Working with Suppliers to Innovate Processes

February 28, 2014, Jeremy Adler, Ph.D., Director of Technology and Innovation
Jeremy Adler, Ph.D., Director of Technology and Innovation

Food and beverage processors have a lot to keep track of these days. Food safety is paramount, of course, but very often it’s the underlying processes involved that make it possible to achieve best practices. In many cases, suppliers can be invaluable in helping innovate processes.

At a minimum, suppliers have the necessary resources to help improve processes and make your business more profitable. These resources can be invaluable for companies who don’t have the legal, or research and development resources to develop ideas that improve a process. By working with suppliers, it’s possible to find ways to develop and maintain the exclusive use of your ideas and possibly create a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

In today’s economy, it is not sufficient to only provide solutions to problems. Solutions must be developed to address the problem AND increase the plant’s profitability. Innovation can increase the value of the product by increasing yield or decreasing product loss due to an inefficient process. Additionally, innovation can decrease the costs associated with a process. These cost savings can be achieved by decreasing, eliminating, or optimizing cleaning and sanitation chemistries, labor, water, or energy demands of the process. When combined with profitability, the cost of innovation will, and should, pay for itself. A reputable company will help provide solutions to a plant that have a direct and short term return on investment.

Part of the innovation process is patent generation, and a reputable supplier will have an extensive knowledge of the patent process. In many cases, working with a supplier to address a processing need may result in a novel solution that can be patented. A patent will help protect the R&D investment, which may lead to a competitive advantage. Additionally, a company may be able to generate income through royalties generated by licensing its technology to other companies.

It takes an industry leader, such as Birko, to understand the operational and financial needs of customers and to come up with creative solutions to address them while improving food safety. Food safety should always be maintained or bettered when making process changes.

We recommend building relationships with suppliers that are food safety experts and allow you to take advantage of their research and development resources. This will lead to a more profitable process while producing a safe and wholesome product. Finally, if your company has an idea that is promising and needs development resources, reach out to your suppliers. They should be willing to help ease the development burden.

(Dr. Jeremy Adler joined Birko in November 2013 as director of technology and innovation. He has an extensive background in meat safety, antimicrobials and the production plant environment. Dr. Adler oversees the development and commercialization of Birko’s proprietary technologies and works with Birko’s lab team, as well as the staff from Chad Equipment, LLC, Birko’s equipment division. Dr. Adler earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in animal science from Colorado State University, with a concentration in food microbiology and meat safety.)

One Response to “Working with Suppliers to Innovate Processes”

#4205 | February 28th, 2014 | Burke Stone

As the recipient of this very strategy from Birko, I couldn’t agree more.Very well said. But the best thing is that Birko lives this idea; it’s not just a saying.They live it.

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