The experts are moving away from Software Answers to a new home

After several years of relaying advice to manufacturers and distributors from the Microsoft Dynamics NAV & Dynamics 365/CRM experts at Technology Management… the end is here.

Usually, the definitive end of a platform represents some form of closure, disaster or lack of content. However, we’re delighted to announce that we are transitioning the Software Answers blog to our brand-new Technology Management website.

What will you do with the content here?

We will be moving some of our very best content onto our new website. We have selected a two-part series, that detail ‘the challenges of Zoning and Cross-docking’ and ‘the demands for Traceability & Shelf-life’ in the Food and Beverage Industry.

For those of you with a vested interest in the Consumer Goods Industry, we are transferring a handful of our ‘8 reasons to change your business systems in the Consumer Goods sector’ across.

You may know that we’ve developed a range of Dynamics Additions to enhance your Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP business solution without the need for costly ground-up development. You will be able to read all about our newest Dynamics Addition: Sales Documents, which will help you to ‘streamline your sales process by managing Cases in one system.’

What can I expect on the new blog?

We will be relaying to you the latest updates on the benefits that new Dynamics Additions can provide your business. You can anticipate content specifically targeted to address software issues commonly faced in the: Building Materials, Consumer Goods, Distribution, Food & Beverage and Manufacturing industries.

Additionally, we will be producing content from a range of Dynamics NAV & Dynamics 365/CRM experts from Technology Management. Within the company, there are a host of people that specialise in different industries and areas. Each person will be able to add a varied perspective of how Dynamics NAV or Dynamics 365/CRM impacts their role.

Although these are the last words ever to be written on this platform, they represent an exciting new chapter that we hope you will form a vital part of. We aim to cater our blog to your preference, so we will hopefully see you on the other side!

Address the demands for Traceability & Shelf-life in the Food & Beverage Industry

In food warehouses, it’s essential to move quickly, or things can start to go bad… literally. Challenges like Zoning and Cross-docking (that we covered in part 1 of this blog series) added to the need for farm-to-fork traceability and close management of shelf lives only adds to the already demanding requirements of warehousing and distribution in today’s food industry.

Challenge 3: Traceability

Full traceability is key from a food safety perspective. In the event of a recall, companies need to be able to quickly locate what products are contaminated and where they were sent. Then you also need to quickly identify the various ingredients to determine how/where the contamination occurred – and stop it in its tracks.

We recognise you often have to deal with various different quality systems, including when and how products leave the warehouse, often through third party logistics (3PL) companies. If this process isn’t integrated with your business systems, checks can be missed and traceability for items once they leave the warehouse becomes an uphill battle and in event of an emergency it causes additional, unnecessary downtime and panic.

Food manufacturers produce in high volume and have rapid inventory turnover, making it virtually impossible to track information by paper. Traditionally, businesses have kept paper invoices and shipping documents that could take days or weeks to sort through during a recall. However, in today’s just-in-time supply chain, a company is expected to take action within hours when food safety is at stake.

With a food industry ERP system in place, information about raw ingredients and finished products is collected into a single database. In the event of a recall you will be able to react more effectively and keep any damage to a minimum.

Simply put, manual data entry from paper usually results in error rates that are too high for reliable traceability. Automated data collection tools are designed to help employees quickly capture the data needed. They walk employees through each step of the process for in-house materials transfers, intra-plant transfers, putting away finished products, picking products for shipment and creating shipments.

Using wireless and mobile devices/barcode scanning devices in the warehouse, also means information about lot numbers is captured in seconds and transferred automatically to your core ERP solution.

In an industry plagued with product recalls, a food production firm needs to be able to demonstrate that it can track its product and the ingredients therein both upstream and downstream – from raw ingredients to the finished goods and vice versa. To do this, data from every point in the supply chain must be recorded to provide an audit trail. This is why many food and beverage firms choose to implement specialist ERP system, like Dynamics Food, to provide a centralised system to manage all this data.

Challenge 4: Shelf-life

In the supply of perishable food products, large losses can be incurred between farm and fork if shelf life is not correctly tracked.

Further complications are added with different retailers accepting different minimum number of days remaining until the “display by” or “use by” date.

Huge value can be added by optimising your warehouse management, by taking into account the remaining shelf life of a product, and matching it to the requirements of the subsequent part of the handling chain.

With system-directed picks/put-aways from ERP, supported with integrated handheld devices, you can ensure the products with the earliest used-by dates are selected for dispatch to the right retailers to prevent spoiled stock. The routing for multiple picks can also be optimised – saving time and reducing wear and tear on your equipment and your teams!

