Antiquated ERP not suited to complex orders

A dated ERP system was not capable of track and trace, nor could it provide the reports this processor needed to stay competitive.

Source: Vanns Spices Ltd.
Vanns Spices Ltd. manufactures spices, spice blends, heirloom beans, grains and rice, and flavorings. While the family-owned company, based in Baltimore, MD, sells products under the Vanns label, the majority of its business is directed at developing and producing private-label spice lines for markets, restaurants and websites.

Vanns acquires spices from around the globe as well as from importers in the US. The company then processes and blends the spices at its Baltimore manufacturing facility where strict quality controls are enforced. According to Vanns President Mick Whitlock, not only is the company very selective about the products it buys, it also uses natural forms of sterilization, such as steam and heat so flavors aren’t adversely affected.

Though the processor has several large customers for which it maintains inventories, it is extremely difficult to stock items, particularly with the packaging requirements of 80 private-label customers. “Our customers tell us how many of each spice or blend they want, and we produce the desired labels and fill the packaging to order,” says Whitlock.

In May 2009, Vanns retired its old ERP software, which was not only dated, but also unable to produce required reports or perform track and trace. The processor installed SYSPRO ERP software to bring its system up to date.

Whitlock notes the company’s new ERP software also easily enables the custom-shop manufacturing functionality necessary to fill the numerous spice blends and private label order variations. “In addition to various spices and spice blends, some customers want glass bottles with red caps, some want glass bottles with green caps, and others want plastic bottles with green caps. Using the SYSPRO inventory future-free report and trial kitting functionalities, we can easily determine if we have the inventory on hand sufficient to fill the orders and, if not, what we must order.

“A requirement of our supermarket customers is that we have the ability to do lot tracking. Though we make over 2,000 blends of spices, with SYSPRO Lot Tracking, we can tell which spice went into which blends. In fact, we can trace the origin of every grain of spice and into which blend it went-even into which bottle and onto which customer’s shelf,” adds Whitlock.

The software is also responsible for the stringent inventory controls now in place, says Whitlock. “Prior to our SYSPRO implementation, we had huge inventory variances, but now our inventory has been optimized to efficient levels. In the past, we were often short of product. Now, we’re getting the alarms and the information that we need to do things in a timely manner,” he adds. “Our previous software didn’t allow us to do that, and it was very cumbersome even to get an inventory report. Now, we’re doing it in black and white.”

The new ERP system has an integrated customer relationship management capability, allowing a tie-in lot to tracking and traceability. The software’s reporting functionality, linked in to Crystal Reports, allows Whitlock to show the board exactly what’s going on with all the products. In addition, the system lets him analyze the cost of commodities and ingredients, and it helps in order planning.

“We do have more efficient manufacturing now, and while a great deal is due to SYSPRO, we’ve also added quite a bit of new machinery,” says Whitlock. “However, since implementing SYSPRO, we actually have fewer employees, and we have more sales, so that in itself is indicative of the wisdom of our selection of SYSPRO.”

For more information, visit SYSPRO’s website, or contact April Vasquez, 714-437-1000,

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