SI’s livestock management system successfully implemented at Pickstock’s state-of-the-art meat processing plant
Pickstock currently processes up to 2,500 cattle over a five-day week. The new livestock management system has been designed to support a major shift in animal procurement, now that the business purchases cattle directly from over 5,000 farmers throughout the UK. This shift to 100% farmer procured cattle has dramatically changed the business, as livestock manager, Hayley Draper explained:
“Because we supply our products to customers with very high standards and differing specifications, we need to secure the best quality and a consistent supply of animals. We’ve moved up to an integrated business model that now includes livestock procurement, meat processing, on-site cold stores and despatch. As a result, managing all these processes has inevitably become far more complex.”
“When we looked at the complexity of what was required, SI’s specialist abattoir management software suite was the obvious choice for Pickstock”. Hayley continued, “We worked closely with the SI team to specify the solution”.
Pickstock’s key objectives for its new livestock management system included:
- Enhancing it audit ready capabilities to maintain Grade A status.
- Delivering data-led traceability, passport scanning and veterinary health information.
- Speeding up cattle identification, weighing and grading process.
- Documenting all data in real-time for faster cattle stock allocation.
- Integrating a faster farmer payment system, complete with individual animal data.
Committed to delivering faster payments to farmers
For Pickstock, modularity was particularly important when it came to the implementation phase. “Due to SI’s modular food software, and the potential to integrate with our existing ERP system, we were able to install, check and run each module one step at a time, ensuring production continuity” Hayley explained.
“In addition, there were certain changes that would be required to accommodate our supplier base. Managing this setup was critical to delivering fast payments to our farmers, which is a fundamental principle of Pickstock’s sustainable business model.”
To support faster payments, the SI team developed specific features within its livestock payments software. These additional features have delivered advanced reporting and integration for Pickstock’s accounts team.
“As a results of implementing SI’s new livestock management system, Pickstock now pays more than 500 farmers within two days of processing.”
Helping farmers to improve profitability
Hayley: “Part of our promise to farmers is how we support them beyond prompt payment. We share all of the relevant information we collect, to help them improve the health and grade of animals they sell.
“This is the reason why we worked with SI to develop an inclusive animal-by-animal detailed reports, that we send to our farmers. As the reports include grade and veterinary information, in some cases this information can be used to improve overall welfare, herd health and the grade achieved by different animals. The feedback we’ve received from farmers since implementing these reports has been brilliant. Many of them have commented about how much the information has helped them.”
Find out more about SI’s Lairage Management software.
A surprise for the auditors with full traceability in a matter of minutes
Following the implementation of the SI livestock management system, managing audits has become more straightforward for Pickstock. As Hayley explained, “One of the most interesting parts of the completion of the integration project has been the reaction of auditors.
“Before the system was implemented, whenever an auditor came into the business and asked for traceability information, this would usually take several hours to produce.
“Now, whenever the auditors visit, we can produce traceability information in less than the time it takes to make a cup of tea!
“In fact, the first auditors that visited after the system went live were so shocked about how fast and completely we carried out the audit, that they didn’t quite believe it. To reassure them, we had to take them through how the system works to retrieve the information. Seeing is believing, and they happily signed off the audit.”
“This is a hugely significant step forward for us as a business. We are regularly audited by our customers, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and are also certified by Assured British Meat, which enables us to display the Red Tractor logo on all our beef products.”
To find out more about how Pickstock and other leading food processors have moved up to our digitalised QA, download our 20 page interactive guide.
For more information about our abattoir traceability, please click here.
Speed increases throughput potential
Processing up to 2,500 animals over a five-day week, the speed at which the SI system can identify, grade, label and allocate each animal, has meant the Pickstock team can ramp up production, as and when customer demand increases. As Hayley explained: “Having the capability to vary how many animals we process in a week, means our team can meet all our orders, which is the golden rule in meat processing. And, as we become more familiar with the solution, we can see how this figure has the potential to significantly increase.
“When it comes to new customer acquisitions, this provides great confidence for the customer, especially as we can demonstrate the granular levels of detail we can achieve, to meet their specific specifications. What is equally important, is that this growth can be achieved without significant additional investment in the physical plant and equipment. Labour would have to be increased, but all the same controls and data will be fed into the system, with touchscreens combining information with data feeds off equipment, including weigh scales.”
Combining human expertise with digital grading technology
With grading being so important to the process, Pickstock has invested in a dual grading approach, with digital camera-based grading technology integrated with a grading specialist and touch screen console.
Hayley: “This combination helps to deliver the best possible combined grading data. Not only do we benefit from the experience of our graders and the electronic data captured from the camera system, but it also enables us to provide data-rich reports to the farmers.”
Taking the tour helps to build lasting relationships
In addition to increasing its efficiencies across processes, Pickstock is using its Telford site to grow both its customer and farmer numbers, by inviting them to visit the facility. Hayley: “It’s proved to be a great way for us to build relationships and trust, particularly with farmers. They can see our processes in action and understand how we work with them to deliver fair returns in a sustainable way.”
The future – greater data integration
The abattoir system was phase one of SI’s wider systems solution within the vertically-integrated meat processing company. The Pickstock team integrated further software modules into its boning, packing and stock control processes to create a full SI food ERP Plus solution, with an MES system added to collect and process data in real-time.
Now, Pickstock is preparing to further enhance its system by developing a passport scanning integration, incorporating internet data checks, to automate another manual process.
With integration now firmly part of its future development, Pickstock’s investment in technology means that it has built in operational agility which allows it to react quickly to any change in regulation, market, farmer and customer demand.