Secondo Vergani

Seasonal demand and supply chain planning for the confectionery industry

Challenge

Provide a supply chain planning & scheduling system (finite capacity) and an integrated MES system

Company

Secondo Vergani S.p.a. is a leading company in the confectionery business for the production of nougat, chocolate, marron glacés and mustard.  The manufacturing process of the company, in the historical plant in Cremona, is based on automatic production and packaging lines.  The Italian large-scale retail trade is the main market, but all products are expanding into foreign markets. In 2006 the company joins Gruppo Lameri, 

strengthening the process of industrialization, accomplishing  new  sales&marketing strategies and investments to improve all business processes. To further  strengthen this strategy Vergani decides to implement a new supply chain planning & scheduling software and a MES system to track and control production processes and  the project is  entrusted to Plannet.

Context

The main challenge of the food business is to manage seasonal demand. In the Vergani case for instance,  20% of the annual sales of nougat and mustard are achieved in the period January/March and the remaining 80% between September and December. Also chocolate products  are affected by seasonal  demand, in September and during Easter, but with a less variable trend.

Before Compass project, production planning was managed by the sales team on the basis of  forecast  data calculated considering the past years trends and trusting planners experience.

The first  orders  of the season were already planned in a pre-season period (March/August); during the peak season (September/December) planning process frequency  used to be increased frantically,  trying to chase sales data patterns. Forecast data were managed on the ERP system, but made available with remarkable delay compared to the actual needs (purchasing and production campaign were already

launched);  moreover such data were not reviewed promptly and consistently. Production  and purchase planning  processes were filled with incorrect information on quantities to purchase/produce. As a result,  the high level of  uncertainty led planners to increase safety stock level , to be able tofulfill market demand during the peak season. The mentioned contest became more and more critical, considering the increase rate  in annual sales ( +15% on last year turnover),  in production volumes ( +20% on last year) and  in the production mix (600 to 900 items during the last 3 seasons). The most relevant issues Vergani wanted to address are summarised below:

  • reduce inventory levels while continuing to provide highest availability of raw and packaging materials;
  • reduce complexity of processes caused by the seasonal increment of production volumes.

Solution

Compass implementation led Vergani to  obtain an integrated management (on one single system) of sales, production and purchase spreading  up-to-date information within  the company. Using COMPASS Vergani generates

a Master Production Plan (MPS) on finished items, issues finite capacity production plans, releases purchase plans and collects  the necessary production data (MES).

Benefits

The introduction of the new planning & scheduling  system achieved the reduction of:

  • 50% of stock on finish goods mustard and nougat (in 1 year);
  • 20% of seasonal setup  time (October to December) leading to a production rate increase. This result has been  achieved using COMPASS  advanced sequencing  functions, based on item attributes, and applied to production lines scheduling.

The finite capacity scheduling  also led to:

  • reduce night shifts and improve control over production capacity requirement;
  • stabilize the production planning process, thanks to the radical reduction of shortages on raw and packaging materials;
  • improve visibility and control over stock profile of finished items;
  • provide reliable and up-to-date information to release purchase plane and material call-offs;
  • improve collaboration among the various company functions , as a result of the integrated management of information, an acknowledged cornerstone to achieve an efficient and effective planning process.

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