H.J. Heinz is one of the world’s leading marketers of branded foods to retail and food service channels. The company’s renowned brands can be found in more than 50 markets worldwide. Heinz expanded its European presence in 1999 by acquiring Serv-a-Portion of Belgium, which became a wholly owned subsidiary under the name of H.J. Heinz Belgium.
Heinz Belgium is a producer of jams, condiments and sauces in portion packs (cups, sachets and small glass jars). Its customers are mainly food service companies supplying a wide range of end-user segments such as hospitals, hotels, restaurants, air catering and fast food outlets throughout Europe. The company has experienced rapid growth and is well on its way to becoming the continent’s leader in the field of packaged food portions.
Heinz Belgium’s product range of food packages is becoming a vital part of Heinz’s food service development program. In fact, 90 percent of the Belgian production is destined for the international market, particularly to neighboring countries.
With its rapid growth, Heinz Belgium felt that improvements in efficiency could be achieved without a significant increase in staff levels. The company has to cope with complex challenges, which can cause heartburn for its customers. The company’s food products must be high-quality and meet health standards, no matter whether it is fresh, frozen or processed. Moreover, a half-baked food logistics system could leave Heinz Belgium’s business in the deep freeze when it comes to reliable supply, pricing and delivery.
Cost accounting was also of importance, since the company works with complex pricing structures, which needed to be measured against related manufacturing costs - by the minute.
Heinz Belgium was in a pickle and quickly realized that its legacy system was unable to keep up with the company’s rapidly shifting needs and explosive growth once it was acquired by the Heinz Group. So outdated was the old software that it was not even Y2K compliant and the software supplier was limited in its range of activities. This caused concerns for Heinz Belgium about on-going support and stability.
In essence, the company was looking for a integrated food logistics software solution to fit all its business needs as well as a financially solid, experienced and proven business partner with whom it could work comfortably - and whom it could trust. In particular, the new software solution had to completely integrate production, administration and logistics.
Solution and capabilities
Heinz Belgium created a list of criteria to alleviate its jam. This was sent to prospective food software vendors and after an in-depth study of four leading ERP vendors, the company finally selected IBS integrated food logistics software.
Heinz Belgium chose IBS for reasons of value, usability and experience. IBS was able to put forward references based on many successful implementations and satisfied customers both within Heinz’ industry and others. IBS food logistics software proved to be totally integrated, boasting the right functionality that required little customisation over and above the standard system. The cost of the food software was attractive and, more importantly, the relationship and trust that IBS could offer clinched the deal. In order to gain access to future releases, Heinz Belgium purchased most of the standard IBS food distribution software modules.
IBS software is ideally suited to the food distribution industry with support for sales, CRM, marketing, financial control and business performance measurement and decision support. The solution also serves up opportunities for quick Return on Investment (ROI), measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and real value. To deliver food products in the quickest, most cost-efficient manner, IBS has provided Heinz Belgium an integrated food software solution that automates and optimizes all processes from the warehouse to its customers.
Heinz Belgium went live successfully with IBS food distribution software within a nine-month period. Conversion took place over one weekend and on Monday morning all the users were up and running, with the first invoices being processed. The acquisition of the Belgian company by Heinz also occurred during this period, along with many other company changes, including new production lines. Despite this uncommon situation, the project was accomplished successfully, on time and within budget.
Benefits and value
Heinz Belgium remains very enthusiastic about its choice of a comprehensive logistics system supplier. The benefits of an integrated solution are apparent. The integrated nature of IBS food software has eliminated delays in the measurement of manufacturing costs.
The total integration inherent in IBS logistics system provided a way to link all system information with Heinz Belgium’s standard reporting tool. This provides a comprehensive range of standard reports, which can be used and changed on-line. All production data is passed directly to a dedicated computer, which means that Heinz Belgium no longer has to maintain two bills of material.
Mistakes and discrepancies between the food ERP system and the production server are a thing of the past. Heinz Belgium now avoids duplication, resulting in a more effective, less-costly work force.
Despite the powerful functionality of the food logistics system, Heinz Belgium finds IBS software less complex than anticipated. Benefits are also gained in the overall management of the system, with improved reporting and a better understanding of its business - all this without the need to employ IT staff.
The most important advantage for Heinz Belgium has been a major improvement in efficiency. Since the implementation of IBS food logistics software, the company turnover has grown in only four years from EUR 25 million to EUR 75 million with little change in headcount.