The Everfresh Group was founded in Sweden in 1987. Today the company is wholly owned by the Irish company Total Produce Plc. Its initial objective was to import fruit, primarily from South America and Cyprus. As time progressed, the range of fruits expanded, and vegetables were added as were the number of countries from which the products were bought.
The Everfresh Group is dedicated to supplying fruit and vegetables to wholesalers, stores and in some cases to importers in the Swedish market. The business is based on a rich international network of suppliers from all corners of the world.
The Everfresh Group employs 400 people and had a turnover of SEK 4.2 billion in 2007.
In the fruit and vegetable industry, logistics is a hot potato. The Everfresh Group depends extensively on IT support to handle the business. Goods turnover is extremely fast and customers are much less tolerant of late deliveries than in other industries.
The Everfresh Group felt that the traditional supply chain from grower to consumer involved too many parties. The group wanted to change this out-dated method. Radical thinking such as buying speculatively from the grower and arranging the dispatch of products directly to the supermarkets, would see customer service levels blossom.
The Everfresh Group’s warehouse – the most modern in Europe and the very heart of the vast logistics center in Helsingborg - provides evidence of innovative thinking. Fruits and vegetables arrive from suppliers all over the world. The group processes products seven days a week and handles an average 100,000 boxes daily, with each box containing 10kg of fruit or vegetables. Individual pickers can lift approximately 1,500kg per hour. In order to better handle the weight, the Everfresh Group intended to use a robot, which had to interface with a new software solution and focus on carrying heavy products.
One of the tricks of the trade is to move products quickly. The Everfresh Group needed the ability to speculate with buying patterns and ship orders that arrived, all in the same day.
Solution and capabilities
The Everfresh Group used an earlier version of IBS integrated supply chain management software. The capabilities and reliability of this food logistics solution were an important factor in the decision to implement a more sophisticated and comprehensive solution from IBS. The company discovered that the new version of IBS food logistics software included many of the functionality that the Everfresh Group had previously added on its own.
Another reason for choosing IBS was the ease of connecting the logistics software to external systems such as ’On-Lime‘, the group’s own e-commerce system.
The Everfresh Group’s business is dedicated to one overriding principle – transparency of operations. Unlike many companies, the Everfresh Group wants its customers to be familiar with its pricing and overheads. IBS not only provides this functionality but is also being utilized as a purchasing system. In addition, the group’s customers can utilize the food logistics software to compile sales statistics and even print smart signs.
Orders are transmitted from the IBS logistics system straight into the Everfresh Group’s warehouse, where 20 percent of the goods are automatically picked by a robot, interfaced with IBS software. Small computers are fitted to the company’s fork-lifts, where order details are checked off, before being re-transmitted to the food logistics system for invoicing.
As each pallet arrives, it is labelled with a unique sticker containing a serial number and a bar code. This ‘pallet passport’ determines exactly where the pallet is placed in the high-rise refrigerated warehouse and the order in which it is delivered to the Everfresh Group’s customers.
Benefits and value
The entire order process at the Everfresh Group is now 100 percent electronic and paperless. Electronic invoices are issued to 50 percent of the customers, which leaves more time to monitor the flow of goods.
Food logistics software allows the Everfresh Group to act as the purchasing department for its customers. Over a period of time, the group can guarantee the best bargain. This way, the Everfresh Group grows along with its business partners: the more they buy of the total assortment, the lower the prices will be. This has led to an increase in customer satisfaction.
Due to the complete interface between the picking-robot and the logistics system, the group’s warehouse is free-flowing and cost-efficient. By reducing the workload of its pickers, the Everfresh Group can retain its workforce longer.
The Everfresh Group has an inventory turnover of 1.8 days. Orders are shipped the same day they are received. Not only has IBS financial management software been a valuable tool in monitoring how margins vary hour by hour, it has provided the company with a sharp competitive edge. The Everfresh Group is able to keep track of the extremely rapid flow of goods, an essential benefit of growing a profitable business.
The Everfresh Group’s investment in IBS food logistics software did not take long to bear fruit. The company has been able to grow its market share from seven percent in 1997 to 35 percent in 2007, achieving a turnover of SEK 4.2 billion. The Everfresh Group will shortly reach a stage where the cost of increasing the domestic market share is prohibitive. In order to reap increased turnover and profitability, the company will need to focus on foreign markets. With IBS food software as its chief business system, the Everfresh Group can look towards a ripe future.