Version 6.0 of the Agile product allows manufacturers to better analyze ingredients for safety and regulatory compliance before they become part of product recipes. For instance, the new application has a computer-aided compliance tool that screens and analyzes a wide range of ingredients based on several government regulations, according to Hardee Gulati, Oracle vice president, PLM product strategy.
"As you hear more and more about food safety issues coming from different parts of the world, we think this particular release could be timely," Gulati said. "[With Version 6.0] we have been working with some of our larger customers in addressing some of these problems."
One of those problems is tracing products as they go through recipe and packaging changes. The new version has a feature called the Impact Analysis and Change Management Dashboard that helps trace ingredient changes, something that has been increasingly difficult as the number of food and beverage products grows.
Some of the food and beverage manufacturers Oracle has been working with to address concerns over compliance and traceability include Coca-Cola, Tyson Foods, Gallo, Starbucks, and McDonalds. Officials from Tyson Foods, at least, said the product has helped hasten time to market for some of its products.
"We have seen clear benefits in using the product [Version 6.0], including an improvement in our time to market of over 50% in some cases," said Craig Bacon, Tyson's senior vice president of research and development. "We are also expecting it to help us with better managing some of the product complexity."
Version 6.0 also includes new tools for automating supplier collaboration and for the creation and validation of product labels. For example, users can now create an improved supplier self-service portal that allows suppliers to alert brand owners to ingredient changes.
Some analysts agree that given the mounting regulatory and compliance demands, improvements similar to the ones in Version 6.0 will increasingly be in demand as users place great emphasis on better managing products over the course of their lifecycle.
"Process manufacturers will be facing a volatile business environment in trying to manage a product's lifecycle," said Simon Ellis, practice director, supply chain strategies, at IDC in Framingham, Mass. "Organizations will need tools like this that can help them mitigate risks but also help with best practices across a product's lifecycle."