How a family business scaled up to become an industry powerhouse
When independent, family-owned business Forresters wanted to take the business to the next level, they turned to Emydex and we were with them every step of the way.
Meet the client
Established in 1972 and based in Cheshire, Forresters is one of the largest suppliers of cooked, raw and coated poultry in the United Kingdom. The company supplies retailers, food services, pub retailers, manufacturers and catering butchers with a variety of frozen and chilled branded and own label chicken products.
Forresters had the expertise, the market and the reputation to help them to take the business to the next level. The issue was with operations and one of the biggest hurdles was the fact that their existing production and billing systems were built in-house and not integrated to their back-office ERP system. In practical terms, the production lines couldn’t handle any more as they were currently configured.
Maintaining and updating the systems was costly with little support, resulting in an over-reliance on a few key individuals. In addition, Forrester’s was unable to report in real-time on their daily production, stocks, traceability, yields and costs.
What we did
Forresters managers and Emydex specialists worked closely together to work out how to blend the best technology with the company’s own expertise to create an operation that could upscale as needed. Forresters commissioned Emydex to develop a production management and traceability reporting system which would operate on the shop floor and in the back-office for data maintenance, analysis, trending and reporting.
We began with phase one which was the installation of our packing and processing module on a dozen shop floor weigh-price labelling packing terminals. The Emydex weighing and labelling software system for finished products features easy-to-use label design, compliant with all EU regulations.
With that up and running we moved on to phase two which covered the roll-out of a factory-wide solution that covered the entire line. It was designed to give full traceability from start to finish, from intake of the raw material by purchase order, defrosting, cooking, production work orders, marination, packing, analysis by retail line, full stock, yield and dispatch control and then on to Sage 200 accounts for invoicing.
A part of the project which was not in the original scope was the introduction of a Keyence vision system and barcode reader, that we fully integrated into Forresters’ Emydex solution. The Emydex software communicates with the Keyence vision and barcode reader, automatically checking for the correct batch number, use by date, product code, label layout / structure and barcodes on packs as they move down the packing line. If they are as they should be, the system triggers the printing of the correct box label for the product, rather than requiring the operator to press a button to print it. If either the label or barcode is incorrect, the Emydex system lets the operator know. The benefits of this system include more accurate product labelling, with less errors and potential recalls.
This system is now live on the factory floor, door-to-door including all of Forresters fixed weight lines. The biggest and most immediate benefit of the new Emydex system is the reduction of manual input which has eliminated the risk of human error. Packing is now fully automated and labels are printed automatically when the correct number and type of packs are in the box, saving time, resources and money.
Forresters now has complete visibility over their entire production management process. They are no longer reliant on key individuals to manage in-house systems and they have a full support team on hand should any issues arise.
Most importantly, the Emydex system provides management and supervisors with real-time and accurate reporting on factory stocks, production, as well full traceability reports.
Profitability is up, human error has been eliminated and the factory has scaled up as a direct result of the improvements in efficiency and production brought about by the Emydex solution.
Commenting shortly after go-live Heidi Dilliway-Nickson, Director with Forresters said “the Emydex system is very efficient, easy to operate and works well for us. The full traceability we have gained saves masses of time - what used to take the QA department days to analyse is now instant. Emydex never say they can’t do something: they’ll listen and go away and come back with an answer, they always find a way.”
John Acornley, Finance Manager with Forresters added “We packed over one million packs last week and we have thirteen production lines where we used to have two: the company has expanded massively, and we couldn’t have done it without the Emydex system in place. It helps us to drill into products and see what’s happening in real-time, following every chicken through every step and that means stock rotation is perfect, quality is perfect. That means we can see issues and potential problems and react before they have an impact. The savings in time and paperwork alone have made it all worthwhile and the traceability reporting is brilliant – we can make important decisions on the fly. QMS is coming soon and will replace the last troublesome bits of paperwork in the factory.”
Next comes the QMS system and rolling out the solution to the factory’s remaining multi-pack lines.
For more on Emydex’s Quality Management system, read:
Electronic Quality Management Systems for the Food Industry
or contact Sales in any of our Dublin, Brisbane, South Africa or Toronto offices