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PLM Primer: The Right Solution For F&B

Editorial by George Young, Founding Partner, Kalypso Last month’s column explored how food and beverage (F&B) companies can enable traceability and guarantee compliance by implementing a product lifecycle management (PLM) system to manage the product data record.

Editorial by George Young, Founding Partner, Kalypso

Last month’s column explored how food and beverage (F&B) companies can enable traceability and guarantee compliance by implementing a product lifecycle management (PLM) system to manage the product data record. Other business benefits that can be achieved with PLM were briefly mentioned, including improving innovation efficiency, lowering cost of rework and redundancy, and creating new efficiencies in product development processes.

The challenge for F&B companies is determining what their PLM solution should look like. The functionality of PLM systems for the industry is variable and is constantly evolving. While there are a number of good PLM systems on the market, in some cases the supporting capability needs to extend beyond the features offered in these systems. Let’s look at the core PLM functionality F&B companies require and then some best-of-breed tools that can be used to augment the PLM system.

PLM Baseline: Product Data Management

The core of any PLM system for F&B is specification and product data management functionality for managing the product data record—the single version of the truth for product information. This unified view is critical for readily tracking food and beverage items that may be subject to a recall, as well as making strategic decisions about introducing new or enhanced products. Full traceability also requires direct integration between the product data record housed in the PLM system and the bill of materials (BOM) housed in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, so that formulations can be mapped against suppliers and distribution channels.

Other core PLM capabilities to include on any F&B manufacturer’s checklist include:

  • Compliance management to address regulatory materials, process and reporting requirements.
  • Quality management to meet quality standards and drive customer satisfaction.
  • Collaboration to coordinate design and change processes.

Leading PLM systems for F&B include Oracle Agile PLM for Process, SAP PLM, Siemens Interspec and Teamcenter, and Dassault Systemes Enovia MatrixOne.

Product Portfolio Management

Another core function within many of today’s PLM systems is product portfolio management (PPM) to provide greater visibility into product offerings and support strategic decision-making about offerings within the portfolio. PPM helps prioritize products in the pipeline and allocate resources to the right projects in order to beat competitors to market and achieve alignment between tactical projects and strategic corporate objectives.


PPM can be acquired as a part of PLM software or as a standalone best-of-breed tool. A best-of-breed PPM solution enables a full suite of integrated innovation and product development processes, allowing organizations to create a closed-loop solution for managing the pipeline—from business strategy, to resource management, to launch execution.

Leading best-of-breed solutions include Sopheon Accolade, Planisware, Planview, and CA Clarity.

Integrating Design into PLM


PLM systems help strengthen the product development machine but often do not sufficiently integrate what are known as authoring and design tools—namely computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM), formula management, and packaging and artwork. While similar functionality is available within some of leading PLM solutions, specialized systems are often needed to manage these capabilities. Several robust, best-of-breed applications are available to support these creative processes.

Here are a few options to consider when looking at the front end of the product lifecycle.

Formulation management. PLM systems tailored for process manufacturing will include formulation management functionality that can support an F&B company’s basic requirements. Advanced or best-of-breed formulation management tools are appropriate when a company’s competitive differentiation is based on formulation excellence and understanding the relationship between the formula composition and sensory attributes. Some situations that might call for a best-of-breed tool include the need to:

  • Perform complex formula optimization.
  • Perform linear equations to optimize formula composition and sensory performance against constraints.
  • Use statistical data to model and predict the performance of formulas.

CAD/CAM. CAD/CAM best-of-breed solutions enhance the product design and development for F&B companies, enabling them to:

  • Develop innovative packaging concepts.
  • Model package positioning on the shelf.

Packaging Artwork Management (PAM). A common challenge F&B companies face is strengthening the packaging artwork development process along with other product development activities. Most often they need a specialized PAM solution to complement their existing PLM system. PAM solutions fill the PLM capability gap with specific functionality to support complex artwork development processes. These functionalities include:

  • Automated workflow
  • Web-based artwork annotation and mark-up
  • Electronic color management
  • Digital asset management
  • Copy certification
  • Automatic artwork generation

Modeling and simulation tools. An emerging area of focus in F&B is modeling and simulation. This has been widely used in other industries, but F&B companies have been slower to adopt it due to the industry’s chemically complex processes. Best-of-breed tools enable F&B companies to model real processes, and test and measure the performance of capabilities such as:

  • Manufacturing production lines
  • The supply chain from supplier to customer
  • Equipment design
  • Batch processes
  • Food safety and quality assurance processes
  • Product positioning in the store and on the shelf

The decision on whether to add a best-of-breed product or use capabilities within a PLM system will depend on the extent to which the creative processes are strategic differentiators for the F&B company. In either case, there must be a mechanism for bringing data about formulations, packaging, etc. back into the product data record managed by the PLM system. Not only does this support better decision-making, it also is important for enabling timely traceability when there are potential recall issues around contaminated ingredients, faulty packaging, or inaccurate labeling.

Investing time and research into evaluating company needs and determining how they can be served by PLM systems and best-of-breed tools is one of the best investments an F&B manufacturer can make.

George Young is a founding partner of management consulting firm Kalypso (, which specializes in innovation, and he leads Kalypso’s Consumer Packaged Goods practice. He has more than 20 years of industry experience in executive management consulting roles. He holds four US patents and was named the 1994 Northeast Ohio Inventor of the Year.