Product Lifecycle Management in the Food Industry: No Candy Coating

Product Lifecycle Management in the Food Industry: No Candy Coating

 
 
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Responding quickly to market trends with profitable, successful new products is the only way to achieve success in the hyper-competitive, margin-thin food and beverage marketplace. New products that drive revenue and meet customer and retailer demands are essential (while complying with stringent regulations.) Even one failed product development initiative is too costly.
 
PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) for Food and Beverage must seamlessly integrate all aspects of product development within a food organization and across the supply chain from formulas to labeling and packaging to compliance validation. Streamlined product development, accelerated revenue, reduced costs, ensure quality and compliance, and increase the chances of a “hit” food product.
 
Dan Rowe, Product Manager at JustFoodERP suggested, “It is essential that full Electronic Lab Notebook functionality, incorporates all internal and customer communication, workflow, and document management. Food companies must incorporate lab versions to track changes in nutritionals and ingredient declaration as well as track all R&D costs associated to your work for the purposes of tax credits.”
  
PLM Features Capture for the Food Industry must include:
  • Opportunity Management and Tracking.  Track all custom projects on the go. Analyze win-rate by customer; a vital tool for weekly update with R&D.
  • Fully integrated Documentation Management.  Retain all records associated to the R&D process from concept to production ramp-up.
  • Manage Customer Communication. Record all interactions with customers (in the event they change their mind on version 41 and want to revert to version 14.)
  • Full Approval Workflow. If a food company uses a formal stage/gate process, record approvals on documents electronically.
  • Track Recipe Versions. Track changes in recipe versions, incorporating all elements of costing, ingredient declaration, and nutritional analysis.
  • Track R&D Costs. R&D teams record costs and time effort against each project allowing full visibility on investment return, also useful for making R&D claims for tax credits.
 
No Candy Coating
 
Headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, DeMet's Candy Company, are the makers of TURTLES and FLIPZ products. DeMet’s is dedicated to using the highest-quality manufacturing processes and working with cutting-edge technology to maintain its brands. DeMet’s Candy products are distributed through supermarkets, drug stores and virtually all channels of trade.
 
DeMet’s Candy purchased the U.S. portion of the TURTLES business from NESTLÉ along with the facility that produced TURTLES. This facility was using SAP to run its operations and DeMet’s was required to move off the NESTLÉ SAP system. What was especially challenging for DeMet’s was the tight implementation schedule imposed by their purchase agreement with NESTLÉ: they had three months to get off SAP before they were liable to pay for their use of the SAP system.
  
DeMet’s other existing facilities were using SAGE MAS 500 but DeMet’s had a limited degree of confidence that SAGE was up to the task of managing this new facility let alone the existing facilities. After two attempts, they were not able to get accurate inventory tracking even after working with two different SAGE resellers. They decided to invest in a new ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system.
 
With an outsourced IT department, DeMet’s was looking for a solution that did not require dedicated IT resources. After working with MAS500 and not having easy access to Excel and Word they decided they wanted everything to integrate into Microsoft Office. The decision made to standardize on a Microsoft platform for ERP too.
 
Their sister company, Stella D’oro, was already using Microsoft Dynamics NAV successfully but this implementation had a high degree of customization. With the tight implementation schedule, DeMet’s needed a Dynamics NAV partner who had already developed the functionality most food companies require as part of an out-of-the-box solution. The choice was to work with JustFoodERP. “Flexible enough to meet our needs, we changed a few of our procedures that the new software addressed with better industry practices” noted Jim Gerbo, vice-president of Marketing for DeMet’s.
  
 
“Aside from having accurate data and a fast implementation, we were up and running, live on time and on-budget. The three month implementation goal was met and we rolled out the software to all three facilities progressively and on time, ”Gerbo praised. With three facilities all needing to go live, DeMet’s utilized the adaptability and scalability of the new ERP system.  
 
The company plans to integrate their Consumer Affairs into the new ERP system, because it will allow them to respond to consumer inquiries much more easily. Consumer representatives will be able to take a call from a consumer and instantly associate the product in question to a specific lot number. With this information, the company can analyze quality issues on a lot-by-lot basis.
  
Author Profile:
 
Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler, Inc, (www.trcutlerinc.com). Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium of three thousand five hundred journalists and editors writing about trends in manufacturing. Cutler is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Online News Association, American Society of Business Publication Editors, Committee of Concerned Journalists, as well as author of more than 400 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector. Cutler is the co-founder and contributor to a new business industrial library series found at www.Pemble.com/library. Cutler can be contacted directly at [email protected].