Curious about the top IT challenges facing food manufacturers?  Edgewater Fullscope, Sunrise Technologies and Microsoft have sponsored a new video featuring Gartner that discusses the impact of data, social media, consumer demand, global supply chains and more on food manufacturers and other consumer product goods (CPG) companies.

The segment, “CPG Talk in 2013:  Conversations CPG Companies Need to Have Now to Compete and Survive,” features Gartner analyst Nigel Montgomery and provides new considerations for executives at consumer goods companies on technology strategies needed to stay competitive in a global economy, including growing or maintaining market share.

When American industrial trash bag maker Heritage realized that its legacy systems couldn’t support its growth plans, including its line of commercial-grade compostable bags, the company turned to Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP. As a result of Heritage’s smooth Microsoft Dynamics AX and CRM implementation, the software platform has helped Heritage to reduce inventory, serve more customers, grow with fewer resources and consolidate data.

See the full video:  Heritage Bag: Making Things Possible with Dynamics AX

http://bit.ly/reilyaxvideo

Fullscope customer/food and beverage manufacturer Reily Foods Company uses Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP software, for usability, flexibility and support for unique food manufacturing needs. With Microsoft Dynamics AX, Reily is able to have real-time access to data, plus the information it needs to support food safety and sustainability practices, including traceability for product recalls. Watch this short video and learn more …

Edgewater Blog

In Part 1, I highlighted changes to improve performance for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Web Application. Part 2 focused on performance improvements for CRM customizations. In this blog, I will highlight changes to improve performance for the following:

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM SDK Applications and
  • Microsoft Dynamics Reporting Services.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM SDK Applications

It is imperative to ensure the optimal performance of any custom applications, plug-ins, or add-ins developed using the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 SDK.

A precise recommendation for any custom application is to limit any columns and rows retrieved to those required to achieve the application’s business goals. This technique is particularly significant when CRM users access the data from a Wide Area Network (WAN) with higher network latencies. The data returned by custom applications can be limited:

  • when using ‘Condition’ attributes to restrict the data that the ‘FetchXML’ and ‘ConditionExpressions’ queries return,  and
  • When using paging…

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For food and beverage manufacturers, by-products are the unfortunate leftovers of producing valuable products and co-products. By definition, by-products are the manufacturing outputs that can’t be resold, repurposed or reused. They’re refuse.  By-products don’t add anything to production except effort and cost. It’s tempting to just ignore them and simply write them off as the cost of doing business.

But we all know by-products don’t just go away, and in most cases food and beverage manufacturers understand they ignore by-products and their costs at their own peril. There’s a price to pay. In some cases, the costs of not dealing with by-products properly are regulatory, environmental or safety problems and penalties. In other cases, the costs are less onerous, usually not knowing the true costs of production or misstating your real margins on products and co-products. Most food and beverage manufacturers must deal with both the internal and external impacts of producing by-products.

Fortunately, Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 for the food and beverage industry makes identifying, tracking and accounting for by-products a straightforward, well — by-product, of planning and managing production. With a little preparation and forethought, Dynamics AX will help you capture critical by-products information during manufacturing and use that information to calculate the costs of by-products and handle any required regulatory reporting.

To effectively manage by-products in Microsoft Dynamics AX, you need to follow a three-stage process:

  1. Identify by-products resulting from the manufacture of a product, gather the data that describes them and define these by-products in Dynamics AX;
  2. Systematically capture production data as you manufacture products and co-products and produce the by-products; and
  3. Pass the collected data to the appropriate Dynamics AX functions, evaluate it and incorporate it into internal analyses and external reporting.

While these steps over-simplify things a bit, it’s basically the same process you follow in defining and using any set of data within Dynamics AX. Each of these steps includes a number of subsidiary tasks and involves decisions and potential mistakes that could affect the quality of the resulting information and external reports. Fortunately, none of the tasks or decisions is very difficult once you understand your data, your requirements and the steps you need to follow. Read the rest of this entry »

When industrial equipment manufacturers evaluate ERP software, one of the key categories on the checklist is quality management. There seems to be a consensus that any Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system worth its salt ought to include the ability to plan and manage quality. While the quality management capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics AX compare favorably with those of competitive systems, taking a hard look at why quality really matters in Industrial Equipment Manufacturing demonstrates some of the major reasons why Dynamics AX is the ERP system of choice for mid-market IEM companies.

Quality is been a common theme in most manufacturing segments since the rise of Japanese automakers and the introduction of the Toyoda Production System in the 1980s. Japanese automakers dominated the American market first on price and then on the reliability of their cars. When Ford Motor Company declared “Quality is Job 1,” it reflected the realization of many American manufacturers that quality was mechanism that drove the Japanese competitive engine. Since that time the concept and the imperative of quality has evolved considerably. Whether it’s called Total Quality Management or Six Sigma or something else, the focus on quality has become ingrained in American manufacturing management doctrine and methodology. As a result, we include a quality management evaluation category on our ERP checklists and believe the ERP system we select will somehow help us do a better job of producing quality product.

Customer success stories demonstrate that IEM companies selecting Microsoft Dynamics AX often improve in managing quality and producing quality product. It’s possible to learn a great deal from the successes of others, but it’s also important to understand how to translate that learning into success for your company. As we said, taking a comprehensive look at why quality matters in IEM can help you evaluate how you can improve the quality performance of your company and understand why Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP software for industrial equipment manufacturing is a key tool in helping your achieve your quality goals.  Read the rest of this entry »

It’s been a mixed year for chemical manufacturers.  While end-use markets have recovered to their pre-recession levels, growth beyond that level has been slow.  For many North American firms, exports have been especially weak as markets in Europe have all but disappeared.  There are bright spots, such as the surge in demand for ethylene-based products, driven by burgeoning natural gas capacity.  Still, it’s been a year of eking out profitability wherever it can be found.  One of the strategies many chemical manufacturers are using to improve margins is a renewed focus on business basics, the industry best practices that separate market leaders from the rest of the pack.

Common strategies in emphasizing best practices include process intensification (the merging of two or more production processes), a search for greater supply chain efficiency and a renewed drive to pare overhead even more.  While every business process can yield some additional waste and performance improvement, producers often overlook the benefits to be gained from more effective vendor management and purchasing.

Procurement leaders differ on some of the details of what constitutes purchasing excellence, but several themes recur in almost every vendor management or purchasing excellence initiative.  We’ll discuss some of these initiatives shortly.  The common foundations of purchasing excellence initiatives are better communication, more accurate data at all levels and a focus on enforceable, repeatable processes.  Finding a way to achieve these objectives can be a challenge.  Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP for chemical manufacturers provides these foundations, as well as other tools required to implement best-in-class processes that can give you the competitive advantage you need to sustain and grow margins in an already competitive business.

First we’ll discuss some of the tactics you can use to improve purchasing performance and contribute to stronger margins.  Then we’ll look at how Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP can help you, as a chemical manufacturer, to effectively implement some or all of these approaches in your company.  Read the rest of this entry »