MRP Solution For Image On Food Ltd

In 2004 Image On Food Ltd needed to move away from their collection of Excel spreadsheets and, after dismissing bakery-specific software as too inflexible, selected 123insight's MRP solution

They implemented the system at the same time as the BRC quality standard, and after going live they improved lead time accuracy from two weeks to three days, eradicated stock level errors and reduced low shelf life stock by 5%. This ‘10 Years On’ case study catches up with the company after moving premises, a double-dip recession and significant turnover increase to see how 123insight has helped their business.

Image On Food MRP case study

x4 increase in turnover with MRP solutions

  • Turnover quadrupled with same number of admin staff and licences, with stock only rising 20%
  • Were able to perform 4-hour audit test in 20 minutes
  • New functionality continues to add benefit
  • In-house SQL skills allow live data to be reshaped
  • CRM+ improved customer communications
  • Customer Care visits help identify new ways to use the system
  • Assists with audit

Image On Food, based in Market Drayton, Shropshire, implemented 123insight in 2004 with 10 licences after their series of Excel spreadsheets failed to provide good traceability, stock information and accurate lead time predictions, almost costing the company two major clients. At the time, Managing Director Tim Hopcroft evaluated a production system specific to the bakery industry, but found that it was not flexible enough for their business.

Riding the double-dip recession

Since then, and despite a double-dip recession the company has grown significantly, although still subscribes to the same 10 licences as the number of admin staff has not needed to be increased. Said Tim; “Last year (2016) was just shy of £1.4m. I would imagine our turnover has quadrupled since we implemented in 2004. We have the same administration staff but the job roles have become more defined.”

Although turnover has increased dramatically stock has increased by just 20%. Tim cites that in addition to only buying what they need, another reason for this is down to visibility of slower moving items. “If we have 20,000 pieces of ribbon that’s not been used for a while we can choose to put it on a line instead of buying others.”

Complying with quality standards and audits

The company has to comply with the BRC (British Retail Consortium) quality standard but since implementing 123insight audits have never been a problem. Noted Tim; “We just had an audit last week. We were given four hours to do a full forward and backward trace on an item. We did it in 20 minutes, and that was taking our time as well. ”

123insight’s monthly subscription model means that Image On Food always have access to the latest version without any software upgrade costs. A recent update included a new ‘implode’ feature, which Tim found extremely useful; “The implode trace is just phenomenal. We can literally select a batch of dried egg whites that will last us three months and will be used in 300,000 products, and we now know each batch of gingerbread men that this batch of egg whites has gone into.”

Integrated CRM

Tracking of customer conversations was something that Image On Food had previously stored in Outlook contact and notes fields, but a subsequent upgrade to 123insight’s CRM+ means that everything is now in one place. Said Gemma Williams, Senior Product Manager; “What that has meant for us is definitely speed. When raising quotes it links directly into the customer contact, which automatically sets an action to follow up on the quote, and also provides us with any previous notes. We can quickly download a list of addresses for online mailshots or postal addresses. It's also very useful as it's no longer just stored in someone's head. That was the big problem before. Someone might be speaking to one member of staff one day and then speak to someone else a couple of days later who wouldn’t know about the previous conversation. Now we store all notes about previous conversations on CRM+ and anyone is able to access them.”

The company has in-house SQL expertise and has expanded on 123insight’s functionality by drawing live information from its databases along with their own and then reshaping it in Excel. This has helped them reach other targets, such as reducing the number of tools on the shop floor. Said Tim; “Our works order list tool numbers, and we can run a query to list all of the tools required for the coming week. So whereas before we might have 200 tools in the bakery, now we only have what we need for the week, with the rest of the tools stored off the shop floor. As a result the bakery now has more space. It was part of the full picture of clearing the clutter out of the production areas, cataloguing tools and only issuing what was needed for the day or week.”

Gemma added that the possibility for human error has been reduced, as not only are there less tools on the shop floor but also works orders have a picture of the finished product, adding further clarity.

123insight has given me the foundations of the future of the business in terms of how we can grow it. It's the answer to all of our problems, going from 'no planning' to 'full planning'.

Tim Hopcroft - Managing Director
Tim Hopcroft - MD, Image On Food Ltd

Accurate pricing

As a result of tighter control of stock and, more importantly, job runtimes, Image On Food is much more confident in the accuracy of their product pricing. Said Tim; “We can confidently take risks, which we have to as we're moving towards a different league of customer now. If someone orders 50,000 biscuits and asks 'can we have it 5p cheaper', we can look at the history and say 'we can do that'. It works the other way as well. We had an enquiry today where they’d already received a quote for 10,000 and now they only want 3000. We can look at it and see the setup costs, tooling costs etc. and make a decision to say ‘no, it's going to cost this’.”

Performance-related bonuses

The company has revamped their previous bonus scheme as a result of staff feedback to be performance-based, and the Shop Floor Data Control provides all of the raw information required to calculate this. Explained  Gemma; “Staff felt frustrated that some people were working 150% and others at only 50%, yet getting the same rate of pay. So to get the decorating bonus they have to be able to decorate over 50% of the lines produced in the quarter and to be over the target times allowed for decorating that product. That's ensuring that everyone gets trained on every single line, everybody has a chance to decorate every line and expand their decorating skills base, and it also answers the staff issue of performance-related pay.”

Image On Food receives a regular visit from 123 Insight Customer Care staff and this has proven extremely useful over time, with each visit helping them to identify new ways to use the software. Said Gemma; “When they come in they see how we use the software and will often chip in to say ‘did you know you can do this?’. It’s just little things but it makes such a big difference. It’s great being able to show them something rather than just via screenshots or over the phone.”

Value for money from subscription

Although the company has subscribed to 123insight for well over a decade Tim still feels that he gets value for money over the traditional approach of purchasing a system; “When we first took the system on the subscription model was good because we were getting a lot for our money but not outlaying a lot in one go. I think at the time 123 Insight were probably groundbreaking but now subscriptions are everywhere. It's the way of the world. Even if you buy the latest software, assuming you can still buy it, you still have to buy updates, support and everything else. You have to value that monthly payment and ask if it's adding value to the business. You haven't got to justify £35,000. You've just got to justify it month to month.”

Since implementing 123insight Image On Food has recommended the system to several other companies in the food industry, with Tim believing that the system has helped to feed their growth over the years; “It’s hard to remember what it was like before. We’re going back such a long while, but I dread to think what it would be like now if we weren’t using it.  We were on £1.4m turnover last year and are aiming for £1.6m this year. We’ve another couple of products that we’re planning to launch this year and our aim is really just to make the business easier to run.” 

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