Maintaining a 48-hour sales and delivery turnaround, improving management information and cashflow, as well as keeping fast crisis management procedures in place is no easy feat when operating in the food industry.
Milling business GR Wright & Sons are managing to keep on top of all this and more, due to Sanderson Australia’s integrated business management system, Formul8.
With over 130 years’ experience, GR Wright & Sons are family-run flour mills that supply bagged and bulk flour to bakers, bread mixes to the major supermarkets and ethnic flour to grocery stores.
Planning a phased implementation
According to Wright’s Finance Director, Lesley Morris, “We needed to improve the distribution side of the business through automating day-to-day processes.”
“Rather than tackling everything at once, we preferred to take a staggered approach, starting with accounting procedures and sales order processing. We only have two days between taking an order and delivery, so this function had to offer a sophisticated means of streamlining sales and warehouse operations, enabling the two to work as one entity.”
“Once these were up and running, we would be looking to improve other areas, such as forward traceability procedures and corporate decision-making. Formul8’s flexibility offered us the opportunity to take such an approach.”
Sanderson Australia’s integrated business management system, Formul8, is based on a modular design that enables players in the food and formulation industry to automate any or all of their distribution and manufacturing processes - from sales orders through production, purchasing, two-way traceability, warehousing, quality control and MRP/ CRP, to costing and accounting.
Wright’s telesales staffs now rely on Formul8 to automatically prompt them when to phone customers to initiate re-orders and provides clear screen prompts to guide operators quickly through the order process, whilst the customer is on the phone.
The Formul8 system provides each operator with a full purchasing history for every customer scheduled for contact on the day. These records provide detailed information on what the customer has purchased in the past, the quantity, any special rates or discounts and so on.
Wright can also accept electronic orders from customers through EDI (electronic data interchange), an industry standard developed to enable fast exchange of documents between businesses and more collaborative working partnerships.
EDI orders are automatically downloaded into the system for processing in the same way as telesales orders, so both Wright’s and their customers save time and effort.
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Formul8’s modular design made it easy for GR Wright to undertake a phased implementation.
Improving logistics and operations
Once an order is completed, Formul8 transfers the details into a load-schedule, which Wright’s transport administrator uses to produce picking lists. The lists can sequence loads according to planned lorry routes for the next day, ensuring that the last delivery of the day is loaded onto the lorry first and first delivery is ready for removal at the back.
The warehouse can also easily track incoming and outgoing pallets using Formul8, enabling Wright to provide their hauliers with accurate monthly reports for billing.
Meanwhile, truck-mounted barcode scanners allow Wright’s loaders to raise delivery notes and update central stock records immediately.
Wright’s own billing procedure has improved considerably, with most invoices being raised on the day of delivery. Furthermore, EDI customers can receive invoices electronically if they choose, speeding the process even further.
Wright can also use EDI to send advance shipping notes to their customers so that their depots are automatically ready to accept goods on delivery, saving much administration and time for both parties.
Wright’s entire accounting process is managed through Formul8. In addition to traditional sales and purchase ledger activity, Wright’s bank regularly supplies statements for entry into Formul8’s Cash Book facility so that weekly bank reconciliations can be performed more quickly and efficiently. At the bottom line, this means outstanding balances can be chased more promptly, to improve cashflow.
Employing advanced technology
As the company often packs to order, only a limited amount of stock is kept on the premises at any given time. Barcode technology allows a live stock system to be maintained, so that the necessary amount of product is always available to service incoming flour and bread-mix orders within two-days.
Full backward and forward traceability allows Wright to track batches up and down their supply chain, with barcoding to log the source of every batch of flour or bread mixes and every customer that they are sold to.
As well as helping on the shop floor, Wright management staff are also benefiting from Formul8. Through EIS (executive information system) these key personnel now have direct access to the real-time data and reports required to make fast and accurate decisions concerning the business – whether comparing monthly, year-to-date and previous years’ sales, or margin per salesperson and so on.
Looking to the future, Wright intends to extend the use of Formul8 into their recipe cost control and production planning processes.
Lesley Morris says, “Well formulated business processes combined with good management information upon which to base critical business decisions are vital to the success of the company. Formul8 has supported our efforts in achieving both of these and I am confident it will continue to help us in the future.”