Complex food company thrives on standardisation
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Complex food company thrives on standardisation

  • 13 September 2021
  • Door: Esther van der Lelie

For a complex production company with a continuous flow of new food concepts, products and customers, an automation system for the control of information flows is extremely important. The Future Food Group found assurance in the standard ERP package from ReflexSystems.

The Future Food Group in Oss is part of the Jan Zandbergen Group from Veenendaal. A company where the focus used to be on meat production, but now also on vegetable and hybrid. Product development is therefore also 80-90% focused on this. Innovation manager Jos Havekotte explains: "We produce and supply the sustainable products to the traditional market, Ekoplaza's, organic butchers, retail and catering wholesalers. We also continue to innovate in this market and are now, for example, working on the second generation of meat substitutes."

Sustainable path

Jos is responsible for product development, innovation, presentations and tastings and the inspiration. He proudly shows the newly developed meat substitutes stew, rendang and hamburgers. "Butchers sometimes have to look and taste three times to discover that it is a meat replacement. I know from experience what a meat eater likes: I am a third generation butcher, have been making recipes for the catering/retail trade for 13 years and have organised some 300 consumer taste tests. The mouth feel, taste and texture of these meat substitutes is 100% meat, the nutritional values are the same or even better. With our own research & development department, we create the tastiest flavours using natural ingredients, herbs and spices. We can make our products customer-specific, less salty or more spicy, we can even turn the knobs ourselves." 

Innovation makes complex

The continuous development of new food concepts and products and the expansion of the customer portfolio make the business organisation complex. Jos outlines the situation, with an enormous number of different ingredients, recipes, customer information, specific customer requirements, own labels, private labels, labelling and more. How do you keep these product flows manageable and transparent? He explains the approach: "The existing ERP system of the Future Food Group seemed not to be equipped for this complexity. There was also insufficient knowledge available. We therefore invited ReflexSystems to discuss the alternatives."

Matthijs van Nieuwkoop

Standard and customised

The adaptation of the ERP system was not a problem; many functionalities were already there but were not being used. The ReflexSystems consultant was given the go-ahead. Jos on his experience with the implementation: "The system was reorganised for us so that we can control all our product flows. We have been working with it for more than a year to our satisfaction. The implementation was a great success.
"Within budget and within the agreed deadline," adds Soufian Ouald l' Hadj, Managing Director of ReflexSystems. "Jos and his colleagues struggled with the complexity, but for us the question was less complicated. We have a great deal of experience in implementing user-friendly automation systems at food customers and have included the desired solutions in our programmes as standard. Practice has shown that complexity thrives in this standardisation. Therefore, we knew with certainty that we would be able to carry out the assignment well. The Future Food Group needed this reliability, as they wanted to get started quickly. After the implementation, we added the finishing touches as aftercare. This is more efficient and has a shorter duration than providing fully customised solutions. A standard solution also offers more continuity; you are not dependent on the one person who built the customised solution. We guarantee knowledge through distribution, where all the employees of ReflexSystems have knowledge of and experience with the programme."

Intensive collaboration 

The implementation process was an intensive collaboration process. Jos looks back: "Colleague Matthijs van Nieuwkoop took care of the implementation internally, he worked with the consultant. Even after implementation, the cooperation between the two companies remains intensive and direct. Jos emphasises the importance of having a permanent contact at ReflexSystems: "Speed is always required, the orders have to be shipped out. That is why it is very pleasant to have a partner that understands this, that has knowledge of the business, that solves problems, honours agreements and that keeps good records. And they do that, professionally and personally. That creates trust."

Towards the future

"Now it is a question of keeping up-to-date and expanding," Jos continues. "The system offers so many options that we are not yet using and have already been tried and tested as standard solutions." Soufian adds: "Such as links with other systems. A link with Espera (pricing and labelling system) is standard. Later on there will also be a link with Diviande, the producer and packer of frozen meat, fresh pre-packed meat and meat substitutes within the Jan Zandbergen Group. We may also design and implement the automation system for this company.
Finally, Soufian receives a nice compliment from Jos: "ReflexSystems has proven itself in Oss and offered a solution, now you may do the same in Veenendaal!"

www.reflex-systems.nl
www.futurefoodgroup.nl

Main photo: Jos Havekotte, ©Herbert Wiggerman

Source: Vakblad Voedingsindustrie 2021