Data management system integrates information and improves efficiency for George Adams.

The TROPOS ERP system from SSI integrates data from the beginning to the end of the production line. Source: SSI.
Think of data like a fine pastry chef. He hunkers down, fingers working dexterously in the kitchen, while promising sweet scents waft out to you, each lingering long enough to suggest the possibility of something new and delicious - perhaps the data will offer better traceability? Better inventory management? But what happens when the kitchen gets a little crowed with too many chefs working independently at once?

At George Adams' pork processing plants, several different departments worked much like our chefs-independently of one another-when it came to data management.

The Lincolnshire, UK-based company had a common data dilemma: multiple spreadsheet-based systems that neither worked harmoniously nor offered the right information at the right time. "It was not a joined-up system," says Mark Wood, George Adams' operations director. "All the departments were working in silos. They knew the plan but each department decided what was going to run and when in order to optimize their own efficiencies. The problem was that information wasn't necessarily what the next department needed at that particular time. We were fulfilling the overall orders for the day, but we were carrying far too much inventory. So we decided to re-examine the whole thing."

George Adams' product range encompasses a wide variety of meat and sausage, including Adams Lincolnshire pork sausages and pork pies and a large selection of pastries and fried products. The company sells under its own labels and also provides private label product to leading UK retailers. To improve its data accuracy, the company needed a system that could account for the variety of products as well as the various stages of production. It chose the TROPOS ERP system from SSI and implemented it in its six plants.

The plant in Ruskington was the first to go live. The rollout was gradual, with the new system coming into play alongside the existing systems, which were phased out once there was full confidence in the new system. George Adams now has a single view of its entire business via a system that links planning, production and financial reporting into a common, shared database.

SSI tailored screens for the butchery, at the front end of the process, and for production recording from butchered meats to pies and sausages delivered into inventory. To improve accuracy and timeliness of data, the Ruskington plant uses barcode labels to track batches of meat through the process using touch screen PCs and handheld scanners to gather data from the shop floor via a radio frequency network. In so doing, the system integrates end-to-end data from the production line.

"Because we pre-programmed factory disciplines into the system, it won't allow you to use the wrong ingredients," says Wood. "In the past, we periodically found that someone would put in a wrong seasoning or ingredient. It would be picked up later in the process, by which time we could do nothing about it, so the product was rejected. Now, we can prevent errors or at least pick them up a lot sooner."

By improving the accuracy of forecasts and enabling better production planning and process control, the TROPOS system will provide the Ruskington plant with a one-time inventory savings of more than half a million dollars on raw materials. "We'll be able to carry only what we need for the next week or so, compared to the three to four weeks of inventory we were carrying," says Wood. "The system also provides enhanced reporting, which will enable us to keep a tighter rein on the business by monitoring yields, costs and profitability more closely."

For more information:

Neville Merritt, SSI, 44 01 256 685296 or