Freshpeel Produce has been trading since 1997. Based in Cambridgeshire, the company specialise in the peeling and processing of onions, carrots and parsnips offering a wide variety of diced/sliced onions, onion petals/wedges, whole peeled root veg products, root vegetable batons as well as diced/sliced root vegetables.
As a thriving company in the fast-moving world of fresh produce, it was becoming increasingly difficult to manage the business effectively with paper-based processes and spreadsheets. Labour intensive manual data collection procedures required lengthy double data entry processes. This meant that up to date information was rarely on hand for planning or decision making and data errors were hampering smooth operations.
The Freshpeel management team concluded that they needed a business management solution to transform their business into an efficient data-driven operation and eliminate the paper-based processes.
Searching the market for fresh produce industry specific business management solutions, Freshpeel selected the Consus Fresh packhouse management solution.
As Thomas Lonsdale, Business Systems Manager, explains, “We evaluated several fresh produce vendors and solutions and chose Consus Fresh because of the specific functionality available that would fit our vegetable processing operations. Unlike with the other solutions we evaluated, with Consus there was no expensive upfront software or deployment project fee, but rather an ongoing monthly subscription, which is much easier for us to absorb as a small business on small margins. The main goals for this project were to eliminate paper and spreadsheets from the business, to save time and become a more efficient operation. Ultimately, we wanted to have a tool that could tell us if we were profitable on a day-to-day basis.”
Thomas continues, “We were very comfortable with the Consus team and immediately established the mutual rapport needed to work together on this business-critical project. We were confident from the start that Consus was the right solution for us to fit our requirements both now and into the future.”
The Consus Fresh Solution
Phase I of the Freshpeel business transformation is well underway and includes:
Consignments and stock management – As soon as new consignment of raw material arrives for processing it electronically booked into stock and receipted using barcode scanning. Similarly, when stock is consumed and tipped onto the feedline, the barcode is scanned, and its status is updated live. Critically, this data is used to provide the Freshpeel management team with live insights into what raw material stock has been consumed each day and its value, to determine if they have achieved a profitable outcome on the day’s production.
Grading – The onions are graded and sorted before being processed as this delivers a more efficient peeling operation. The barcode on the consignment is scanned at the point the onions are loaded into the grader’s hopper, then the outputs from the grader are weighed on scales and recorded within the Consus solution. This data provides live grading reports on the yield and quality of each consignment. Ultimately this allows the Freshpeel management team to identify which suppliers are providing the best quality stock for the best price or identify where they are being charged too high a price for poor quality stock. These insights mean they can negotiate better terms with individual suppliers.
Integration to Accounts software (SAGE) – When sales orders are received, they are now input into the Consus solution, eliminating the previous paper-based sales order process. The creation of the sales order automatically creates the corresponding production orders within Consus. Once production is completed and the jobs are ready for despatch, the picking task and delivery notes are also automatically produced.
Thomas explains, “When it comes to invoicing, we don’t need to re-key any data at all. My accounts team can quickly export the sales and delivery data from Consus into SAGE and all the required invoices are created automatically. This saves a significant amount of admin time, probably 2 hours a day, for the accounts team who were previously manually inputting the data from the paper delivery notes.”
Results and Future Plans
Thomas continues, “Since implementing Consus our data is always up to date, nothing is overlooked or miss-placed, everyone can see all the data all the time, and customer orders cannot leave our site without the correct documentation and checks.”
“We have real-time visibility into our stock levels and its value, and we now have that critical daily profitability analysis we were after. We could not have achieved this with paper records.”
“We have saved significant administration time and resources across the business. For example, our pricing information only needs to be updated in one place in Consus and it populates everywhere.”
“Previously, if we were asked to do a full traceability audit, this could take up to half a day and involve 20-30 customers across 10 products. With the data we now have in our Consus solution we can identify the required traceability information in minutes.”
“By using the handheld windows tablets, barcode scanners and mobile label printers at intake the team have all they need at hand, rather than repeatedly having to walk to an office at the other end of building to pick up labels. These little things, make a big difference.”
Phase II of the Freshpeel implementation will include additional features of the Consus solution such as implementing full production mode, time and attendance recording, and mobile QC applications.
“I am excited for what is possible for our business as we develop and expand our use of the Consus solution. I am keen to explore additional features such as the AI Label Verification solution in our QC department, or facial recognition for recording time and attendance. I can visualise an online portal where my suppliers can upload Onion Passport data in advance of deliveries.”