Software solutions combined

Related tags Manufacturing

Two IT solutions providers have formed a partnership to offer food
and drink manufacturers a combined management system. The move,
which is designed to improve plant operation efficiencies even
further, is a good example of the move towards greater integration
in the sector, writes Anthony Fletcher.

The innovation came about because both firms believed that customers wanted an enterprise-wide solution without the hassle of bringing two vendors together. Both hope that the collaboration will deliver an integrated solution with the reassurance that the partners involved have a vested interest in co-operation.

"Increasingly food manufacturers are looking to deploy systems that give them competitive advantage in innovation and a faster route to market for new products,"​ said Bill Donoghue, Ramesys' managing director.

"They want to integrate the resultant data directly into their ERP solution to improve efficiencies. Both Ramesys​ and SSI see the collaboration between the two companies that currently lead in their respective disciplines, as the best way of responding. Naturally, we hope that this initiative will enable both companies to gain further market share as a result."

Ramesys' system Creations is a fully integrated product innovation and development management system that covers all aspects of product development from idea and concept generation through to post launch analysis and product lifecycle management. The company claims that approximately 40 per cent of all critical development paths are consumed in duplication of activities with administration accounting for up to a further 60 per cent. By minimising both of these areas, Creations has been gauged to reduce project resource requirement by up to 40 per cent.

SSI is the developer of the class-leading Tropos ERP solution, which includes supply chain, production and distribution management for food, beverage and other process industries. Tropos is designed to support the specialised manufacturing environment of the food industry, where timescales are short, quality control and traceability is paramount and customers - usually the major retailers - are very demanding.

The complete integration of both processes means that data need only be entered once, significantly reducing duplication and administration from the critical path and ensuring a shorter development timescale and earlier return on investment thereby accelerating market growth.

"Both Ramesys and SSI have arguably the best credentials to address the needs we have identified in the food processing sector, where product development follows through to manufacturing and ongoing supply,"​ said Neville Merritt, SSI's sales and marketing director. "Now Ramesys and SSI are working together, customers can have confidence in a fully integrated end to end system, supplied by the acknowledged market leaders in their respective specialist sectors.

"Tropos users in food processing often use paper-based or desktop systems to manage NPD projects as this is a specialised area that has different requirements to the manufacturing process. Now they can have one system sharing common data to have complete continuity from the initial idea through to the finished pack on its way to the customer."

This partnership is a good example of the move towards greater integration in the food and drink sector. Manufacturers, retailers and service providers are becoming aware that they will have to collaborate more in the future if they wish to remain competitive. Stringent legislation, consumer concerns about food safety and growing pressure from retailers have forced food manufacturers to look at every possible means of ensuring traceability and efficiency throughout the supply chain.

Matthew Holland, manufacturing execution systems (MES) product manager for Siemens UK, told​ that it is in everyone's long-term interest to work together and invest in IT systems that can trace products from start to finish. The cost of compensation or a product recall means that the cost of installing MES is less of a factor than it ever was.

"If you can put a system in place that will enable you to act react better to demands, make your manufacturing process more agile and make you better suited to retailers and consumers, then you will. A good example is Coca-Cola - a few years back the company was forced to issue a recall after wood preserve seeped into a vending machine. This cost them over $100 million, because the system was in place then that could trace the product back quick enough."

But Holland believes that the technological capability to achieve complete systemic integration is now in place. This is down to technological development, but also because of changes to the market place.

"There has been huge amount of investment in the last few years on the technical side of things,"​ said Holland. "Siemens for example has made a number of acquisitions, which has helped the company to react quickly. We have bought specialists that mean we can integrate a whole solution."

This, it would seem, is the purpose of the new Ramesys / SSi product partnership.

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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