Supply chain execution in the cloud

Last month, Bakkavor New Primebake (NPB) welcomed supply chain professionals to its Crewe sites for a tour to discover how supply chain execution in the cloud is revolutionising operations.

New Primebake handles 3,800 pallets and picks 280,000 cases weekly.
New Primebake handles 3,800 pallets and picks 280,000 cases weekly.

Bakkavor is a leading manufacturer of fresh prepared foods. It specialises in making and developing private label prepared foods for the top global grocery retailers and well-known international foodservice operators and is committed to supplying outstanding quality, value and service to its customers.

The group’s UK operation comprises 32 facilities in 20 locations. Established four decades ago, Bakkavor New Primebake (NPB) became part of the international Bakkavor Group in April 2006 and currently supplies a range of products under four broad categories – chilled bread; ambient bread; in-store bakery/fresh bakery, and frozen.

NPB encompasses three production facilities in Crewe, Barton and Nantwich, as well as a new distribution centre which is also located in Crewe.

NPB has experienced significant sales growth in recent years sales that has also seen it face an increasingly complex supply chain.

As a result NPB decided to deploy @logistics’ SideUp Reply solution, a web-based, on demand software application designed to offer efficient warehouse management. This was achieved without having to make significant investments in either hardware or software.

SideUp Reply is a web-based, on demand application offering an efficient warehouse management solution.
SideUp Reply is a web-based, on demand application offering an efficient warehouse management solution.

Comprising both a chilled and ambient warehouse, NPB’s distribution centre at Crewe is now a core hub for the business, providing a centralised point for deliveries and supply.

It distributes materials to all three of the local production sites, receives finished products in return, and ships out to customer distribution centres.

Commenting on the decision to deploy SideUp WMS Ian Robertson, head of operations at NPB said: “Implementing SideUp WMS has brought a wealth of benefits and opportunities to our business.

“The cloud-based, subscription-based system is cost-effective and easy to roll-out, allowing rapid deployment and unlimited scalability. The bolt-on nature of the application means that trialling and adding new products is easy and straightforward.”

@logistic Reply’s Jez Tongue commented, “We are delighted to have extended our partnership with Bakkavor. New Primebake has helped to move both the SideUp product suite and our thinking about food manufacture/supply-to-retail forwards.

“The continuing development of both the NPB operations and SideUp product is testimony to the excellent collaboration and team work between NPB and @logistics Reply.”

On the table: tomorrow’s supply chain

Following the tour, supply chain professionals reconvened over dinner to discuss how technology is helping to increase the competiveness and visibility of modern supply chains.

A brief introduction from @logistic Reply’s Jez Tongue set the tone for what was an engaging and lively debate with input from all around the table.

Tongue extolled the virtues of cloud based supply chain solutions, noting that the scalable nature offered by the cloud is a benefit increasingly being leveraged by successful businesses.

Hotel Chocolat’s head of operations Dave Burton furthered Tongue’s comments, but added that the cloud should be part of a “blended solution,” rather than a “utopian ideal.”

Though UK manufacturing’s cloud-adoption isn’t yet universal, Morrison Manufacturing’s Gavin Williams predicted that it wouldn’t be too long before the cloud becomes as ubiquitous as the internet.

The supply chain visibility made possible by the cloud is an important differentiator in an increasingly competitive landscape, Burton said, predicting that those businesses not exploiting intelligent supply chains now or in the near future would quickly become “dead in the water.”

NPB’s supply chain manager, Mark Stonier agreed, adding, “It takes courage – and time – to stop what you’re doing and look at the situation from a different perspective.” According to Stonier, the key is combining “cultural change” with “systems change”.

Everyone concurred that workforce engagement was key to achieving such a change, with Chris Foster – Fowler Welch Coolchain’s supply chain analyst – noting that changing people’s perception from “this is how it’s always been done” to “should we be doing it this way, if at all?” may prove to be a major step.