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Nutreco began using Movex ERP software from Intentia, a provider of supply chain management software in the 1980s-in fact, Nutreco's Norway facility was a beta site for its development. At that time, says Kees Bink, Nutreco's corporate application manager, different Nutreco facilities were using different ERP packages. Wishing to use a single company-wide system, management evaluated suppliers based on functionality and partnership and settled on Intentia, partly because of its nearby location and partly because of its size.
Any company involved in the food business, especially in Europe, which enforces strict rules on supply chain traceability, must maintain records on all steps of the value chain. Yet, many companies have been handicapped because the information they need has been fragmented. Pieces of information are developed at all points of the operation from raw material to finished products, but these pieces are often isolated from each other. Seeing the need to bring them together, in 2000 Nutreco worked with Intentia to create a software product that would, in effect, hover above the operations and "collect information out of the value chain," says Bink. "We knew what we needed on traceability for [the] food and feed business," he says, "so we delivered the business logic on value chain traceability. Intentia has the programming skills and the programming logic to make a decent application out of it." The result was the web-based Intentia Trace Engine. It is now the basis of Nutreco's NuTrace program, which includes quality certification, process monitoring, risk management and electronic tracking and tracing. The NuTrace system runs through the entire production chain, records all data, makes the entire chain transparent and complies with the EU's traceability regulations. It also allows companies downstream to connect and add their own information, extending the trace beyond Nutreco. "In the case of a slaughterhouse," says Bink, "the raw material is a living pig that comes from a farm. There is a whole history on that farm with this animal. There also has been feed going into that farm that the pig has been eating, and even some steps before that. There's constantly information stored in the value chain somewhere, and what NuTrace does, or what Intentia Trace Engine does, is to pick up that information in a solid way, bring it up and connect it, making the value chain transparent."
The Intentia Trace Engine is a configurable Internet-enabled repository that receives, filters and interprets trace line information from any system within a company, its suppliers, transporters, customers or other third party. It allows creation of a database containing all information needed for tracking and tracing from one end of the value chain to the other. "You could also call it an ERP of ERPs," says Bink.
The ability to trace is essential, Bink goes on, when there is a problem somewhere in the value chain. "Sometimes problems in the feed end up in the animal causing problems," says Bink, "like dioxins and other undesirable components that don't belong in the food chain but end up there. That's why it is good to have that all connected. And that is what the software allowed us to do."
Having Intentia build the software and sell it as a standard product had significant advantages for Nutreco. The processor got a software product exactly suited to its needs, without having to do the development itself, and is relieved of the burden of maintaining it.