Food & Beverage Northwest Naturals boosts inventory accuracy
Northwest Naturals, LLC, a Washington-based subsidiary of Tree Top, Inc., develops and supplies fruit juice concentrates that end up as ingredients in a huge array of products. Northwest Naturals niche is custom blends for fruit juice concentrate, but their products are in everything from ready-to-drink juice, candy and meat to bread, alcohol and even cosmetics. Managing complex flavorings requires equally complex processes, making technology and automation essential.
"When we look back at the way things were before Sage X3 and RKL eSolutions, I don’t know how we did it but I know we don’t ever want to go back.
—Twyla DelPozzi, Finance & Administrative Manager
Just like others in the food processing industry, Northwest Naturals must meet the FDA’s strict requirements for food safety. Food producers must comply with safety regulations before, during, and after a product hits the market. They must show product traceability and process transparency, requiring efficient and accurate tracking throughout the supply chain. Streamlining operations for regulatory compliance while maximizing productivity would be impossible without integrating operations, supply chain, inventory, and accounting on a single platform. That’s why Northwest Naturals chose Sage X3 as their ERP platform along with RKL eSolutions as their business partner to support the software.
old technology - not so fluid
Before they implemented Sage X3, accounting and technology at Northwest Naturals might have been described as a jumble of mismatched flavors. The company relied on a disconnected network of stand-alone accounting software, a 3rd party add-on for batch processing, and a collection of external databases and spreadsheets for a variety of purposes like managing orders, invoicing, and inventory. Then, they had to generate reports on each of those entities individually as well as combine them all into a single report to monitor the business as a whole. It all proved to be more of a problem than a solution.
“There were too many pieces to the puzzle, with siloed applications introducing inefficiency and potential for human error,” says Twyla DelPozzi, Finance & Administrative Manager for Northwest Naturals. “When you have multiple software programs that aren’t integrated with one another, a lot of stuff has to get entered multiple times in various systems which presents a potentially risky situation for a food products manufacturer.” Before implementing Sage X3, the company ran a traceability exercise to test their existing software in terms of tracking a raw material through the entire process into a finished good. The number of systems involved, manual processes, and paperwork made the exercise cumbersome and difficult. “It was not a successful test,” DelPozzi admits. “It took two and a half days, and we only got about 80 percent of the job completed which we knew wasn’t good enough if we were ever faced with a product recall situation.”
Finding the right blend
Clearly, it was time to move to something better, more efficient, and more effective. As with many companies considering new software to run their business, ease of use and flexibility were concerns for Northwest Naturals from the beginning. “We wanted something that would get the job done but was simple and easy to understand,” DelPozzi says. “That is exactly what we got with Sage X3. It’s very powerful and provides all the functionality we need, but doesn’t take an IT degree to use it.” Northwest Natural’s relationship with RKL eSolutions seemed to be a natural choice of its own, DelPozzi says. “We wanted someone local who could be on-site to provide consulting and support for Sage X3. Their consultants are very knowledgeable with the system and responsive to our needs. It’s always easy to get a hold of someone when we need help.”
Once Sage X3 was live, Northwest Naturals repeated the traceability exercise and discovered how much more efficient and effective the new software was. DelPozzi reports, “The same traceability audit process that previously took us almost 3 days now takes 2 hours and the accuracy is exponentially better. Needless to say, Sage X3 has made a significant difference.” The benefits of Sage X3 went far beyond compliance and reporting with notable improvements in daily operational efficiency as well
as inventory accuracy. “The level of trust we now have in our inventory with Sage X3 is extremely high. We know if the system
says something exists,” DelPozzi points out, “it exists in exactly the quantity and place it should be.”
That level of accuracy and efficiency has also helped the company manage tremendous growth over several years. “Our sales have been increasing every year and we’ve been able to manage that growth using Sage X3 without adding a bunch of staff and overhead. There’s a dramatic increase in the volume of orders and transactions we put through the software and none of it would have been possible with the old system,” she says.
the sweet flavor of success
DelPozzi points out that the simplicity and flexibility of Sage X3 are a huge benefit. “From an accounting perspective, it’s
definitely much more flexible than other accounting and ERP systems out there,” she says. “On top of that, it’s simple, easy to
understand and gets the job done which is what you want from your technology.”
“When we look back at the way things were before Sage X3 and RKL eSolutions,” she adds, “I don’t know how we did it but I know we don’t ever want to go back.”