In 2016, the managing director of Drover Foods issued a challenge to the business: find a software solution to deliver electronic traceability. Today, Drover Foods has that solution in place and having invested in the foundations of a firm ERP platform from CSB-System, they are also physically building a factory extension to meet rising demand.
Drover supplies cooked, frozen, ready to eat products to the B2B market. They have some impressive blue-chip customers such as Kerry Foods and Greencore – who sell to the likes of Costa and M&S.
With customers like these, Drover needs to demonstrate a firm grip on its processes and traceability. In addition, they are growing and developing many new vegetarian products. With these combined pressures they sought assistance from CSB-System.
Monthly mass balance required
In addition to the normal technical standards, some customers require Drover to produce monthly back-to-farm traceability and mass balance reports on all their meat. With a whole month’s data to go through, this was really time-consuming with their old paper-based system. The principals of traceability are straightforward: record where everything came from – and where it all went! But it all gets a lot more complex when you have hundreds of items and recipes – and specified origins for meat.
CSB factory ERP
From small beginnings Drover don’t have a dedicated IT Department and they didn’t want to do everything at once. They had three main requirements for a new system:
1. Electronic traceability
2. Quality control
3. Keep it simple
So, CSB proposed a discreet system covering only raw material reception, inventory, production and quality control.
Seamless integration of hardware and software
Since CSB installed industrial PCs (CSB-Racks), printers, interfaces to scales and scanners the operatives at Drover can directly register incoming raw materials and immediately issue barcode labels. Movements or usages of the ingredients are then captured by simply scanning. Weights are picked up directly from the scales – so labels can also be issued to WIP bags or kits.
By labelling, scanning, capturing weights and inputting batches directly in real time, there is no need for pen, paper, confusion or duplication. And nothing is lost. Best of all, when it comes to traceability reporting, what used to take hours can now be done in minutes.
In the best quality control systems, quality is assured through well designed processes based on HACCP principals.
Hazards are identified and eliminated or reduced and controlled. As the CSB Quality Control module is integrated into the system, it enables Drover Foods to build in the right tests, at their critical process steps.
Tests can be restrictive, meaning that further process steps cannot be transacted in the system until corrective action is taken or an authorised manager releases product. Furthermore, all test results are recorded in the system so that control data can be monitored, trended and easily retrieved when required.
Allergen labelling built in
In addition to the other advantages, Drover have found the functionality to do allergen labelling really helpful – and reassuring. According to technical manager, Lee-Anne O’Keeffe, “The system helps us with allergen labelling because we only need to enter the information once against the raw material item”.
Building for the future
Drover are now investing €4m in a new extension to the factory in order to meet rising demand for their innovative new vegetarian products.
With the foundations in place it’s easy for them to add further modules from CSB. For example, by installing Sales and mobile enterprise resource planning (MERP), they could quickly eliminate paper picking lists and move to a system where mobile scanners display the order pick and the warehouse operative simply scans the items to confirm.
The system helps them to grow and it can grow with them when they’re ready.