain at-a-glance insight into projected demands
  • Manage cost margins
  • Minimize waste from decisions that may have otherwise been delayed
  • Optimize other key business functions

Every day matters in creating the most efficient production line, and manufacturers cannot afford to look at yesterday’s data, today.

Not only do real-time insights provide visibility into critical KPIs, they also hold companies accountable to meet standards and empower them with tools for future scalability. By eliminating delays in decision-making and looking at more accurate data in the present moment, food manufacturers will be better equipped for successful business continuity.

We understand the challenges many are facing as they navigate through this unprecedented time. iDashboards is passionate about the power data has to inform and drive impact, and our team is ready to support yours in the capacity you need. Connect with us today and we’ll provide a free PoC so you can stay focused on what really matters. 

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Carol Senn Account Executive

Carol Senn, one of the newest members of the iDashboards family, is responsible for new business growth. Prior to iDashboards, Carol worked for one of the world’s leading IT research and advisory companies as well as a global technology solutions company. When she's not obsessing over dashboards, you can find her scouring cookbooks for inspiration or planning her next trip.


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