The bakery ingredients and snacks specialist began by transforming data handling and storage and has already improved the business’ profitability, according to Chris Owen, director of IT, information systems & process management at Whitworths.
Whitworths had reached a point where change was desperately needed for the business to remain competitive, Owen told Food Manufacture. “There was a realisation that the business couldn’t carry on the way it was operating.”
IT systems had grown in a haphazard way, resulting in a lack of integration and coordination and a lack of trust in the data used by the business.
Often, databases were difficult to use and poorly maintained, leading in some cases to work having to be exported and conducted in Excel. This held the company back.
Whitworths invited ten business process solutions providers to propose answers to the problem and IFS was picked at the end of this tender process. To date, IFS systems have been implemented across a range of functions, including forecasting, production planning, operations, engineering and technical.
“Straight off the bat, IFS managed to implement a full sales and operations planning process the business had been working to implement for 18 years,” said Owen.
‘Long and complex supply chain’
“We deal with every major multiple in the country. It’s a long and complex supply chain, so we would struggle to run full product traceability in four hours. Everyone in the business now could run it with IFS and it would take two minutes.
“We have far better stock control than previously and this allows us to make better long-term decisions.”
In particular, the company has far better confidence about allergen management and segregation, said Owen.
Based at a single site in Northamptonshire, Whitworths Group processes 30 different dried fruit, home baking and snack lines from seven plants, employing 400-800 people.