“One of the key challenges for the food industry in the future will be integrated batch tracing”, says Holger Behrens, Board Member of the system house. This is dealt with by a European Union Directive (EU 178/2002) which has already applied since May 2003 to specific fields such as genetically modified foods and will come fully into force from the start of 2005. “The entire food production process”, explains Holger Behrens about the situation in the food industry, “must be fully documented and traceable.”
Documenting everything more or less from the soil to the point of sale (PoS) and vice versa involves an administrative and logistical outlay which in the future it will only be possible to manage using integrated IT solutions such as the qualified mySAP All-in-One solution Foodsprint. The SAP Business Partner designed and developed the solution specifically for the requirements and demands of the food industry. “As a preconfigured ERP solution, Foodsprint features all the functions of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and thus all the stages in food production”, continues Holger Behrens.
According to the Ettlingen-based system house, all product information from purchasing, order processing, quality control and production to finance and controlling is efficiently structured and transparent. All relevant production process data from receiving the raw materials, formula development and processing to packaging is managed and mapped in a single system in accordance with GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) and HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points).
“Our solution has completely integrated quality management”, says Holger Behrens, “and the SAP system collates and manages all testing records for raw materials from goods inward inspections to checks during the production process and final checks on the finished goods.” The results of the checks can be confirmed by electronic signature using an add-on function. According to command, as part of the quality assurance measures, a laboratory information and management system (LIMS) can be linked to the mySAP All-in-One solution, while PC-based measuring and weighing systems can be connected via open and certified interfaces.
Speeding up processes
“Foodsprint brings together hitherto isolated solutions from goods management, accounting and production in a uniform system. All procedures and processes are thus transparent”, concludes Holger Behrens and uses an example to illustrate this. “With isolated solutions, a complex batch run had to be launched every evening to reconcile branch data with master data in a central location but our software exports the sales figures automatically via an online interface into the SAP sales module”. Time and money are also saved by internal charging between individual branches and automatic invoice checking.
The command industry solution also provides other functions. Using multidimensional analyses, companies can perform concrete calculations of the profitability of branches, the cost-effectiveness of a sales area with several branches, or revenue from a product group. This produces key performance indicators for production planning and control, because “the number of pretzels sold in a region or whether pretzel sales are better in South or North Germany”, says Behrens, “can have a significant impact on the production processes in a company and its associated plants.”
In order that the processes performed using Foodsprint can also be simplified for users as far as possible, command has developed “cockpit solutions” for SAP systems. These are user-specific workflow controls with quick input masks “with safeguards to ensure that updates to new versions of the SAP software are possible”, underlines Behrens. The cockpit solutions offer further industry-specific add-on functions in addition to the existing quick input aids in SAP to ensure faster and enhanced processing of information.
With the “batch cockpits” included in the industry solutions Foodsprint and Pharmasprint, all the relevant data on the selected batches such as material, batch, classification, inventory and best-before-date data can be displayed at the press of a button. This significantly reduces the workload of individual users because they can perform all their work from the cockpit solution. These switching centers thus map the workflow of the business processes onto the relevant activity. This speeds up work processes and results in quantifiable benefits for the company.
Openness is required
“The strengths of Foodsprint include its openness and ease of integration. This means that company data can be collated in a database”, emphasizes command Board Member Behrens. The solution is platform-independent and runs on a variety of databases such as Max DB (previously known as SAP DB), Oracle, DB 2 and Microsoft SQL 2000. Electronic exchange of documents via EDI and XML also guarantees e-commerce capability in the B2B sector.
Companies can expect the introduction time for the mySAP All-in-One solution to be between three and nine months, “but this depends on how complex the individual requirements are”, adds Behrens. Due to this wide time scale, he prefers not to give any precise details on the price of Foodsprint because this can vary greatly depending on the outlay involved. Though he does add: “We do, however, also offer attractive fixed price projects following an initial investigation – another good reason to get in touch with us.”