Committed to Good Taste

Feature Article | May 7, 2008 by Carsten Lüdtge


English nobility of the sweetest kind. With their aristocratic yet practical packaging, the 200-gram tins of candy suggest five o’clock tea in the Empire period. The association is clear, because everything began with the manufacturer of these “travel tins,” Cavendish & Harvey (C&H), on the British Isles. In 1932, entrepreneur Paul Schmedding founded a commercial corporation in Hamburg to import tariff-free English products. Manufacture of the traditional products did not start in Kaltenkirchen, near Hamburg, until 1984.

Today, the company produces about 17,000 tons of candy: hard and soft caramels, toffee, fruit drops, and licorice specialties in all sorts of packages, many of which have a British look. But the classic products are still the fruit drops in flavors like apple, strawberry, cherry, lemon, coffee, cola, and milk. The products are famous for more than their decorative packaging. C&H is the only candy company that seals its cans of candy to guarantee the aroma of the product.

Quality does not stop at candy

Primarily because of its high standards of quality, C&H has positioned itself in the tight candy market. Audits and inspections occur in every area, including the purchase of raw materials; the creation of batches, the process of mixing, and the addition of aromas; forming; and final acceptance of the finished goods. “Our demand for quality applies to all areas, not just to production,” says CEO Jürgen Biskup, describing the IT situation in the company.

That situation was not always rosy. Until two years ago, C&H had only insular solutions. The principal weaknesses of the legacy system were evident in production planning and control. C&H used a materials management solution that had originally been developed for breweries. It was primarily used to post goods receipts and to generate large production orders, which were actually nothing more than bills of materials. Scheduling occurred outside the system, mostly in Microsoft Excel workbooks or on paper. The system could not handle automatic updates from production. Confirmations were transmitted to the legacy solution only when the entire order was complete – but usually some hours later, rather than immediately, so C&H never knew the current status of a production order. The legacy system did not integrate batch management, which was handled on paper.

Seamless processes

Everything has since changed. Today, C&H works with FOODsprint, a qualified SAP Business All-in-One partner solution made by an SAP partner, cormeta ag. The solution seamlessly links all areas of the company: goods receipt, production, and sales, including quality management and batch management. Information on stocks, orders, and production status is current and can be accessed at any time. With this improved data quality, C&H is now able to give its customers binding delivery dates more quickly. Throughput times in order processes have been cut in half because of a high degree of integration. “Today, we can get all the information we need on a screen,” says Michael Eiselt, deputy operations director. He also notes savings of 30 percent for paper, “We don’t have to make x-number of copies of an order any more. Every department has access to the data pool.”

FOODsprint also simplifies complex pricing for retail with its default settings. The solution stores annual discounts, advertising surcharges, net-net prices, quality assurance costs, and other types of typical retail revenue deductions. The solution also maps retail hierarchies and accounting levels with all branches and the central office. Price and condition agreements that are agreed to at specific level apply to all subordinate markets. Data must be entered only once. Presets ensure that the partner solution automatically considers all customer conditions at order receipt.

The software also simplifies matters for export. C&H delivers its products to countries inside and outside of the European Union (EU). For some farm products like sugar, products of the market organization, the EU grants export refunds when the prices on the global market are lower than those on the European market. The documentation involved in such cases is quite cumbersome. Every line item of sugar must be found among the export items and settled against a license that is valid only for a specific quantity. If the exporter is working with Microsoft Excel workbooks, there’s a great deal of administrative effort, especially when one shipment involves several products. FOODsprint handles these processes automatically. The solution accumulates the exported quantities, settles them against the license, and then determines what refunds are available for the remaining goods. The software also automatically generates the required license numbers for the customs documents.

Saving 40,000 Euros just in product labeling

The implementation at C&H featured another highlight: C&H was the first company to integrate product labeling with its packaging lines. Employees used to work in a separate system to print hundreds of labels with a description of the item, barcodes, and production dates and then glue them to packages. The company spent 40,000 Euros every year just for carton labels. All that is a thing of the past now. Today, the information is placed directly onto the packaging with wax ID devices installed on the assembly line. C&H uses the new approach to label all packaging, cartons, films, bags, cans, and glass containers. The partner solution provides the data needed for coding.

The entire project also benefited from the conversion to the innovative labeling method. Biskup adds that “for the first time, we have a solution that integrates all data and processes centrally and in real time and makes it available to users.” The success here encouraged the company to move to the next project: a new warehouse management system and the expansion of mobile data entry. C&H values good taste even in IT – and it is committed to it.

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