Taking the ERP route to optimise productivity and quality

17 December 2019

To ensure it is able to keep pace with evolving food safety regulatory demands, Blakemans has employed an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that enables integrated management of its production process — from quote to dispatch.

A manufacturer of sausage and meat products, Blakemans is a family run company, that has supplied catering and fast food markets for over 65 years. Today, the company exports products to the Caribbean, Spain, the Falkland Islands, Dubai and China, as well as Greece, Portugal, and the Netherlands.
Operating from a state-of-the-art production facility in Newcastle-under-Lyme, the past decade has seen the company consolidate its position in frozen and chilled markets and successfully expand into the ready-meal and contract cooking market. 

Investment in the latest production technologies, manufacturing processes and quality assurance systems has enabled the company to lower operating costs, improve productivity, and boost the efficiency of its manufacturing processes.

“We work for some of the biggest and most prestigious names in food retail, who take quality and delivery reliability extremely seriously. Key to meeting their exacting standards is our ability to operate an efficient and consistent production process,” said Phil Blakeman, managing director at Blakemans. “Investing in the latest equipment and IT systems has been fundamental to attracting new clients, all of whom benefit from our state-of-the-art manufacturing, storage and distribution systems. Today, our operation is widely regarded as a model for the rest of Europe - an achievement that is largely down to our Epicor Tropos ERP system, which integrates and links every aspect of our business and has enabled us to achieve significant growth. Indeed, thanks to Tropos, we have recently completed a £2.2 million expansion project at our production site that will enable us to further diversify our product portfolio.”
Designed to meet the needs of food and drink manufacturers, especially those that distribute short shelf-life products - Tropos has enabled Blakemans to more precisely plan and coordinate production in real-time which has allowed it to maximise productivity and eliminate waste.
Providing a real-time picture of orders and the production schedule, it was vital that the ERP system needed to deliver all the insights needed by operational teams to improve planning, cut waste and increase production. As a result, production capacity at the Newcastle-under-Lyme facility has doubled, while costs have reduced.
Competitive advantage 
Today Blakemans uses the system to record and control its recipes and manufacturing methodologies, utilising live data to ensure products are manufactured, packed, and delivered to customers at the right time, exactly as ordered.
“Tropos helps differentiate what we do from our competition,” said Blakeman. “We can give customers live data and instant traceability on every movement a product goes through - not only does this give them confidence in the quality of the goods we deliver, they’re able to demonstrate that strict standards have been adhered to in every unit they sell.” 
The use of an ERP system designed for the food industry has also helped Blakemans to integrate applications across its business and to initiate new customer and supplier portals that make enhanced collaboration possible. “Customers can view their own accounts and previous orders, trigger new orders and take advantage of eCommerce facilities that are part and parcel of the full-service partnership we now offer,” explained Blakeman.
Extending similar privileges to its suppliers has also enabled the company to boost supply chain efficiencies. By providing suppliers with the insights they need to line up stock in advance of orders, Blakemans can ensure an optimised just-in-time pipeline.
Phil Blakeman also credits the ERP system with helping the company secure accreditations and satisfy codes of practice for all its retail and food service customers. He said: “Complete visibility and transparency is vital to ensuring we maintain our high level of service and quality. Tropos enables us to manage items such as materials, stock, and the planning of our big service lines - and enhances our customer relationships, because they trust the data we deliver.”

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