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Produce World Group : R B Organics

Produce World LorryWhen £250 million turnover Produce World Group set out on their ambitious expansion plans three years ago, IT was seen as a key strategic aid. As CEO William Burgess explained: “It is all too easy to lose control when in growth mode. Our internal systems needed to be first class to ensure that we had access to accurate and timely information through and beyond the growth phase. It was therefore vital that our due diligence during the selection process was thorough. In finally selecting LINKFresh NAV, we now know that we got it right”.

The group had two different legacy business management solutions in place at various subsidiaries. The requirement was to adopt a single modern information platform to serve the needs of the group. “Having selected LINKFresh NAV, we could have deployed a different version in each subsidiary” explained Group Finance Director Ian Batkin. “However, in discussions with Anglia, a longer term strategic view was devised and adopted. Dubbed “Project Dynamic” the deployment involved the design of a comprehensive Produce World Group ‘generic solution’. While this initially would take longer, the theory was that the subsequent roll-outs would be quicker. Moreover, we would also be in a position to draw performance comparisons across our various subsidiaries”. 

Once the strategy was agreed, a resource plan was devised to manage the roll out, including significant amounts of training of users in all areas. Dedicated teams from Anglia and Produce World were selected and an operations room was equipped to house the team. The team worked to a blueprint produced by Anglia where the requirements of the various subsidiaries were consolidated into a single design document. “We set out with a clear vision of how the system would be designed and deployed” explains IT Manager David Jones. “The Anglia and Produce World personnel worked as one team to deliver the group application. Involving key experienced people from across the group was particularly important – their involvement in mapping working practices has also been key to the success of the project to present. The focus was on producing a solution that precisely met the business needs of the organisation both in the short-term and in the foreseeable future”.

The group solution consisted of a range of fully integrated applications that tackled all of the operational parts of the businesses within the group. It included Forecasting, EDI, Production Scheduling, Consignment Trading, Inventory Control, Lot Traceability, Growers Returns, Finance and Business Intelligence.

Touch screens were deployed in the pack houses to monitor progress throughout the supply chain while providing vital feedback to supervisory staff. A range of powerful innovative mobile applications were deployed to manage inventory and perform QC and other checks on the produce. Status reports on order progress were made available on LCD screens while alerts were enabled to warn supervisory staff on possible supply chain glitches using mobile phones.

Fig 1 : Touch screens capture real time shop floor data.
  Live Production Status Screen
Fig 2 :  Production Order Status Screen showing RAG status

Once deployed and operational, the Produce World Group LINKFresh NAV solution made an immediate positive business impact. As Ian Batkin explains, “With our legacy systems, it was very difficult to get a timely, totally accurate and consistent handle on costs. Being a real time system, LINKFresh provided us with full visibility of produce, packaging and labour costs as they were incurred. We were then able to detect and react quickly to anomalies accordingly. We were also able to consolidate financial information across the group. As a result, we have already made significant cost savings that justify our investment”.

Business Unit Director Jon Pollard also detected some valuable improvements as a result of the LINKFresh NAV deployment. “Being a real time system made a massive difference to our stock management. Previously, we were lucky if the stock was accurate once a day. Now, it is always up to date. We have also been able to make refinements to our operating procedures. These have helped us to better understand and manage our labour costs. The effort required on product traceability is also greatly reduced. What used to take 8 hours is now reduced to about 15 minutes with LINKFresh NAV”.

HandheldFig 3 : Innovative mobile applications manage inventory and QC.

Waste reduction is another area where the impact of the system has been felt. “One of the major issues in the fresh produce is waste” says William Burgess. ”In this business, order fulfilment takes place on the same day as the order is received. Having too little produce means that you are short: having too much means that the surplus is thrown away. Getting it correct by having accurate and timely information has a positive overall impact”.

