Improving Productivity

 

An important function of business is to use all the resources that it brings to bear in the most efficient way. It is forever seeking to improve its productivity. In the Industrial Revolution, productivity improvements were achieved by using machines to do what had previously been done by manual labour. In China, we have seen huge increases in productivity over the past twenty years as peasant farmers came to the cities to undertake manufacturing work. Nowadays, in developed countries, little work is manual. Most jobs require the worker to make decisions. If the decisions are routine, they may be automated. Then the worker has to handle only the exceptions.

 

Helping clients to improve their productivity is what we do for a living. Here are some examples:

 

Golden Farms is a poultry facility in Geelong that processes and packages approximately 400,000 chickens per week. Our client, Turi Foods, who produce the La Ionica brand, purchased the business in July 2009 and asked us to replace the previous owners’ systems within three months; quite a tall order, but we did it. In addition, we built them an out-bound call centre operation. Each morning between 7am and 10am, sales staff call customers to establish how many birds are required and what size. This data is immediately fed to suppliers and production staff. It is a fast moving operation. The outbound ordering system automatically selects the next customer and provides information about their previous ordering patterns to facilitate fast and accurate order entry.

 

We begin ERP implementations with a project planning workshop. This establishes expectations and responsibilities, and ensures that key staff will be available when required. We define the project benefits and how we shall measure them. Sometimes this works well and sometimes it doesn’t. For years we agonized over why it was often so difficult for the client to quantify the benefits being sought. Now we accept that it is because the new ERP system provides thousands of small benefits right through the organization that make the whole company more productive. A good manager will have a gut feel that the benefits will outweigh the costs many times, but until it happens it is almost impossible to foretell and to quantify.

 

In other situations, the benefits are much easier to see. In 2012, long standing client, FTA Food Solutions, implemented automatic interfaces to their clients; third party logistics warehouses; and their shipping information provider. The interfaces saved 60 work days of data entry per annum, improved accuracy, and provided an audit trail to ensure completeness.

 

We built a visual dispatch board (EasyDispatch) and a mobile data collections system (MobileWaste) for our waste management and recycling clients to enable them to efficiently allocate jobs to trucks and to enable the drivers to collect data on site, all working to increase the utilization of the fleet.

Peter Francis Fenwick       Writer      Melbourne     Australia