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Cover Story Extra: 'Suite' Success for Berner Food & Beverage

Berner Food & Beverage — an Illinois-based contract manufacturer of private label and store brand beverages, cheese products and other dairy-based foods — stays on top of nearly every aspect of its operation through its use of Aptean's Process Manufacturing Suite.

The cover story for the November/December issue of Food Manufacturing focused on Berner Food & Beverage, an Illinois-based contract manufacturer of private label and store brand beverages, cheese products and other dairy-based foods.This Cover Story Extra examines Berner's use of technology across all aspects of its operation.

Food and beverage manufacturing is sophisticated enterprise. 

But Berner Food & Beverage — an Illinois-based contract manufacturer of private label and store brand beverages, cheese products and other dairy-based foods — stays on top of nearly every aspect of its operation through its use of Aptean's Process Manufacturing Suite.

"Warehouse, maintenance, operations, quality, finance, customer services. ... procurement. We're talking just about every department. It pretty much touches every department," Berner Food & Beverage Chief Information Officer Troy Grove said of the Process Manufacturing Suite. "If it doesn't, then you aren't using it to what its capabilities are."

The Process Manufacturing Suite connects Aptean’s Ross ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), Factory MES (Manufacturing Execution System) and Pivotal CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solutions, enabling all the products to share operations data and complement each other when customers are executing process manufacturing decisions. Most importantly, the suite provides process manufacturers with a single view of operations, inventory and financial data.

“Process manufacturers need operations and financial visibility at all times, to quickly execute decisions that can affect overall production immediately,” said Jennifer Sherman, senior vice president, product management, Aptean. “The new Process Manufacturing Suite features integrated, best-in-class CRM and manufacturing capabilities that enable those crucial, real-time decisions to be informed by a manufacturer’s entire operations process.”

Berner's implementation of software solutions started when its process division started to grow at the turn of the century.

"We didn't have systems back in the year 2000," Grove said. "(Berner owner) Steve Kneubuehl felt like he needed something like an ERP system. ... and ultimately selected Ross ERP. It was the best fit for us in the vertical of food and beverage for what we did being a private label manufacturer. ... It had the best fit for our customer-centric and customer-fit products.

"As the years went by, we needed other business applications such as CRM, and then we got to where we felt we needed a MES system."

Berner added both MES and CRM solutions in 2005, and Grove couldn't imagine not having those applications at the company's disposal.

"It definitely does what it needs to do for us," Grove said of the Process Manufacturing Suite. "When you find something that works for you, you keep using it."

Berner utilizes Ross ERP to manage its inventory, costs and financing.

"When you have a manufacturing process and are keeping track of recipes, process (specifications) and jobs and all of the outputs and inputs for the ingredients and coming up with a bill of materials and being able to understand the cost adjustment and variables — those are things we didn't have prior," Grove said of the benefits of using Ross ERP. "Inventory control and barcode data collection was a big improvement for us, as well. It puts us into a real-time inventory process, which helps us from a procurement perspective. We're running specific formulas and a specific bill of materials for specific customers. To make a jar of salsa con queso, if you factor in all the ingredients and the packaging and the distribution parts of it, you have over 1,000 ways to make a mistake. (Ross ERP) helps you make it right the first time, because it helps you follow the whole process."

Factory MES works to improve factory operations and increase capacity through better utilization.

"The biggest thing is continuous improvement. It feeds you the data for continuous improvement," Grove said of Factory MES. "Those systems are based off of (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) telling you those three factors that can help you, which is rate, utilization and yield."

Pivotal CRM is used to manage both Berner's customer and supplier relationships.

"We also use that to handle our customer complaints and find out what our customer complaints are so we can go back to the factory floor and correct them. A good example would be. ... a popped top for a jar of cheese or an aerosol can that doesn't dispense the cheese. Those are the kind of things we get feedback from our customers (about). The other biggest thing it does for us is handle all our sample requests, whether it be new opportunities or daily samples that need to be kept track of."

Those three systems are tied together by Aptean's Event Management Framework which works with the Aptean Business Platform to provide the intelligent connectivity needed to share information and trigger action between the manufacturing processes.

Through its use of the Process Manufacturing Suite, Berner has seen a notable increase in throughput, along with a sizeable gain in OEE. The company has also reduced factory floor paperwork by approximately 40 percent, leading to monetary savings, along with a reduction in rework and waste. And those are only a few of the areas where Berner has seen a positive effect.

"The Process Manufacturing Suite — Factory MES, Pivotal CRM and Ross ERP — helps us get closer to our customers and become more competitive. (Ninety) percent of our orders are made-to-order, and when we control our costs, and control our inventory, it allows us to be competitive from a margin point of view. And that helps us make money. And that helps us grow."

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