Melamine in Chinese milk, mad cow disease or BSE in Europe,
listeriosis in Canada, salmonellosis in the US, maybe even a risk
for future bioterror attacks… food scares are unfortunately
common all over the world. Despite numerous advantages of
the increasing globalization of food supply chains, risks on food
safety issues are on the increase as well.
In order to counter these risks, European regulations on
identity preservation and traceability have been in effect since
2005, aimed to make determination of food origins possible.
These regulations require necessary investments in costly
bureaucratic procedures, which seemingly do not directly benefit
the business.
However, Identity Preservation and Traceability (IPT)
requirements are not necessarily costly and counterproductive:
the required availability of information can open up many great
opportunities for improving business processes with relatively
little effort. Approaching IPT differently can change it from a
costly necessity to a profitable source of profit. It’s not about
doing exactly just what is required to comply with laws and only
record IP information, but instead doing a little more effort and
actively use the information to analyze and optimize business
Tracking and tracing are two distinct terms: traceability systems
have to do with the tracing of e.g. bad products back through
the supply chain to the farm, upstream. These systems may
prevent the release of bad products on the market, reducing the
risk of potential health crises, and can minimize the need for
costly large-scale product recalls, reduce potential bad publicity
of the sector and increase customer confidence.
Tracking on the other hand has to do with the ability to track
products from the farm to customer, downstream. Tracking can
yield interesting business benefits.
Requirements of tracking and tracing systems differ by their
purpose. The systems can be characterized by three scales:
breadth, depth, and precision. Breadth refers to the amount of
information that is recorded. Collecting too many attributes is
costly and unnecessary.
Depth is how far an item can be traced back in the supply
chain. This also varies by the purpose: whether coffee is
decaffeinated or not is determined in the processing stage, while
the use of GMO (genetically modified organisms) should be
registered in the upstream beginning of the chain.
Precision has to do with the accuracy of tracings. By the very
nature of bulk products, tracing is not possible with 100%
accuracy. Several lots are for homogeneous quality reasons
commingled in elevators, during shipments, and in processing.
Direct 1:1 tracing from the table back to a single farm is not
possible because the grain has been in contact with several
other lots, but traceability indices (ratio of suspect product to
contaminated product) of 10 are feasible.
Converting available data into valuable information brings several
  •   food safety and quality can reach an even higher level thanks to accurate inventory and information;
  •   governments and customers may demand more in the future in terms of accurate traceability information, especially in the case of a major food scare;
  •   quality management systems (QMS) can facilitate compliance with safety programs, insurance, employee training, etcetera; and
  •   liability protection in the event of a contamination.
Cost leadership through excellence in performance can be achieved. Production and distribution can be managed by Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) using available information. This can even be done over many echelons of the
supply chain, in order to optimize the entire chain instead of
ending up with suboptimal solutions.
  • real-time inventory control: business management, optimizing processes, lean, debottlenecking, ability to monitor Key Performance Indicators (KPIs);
  • operating efficiency identification and improvement, including batch quality optimization through blending;
  • planning and scheduling: decision support on path selection, work lists;
  • performance: plant performance and utilization can be optimized; and
  • decision-making support tools, including support for highlevel investment decisions.
There are also several marketing advantages:
  • e-commerce/marketing activities can be implemented relatively easy since a lot of information is already present; 
  • marketability of high-value specialty grain cultivars becomes possible, like e.g. high protein, or special baking characteristics.
Also organic grain and genetically modified cultivars can demonstrably be kept on separate paths; and
  •   Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and environmental goals are more easily achievable, demonstrable and manageable.
MES can help you face the effects of globalization and the
increasing requirements of authorities. But, what is MES, how
does it help you and how to find someone to build the MES
MES originally stood for Manufacturing Execution Systems.
Nowadays the abbreviation has evolved to Manufacturing
Enterprise Solutions, because MES is no longer limited to the
execution. MES is the generic term for a set of software tools,
which connects automation systems, collects data and processes
it to useful information. The main objective of MES is to
contribute to your business drivers by integrating automation
systems and so making relevant information available on all
business levels.
