Finnebrogue Artisan Information
Integrated SI data approach drives Finnebrogue processing plant success
Supplying to a range of supermarkets, including M&S and Asda, Finnebrogue’s £25m investment in its completely integrated new 165,000sq.ft processing Downpatrick facility has transformed the business.
And thanks to further investment and innovation, the business has grown both the product ranges and volumes, to become the UK’s leading artisan food manufacturer and the UK’s first nitrate free bacon manufacturing facility.
Planned and implemented, in collaboration with SI, the new facility’s integration pathway benefitted from knowledge gained over a four-year relationship between the businesses. This relationship started in September 2014, when SI was introduced to Finnebrogue by its interim Programme Manager Tariq Habib.
Commenting on Finnebrogue and its SI integration process, Tariq said: “As a dynamic family run business, Finnebrogue can make decisions very quickly, especially when it comes to changes in products and entry into new under-serviced market sectors.
“But with speed, we also recognised the need for efficiency, quality and traceability, particularly as we are dealing with premium products.
Shared culture of innovation and flexibility
“We chose to work with SI because we could see that the team was both flexible and aligned to our culture of getting things done.”
Tariq continued, “Our approach to achieving our goals is very simple. We always look at what’s wrong, to figure out how to make it the best it can be, without being bound by the way it has always been done.
“To do so, we not only need to consult with our staff, customers and consumers, but also ensure that both equipment and processes are optimised; it is here that SI comes in. This is because for any system to work effectively, it needs to be implemented properly, by a team that understands the industry that they operate within.
“SI has the ultimate task of making workable connections from one system or piece of equipment to the next. They needed to create the integration and make it work, no matter what the individual data capture and management challenge might be.
“In order to achieve this, we work with SI’s team to pull information in from our existing systems and feed other standalone systems. And we’ve used many of SI’s specialist modules, including stock control, QA, Stock & Order and recipe management. This now means that all information is managed through an SI integration hub, providing us with access to real-time information and reporting.
“In other words, ‘one version of the truth’ and a clear picture of what is happening throughout Finnebrogue’s business.”
“The reason we chose to work with SI was that we could see that the team was both flexible and aligned to our culture of getting things done.”Finnebrogue.
Making time, eliminating paperwork, human error and data duplication
During the integration, SI and Finnebrogue reviewed each and every part of the production process. As a result manual entry tasks have been replaced by digital readers and barcodes. Also, paperwork has been eliminated by digitising QA, traceability and despatch.
Throughout the solution implementation, data entry points were integrated, with single points of data capture used to eliminate duplication of data.
Audit data in minutes with robust recall capability
Tariq continued: “A vital part of having ‘one version of the truth’, that the integrated SI solution provides, is the importance of measuring and reporting on key areas of the business. This is particularly important when it comes to audits. This is the reason why we took the opportunity, when making other significant investments, to completely change our QA and traceability.
“We’ve moved from a combination of disparate manual paper-based and third-party systems, towards a completely digitalised process.
Now, with SI’s digital QA and traceability, we can pull off audit data reports in a few minutes. Previously, with our old paper-based approach, this process would have taken hours to complete.Finnebrogue
“Now, our new approach is delivering significant benefits. For example, with our new bacon line, we can pull off audit data reports in a few minutes, a process which would have taken hours with our previous paper-based approach.
Digitalisation minimises product recalls
“We have also worked with SI to prevent errors that would result in product recalls, particularly by using its specialist software at the most critical points of the process.
“As an example whenever we issue into key processes on the shop floor, we’re using SI’s software to validate recipe make up to ensure that the right ingredients and quantities are issued to manufacture products. One of the major benefits of digitalisation, is even higher levels of consistent quality and improved traceability.
As Finnebrogue’s business has grown and new recipes added to its product offering, further SI modules have been introduced to validate inputs into key processes by checking against the cost specifications. This automation prevents user error as the system positively releases the use of products into the next process. This means that if an attempt is made to issue any product that’s not held valid for the recipe, it will be flagged up with an error, and block the product from being released.”
100% stock control accuracy in real-time
Based on in-depth consumer feedback, research and testing, Finnebrogue continuously invests in NPD. When developing its exacting recipes for its succulent products, accurate stock management and control is essential.
SI’s stock control system combines data on raw material, allocates stock for individual recipes, controls WIP and the final product that is ready for despatch. It also simultaneously updates the bill of materials in real-time, whilst preventing any unwanted products from being used in a recipe. This is made possible by the automation of product allocation, with ingredients weighed and measured to controlled tolerances.
