Epicor Software tipped a glass to celebrate its successful 10-year collaboration with innovative Scottish whisky distiller, Bruichladdich at an exclusive tasting event in London.
The safety requirement placed on food and beverage manufacturers to track their ingredients, materials and end-products from origin to customers means traceability is critical.
In the face of ever more stringent legislation, expanding supply chains and automated distribution networks, digital technologies are helping businesses shoulder the load in a scalable, transparent, real-time manner.
Over a dram of Bruichladdich’s finest, Sabby Gill – executive vice president of Epicor International, explained to The Manufacturer how the company had helped Bruichladdich transition to become a modern manufacturer, one focused on quality, people, provenance and growth.
Founded on the remote Isle of Islay in the Inner Hebrides in 1881, the Bruichladdich distillery was brought back to life in 2001 after a shutdown period of almost a decade.
Despite outdated systems, legacy infrastructure and original Victorian machinery, Epicor’s process manufacturing software, Tropos, helped Bruichladdich improve data accuracy through technologically advanced business practices, increased employee engagement through concise and timely reporting, and enabling in-house bottling processes.
There are several main features a beverage manufacturing software system must be equipped with, according to Gill. Firstly, it must guarantee the traceability of an unlimited number of points in the production chain. Without such a guarantee, a business may fall victim to product recalls, lost inventory and liable actions – all of which are costly activities.
Secondly, effective materials management which helps reduces both cost and risk. Thirdly, it should be recipe-based and capable of considering a bill of materials that is optimised for specific formulations and varying batch sizes.
Related article: Scottish distiller revolutionises whisky manufacturing
At the time Simon Coughlin, chief executive of Bruichladdich, revitalised the distillery, there was only one phone, a few spreadsheets in the office and little sign of a modern computer system.
With the existing rudimentary stock control system, it seemed to an almost impossible task of achieve the HRMC-required task of filing daily, monthly and yearly reports detailing every alcohol order. Coughlin and his team needed a solution that would not only incorporate bottling, but also help move financial reporting from single-entry spreadsheets to an automated and reliable system.
Epicor Tropos helped the distiller to track every purchase order going through the business – from caps and bottles, to barley and whisky, even keyrings in the gift shop. It also provided a greater level of business data transparency, equipping managers with the real-time information they needed to make informed and accurate decisions.
Coughlin explained: “We can actually trust all of our reports and numbers now, and the beauty is, we pinpoint any discrepancies in reports quickly and effectively, which reduces the risk of any issues escalating.”
By updating and embracing digital technologies, Coughlin expects Bruichladdich to distribute some 320,000 cases around the world – a considerable increase from the 5,000 cases shipped little more than 15 years ago.