And it’s not just about how much space you have in the warehouse that can make shelf-life difficult to manage; it’s about optimising the space to avoid unnecessary labour. Keeping fast-moving and short use-by inventory near the front of the facility so truck-lift drivers aren’t constantly traveling to the farthest reaches of the warehouse is just one solution that can help radically optimise the warehouse.

Visibility and accuracy mean less work, and more profit.

Information is power, so having a ERP/business software solution specifically developed for the needs of food processors and distributors is fundamental to maximising warehouse efficiency, minimising stock and boosting order and shipment accuracy.

Having ERP in place will help you manage every step of the manufacturing and supply process: from order processing to ingredients/goods in through to final delivery to store/RDC (regional delivery centre).

Much like consumers who purchase food several times a week to provision themselves for meals that they eat several times a day, food and beverage manufacturers must maintain and turn over their inventory more quickly and frequently than other warehouses.

Be prepared to fulfil demands quickly and easily from the start of your manufacturing process right through to goods out with integrated ERP for the food industry such as Dynamics Food.

Attend our complimentary briefing: Boost performance with a single business software solution with Dynamics Food on either Tuesday 20th March from 10:00am-12:30pm in Wolverhampton, or alternatively Wednesday 9th May from 10:00am-12:30pm at Microsoft London.

Tackle the challenges of Zoning and Cross-docking in the Food & Beverage Industry

In food warehouses, it’s essential to move quickly, or things can start to go bad… literally.

Getting product through the supply chain accurately and safely is crucial – or you will be haemorrhaging cash before products even leave the warehouse.

It’s more important than ever before to have sophisticated warehouse management in place to help regulate food safety, prevent cross-contamination and to manage shelf life and traceability.

In this two part blog series, we wanted to examine how companies can go the extra mile in Warehouse Management in the Food & Beverage Industry. If you want to learn more about the demands of Traceability and Shelf-life in the Food & Beverage sector make sure that you read Part 2 of our blog series. 

An end-to-end ERP business application, like Dynamics Food, can help manage every step products take through the warehouse and alleviate the many issues food manufacturers face in the warehouse…

Challenge 1: Zoning

Allergens and non-allergens, and even “smelly” products like fish and cheese, need to be kept apart to prevent cross-contamination.

This isn’t always the easiest thing to plan for in a warehouse, especially for food manufacturers where you could be storing a host of different produce at any one time.

Therefore, your warehouse needs to implement strict zones and procedures to control allergens in your storage facilities and make it easy for your team to stock the warehouse. Optimised bays, clear labelling and directed put-away sequences, automatically generated from your ERP system and provided directly to handheld devices, means products can be scanned and put-away quickly and safely.

Challenge 2: Cross-docking

If you are a food distributor, importer or exporter, you may receive perishable goods into the warehouse which need to be shipped, or part-shipped, straight back out of the door to retailers.

On one hand, this is great as it means that you don’t have to put away products to be picked again later, the customer will get the produce faster and there is minimal requirement for warehouse space.

However, this is does mean that you need to have “look ahead windows” i.e. visibility of what products, and when, need to be shipped back out again so you can control where products land in the warehouse to allow fast quality checks and ensure the least possible manual intervention.

An ERP system designed for the food industry can help you co-ordinate all the warehouse movements for inbound products from different vendors into a mixed pallet, which can then be delivered to the customer once the final item is received – and all in the most efficient way possible!

Attend our complimentary briefing: Boost performance with a single business software solution with Dynamics Food on either Tuesday 20th March from 10:00am-12:30pm in Wolverhampton, or alternatively Wednesday 9th May from 10:00am-12:30pm at Microsoft London. 

5 Reasons to move to integrated EDI with Dynamics Food

As in other manufacturing supply chains, food manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers are increasingly collaborating to enhance supply chain efficiency, reduce costs and strengthen the bottom line.

Many retailers see a direct improvement in profitability when they engage integrated EDI with their suppliers. This is why they increasingly request their suppliers communicate with them using EDI, and why they may financially penalise non-compliance with “chargebacks”.

Food suppliers, on the other hand, might view EDI as one more of the many hoops they need to jump through to work with a new client. But in reality, integrated EDI adds value to suppliers too.

Dynamics Food combines the power of Microsoft Dynamics with proven functionality specifically for the food industry (including EDI) to provide a complete end-to-end business software solution.

Here’s 5 reasons why integrated EDI with Dynamics Food puts you back in control of your food & beverage supply business:

  • Be more responsive

    Automatically import EDI orders into Dynamics Food and pass them straight through to the warehouse for picking with system directed movements. Be ready for shipping in less time than it took to print the original EDI order and assess the changes.

