Separating Quality Grading from the QC Process – a Game Changer for Fresh Produce Supply Chain Management
How would you describe your perfect apple? For one, it might be tart and crunchy, while for another it’s sweet and grainy. The “wrong” apple is completely subjective, and yet you can ruin a toddler’s day just by cutting it up in a shape they weren’t expecting, let alone if the taste doesn’t meet their expectations.
One of the most pressing issues in the fresh fruit and vegetable supply chain industry is the lack of a common language. Each customer provides a comprehensive list of instructions for anything from color, shape and size to Brix levels and defect tolerances. This PDF can be twenty pages long, and an average marketing company or wholesaler’s customer list could include anywhere from 50-100 customers. One customer’s A-standard is another customer’s C-standard. You see the challenge.
When we built the Clarifruit platform, we kept all of this in mind (fussy toddlers not included) and created a smart solution that allows businesses to sidestep the complexity of multiple languages. Here’s how it works.
The traditional method of managing quality control: processes and standards bound together as one
There are three main realities we see when customers knock on our door. In the first case, they have no system in place for quality control at all, and are using pen and paper and manual effort. Option number two is an Excel sheet or some other simple spreadsheet-based solution. Finally, some customers will have a full software solution.
In all of these solutions – the processes and the standards are bound together as one. You enter the Brix level of the produce into the Excel spreadsheet and you’ll get a quality grade as the output. But what does this quality grade mean in practice? Very little. If you have 20 customers out of 100 who are considered to have “high standards”, you can send these customers the Type A graded produce, but for the differences between each customer, you have almost no control or visibility – not without a whole lot of manual effort to compare the quality to each customer’s specific language and standards.
Separating the standards from the process of capturing information
Instead, Clarifruit’s management platform separates the process of recording information about a shipment from the calculation of the grades. First, the QC manager decides what information they want to record. They can define as many processes as they want, add or remove fields with ease, and self-serve a simple digital platform for collecting the right information at any stage, for example creating a specific process for the intake stage of QC. The UI is smoother and cleaner than the competition – but this isn’t where we raise the bar for the industry.
The major difference comes when you look at the separate method we use for translating this information into the quality grade. While the rest of the industry has bound these two steps together, we have separated it out to support your business growth and decision-making abilities.
With a single click, you can complete analytics on any single process, comparing the produce to each and every customer, understanding at a glance which customer would be right for a specific shipment. Instead of guessing whether the customer’s needs align with the fresh produce, or using your own internal company specs and hoping for the best, it’s all laid out in front of you on a single dashboard, with each parameter clearly marked against customer requirements and standards.
This also adds benefits for the buyer, who can request the raw data from their supplier to get a clear view of all the parameters, analyze it in-depth, and then set the data against their own quality specs and standards.
Moving from unstructured data to a single pane of glass
Clarifruit is the only system available that has the capability to separate the process of inputting information from the standards themselves, and allows a business to configure all of their customer specifications digitally, onboarding them into the platform for easy comparison and analysis against any shipment. With a single click, the business receives a report that aligns any inspection with the needs of multiple customers, seamlessly handling hundreds of customer specs in real-time.
This allows the business to make smart decisions about who the best customer is for the produce. This is more than just comparing grades to find the best fit and the least chance of a rejection or renegotiation. It also allows for smart decisions about revenue, such as sending the produce to the customer that will pay more for the shipment, even if the score is less of a perfect fit. With all the data to hand, and a fraction of the manual work included – your time is suddenly freed up for strategic decision making.