In the middle of 2011, Nature’s Pride started one of the biggest ERP implementations ever in the European Fruit and Vegetable sector. Together with its automation partner Schouw Informatisering, the rollout of Microsoft Dynamics NAV with the SI Foodware for the Fruit van Vegetable sector as add-on was set in motion. In May 2013, Nature's Pride went live with a heavily 'tuned' ERP package. Josja van Isterdael, project sponsor representing the MT of Nature's Pride, looks back on this major project that resulted in a driving force to speed up the business of this leading company in the Fruit and Vegetable sector.
The ERP implementation has been a real team effort across the company, says Josja: "The initial development and design decisions were made by Adrielle Dankier, Commercial Director at Nature's Pride." During the implementation, all key users of different departments of the company have played a crucial role in the further development and design of the new ERP package. Josja van Isterdael: "We feel that it is important that the employees, who perform the daily operations, are leading in the choices made in the ERP implementation process.
"Nature's Pride is a very ambitious company", says Josja. "You can tell by the growth that we experienced in the last few years. We are always looking for new opportunities and have grown 100% in the last four years. You can only do that by setting very high standards. We have set the same high standards on Schouw Informatisering, our automation partner. We did not want just a package for the Fruit and Vegetable sector, but a very good package." On the one hand, this required the development of additional functionalities, not yet offered in the Netherlands. And on the other hand, it required system performance optimisation.
Stock availability information is of fundamental importance to a fruit and vegetable trader. Especially to companies trading exotic fruits and vegetables, it is very important to match the incoming supplies and outgoing flows on an hourly basis. Most ERP systems are not up to this task; the solution for Nature's Pride, however, enables control to within a minute.
Most fruit & vegetable companies use a system of reservations by lots controlled by the Commerce department. This puts a lot of pressure on the other departments within the organisation, such as the Quality department and, in particular, the Logistics department. That is why Nature's Pride wanted to create a situation in which not the seller, but the system determines which lots are available for shipment to specific customers. That is why the information that the sellers have on customer requirements has been recorded in the system. As a result, the system is able to propose the most appropriate lots for the customers based on up-to-the-minute lot inspections.
To drastically change the reservations system can be viewed as a daring move, but it has paid off since the system went live at Nature's Pride. The Logistics and Quality departments are not limited by commercial allocations; in the background, the system performs an automatic allocation based on real-time quality characteristics of lots. Any shortages are made transparent by means of a conflicts screen in combination with an e-mail notification.
Previously, taking stock was a manual affair at Nature's Pride, performed by Warehouse staff and Commerce employees. The counting of stock is now done in real-time, in SI Foodware for the Fruit and Vegetable sector. This has resulted in significant cost savings. The biggest plus is that at present, the stock information recorded in the ERP system is always reliable and available in real-time. This is very important, since it enables Nature's Pride to supply its customers with what they need.
At Nature's Pride, more often than not, 200 people have to use the ERP application at the same time. They need to be able to view the stock in real time, for instance to sell the products. When 200 people use one system at the same time, this considerably affects the speed of the application. To avoid this, Nature's Pride has instructed Schouw Informatisering to upgrade the standard performance of the system.
Subsequently, the application was tested over and over again by a large group of employees of Nature's Pride. Josja: "There were like 100 people selling, packing and shipping fruit at the same time."
Six months ago, Nature's Pride went 'live' with Microsoft Dynamics NAV and SI Foodware for the Fruit and Vegetable sector. Expansions and optimisations to the system are still being implemented. Josja: "We continue to grow and the system growth with us, both in number of users and functionalities that we put into use. But the main thing is what it enables us to do. The coordination between purchase and sales is optimum and the number of errors has been reduced to a minimum. We are able to act quicker, with greater certainty. And that is essential if we want to keep growing."
120 pc users at the office
100 scanner users in the warehouse
400 sales orders per day
8000 sales order lines per day
400 production orders per day
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