    And being able to be more responsive to changing retailers’ demands could just put you one step ahead of your competition.

  • An accelerated “order to cash” process

    A streamlined, electronic interchange of all your invoices and delivery notifications also means less errors, fewer lost orders and deliveries. Secure business processes and audit trails also mean faster dispute resolution when things do occasionally go awry.

  • Free up time to focus on the strategic

    Reliable, repeatable processes not only improves customer service levels with your retailers but also drives up staff productivity and means less time spent fire-fighting – so you and your team can focus on the things that matter most to your business.

  • Cost savings – working with the major retailers

    Integrated EDI with Dynamics Food drives paperless automation which means no more printing and re-keying so you save on labour, paper, forms, postage, paper disposal and more.

    By the end of this year our integrated EDI will have helped our customers process over 450,000 documents electronically.

  • Cost savings – working with your own suppliers

    According to research done by Aberdeen Group1, the average “paper requisition to order” costs a company £28.60 in EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa). With EDI, on average, this is reduced by 30% to just £20.02.

    How many purchase orders and/or purchase invoices do you raise on your suppliers per month/per year? What savings could you achieve with as a result. Or what other tasks could your staff undertake with this administrative burden removed?

Dynamics Food’s integrated EDI capabilities are already proven with all the major retailers – as well as many major food brands and third-party logistics (3PL) companies. Rest assured our EDI team will have seen it all before. They will have already worked with all the document types (from purchase orders, invoices, credit notes and ASN’s to order acknowledgements and remittance advices), all the EDI message “standards” and all your likely trading partners.

We already support our customers to trade via EDI with all these companies; 3663, Blakemore, Aldi, Amazon, Asda, Batleys, Booker, Brakes, Cold Move, Co-op, Costco, Costcutter, Culina, Iceland, Kerry Foods, Kerry Logistics, Laita, Lidl, Mace, Makro, M&S, Morrisons, Musgarve, Nisa, NFT, Ocado, Petco, Pets at Home, Sainsburys, Spar, Tesco, Tesco Ireland, Unilever, Vestey Foods, VioVet, Waitrose and Wilko.

Let us take responsibility for the initial set up of your specific combination of EDI trading partners, documents and products – and see the orders (and automation benefits) start streaming in.

Discover how integrated EDI is just one of the many benefits of Dynamics Food – a complete business software solution for your food & beverage supply business.

1Aberdeen Group 2008

Improving traceability, insight & control with a single business software solution for the food industry at Marcantonio Foods & Caterlink

The need for a single, comprehensive ERP solution for both Caterlink and Marcantonio Foods came as a result of their merger under the international ORKLA group.

Multi-site cooperation was now vital for the two companies and their existing disparate systems were causing a major headache for both parties – traceability and forecasting tasks were virtually impossible.

To work together to grow and expand their operations, more insight and control over processes and reporting possibilities were essential.

Caterlink and Marcantonio Foods turned to Technology Management and subsequently implemented Dynamics Food (Microsoft Dynamics NAV tailored specifically for food industry) – successfully joining up their sites and systems, giving the flexibility they needed to grow.

Working with Technology Management was very easy. They helped us all the way”, Falak Waheed, IT Manager at Marcantonio & Caterlink

Caterlink and Marcantnio Foods are now able to:

  • produce management reports very quickly
  • identify trends and improve customer service
  • increase flexibility between companies in the group to support and manufacture products almost on a just-in-time principle
  • streamline traceability across the organisation

Watch the full story at here…

Drive up performance with a Complete Business Software Solution

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On Tuesday 8th March 2016, we will be hosting a free Dynamics Food event (Microsoft Dynamics NAV tailored specifically for the Food Industry) to help you drive up performance in your business.

Want to join?

Sign up here for our seminar, which will be held at Microsoft HQ in Reading.

Our Dynamics Additions eCommerce solution has been successfully Certified for Microsoft Dynamics!

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Our solution has earned Microsoft Corporation’s highest standard for partner-developed software solutions, and has therefore been

•    Designed to meet unique business and industry needs

•    Tested for integration with the Microsoft Dynamics product

•    Used and recommended by other companies

•    Professionally implemented and systematically supported

We are thrilled to have achieved this recognition as it demonstrates the hard work and dedication of our team!

For more information see https://www.tecman.co.uk/Software/Dynamics-Additions/eCommerce 

Nantwich Cheese Company has chosen to partner with us at Technology Management to implement leading business software solution, Microsoft Dynamics NAV

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After years of managing all aspects of their business with Sage Line 50 and a complex series of Excel Spreadsheets, Nantwich Cheese Company were looking to improve stock visibility, reporting and future-proof their continued expansion.

