Aptean Food & Beverage ERP Case Study: Finnebrogue Artisan (UK)

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Finnebrogue Artisan Reduced Waste and Improved Profitability with Aptean Food & Beverage ERP

SI Edition


Food & Beverage


» Limited visibility across operations to manage production of various products

» Reliant on paper and spreadsheets to manage QA and traceability procedures


» Reduced waste, improved profitability and fewer downgrades with real-time stock management

» Consistent quality levels with digitally validated ingredients and recipe make up

» Traceability and audit data digitised and delivered in minutes

» Make strategic business decisions quickly and easily with full data visibility

Family run, Northern Ireland based food manufacturer, Finnebrogue Artisan has experienced phenomenal growth over recent years, thanks to its inspirational leadership and innovative products. From reported turnover of £3m in 2009, little more than a decade later, it had reached £78m, and by the following year it almost doubled to £142m, with pre-tax profits of £42.3m.

They operate four state-of-the-art facilities including a £25m 165,000sq.ft sausage factory which operates six days per week and a dedicated vegetarian production facility. Products include sausages, beef burgers, bacon, venison, pork and lamb products, together with a vegetarian and vegan range.

95% of products are supplied to the retail sector including M&S and Asda.

Thanks in part to the complete integration of its processing business by Aptean Food & Beverage ERP SI Edition, Finnebrogue Artisan is now the UK’s leading artisan food manufacturer. Planned and implemented, in collaboration with Aptean, the integration pathway benefited from knowledge gained over a four-year relationship between the businesses. This relationship started in September 2014, when Aptean was introduced to Finnebrogue Artisan by its Interim Programme Manager, Tariq Habib.

Commenting on the Finnebrogue Artisan and Aptean integration process, Tariq said: “As a dynamic family run business, Finnebrogue Artisan can make decisions very quickly, especially when it comes to changes in products and entry into new underserviced market sectors. But with speed, we also recognised the need for efficiency, quality and traceability, particularly as we are dealing with premium products.”

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Shared Culture of Innovation and Flexibility

“We chose to work with Aptean because we could see that the team was both flexible and aligned to our culture of getting things done.” Tariq continued, “Our approach to achieving our goals is very simple. We always look at what’s wrong, to figure out how to make it the best it can be, without being bound by the way it has always been done.”

“To do so, we not only need to consult with our staff, customers and consumers, but also ensure that both equipment and processes are optimised; it is here that Aptean comes in. This is because for any system to work effectively, it needs to be implemented properly, by a team that understands the industry that they operate within. Aptean Food & Beverage ERP SI Edition has the ultimate task of making workable connections from one system or piece of equipment to the next. Aptean needed to create the integration and make it work, no matter what the individual data capture and management challenge might be.”

“We worked in tandem with Aptean’s team to pull information in from our existing systems and feed other standalone systems. And we’ve used many of Aptean’s specialist modules, including stock control, QA Management, Stock & Order and Recipe Management. This now means that all information is managed through the Aptean Food & Beverage ERP SI Edition integration hub, providing us with access to real-time information and reporting. In other words, ‘one version of the truth’ and a clear picture of whatever’s happening throughout Finnebrogue Artisan’s business.”

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“The reason we chose to work with Aptean was that we could see that the team was both flexible and aligned to our culture of getting things done.”
Tariq Habib, Programme Manager, Finnebrogue Artisan

Making Time, Eliminating Paperwork, Human Error and Data Duplication

Aptean and Finnebrogue Artisan reviewed every production process, replacing manual entry tasks, with digital readers and barcodes, whilst eliminating paperwork, by digitising QA, traceability and despatch. Throughout the implementation, data entry points were integrated into the solution, with single points of data capture used to eliminate duplication of data.

Audit Data in Minutes with Robust Recall Capability

Tariq continued: “A vital part of having ‘one version of the truth’, that Aptean Food & Beverage ERP SI Edition’s integrated solution provides, is the importance of measuring and reporting on key areas of the business. This is particularly important when it comes to audits. This is the reason why we took the opportunity, when making other significant investments, to completely change our QA and traceability. We’ve moved from a combination of disparate manual paper-based and third-party systems, towards a completely digitalised process.”

“Now, our new approach is delivering significant benefits. For example, with our new bacon line, we can pull off audit data reports in a few minutes, a process which would have taken hours with our previous paperbased approach.”

Digitalisation Minimises Product Recalls

“We have also worked with Aptean to prevent errors that would result in product recalls, particularly by using its specialist software. As an example whenever we issue into key processes on the shop floor, we’re using Aptean’s Food & Beverage ERP SI Edition to validate recipe make up to ensure that the right ingredients and quantities are issued to manufacture products. One of the major benefits of digitalisation, is even higher levels of consistent quality and improved traceability.”

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“Now, with Aptean’s Food & Beverage ERP SI Edition digital QA and traceability, we can pull off audit data reports in a few minutes. Previously, with our old paperbased approach, this process would have taken hours to complete.”

“As Finnebrogue Artisan’s business has grown and new recipes are added to its product offering, further modules have been introduced to validate inputs into key processes by checking against the cost specifications. This automation prevents user error as the system positively releases the use of products into the next process. This means that if an attempt is made to issue any product that’s not held valid for the recipe, it will be flagged up with an error, and block the product from being released.”

100% Stock Control Accuracy in Real-Time

Based on in-depth consumer feedback, research and testing, Finnebrogue Artisan continuously invests in NPD. When developing its exacting recipes for its succulent products, accurate stock management and control is essential.

