Access Supply Chain ERP software improves traceability and resource planning
Pasta Concepts, supplier of frozen pasta products to food retailers across the UK and Ireland, is on track to reduce its overheads by 20%, following the implementation of its Access Supply Chain solution. The combination of greater traceability, improved resource planning and reduction in manual processes, has already helped the company realise a 10% reduction so far.
Established in 1996 and owned by the Queally Dawn group, Pasta Concepts found itself facing typical growing pains as it made the transition from small to medium sized business. While benefiting from being part of Ireland’s largest privately owned agri-food company, this growth also introduced new levels of complexity into the business. An increasing amount of regulation, the move to larger premises, and demand for ever-sophisticated products were key factors that prompted the move from a basic accounting system to a fully functional ERP solution.
Having considered several vendors, Conor McGarry, Financial Controller, was particularly impressed by the Access Supply Chain solution. "The consultancy was also of an excellent standard; their people convinced me that they really understood our business needs." Like any responsible food manufacturer, Pasta Concepts wanted to be sure that they’d be able to meet requests for detailed product information – enabling them to deal confidently with, for example, product recalls or retail audits.
While all the relevant information was meticulously documented within the previous set-up, a lack of integration made it time-consuming to manage and difficult to extract. Documentation for the company’s ‘new product development’ process was created by separate teams and had to be re-keyed into the old system. Not only was this cumbersome, the process was open to the risk of data duplication and errors that could impact the quality of the overall product. In addition, a lack of integration on the stock/warehousing side of the business also meant that analysis, such as finding out which pallets were despatched on a given day, was time-consuming and never fully up-to-date.
With the introduction of the Access ERP solution, all information is now centralised, creating visibility across the business and integrating, for example, hand-held barcoding scanners, new product development (NPD) documentation and stock data with the central accounts. This has allowed the business to see, in real-time, the full chain of events from initial order through to despatch to retailers.
The solution also provides additional tools to improve overall planning and design processes. MRP tools have helped Pasta Concepts meet its three week turnaround time for bespoke product development, as opposed to their competitors’ six weeks. It is also helping the company increase margins on new business.
Conor commented, "The challenge is getting the right products into a very small buying window – the work itself typically begins as much as two years’ in advance and encompasses lots of product trials and modifications. What the new system has done is provided us with the systematic approach we needed. Access Supply Chain gives us definitive lead times so we can say with confidence that we’ll deliver on time."
A second challenge was creating similar-yet-different products. "Naturally, competing customers don’t want the same products on the shelves – we never end up selling the same things twice. Previously, product configuration could take some time as we’d have to start each order from scratch. Now I just configure new and similar products using information that’s already in the system. It’s made things a lot simpler."
Merging the NPD information along with the warehousing and stock side of the business has given Pasta Concepts the end-to-end traceability it needed. "I’m confident that the information we’re using is accurate and up-to-date, and it’s much more accessible," said Conor. "Say I wanted to find out what was produced on a given day, with full detail of batch and serial numbers. Previously, this would have taken hours – now it’s there at a click of a button.
"I’m very happy with our Access Supply Chain solution," he concluded. "It’s increased visibility, traceability and by eliminating manual processes, has given us the potential to cut overheads by 20%. And I’m delighted to say that we’ve already realised 10% of that."