In the United States alone, there are over 600,000 businesses in the food and beverage industry. With an intensely competitive marketplace and demanding regulatory requirements, merely staying afloat can often seem impossible for smaller companies that need to contend with an endless supply of mature products.

The only way to establish sustainable operations is to prioritize efficiency, which should be an ongoing process of finding new areas for improvement. Luckily, there are ample opportunities to accomplish this without sacrificing compliance or product quality. Here are five ways to improve efficiency in food manufacturing and distribution.

Leverage 3PL

Location is of vital importance to manufacturers, particularly when dealing with perishable goods. Therefore, you need to work with a logistics provider that can reach your target markets quickly and reliably. This is especially crucial when hauling products across various regions, in which case it’s usually best to contract a third-party logistics (3PL) partner.

If your food is distributed around the country, for instance, then you’ll likely benefit most from having a 3PL provider that’s based in the Midwest. Not only will it reduce travel time, but also the risk of spoiled inventory.

Tighten Quality Control

It’s no secret that consistency and cleanliness are crucial to success in food manufacturing. The consequences of failing to meet consumer expectations, never mind regulations, are easily capable of reversing years of progress. It can also impact your efficiency, as an untidy site creates unnecessary work.

There are many solutions here. For example, businesses in the grain industry can invest in hydraulic cleaning systems that automatically clear bins and silos. This has the added benefit of eliminating risk by keeping people outside of one of the most dangerous areas in a grain facility. Companies like pneumat.com have many innovative solutions that can help improve health and safety as well as efficiency and costs.

Embrace Predictive Maintenance

Another effective way to save both time and money is to make use of technologies such as predictive maintenance. This enhances repair planning and upkeep, while also reducing downtime. Implementing the solution in your manufacturing process involves placing sensors on equipment that are connected to software that monitors and analyzes information.

Invest in Your Employees

Even with today’s digital solutions, one of the most valuable investments a food production operator can make is in their workforce. This can include creating streamlined standard operating procedures (SOPs) that make jobs easier. It also assists in areas such as compliance by providing better education and training.

Focus on R&D

When it comes to identifying your own ways to improve efficiency, ongoing research and development are key.

It can certainly prove challenging to adopt the latest technologies in the absence of sufficient cash flow. However, there are always opportunities to be discovered. For example, processing plants that deal with poultry can invest in intelligent cutting and deboning systems that use sensors and 3D imaging to vastly increase quality and productivity.

If you want to stay competitive in the food industry, you need to be ahead of the curve. Making a constant effort to increase your efficiency will accomplish just that.