Reynolds Catering Supplies has grown its turnover significantly in the past few years and currently boasts £160m in annual sales from short shelf life products from fruit and veg to meat and dairy. This success forced it to invest substantially in the new M3 software, designed by Lawson/Infor.
Reynolds went live with the system, which handles everything from shelf life monitoring to payment records, in October 2010.
As head of IT Richard Calder told FoodProductionDaily.com, the firm needed a system that could cope with the high level of flexibility and complexity inherent with handling fresh produce.
Product quality varies from item to item and the precautionary scrapping of products that could still be sold causes unnecessary waste, he explained.
“One of the unique parts of the fresh produce business is expiry date flexibility, because there’s not a formal date we have to put on product. We have developed a traffic light warning system using M3 whereby you can classify product.
“Let’s say you have 10 products, two of a lesser quality. We can reclassify them so these can be used first. Again, where the date isn’t actually fixed we can extend the date without losing traceability.”
Three date times
The process is made easier by the fact that the software incorporates three date times into product tracking: the expiry date, the sales date, beyond which you can’t sell products, and a reinspection date.
Crucially, the reinspection date allows the company to reclassify products and ascertain much more accurately their rate of degradation and remaining sales time.
Calder said this has had a significant effect on waste. “We have saved a six figure sum annually.”
Helped boost sales
Because the system helped to keep produce in the supply chain, it also helped boost sales for the Reynolds and develop more capacity, managing director Tony Reynolds told this site.
Another feature that given the business a boost too was a much more precise invoicing system, he said. “The controls we have got now over debtors are incredible. Our credit control team have managed to get more cash back into our bank accounts. We have been able to get to issues a lot quicker with M3.”
The M3 system took three months to install initially and a further 14-18 months for competent use to be embedded in company culture, he said.