Data management system enables candy manufacturer to improve customer service and acquire new customers.

Ganong’s Sunkist Fruit First fruit snacks are weighed before moving toward cartoning. Source: Ganong.
Consolidation. Acquisition. Merger. In the era of doing more with less, food and beverage operations the world over have succumbed to these forces. The heyday of the family-run business may be quietly setting along the horizon. Or is it?

For more than 130 years, Ganong Bros. Limited has manufactured gift box chocolates, fruit snacks and sugar confectionery in Canada. Five-generations strong, the company continues to evaluate and refine its business as it garners increasing sales from its North American neighbor, the US.

One of the keys to Ganong's success is its awareness of the relevance of good data management. In a recent assessment of its own information technology, the company concluded that an improved information management system would enable it to improve internal operations and better serve customers. Management wanted to make better, timelier business decisions, particularly in measuring customer and product profitability.

To meet customer demands, Ganong recognized it would need better scheduling, capacity management and improved information on plant operations. Marc Lefebvre, vice president and chief information officer for Ganong said, "Although we ran MRP in our legacy system, it lacked a capacity planning module, therefore it was very difficult for us to develop an optimal plan and maximize plant asset utilization. Without scheduling, we envisaged having increasing difficulty meeting our customer commitments."

Further, the new information system needed to have stronger order fulfillment and promotions management capabilities with a foundation that would enable the company to conduct more customer-focused activities like EDI.

Ganong selected Adonix X3, believing that the software solution had the right amount of functional depth and breadth to achieve the company's system objectives and attain the fastest return on investment. While running demonstrations using actual Ganong data, Lefebvre and the evaluation team were able to visualize how the system would work for them, specifically noting its easy-to-use design orientation. "Adonix X3 has what I refer to as ‘focused functionality,' " Lefebvre says. "There wasn't a whole lot of stuff left on the table unused at the end of the day."

Adonix X3 is playing an important role in improving Ganong's business. "The production planning process is one feature that contributed to our customer service objectives immediately," says Lefebvre. To feed production planning and inventory, Ganong uses Intermec Antares Trakker 2425 units with a built-in laser scanner for bar codes and all of its storage locations are bar code marked. The company has handheld units on the floor tracking inventory, production and warehouse movements. They operate throughout the plant and warehouse area and interface with X3 through a standard automated data collection module (ADC).

"Our production processes are quick cycling, so it's important for the paperwork/data capture to keep up with the product flow through the plant, otherwise the product shows on the shipping dock and the system doesn't even know it has been made yet. With ADC, that doesn't happen. The second key benefit comes from the immediate backflushing of components as production is recorded which provides a timely and accurate picture of available component inventory."

Lefebvre continues, "There's no question that the system provides better insight into our capacity utilization and visibility to opportunities to sell unused or under utilized capacity."

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Bill Owens,