To discover the MES opportunities, to describe the required
functionality and to demarcate the project there is one
important tool: the standard ISA95. This standard, developed by
the Instrument Society of America, is more and more accepted
in the whole industry. One function of ISA95 is providing a
common language, enabling automation suppliers, consultants and
end-users to understand each other. Further, ISA95 defines
several models to describe the functionality of a production
company and all relevant communication between the functional
departments. These models help us during the whole MES
project to define and check the required functionality.
To make most of the legally required investments on traceability,
relatively minor additional investments can yield very attractive
The required costs are relatively small, since a lot of
information is already available in various locations over the
supply chain. Traceability systems in essence open up several
large opportunities that can benefit the business to a great
Implementing tracking and tracing systems require a thorough
analysis of the business processes, which expose existing gaps or
inefficiencies. These can subsequently be optimized, for example
assisted by tools like ISA95. There are lots of good reasons
which can benefit all stakeholders over the grain supply chain.
Royal Haskoning can assist in finding optimal solutions for
customers’ specific situations.
Royal Haskoning has a very wide experience and knowledge
of relevant fields such as dry bulk handling, logistics, and food
processing and is pleased to assist in developing new or
optimized concepts and enhancing performance of operations.
Royal Haskoning is capable of analyzing and optimizing the
complete supply chain, for various stakeholders together. This
leads to truly optimal solutions instead of suboptimal solutions,
delivering true added value for each client.
The wide capability of Royal Haskoning on dry bulk and
agribulk is described below.
Royal Haskoning is an independent, multi-disciplinary consultancy
with its head office based in the Netherlands. The company was
originally founded in 1881 and was the very first private
consulting engineering practice in The Netherlands. It has been
active overseas for over 100 years, successfully carrying out
projects throughout the world.
Royal Haskoning is major force in the development of
maritime port and transport infrastructure and integrates
sophisticated planning, design and implementation expertise,
including contractual, legal, risk, supervision and financial skills.
The firm’s expertise covers many fields of infrastructure
development — over water, at the water’s edge and inland. The
multi-disciplinary nature of the organization enables a complete
and comprehensive service to be offered to the client that
covers all stages of a project from conception to completion.
A history in agribulk
The Industrial Concepts division within Royal Haskoning has a
long history in the handling and storage of grains and derivatives,
having its roots in the consultancy department of the largest
stevedore Grain Elevator Company (GEM) in the port of
Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
A future in agribulk
Royal Haskoning constantly updates and improves its knowledge
and know-how in order to provide the best services to its
clients. With its computer model of the agribulk terminal
logistics covering all materials handling aspects including loading
and/or unloading of sea-going vessels, barges, railcars and trucks,
storage demands and hinterland connections, it has a strong tool
to efficiently and effectively assess the needs of any client in the
agribulk business.
Through its experience in grain handling and storage Royal
Haskoning has extensive knowledge in the area of dust
suppression and dust explosion prevention (ATEX).
Materials handling experts
Starting out as an expert in the handling and storage of agribulk
materials, Royal Haskoning over the years has developed into an
expert group for the handling and storage of all kinds of dry
bulk materials including coal, iron ore, fertilizers, aggregates.
Its services cover all stages of project development such as:
  •   pre-investment studies and consultancy;
  •   conceptual design and feasibility studies;
  •   detailed tender design;
  •   preparation of tender documents and contracting;
  •   construction management and commissioning; and
  •   start-up assistance and training.
Say cheese!
One of the oldest examples of tracking and tracing in the
food industry is the Dutch Cheese Certification Mark
(‘Kaaskeurmerk’). In the initial stages of the chain, milk
production characteristics like the time of year, grazing,
and the cattle feed already determine important
properties of the finished cheese and are therefore
recorded. Each cheese has a unique identifier, with which
the consumer can trace back several characteristics of a