Food Engineering

Field Reports: Software takes the sting out of horseradish production

April 17, 2003
System automatically ages ingredient and end-item lots ensuring stock won’t be wasted.

Horseradish production at Silver Spring Gardens has reaped benefits from a new enterprise software installation.
Each year, close to 24 million pounds of horseradish roots are processed in the U.S., yielding 6 million gallons of prepared horseradish. Silver Spring Gardens, one of the country’s leading horseradish makers, also produces mustards, sauces, and other food products.

According to Silver Spring Gardens’ Controller Dan Kelm, the company needed information support for its entire range of operations from farming to manufacturing to distributing to selling. At one of the company’s plants, horseradish and mustard are made to order, while the other plant makes sauces, syrups, jams and jellies. In addition, some of the ingredients needed at one plant are made only at the other facility.

Production planners at each plant had to look at the sales demand and stock on hand to determine the production schedule. They created the batch tickets manually. Also, production requirements between the two plants were communicated over the phone. With these procedures in place, raw material requirements would be known only after creating the production orders manually. As the result, the purchasing department had to react to the vagaries of demand late because of the delay created by the process. Much too often Silver Spring Gardens suffered out of stock situations.

“The ability to track lots in both directions was very important,” explained Kelm. We needed to track lots back to a vendor and forward to where the finished product ended up.”

“In a recall situation we have two hours to locate shipped product, Kelm said. “Shelf life management was another important consideration. Because of the expiration date of our products, it is very important to properly rotate stock to get the oldest product out first.”

The processor found relief in software from Ramco that included manufacturing, financial, sales, logistics, plant maintenance, accounting, and quality control applications.

The new software allowed Silver Spring Gardens to meet safety stock levels for made-to- stock products like syrup, jam, jellies and sauce to meet the customer service levels objectives set by the organization. Sales orders and safety stock levels trigger material requirement planning (MRP), automatically generating production schedules considering the stock on hand, batch size constraints and economic order quantity. It also generates purchase orders for the raw materials and ensures the safety stock levels for made-to-stock products.

One added benefit of the new system is that each of the plant’s planning schedules is visible to the other. Production schedules are now confirmed, allowing the purchasing department to make better procurement decisions.

Production and consumption of materials are reported during production to maintain up-to-date inventory balances and provide visibility into the work-in-process. Integrated production, inventory, and quality systems track quality test results and ensure that the batches are classified as accepted/rejected/quarantine. This ensures that the batches in quarantine status (waiting for test results) are not shipped or further processed by mistake. Lot control now extends in both direction enabling better management of both quality and recall needs.

“I see our business being more efficient, our inventories shrinking, our turns increasing, making better management decisions based on the information we can get out of the system,” Kelm said.