Enterprise CP – A Walmart Food Supplier’s journey to World Class Manufacturing

Power Central’s client, Enterprise CP (ECP), is a growing supplier of Mac & Cheese to major retailers in the U.S. including Walmart. As ECP invested in increasing production capacity to support growth, the food packaging company’s processes and systems in place, supported by QuickBooks and a myriad of Excel sheets could not scale with their growth. 

The key issues identified at the beginning of our engagement were: 

  • Lot-based tracking during production and shipment operations was extremely cumbersome and error-prone, putting FSMA/SQF compliance at risk. 
  • Production and Procurement Planning was very complicated as it required gathering data spread across QuickBooks and myriad of Excel Spreadsheets. 
  • Delivering On-Time-In-Full (OTIF) relied completely on knowledge of key veteran employees in the organization, who were swamped and overworked because they had to do a large number of manual calculations.  

Phase 1

Benefiting from Mobile-Barcode enabled ERP Implementation 

“We now have the ERP and Mobile infrastructure of a Billion -Dollar Food co-packaging company that will enable us to scale our growing business while complying with SQF and FSMA regulations at a budget we could afford..”

Nolan Wolkow, CEO, EnteriseCP

On day one, we knew we were stepping into another vendor’s unsuccessful ERP implementation. Hundreds of thousands of dollars had already been invested and months were lost. Earlier ERP system’s unwieldy user interface and lack of mobile-barcode support made entering data for activities on the Shopfloor extremely time-consuming and error-prone. This resulted in warehouse employees inconsistently entering data into the ERP, which led to a complete lack of trust in the system. The system was pulled off-line in just a few months after deployment. 

Within a short 12 weeks, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central was deployed. As a result, the business owner had ultrafast access to his own fully functional ERP to start running day-to-day operations, where Accounting, Sales, Purchasing, Warehousing, and Inventory Management (with LOT tracking for FSMA & SQF compliance) were seamlessly connected through a single, cloud-based system. 

In addition to the ERP, every tedious data entry task in the Warehouse was now done using Mobile-Barcode applications directly on the scanners, speeding up the data entry into the ERP and eliminating data entry errors at the same time. For example, previously, Shipping personnel were custom designing and printing Walmart labels for each shipment and manually writing Bill-of-Lading(BOL) that include FSMA/SQF QA checks. This involved cross-referencing customer item numbers, LOT numbers, and distribution centers for each shipment, requiring  45 minutes of additional time per shipment. With the new Warehouse Shipment & BOL mobile barcode app, warehouse shipment personnel just needed to scan in each pallet, and custom Walmart labels and Digital BOLs were automatically printed, saving upwards of 30 man-hours per week. 

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business central laid the ERP foundation for a single source of truth. Mobile barcode apps built with Microsoft’s Power Platform made data entry easy and reliable. 

Adding barcode mobile apps that talk directly to the ERP makes our customers’ lives easier. So instead of over 200 man-hours devoted weekly to repetitive tasks, like locating LOTs and bins for the correct production pick, or typing and printing barcodes for every Wal-Mart shipment, a customer like ECP can reallocate those 5 people resources to new areas right away

Vish Puttagunta, President & CTO, Power Central

Phase 2: EDI powered Process Automation 

With seamless EDI integration into Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, most transactions Sales, Shipping, and Invoicing transactions with Walmart and Big Retailers are fully automated.

As ECP’s business with Walmart and other major retailers scaled from tens of Sales Orders each month to thousands of sales orders each month, manually entering the Sales Order details from the retailer’s Web portal into the ERP became unsustainable. 

Power Central helped ECP navigate the trading partner’s EDI processes and integrated the EDI transactions fully into Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, resulting in the automation of thousands of transactions every month. All the transactions including Sales Orders, invoicing and Advanced Shipping notifications were completely automated. This helped the Sales and Production manager to focus on high-level planning and scheduling tasks instead of tedious data entry.  

Phase 3: Actionable Tactical & Strategic Intelligence Reports 

Tactical Business Intelligence: On-Time-Delivery 

With all data flowing through a single system, ECP could holistically address orders in the pipeline. The new system accelerated production and procurement planning immediately because Power Central integrated an on-time delivery dashboard built on top of Power BI. This programming layer unburdened the ECP’s Sales and Production Manager from lengthy procurement and production planning sessions. Tactical decision time was reduced right away from 4 hours to 15 minutes a day, creating time to devote to sales and scaling the food business. 

Real-Time interactive navigation of Order, Inventory, and BOMs enables Procurement and Production Planners to save 3-4 hours per day. Note: Data manipulated in the report to protect customer data privacy. 

Strategic Business Intelligence and Cash Flows 

Within two months post-transition, ECP’s customized Business Central ERP system was generating high-quality data effortlessly. Programmed with strategic business intelligence to do the heavy lifting, the ERP served as the single source of truth for generating reports and forecasting financial outcomes. Custom reports were automated to provide revenue earned per month, gross profit margin, cash flows, and pricing on-demand as well. 

The enriched ERP system supports focus on higher-margin, fast-moving products with an interactive, real-time Sales and Gross Margin Report — a tool ECP now uses to assess product lines, brands, and timelines from an advantageous birds-eye perspective. Note: Data masked and manipulated to protect Customer’s data privacy.  

Enabling Growing Food & Beverage Packaging companies into the Future 

Founders typically suffer through many long years waiting for the right time to unravel the complexities of an ERP system. And too often the path to ERP, from contemplating data cleanup to data mapping to high-dollar implementation estimates, becomes overwhelming for even experienced ERP system Users – to the point the complexities prevent most smaller manufacturers from even starting (or lead to discarding the project from lack of tangible results in a reasonable timeframe). 

Today, technology has been democratized and tools that were reserved for only the largest of enterprises are being made accessible to small to mid-size companies, enabling tremendous gains in worker productivity and overall business growth.  For many of the food manufacturing businesses we work with, our affordable, rapid-style ERP implementation and delivery of actionable business intelligence offers CEOs the ability to scale like never before.  

Power Central’s Agile ERP approach and actual implementation timeline helped ECP scale fast without disrupting operations