At times it may seem like the list of regulatory mandates is never ending. Whether you agree or disagree with the recent regulations, one thing is for sure; compliance is not optional.
Since the early 2000’s the warehousing and logistics industry has seen expanding regulations on multiple fronts. Getting ahead of those requirements and having a plan to incorporate them into your everyday business practices is a good way to enhance your marketability and sustainability in the marketplace. In order to survive, companies and trade associations need to be proactive in their approach, which offers the opportunity to help guide regulators into developing common sense and cost effective approaches as they continue the rulemaking efforts.
Over the last 15 years Tippmann Group has recognized this fact, making significant investments in technology to help manage the changing landscape of regulatory compliance. Investing in the future is not just about systems or equipment, but people as well.
A good example is the Food Safety Modernization Act. This legislation, passed in 2010, has been a slow moving freight train that many in the logistics world were not prepared for even though they knew it was coming.
With the FDA issuing its final rules around preventive controls, food defense, sanitary requirements for transportation assets, and enhanced recordkeeping, companies should evaluate where they stand today and what they still need to do to reach full compliance.
Laying the foundation in systems, processes and people is where it starts. Educating your staff and mapping out your strategy are fundamental to any firm’s success, especially in tackling the challenges of the new regulatory climate.
At Interstate Warehousing, the new regulations have led us to enhance our food safety programs by adopting the Safe Quality Foods (SQF) certification program in our facilities. The work put in up front to become SQF certified brought us closer to meeting or exceeding the final rules the FDA was developing.
Triangulation, when we allocate funding to project initiatives, is a key concept and one all companies should consider. Simply put, how many challenges and requirements can I address with the spending I am about to undertake?
A good illustration is the integration of temperature events into the work process. If an issue arises from the values a user inputs, it triggers automated logging, event requirements, and alerts, thereby leveraging technology to meet both regulatory records requirements and higher level approval safeguards as well.
By incorporating key elements around temperature control into the normal scope of operations and simply changing the medium we are recording data in, we can bring speed to the process and make it easier for users to comply with policy within everyday business processes. This enforces uniformity and compliance, while creating history to trend exceptions.
Another area to consider is the legal requirements business partners are dealing with. Take for example the hours of service (HOS) regulations transportation companies now have to deal with. While many logistics firms have no direct regulatory component to manage around this driver issue, it’s critical for all entities in the logistics world to understand the broader impact to the supply chain, motor carriers and their industry.
The ripple effect to the broader supply chain due to the new HOS rules cannot be discounted and even though Interstate Warehousing has no transportation assets or drivers, we interact daily with other business entities that do, and it is critical for companies to acknowledge the constraints and regulatory challenges our partner entities operate under.
Additionally, due to increased globalization, it’s not just national regulations but international laws and treaties as well that are placing increasing burdens on supply chain businesses. The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, or SOLAS, and the verified gross mass rule on container weight and bill of lading requirements is a great current example of this.
In the end, the key to not being overwhelmed really comes back to a pretty simple formula: Success comes from people, planning, knowing your business processes, staying abreast of what governmental agencies are planning for us and understanding the potential impact on your operations.
Laying the foundation to meet compliance takes time and a commitment to invest in your staff. It’s our people we rely on to meet customer and regulatory expectations each and every day.