Digital transformation with food-specific software
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Digital transfor­mation with food-specific software

  • 14 September 2020
  • By: Xandra Veltman

Since November 2019, Schouw Informatisering has been part of the global Aptean network in food and IT. Schouw is now able to bundle an enormous amount of knowledge and experience and remove technical limitations, say Joris Kolff and Roel Kox van Schouw. 

The speed of technological innovation is constantly increasing, says Joris Kolff Regional Account Director Food & Beverage. "Whereas a company used to need IT innovation after about ten years, now you have to switch much faster. Large parties can do that, but many lack the money and the possibilities to do so. Under the Aptean Food and Beverage platform, Schouw can get the technology in-house and implement it. Think of tools for traceability, recipe management, operational visibility, asset management and optimisation. We work together with JustFood ERP (Canada), LINKFRESH (UK), bcFood (US) and recently also the Dutch DIN Solutions. This cooperation strengthens our position in the Dutch, European and worldwide food and beverage market.  Together with our own market-specific knowledge and focus on various food sectors, this makes us 'vertically focused' with the budget of a global player. Big enough to cure and small enough to care."

Cauliflower automation

That cure can take companies to a different level. Many are still struggling with 'island automation'; various task-oriented IT applications that barely communicate with each other or not at all. "That forms a cauliflower-like landscape," says Roel Kox, who, together with Kolff, organises webinars on this subjects. "A cauliflower has an endless number of branches and, just like a task-oriented automation landscape, an expiry date. If you want to get a grip on the entire process, you have to optimize and automate processes from ERP". 

Digital transformation

In various white papers on Schouw's website, companies explain why they opted for digital transformation. Such as the AGF company Levarht, that needs to know the customer's needs and 'translate' them back to the chain, from the quantity of products to be grown to their sale. To achieve this, transparency and communication are essential. As a partner, Schouw is part of Levarht's core team with various areas of expertise, says CIO Mayer: "Schouw has insight into the AGF sector, understands the technology and thinks along with the business, facilitated by IT". Mayer sees the shift to process-based working as a real digital transformation. Not as a goal, but as a means of transport from a knowledge-driven to a data-driven organisation. With a new mindset and possibilities to add value in the chain.

Foodware 365

Spack was also looking for one integrated system, according to operational director Marcel Spaargaren. This company produces high-quality organic vegetable oils and fats. To facilitate its rapid growth, they chose Foodware 365. The Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform has sector-specific functionalities: 'Business Central' is for SME's and 'Finance & Operations' for enterprise companies. Kolff: "In addition to Dynamics 365 ERP we added food specific functionalities. Think of the Food Management Dashboard, in which the management reporting of all data is bundled. Where necessary, we bring in knowledge from Aptean to support customers".

Process-based thinking

Companies with a wide variety of products and operations certainly need to work in a process-oriented way in order to develop their uniqueness. Chocolaterie Albèrt is a textbook example of this. The ERP platform Foodware 365 - SaaS (Software as a Service) in the Cloud has been rolled out here in phases. Owner Albert van Helvert: "Every day we process large quantities of chocolate into creative, daring end products. Everything goes through one product location, four shops and 1,070 standard products. For us, stock management, webshop linking and, above all, traceability are of great importance. One clear overview in the Cloud offers many advantages. Just like us, Schouw thinks in terms of processes. Moreover, it is a financially healthy party with sufficient size and scale". 

Unprecedented possibilities

AGF such as Levarht and Lehmann Natur, chocolate, meat and fish processors, pizza companies such as Domino's, but also an enterprise organisation such as Hessing Supervers or Noblesse Proteins; they all defy the future with Foodware 365. Van Kessel Fruit did the same, with this software in combination with Power BI. Roel: "Because companies streamline processes, they can work efficiently, grow and anticipate increasing government requirements and customer demands. The advantages and possibilities are unprecedented. Whether you are a start-up, in growth or at enterprise level, converting your company from task to process-oriented working may initially feel like an open heart surgery. The good news is that you will be healthier afterwards and that we offer specialised support. And with the Aptean Food and Beverage Platform, we literally have all the experience and knowledge of the world in-house". 

Photo: Joris Kolff (left) and Roel Kox. © Peter Roek

Source: Vakblad Voedingsindustrie 2020