ERP system proves the right catalyst for brewer

A three-generation Australian-owned business, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks has boosted production by 180 per cent after implementing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system from QAD in its Queensland plant.

The QAD system, Mfg/Pro, identified the company's lower margin operations, tightened control over production and scheduling and helped investment in new production capacity.

The Queensland company's range of soft drinks, including its world famous ginger beer that sells 20 million bottles a year, are sold through the country and exported to eight other nations including New Zealand and the US.

Initially the company operated three core businesses; traditional brewed soft drinks, juice production and milk distribution.

Before implementing Mfg/Pro, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks was producing 2500 cartons of soft drinks a day, a figure that has now increased to 7000. The amount of floor stock has also been reduced by $750,000.

BBD's production and IT manager, John McLean, said the system has changed the way the company does business.

"We were a very young company, using paper to track most of our manufacturing processes. We had not been able to quantify the true cost of our various products, particularly the low volume, short-production lines. Without an ERP system we weren't realising our full potential," McLean said.

"Mfg/Pro is now a fully integrated part of our business, responsible for everything from accounts payable to the ordering of all raw materials."

McLean said after the initial stages of the ERP implementation were complete, Bundaberg was able to identify the most profitable parts of the business and the low-margin operations, which were either sold off or closed down, thus increasing the company's production efficiency.

"The distribution system was closed down and a year ago we sold the milk and juice division. "We had manually assessed that the distribution business showed lower returns than we could achieve in other areas of our business and Mfg/Pro was able to confirm this."

Summer is the busiest season for the company and the new ERP system has allowed it to be better equipped to handle the fluctuations in production levels. Each quarter the number of bottles produced is reviewed by the system in order to update the schedule.

Currently scheduling six weeks ahead, the Mfg/Pro system lets Bundaberg forecast its production level for the next month.

The system then prompts staff to buy the needed materials such as bottles, labels and cartons, which is particularly important for a company based seven hours drive from Brisbane.

Since the system's implementation, Bundaberg has been able to increase its capacity by 400 cartons an hour and has recently invested $2.5 million in a new production line, which will let the business produce a variety of products in nonstandard bottles as opposed to the 375ml bottles produced now.

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