The system has also been well received by the users. “The shop floor loves it: the technical people love it” Jon Pollard explains. “I have never been involved in an implementation that has got the benefits so quickly”. Customers will have also noticed the difference, as Ian Batkin flagged. “The major retailers operate a fines regime to penalise / discourage adverse performance. Since implementing LINKFresh NAV, to my knowledge, we have not incurred a single fine”.

Customer satisfaction has also improved as William Burgess noted “By having good information on which stock we’ve got in our supply chain, it gives us at least a half of a percentage point increase in customer satisfaction. This puts us at the head of the league table. That means that we get more growth with those customers”.

The system is now a key strategic aid in the future growth of the Produce World Group as Ian Batkin outlines. “Produce World is an ambitious business. We will acquire other companies. The LINKFresh NAV system will enable us to do things consistently in an accurate and timely way across the group. This will give us visibility of the group as an entirety”.

LINKFresh NAV has now been successfully deployed in three of the Produce World subsidiaries. The latest implementation at Isleham Fresh Produce involved all aspects of the solution from forecasting to despatch. The in-depth functionality of the system coupled with the deployment skills of the Produce World team meant that the solution was fully implemented within an impressive two month timescale.    

William Burgess photoThe last word goes to William Burgess “The LINKFresh NAV system has totally transformed Produce World. It means that we now have good information at the touch of a button - that it was one of the best decisions that we have ever made”.            

Fig 4 : Produce World CEO, William Burgess

To watch the video case study of the Produce World deployment click here


Solution Overview

The Microsoft Dynamics NAV LINKFresh solution was deployed at Produce World to reflect proven processes and encompasses the following functionality:


   Long term sales forecast

   Long term crop forecast

   Forecast based on Actuals

   Next year's financial budget

   Mid year financial forecasts

   Short term plan - projected orders

   Crop Availability Forecast



   EDI Provisional Orders

   EDI Sales Orders

   Print Despatch Notes

   Confirm POD quantities

   Scan/pick for load

   EDI Sales Invoicing

   Outbound Haulage - Booking

   Outbound Haulage - Reconciliation

   Outbound Weighbridge

   Split & Distribute Sales Orders

   Maintain Product Prices

   Vehicle layout

   3rd Party Haulage Consolidation

   Configure and label pallets for despatch



   Purchase orders

   Weigh bulk product on receipt

   Label bulk product on receipt

   GRN for bulk product

   Purchase Plan

   Grower Accreditation

   Stock Origin Tracking

   Open price consignment

   DEFRA Peach notifications

   Preferential Duty Reclaim



   Grading work order

   Record graded product

   Label graded product

   Work order for packed product

   Record finished goods stock

   Label finished goods trays/pallets

   Record downtime

   Line performance

   Scan Picks to Grader & Pack

   Scan Put-Aways from Grader & Pack

   Record labour on works order

   Rough cut capacity plan

   Production Plan

   Measure Pack out %

   Optimise run order by work centre



   Intake QA

   Production QA

   Positive release



   Complaints register

   Claims database



   Product packaging inventory

   Pallets, trays and/or box counts

   Finished Goods Inventory

   Forecast packaging usage

   Product pallet tracking

   Pack & Tray requirements + Barcodes

   Third party stock take notification

   Stock Allocation/Prioritisation



   Purchase ledger

   Invoice register

   Growers' returns

   Grower Price on packing pack out %

   Fixed assets

   Cash book

   General ledger

   Management Account Pack

   Expected & Actual costs per consignment



  Microsoft Windows Server 2003

  Microsoft SQL 2005

  LINKFresh Module Suite

  LINKFresh .NET Mobility Modules


Microsoft Dynamics NAV Modules

  General Ledger

  Cash Manager

  Sales & Receivables

  Purchase & Payables


  Jobs & Resources

  Agile Manufacturing

  Capacity Planning

  Business Notification



For Further information contact:
Anglia Business Solutions Ltd
Harston Mill
CB22 7GG

Tel: +44 (0)1223 873400
Fax: +44 (0)1223 873401


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