Quality and innovation are the foundations of Nantwich Cheese Company’s success; so they set about finding a software partner and package that could meet their high standards and support them well in to the future.

Nantwich Cheese Company chose Microsoft Dynamics NAV and opted for a cloud-based, rapid implementation of Dynamics NAV called NAV Ignite. NAV Ignite allows small and medium sized, and typically fast-growing organisations, to get up and running in just a few days with a pre-configured, online version of Dynamics NAV. 

NAV Ignite MASTER
The cloud-based nature of NAV Ignite meant Nantwich Cheese didn’t have to invest in expensive hardware or IT infrastructure or be delayed by its purchase and set up. 

NAV Ignite is exactly what we need from an ERP solution over the coming months – finance, stock, assembly, dispatch and EDI – the functions pretty much tick every box for us. In addition to this, the usability of the solution is great. I like the fact that its ‘windows friendly’ and it looks and feels like a Microsoft program just like Word or Excel. The hosted solution from Technology Management on the Microsoft Azure platform is perfect for us allowing us to grow into the solution without the additional expense of multiple servers from day one.” Luke Morgan, Commercial Manager at Nantwich Cheese.

We are thrilled that Nantwich Cheese Company are joining a growing list of customers opting for our cloud solutions. With our focus on the Food Sector, we will be supporting Nantwich Cheese Company every step of the way as they continue to grow their booming business!

For the full story, see https://www.tecman.co.uk/Resources/Case-Studies/Nantwich-Cheese-Company

Bounce foods keeps going and growing

Bounce Foods provide bounce energy balls – a healthy and nutritious snack – into a growing health food market. With a rising demand for their produce, they needed to replace their existing software package to keep up with the trend…

Bounce chose to partner with Technology Management and selected Microsoft Dynamics software delivered in the cloud for a complete business solution:

  • Microsoft Dynamics NAV: for orders, stock, supply and accounts
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM: for a comprehensive view of all customer activities
  • Microsoft Office 365: for email, conferencing and document management

See why Microsoft Dynamics NAV and CRM were the best match for Bounce Foods https://www.tecman.co.uk/Campaigns/Bounce-Foods#zone-story

Capespan select SI Foodware & Technology Management

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Capespan markets fruit throughout the year in more than 60 countries on 4 continents. The company provides service solutions to international fruit trading partners and develops strategic partnerships in order to offer the right product portfolios at the right price. With marketing offices and operations all over the world, it is a challenge for Capespan to obtain an integrated view of sales, inventory and financial positions. To gain more control over these processes, Capespan in Europe has chosen the Microsoft Dynamics NAV based ERP application SI Foodware Fresh Produce from Schouw Informatisering.

Capespan has devised a clear IT strategy in order to successfully take up this challenge. Replacing several separate non-integrated software systems is part of this, according to Tom Quets, CIO of Capespan’s Fruit Marketing division: "In the field of ​​logistics automation with service providers, we have made great strides in our development, but our ERP systems are still lagging behind. They no longer meet our business needs, their management functions are complex and lack a long-term vision for further development that aligns with the Capespan story. In order to lift service for our customers and partners to a higher level, it is important to roll out a uniform ERP system in different locations."

Achieving Strategic and Operational Objectives

With the implementation of SI Foodware Fresh Produce, Capespan wants to achieve a number of strategic and operational objectives, says Tom Quets: "Firstly, financial and operations integration. We want to be able to apply the cost for each activity, such as transportation and production drives, to consignments and have immediate insight into this. You therefore gain more control over your business. Furthermore, it is a lot cheaper and easier to maintain one standard ERP package at multiple locations. It also gives you a tool to standardise procedures and processes.

Implementation at 8 Locations

To this end, Capespan has opted to work with SI Foodware Fresh Produce at eight locations in the UK and mainland Europe. This involves a fresh produce-specific ERP package based on Microsoft Dynamics NAV. The software was developed for fruit and vegetable traders who place high demands on the optimal matching of supply and demand. Consignment Administration forms the heart of the package.

International project with the help of iFACTO & Technology Management

Tom Quets is looking forward to the implementation which will start soon: "A team of key Capespan users, together with Schouw Informatisering, will design the implementation. We have completed a detailed study with Schouw Informatisering and its international partners iFacto and Technology Management and I have every confidence in a successful project with this team."

In the UK, Technology Management’s market SI Foodware together with Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP under the brand name Dynamics Food to provide a complete end-to-end business software solution for food & beverage distributors and processors.