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Wise Move For Snack Company 2

Production-scheduling software lets Wise Foods participate in promotions and compete better with national brands
Until about four months ago, Wise Foods Inc. kept an average of 130,000 to 150,000 cases of finished-goods inventory at its Berwick, Pa., manufacturing plant each day. But a new production-scheduling system from JRG Software Inc. has helped the snack-food company's facility optimize labor staffing, shipping schedules, and other production-related processes, resulting in about $600,000 in savings yearly. Better information means the plant has been able to slash on-hand inventory by 50,000 cases a day yet ramp up production on a just-in-time basis to handle special promotions that will add about $725,000 annually to the $400 million-a-year company's revenue.

Software is helping Wise slash the amount of inventory it has to keep on hand.

Software is helping Wise slash the amount of inventory it has to keep on hand.
JRG Factory Scheduler is linked with Wise's enterprise-resource-planning applications so it can automatically receive inventory and order-processing data to calculate production demands. Shortly after installing the software, Wise won its first special-promotions deal with Shaw's Supermarkets Inc. Wise delivered 48 truckloads of products--each truck containing more than 1,500 cases--to Shaw's warehouses in the Northeast. The company had declined to participate in such promotions in the past, says Mike Kopetski, Wise's director of logistics, because "there was never the confidence from our sales force that we'd be able to execute."

The new software let Wise look at demand and balance forecasts and actual orders against available material, labor, and capacity. With greater visibility into the manufacturing plant's available capacity, Wise was able to use what-if scheduling and other analysis tools to determine its ability to handle the promotion. Now Wise is gearing up for another Shaw's promotion slated to start in mid-August.

It took less than 12 weeks to get JRG Factory Scheduler up and running on a Linux server. The software replaces a rudimentary system based on spreadsheets and manual calculations. "Before JRG, we were scampering around, and that wasn't working very well," Kopetski says. It used to take anywhere from eight to 12 hours a day to finish a production schedule, and managers weren't getting the schedules until three to four hours before a shift was set to begin. Now Wise can finish a schedule in a few hours, completing it 18 hours before a shift.

The IT upgrades are critical for Wise, which competes regionally with national brands such as Frito-Lay. "It is critical for us to have a very effective cost profile," Kopetski says. "We are managing our pennies every day." Wise is licensing JRG software for its second manufacturing plant, in South Carolina.