The stock control system has also had a positive impact on raw material management. It’s improved forecasting has led to supply chain partners being able to reduce, or increase stock holding, according to demand. This has streamlined deliveries, reducing holdings of expensive perishable products. And with a better-managed stock holding on short shelf life materials, it’s contributed towards fewer downgrades and reduced waste.
Digitalising despatch with added autonomy
One of the major integration projects undertaken by the Finnebrogue and SI team, related to the despatch and back end of the process. This involved the full automation of palletisation, including standard retail pack (SRP) and M&S trays. The new process sees each tray/box taken from the end of the production line, stacked and dollied, without any human intervention.
To achieve this automation, SI worked with IO Systems, Finnebrogue’s robotics supplier, to integrate the process. Together, the SI solution informs the IO robotics system about what the products that are coming down the line. This data enables the IO system to create the correct labels for every pallet.
And for Finnebrogue’s new automated warehouse management solution, SI worked with forklift truck specialist Linde, to integrate the deployment of its automated forklift truck pallet storage solution.
With central management and data-driven instructions from SI’s stock control system sent to Linde’s forklift truck pallet solution, Finnebrogue now:
- centrally controls the put away for all pallets;
- identifies all stock required for despatch;
- always knows each pallet’s contents and location.
Automated reports, in the moment decision making and real-time dashboards
By moving from processes driven by manual intervention and spreadsheets, to SI’s completely integrated barcoded system, Finnebrogue has eliminated errors. “For instance, we’re now assured that pallets are loaded with the correct products, before being released,” explained Tariq.
“In addition, because we have access to a greater level of detail and information, available in real-time, our staff spend less time validating and checking data integrity. This means we can spend more time on managing the business and making informed ‘in-the-moment’ decisions.
“Finnebrogue’s decision-making is supported by access to a greater level of automated SI reporting, including daily stock variance, weekly P&L and a monthly management account pack.
Visualising information across business functions, in real-time
As an extension to Finnebrogue’s management reporting and analysis, the food manufacturer chose to deploy SI’s Active Dashboards. Working in collaboration, SI and Finnebrogue looked at the best opportunities to support the increased awareness of its new data-driven business insights.
Negating the need to run multiple, complex reports, where data only provides a one time snapshot, a series of Active Dashboards were deployed to highlight Finnebrogue’s KPIs and analyse trends across the business in real-time.
Usually associated with production, dashboards were also rolled out across its finance and sales operations.
Now, production dashboards are enabling the operational team to better manage throughput rates, waste and giveaway, whilst sales dashboards are providing a detailed overview and breakdowns by different KPI categories.
Taking ideas to customers with confidence to supply
To stay one step ahead of the competition, Finnebrogue not only looks to increase the supply of its existing ranges, but it also proactively works to take NPD ideas to its supermarket customers.
One of its most renowned innovations is the UK’s first ‘Artisan Finnebrogue Naked Bacon range’, made without artificial additives or nitrates. The success of the now expanded ‘Naked range,’ was a key driver for the delivery of its new SI integrated bacon production line.
Thanks to the data and information we get from the SI system, we have a much greater understanding the cost base associated with creating our products.Finnebrogue.
Cost base and margin transparency
As Tariq explained, “Finnebrogue Artisan has always renowned for innovation and its commitment to continuous improvement. Now, thanks to the data and information we get from the SI system, we have a much greater understanding the cost base associated with creating our products.
“SI’s reporting delivers a clear picture of our margins, and we also use the software to measure our weekly performance against the standards that have been set. This is important for Finnebrogue not just from a cost perspective but because we use the system to order the correct materials and quantities required to manufacture our products.
“And to ensure we deliver the best possible service for our customers, we have built clear product management processes within the business to ensure that the system is always populated with the most up to date information and standards.“
Taking action to realise the benefits integration
“My advice to any business looking to undertake a similar integration journey, is to plan to harness the power of the software,” explained Tariq. “Not only must system must be “fit for purpose” and used in a managed way, that’s focused on improving your business, but you should be prepared to re-engineer your processes and organisation.
By taking a much more open approach to changing the culture of how your business operates and challenging your food ERP and software supplier and internal teams to support and suggest changes to operations and systems, you really will be able to profit from the power integration delivers.”
Finnebrogue Artisan has the benefit of a forward-thinking owner and managing director who demands that all facets of the business are challenged and improved.
“With the whole team engaged in the vision, everyone at Finnebrogue understands how integrated, timely data is delivering insightful management information to better enable the business to make more informed decisions and profitable.”