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Information systems - VION

In the VION supply chain, information exchange between actors is mainly company-to-company. The practice of this information exchange matches with the decentralized structure of the supply chain. However, this practice also leads to some considerable bottlenecks in both upstream and downstream communication, as a loss of information occurs at links in the chain:

  • Traceability is difficult, because one pig consumes feed from many feed batches possibly from different sources during its life; moreover, changing between batches is a discontinuous process; batches may follow each other in one silo making separation between batches a probability process.
  • Traceability is also difficult, because one pig is divided into many different products. Tracing one piece of meat to one pig is also difficult. Pigs are now mainly treated as batches per farm or as batches slaughtered in one day.

Information flows towards upstream parties (feed, breeding and farming) in the chain mainly concern demand and planning information, for a good coordination of inputs. Information flows downstream in the chain mainly concern product information, for traceability requirements (IKB/RVL (chapter 5)), although product information also flows upstream for quality feedback. 
With regard to upstream communication, the slaughterhouse has difficulties in translating consumer and retail requirements further upstream in the chain. In part, this is because the slaughterhouse has no direct insight into the demands of the consumer. This leads to difficulties for actors upstream in the chain in matching their production with downstream demand. In any case adaptation has to take into account biological slowness.

With regard to downstream communication, a loss of information occurs in the slaughterhouse regarding traceability as mentioned above. After a pig is slaughtered, it cannot easily be traced back to farm level. In case of incidents, this leads to unnecessary or too wide recalls. This problem is not directly related to decentralisation of the chain, but is a more general chain-wide problem.

Further details on company-to-company information are specified for the following relationships:

  1. Breeder organization – Breeder
  2. Breeder organization/Breeder – Farrower/Finisher
  3. Breeder – Veterinarian
  4. Feed producer – Farrower/Finisher
  5. Farrower/Finisher – Veterinarian
  6. Farrower/Finisher – Transporter/Transporter – Slaughterhouse
  7. Slaughterhouse – Processor
  8. Slaughterhouse/Processor - Retail

Each actor in the supply chain uses information on products and processes. Information systems are used to process, store, retrieve, and exchange this information within the company and with supply chain partners. For several stages in the supply chain information use and information systems have been listed:

  1. Breeder organization / Breeder
  2. Feed producer
  3. Farrower/Finsiher
  4. Veterinarian
  5. Transporter
  6. Slaughterhouse / Processor
  7. Retail

Differences exist in the use of information and information systems amongst chain actors. The larger chain actors (e.g. breeder organization, feed producer, slaughterhouse/processor and retailer), use more automated and advanced systems than the farmer (e.g. the farmer interviewed did not have a broadband internet connection yet). However, the larger chain actors also have a higher need for more automated information systems, to support their larger administrative requirements. Also the farmer does use (some) automated information systems (for farm administration). 

Pyragéna research centre and experimental station do also controls of ham during its process and insure homogeneity of ham and hold information about process improvement, food hygiene technology, hygiene and food security, control and quality management. Database information system is used for physical chemistry, sensory analysis, and biochemistry.