Smithfield Foods, Perdue Farms see plant capacity gains from forecasting and BI tools
A lot more goes into putting that hot dog in your hand at the baseball stadium than simply the aisle barker signaling, “Hot dogs here.” Especially if it's one from Smithfield Packing, a division of Smithfield, Va.-based parent company Smithfield Foods. “It all starts with a forecast,” says Stuart Yowell, demand planning director.
A lot more goes into putting that hot dog in your hand at the baseball stadium than simply the aisle barker signaling, “ Hot dogs here .” Especially if it's one from Smithfield Packing , a division of Smithfield, Va.-based parent company Smithfield Foods.
“It all starts with a forecast,” says Stuart Yowell, demand planning director. “We need to know demand at the SKU level so we can understand the raw material requirements, packaging supplies, and how much line time we'll need.”
That task is considerably easier since Smithfield started using demand planning and forecasting software from John Galt Solutions . The new system replaces an increasingly unwieldy process involving multiple product managers—each separately scheduling individual lines.
“It was very cumbersome and not at all collaborative,” Yowell says. “We needed an easy-to-use forecasting tool to project demand into the future. The whole goal is to enhance customer service.”
The new system will enable field sales to deliver point-of-sale data back to the demand planning department to generate forecasts for future demand. “The second step is to take that forecast and plan against the capacity of our plants,” Yowell says.
The system accommodates historic adjustments for special promotions and sets warehouse safety stocks to ensure customer service levels during peak seasons. “If you don't run the same promotion the next year, John Galt recognizes that and smooths the spike so you don't over forecast,” Yowell adds.
The company is focusing solely on packaged meats—e.g., hot dogs, bacon, smoked sausage, and lunch meats—but will roll out the John Galt Solution to cover all products in six plants. The system will integrate with SAP , the corporate ERP system.
For those in the food & beverage industry tasked with keeping close tabs on market performance, the new Discovery System 6.0 business intelligence tool from IRM Corp. simplifies that task. The solution—billed as a “portable” business intelligence tool designed exclusively for food & beverage companies—enables easy access to key sales, margin, and customer profitability analysis to drive performance improvement. The new release adds dynamic graphical data visualization, and a flexible file system for storing personalized key performance indicator filters for individual users.
“We searched for some time for a flexible product that could be used by everyone, with varying levels of expertise,” says Redgie Rogers, western division food service manager for Perdue Farms , a full-line poultry supplier based in Salisbury, Md. “We can analyze our business in an unlimited number of ways,” he adds. “We can load targets, budgets, and plans; and then track against them on a daily basis.”
New graphical capabilities and filter-save features are seen by Perdue as significant enhancements to the base system.
“The graphical ability is especially powerful in terms of field sales doing business reviews with customers, enabling them to make more visually appealing presentations,” says Rogers. “Everyone likes to create their own filters, so it makes it very easy to save these and then go back and pull them out without reinventing the wheel. We don't have to rely on others to create reports. It gives us more time to focus on doing what we are best at.”
Discovery is a subscription-based solution whereby users submit business data files to IRM, which are processed and converted into proprietary information analytic templates associated with food & beverage industry best practices. These are then sent back as email attachments—typically within four to 12 hours—to be loaded onto laptops, making them “portable” without a live connection to a central processor.