Manufacturing AUTOMATION

IFS: Meat manufacturer sees flexibility and enhanced functionality with EDI tool

August 25, 2010
By Mary Del

THE COMPANY: Freybe Gourmet Foods is a Langley, B.C.-based manufacturer of ham, bacon, salami and other quality meat products. Founded six generations ago in Stettin, Germany by patriarch sausage master Johann Carl Freybe, the company is still owned and operated by the Freybe family and produces more than 120 award-winning varieties of sausages, ham and specialty deli meats.

THE CHALLENGE: Before Freybe initially implemented IFS Applications, its immediate goal was to get onto a standard system that could handle its mixed-mode manufacturing requirements. According to Cinqcon Consulting Systems Analyst Ilona Pretorius, who supports Freybe’s instance of IFS Applications, the heavily customized legacy system Freybe used prior to implementing IFS Applications was putting the enterprise at risk.

"We needed to move away from an archaic system that was over-customized by developers who would simply make system modifications on request," Pretorius says. "There was no way the legacy vendor could support or upgrade our old system, so we were always heavily dependent on having IT available on site at all times."

Because Freybe manufactures food items that start out as recipes or formulas but end up as discrete, manufactured products, they are running in mixed manufacturing modes, including both process and discrete. They needed an enterprise software package that could, without modifications, support their end-to-end business processes.


Furthermore, according to Pretorius, the fact that Freybe is dealing with perishables further complicates their enterprise software needs.

"All products are code date sensitive, with different product having different shelf lives; and each customer has different requirements for code date on product when it arrives at their dock," explains Pretorius. "Furthermore, the product is a mix of fixed weight – like sliced ham, sliced salami [and] packaged wieners – and open weight – like full whole muscle ham and half whole muscle ham."

In 2005, Freybe implemented IFS Applications, and has since been enjoying usability, efficiency and supportability advantages over their heavily customized legacy system.

"Now, we are on a standard system with standard support and upgrade processes that still meet our diverse needs," says Pretorius.

In 2010, as part of a gradual process of bringing on new IFS Applications modules, extending the solution to new areas of the business, Freybe implemented enhanced functionality for Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).

"With close to 60 percent of the volume of customer orders picked in the warehouse originating from EDI for chain customers, the number of transactions and support for this functionality keeps on growing," Pretorius explains, adding that given the diversity of stock keeping units (SKUs) Freybe handles, EDI is a real challenge. "A number of the items ordered by these customers are custom pack sizes. To reduce SKU proliferation, inventory is repacked into customer-specific master cases once the customer order has been released in the system. As these items are ordered in less than pallet quantities, the orders are processed as standard customer orders. We can track the customer pallet creation as well as pallets staging for shipment. Using IFS’ shipping management software, we have set up a customized Advanced Shipping Notification (ASN) that is then forwarded to the customer."

This arrangement has allowed Freybe to meet the needs of EDI trading partners that want to have the ASN notice. It is also flexible enough to allow for human intervention and hands-on management of shipments to non-EDI partners. This was all accomplished without major changes to the way orders are selected and processed in Freybe’s distribution warehouse.

"Major changes in our processes were needed to make this work, but the complexities were dealt with in the software, not by the end users in the distribution warehouse" Pretorius says.

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