Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Food manufacturer finds easy solutions for complex problems

March 21, 2013
By Odete Passingham Syspro Canada

Basic Grain Products Inc. is a leading private-label food manufacturer of snack products, including rice cakes, rice crisps, pita chips, soy crisps and potato crisps, sold primarily in the United States and Canada. Basic Grain Product’s corporate office is located in Burnaby, British Columbia, and the Company’s manufacturing facility is housed in Coldwater, Ohio.

On July 1, 2012, Basic Grain Products implemented Syspro ERP, effectively integrating all the Company’s business functions into one system, streamlining processes, and generating real-time information across the entire organization. “Before July 1,” says Norman Shung, CFO, “we ran the business on a mixture of different products. The main problem with running the business on a non-integrated system was that our data was stored in multiple places, which impaired our ability to make timely decisions.  Nothing was at our fingertips – when we wanted to know specifics it was very painful to get the information, and it was especially difficult to generate reports. To know how many cases of a particular product were available we had to request a cycle count every time, because our inventory wasn’t in a perpetual system. Before Syspro, our business systems were not perpetual, not live, and not up-to-date.”

According to Shung, the Syspro implementation process went very smoothly, with no major glitches or business interruptions. “The real challenges we faced came after the implementation. As is often the case, people are fearful of change, and with Syspro came many changes to both our technology and our business processes. It wasn’t long, however, before our employees began to realize how easy it is to access the information they require from SYSPRO. Watching that processes evolve has been inspiring.”

One of the most important advantages that Syspro brought to Basic Grain Products was a Perpetual Inventory system. “By connecting the inventory system with Order Entry,” says Shung, “and by continuously updating information on inventory quantity and availability as a function of doing business, our book inventory now gives us an exact image of our real inventory. That gives us a very high degree of control over our inventory, and over its associated costs. It also helps us keep track of our expired product, and makes it much easier to adhere to the FIFO (first in – first out) method, which wasn’t being properly managed before. We still have to gather more data, but at least, now, the visibility is there.”


Shung is quick to point out that the benefits of Syspro’s Lot Traceability module are crucial for a food manufacturer. “With Lot Traceability, we know exactly which lots were shipped to each customer, and our warehouse employees can fulfill orders from cases that are not in danger of being outdated. In addition, thanks to Syspro, we can now do a mock recall in less than 30 minutes. Before Syspro, pulling and qualifying the information took hours – it was a mountain of paperwork.”

Before the implementation, says Shung, no one at Basic Grain Products had a proper understanding of production costing. “Our Bill of Materials and Job Costing used to be manual processes, and we didn’t even know our true costs of production. Now, with SYSPRO, we are able to assign more accurate production and overhead costs. Because of that, we’ve learned that we have better margins than we had previously thought.”

Syspro Workflow has allowed Basic Grain Products to implement automated order processing through EDI (Electronic Data Interchange). “We are now on EDI for customer purchase orders and invoices,” says Shung. “Our inbound customers’ POs are going through EDI, and we invoice back to the customer through EDI. By automating those functions, we’ve eliminated a good deal of manual entry. Our customer service clerk is now only validating the information, which has improved our accuracy and saved a tremendous amount of time.”

Asked if he can calculate the ROI for Syspro ERP, Shung has no reservations. “Syspro has provided us with a rapid ROI,” he affirms, “but I couldn’t begin to quantify it. Quite frankly, the information we get from Syspro is priceless.”

Odete Passingham is marketing manager for Syspro Canada.

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