Aptean’s stock control system combines data on raw material, allocates stock for individual recipes, controls Work in Progress (WIP) and the final product that is ready for despatch. It also simultaneously updates the bill of materials in real-time, whilst preventing any unwanted products from being used in a recipe. This is made possible by the automation of product allocation, with ingredients weighed and measured to controlled tolerances.

The stock control system has also had a positive impact on raw material management. Thanks to improved forecasting, Finnebrogue’s supply chain partners have been able to reduce, or increase, stock holding, according to demand. This has resulted in streamlined deliveries, reducing holdings of expensive perishable products. And with real-time stock management for short shelf life materials, this in turn has contributed towards fewer downgrades, reduced waste and improved margins.

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“With ‘one version of the truth’, Aptean Food & Beverage ERP SI Edition delivers vital KPI reporting on key areas of our business, such as digital traceability for audits.”

Digitalising Despatch with Added Autonomy

One of the major integration projects undertaken by Finnebrogue Artisan, in collaboration with the Aptean team, related to the despatch and back end of the process. This involved the full automation of palletisation, including standard retail pack (SRP) and M&S trays. The new process sees each tray/box taken from the end of the production line, stacked and dollied, without any human intervention.

Aptean worked with IO Systems, Finnebrogue Artisan’s robotics supplier, to automate palletisation. As Aptean Food & Beverage ERP SI Edition informs the IO robotics system about the products coming down the line, the data in the system generates correct labelling for every pallet. And for Finnebrogue Artisan’s new automated warehouse management solution, Aptean worked with forklift truck specialist Linde, to integrate the deployment of its automated forklift truck pallet storage solution. With central management and data-driven instructions from Aptean Food & Beverage ERP SI Edition to Linde’s forklift truck pallet solution, Finnebrogue Artisan now:

› Centrally controls the put away for all pallets

› Identifies all stock required for despatch

› Always knows each pallet’s contents and location

Automated Reports, in the Moment Decision Making and Real-Time Dashboards

By moving from processes driven by manual intervention and spreadsheets, to Aptean Food & Beverage ERP SI Edition completely integrated barcoded system, Finnebrogue Artisan has eliminated errors. “For instance, we’re now assured that pallets are loaded with the correct products, before being released,” explained Tariq.

“In addition, we have access to a greater level of detail and information, available in real-time, so our staff spend less time validating and checking data integrity. This means we can spend more time on managing the business and making informed ‘in-the-moment’ decisions.”

“Finnebrogue Artisan’s decision-making is supported by access to a greater level of automated Aptean reporting, including daily stock variance, weekly P&L and a monthly management account pack.”

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“Now, with access to real-time information, we’re spending far less time validating and checking data integrity, and more time on managing the business and making informed ‘in-the-moment’ decisions.”

Visualising Information Across Business Functions,

in Real-Time

As an extension to Finnebrogue Artisan’s management reporting and analysis, the food manufacturer chose to deploy Aptean’s Active Dashboards. Working in collaboration, Aptean and Finnebrogue Artisan looked at the best opportunities to support the increased awareness of its new data-driven business insights. Negating the need to run multiple, complex reports, where data only provides a one time snapshot, a series of Active Dashboards were deployed to highlight Finnebrogue Artisan’s KPIs and analyse trends across the business in real-time. Usually associated with production, dashboards were also rolled out across its finance and sales operations. Now, production dashboards are enabling the operational team to better manage throughput rates, waste and giveaway, whilst sales dashboards are providing a detailed overview and breakdowns by different KPI categories.

Taking Ideas to Customers with Confidence to Supply

To stay one step ahead of the competition, Finnebrogue Artisan not only looks to increase the supply of its existing ranges, but it also proactively works to take NPD ideas to its supermarket customers. One of its most renowned innovations is the UK’s first ‘Artisan Finnebrogue Artisan Naked Bacon range’, made without artificial additives or nitrates. The success of the now expanded ‘Naked range,’ was a key driver for the delivery of its new Aptean integrated bacon production line.

Cost Base and Margin Transparency

As Tariq explained, “Finnebrogue Artisan has always been renowned for innovation and its commitment to continuous improvement. Now, thanks to the data and information we get from the Aptean Food & Beverage ERP SI Edition, we have a much greater understanding of the cost base associated with creating our products.”

“Aptean’s reporting delivers a clear picture of our margins, and we also use the software to measure our weekly performance against the standards that have been set. This is important for Finnebrogue Artisan not just from a cost perspective but because we use the system to order the correct materials and quantities required to manufacture our products.”

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“And to ensure we deliver the best possible service for our customers, we have built clear product management processes within the business to ensure that the system is always populated with the most up to date information and standards.”

Taking Action to Realise the Benefits of Integration

“My advice to any business looking to undertake a similar integration journey, is to plan to harness the power of the software,” explained Tariq. “Not only must the system must be “fit for purpose” and used in a managed way, that’s focused on improving your business, but you should be prepared to re-engineer your processes and organisation.”

“By taking a much more open approach to changing the culture of how your business operates and challenging your food ERP and software supplier and internal teams to support and suggest changes to operations and systems, you really will be able to profit from the power integration delivers.”

“With the whole team engaged in the vision, everyone at Finnebrogue Artisan understands how integrated, timely data is delivering insightful management information to better enable the business to make more informed and profitable decisions.”

About Aptean

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