Supply chain mapping…
In this post I’m going to cover my 5 top tips for supply chain mapping. Remember, these tips relate to the standards that require detailed supply chain mapping, this is above and beyond what is required for compliance to the BRC standard.
Only ‘at risk’ raw materials need mapping
Not every raw material needs to have supply chain mapping, so only carry mapping out on those that really need it. Assess each raw material (including packaging) to establish which are at risk. An at-risk raw material is one which has a known threat associated with it, or one where there is a claim on pack that could be compromised if you were to be sent the wrong raw material.
If it can be assured at the back door, supply chain mapping is not necessary
The purpose of supply chain mapping is to establish what the threats are to the raw material from the supply chain. However, if you can check the product when it arrives at your goods in and confirm its ok, then supply chain mapping is not necessary. For example, if you were making Bramley Apple Pies, the Bramley apples may be at risk, due to the claim of ‘Bramley’. So, supply chain mapping may be required. If the apples are delivered whole and you can therefore check that they are Bramleys when they arrive, there is no need to carry out supply chain mapping – as you can assure that the claim is correct at the back door. If, however, the apples arrive pre-prepared (peeled and sliced) you probably wouldn’t be able to tell they are Bramleys, so supply chain mapping would still be needed.
When is enough, enough?
Knowing how far back the supply chain mapping needs to go is key. It’s easy to get bogged down and do a lot more work than is necessary. The threat or the claim you’re trying to assure will give you the answer. For example, if you’re purchasing a mayonnaise which contains free-range egg (so, you’re mapping due to the free-range claim), then you need to map, back to the manufacturer of the mayonnaise and then that supplier needs to follow the map of just the free-range egg – you don’t need to map all the ingredients in the mayonnaise as they don’t add any value to the claim. The egg would need mapping back to the point at which the claim is assured, which in this case would be the farm.
It takes time, so be clear with your expectations
Supply chain mapping is new to us all, so nobody has got used to what is needed or expected yet. Think about what you want to achieve by doing the mapping and put together a form that asks all the right questions. When you send this to your supplier, accompany it with some instructions explaining what the purpose is, why you need it, what you need them to do and by when. It may even be helpful to call your supplier and talk through the process with them, to ensure that they understand what you need.
Review the finished map
It’s going to take some time, depending on how complicated the map is, you are most likely going to have to go backwards and forwards with your supplier to get all the information you need, but once it’s done – you then need to review the information. You are looking for threats at each step in the supply chain. For example, if you’ve mapped down to farm level, is it clear how many farms your product is coming from? If not, what can you do about it? Are all the farms approved? Can you verify which farm your product has come from when it arrives on site, to ensure its one of the approved ones? Are there too many farms to manage? Can the number be reduced to reduce the risk? Assess each map and make a list of threats – these are the threats you then need to put into your threat/integrity assessment, so you can add protection measures to mitigate the risk.