More and more companies are taking advantage of IT systems to match supply to demand - some with better results than others.
Chilled ready meal manufacturer S&A Foods - an Asda own-label supplier - has installed an Infor SCM system for advanced planning and scheduling, which has helped overcome problems of batch capacity constraints, short lead times and a changing business environment. "For the first time, we are able to see all of the equipment and the associated constraints within the factory," says the firm.
More recently, Weetabix Food Company implemented CDC Factory, a manufacturing operations management system, to help control costs. Weetabix selected the system, says CDC, because it provided real-time visibility of its operations, including production rates, yields, utilisation and per-unit cost.
"Prior to CDC factory, we were unknowingly operating a 48% overall equipment effectiveness," says Weetabix plant manager Paul Whitehead. "Weetabix has now put a team together to work on each of the causes of the factory downtime. We now have a full visibility of the factory floor and have dramatically reduced production line stoppages, as well as reduced labour and administrative costs."
In a completely different sector, and on a much smaller scale, Bruichladdich Distillery Company based on the Scottish island of Islay has placed an order worth £200,000 for a Tropos enterprise resource planning system from SSI, part of the Chelford Group.
Bruichladdich's system will help the rapidly growing distiller, which was set up in 2001 at a distillery originally built in 1881, to reduce the paper chase involved in a complex business of supplying 45 types of whisky to 25 countries around the world.