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In early 2011, Borruso and her colleagues began to evaluate software options that could streamline their business processes, especially MRP, warehouse management, lot tracing for recalls and FDA food audits, as well as commissions and rebates for their sales force and customers. An initial examination of numerous products was disappointing since most of the solutions didn't offer the automated lot tracing functionality they needed. This led to consideration of a custom-designed solution from scratch.
Fortunately, they discovered SAP Business One, a robust and flexible ERP solution that appeared to fulfill all the items on their wish list. The company contacted a local SAP Gold Partner, Softengine Inc. (www.softengineusa.com), to demonstrate the features and benefits of the software and explain how the system could be modified to their unique specifications.
Softengine not only had an impressive track record of successful, high-ROI implementations of SAP Business One, they also had developed a complementary SAP software extension program that was designed expressly for food-based businesses 'Food One'. Together, this powerful combination could deliver superior financial management and inventory control functionality, plus complete traceability of every step and ingredient in their complex production process. Armed with this solution, Castle Importing could conduct quick and precise recall practice runs and maintain total compliance with all FDA requirements.
Comprehensive Inventory Control and Lot Tracing Functionality
After the SAP Business One 'Food One' solution had been installed, Castle Importing started to reap instant dividends from its fully automated, real-time inventory control system, especially in the area of lot control. "With the new system, I can pull up a serial number, item number or batch number and immediately see all the history behind that product," said Borruso. "For example, when we get an incoming product, shipping assigns a lot number. From that lot number alone, I can see where I purchased that item, where I used it and how much of that item is still in the warehouse -- all from one piece of information."
Central to the new solution was the optimization of its tracing capabilities. To achieve this goal, the Softengine programming team modified its Food One program to offer a wonderful new feature called "Multi-Level Trace," which automatically traces every step and ingredient of the entire cycle backward from the shipping documents received by the customer to the initial purchase order sent to the vendor.
From the Batch Number Transactions Report screen, a user selects a specific Batch Number and then presses the Multi-Level Trace button. The ensuing screen displays a comprehensive array of information pertaining to all the Items contained in that batch, including Levels, Item Codes, Recipe Descriptions, Batch #s for each item, Warehouse location, Quantity, UOM (Unit of Measurement), Ship Dates and Addresses of applicable customers and vendors. Once the specific items for recall have been identified, the user can press the Lock and Recall button, which freezes those items from any further processing and automatically generates a recall letter. This letter can then be sent to the appropriate vendors and customers associated with those items, thereby ensuring that every product is recalled and taken out of circulation.
"You have to be third-party, food safety-audited and you have to be able to conduct a complete recall procedure within two hours to meet the FDA compliance regulations," claimed Borruso. "With our new Multi-level Trace capability, we can produce a report that contains all the batches/lots, vendors and customers in the allotted time and have the confidence that we can pass any FDA audit procedure."
The enhanced system also enables users to locate any discrepancies that may appear in a particular recipe, by tracing back to a specific lot number, weight or quantity. This enables the production team to make adjustments before the product is finished, thereby reducing waste, costs and the potential for a recall later due to an error that wasn't caught in production. Plus, when they assemble a recipe, if they are lacking an ingredient needed to complete the job, they can either find a substitute ingredient (with the customer's approval) or have the system create a purchase order to obtain the missing ingredient. This saves considerable time and expense, since they no longer need to manually double-check every component, repackage and then resend the finished product.
Flexible Commission and Rebate Management