Almondco and Simarloo crack the almond data challenge

Graycorp Pty Ltd
Monday, 06 December, 2010

The almond industry is undergoing rapid expansion as a result of widespread plantings in recent years, with an increase in harvest volumes of around 25-30% a year - a level of growth which is expected to continue for at least the next five years.

Processing around 30% of Australia’s almond harvest (13,000 t) almonds annually, Almondco Australia is one of Australia’s largest almond processing, packaging and marketing groups. Located at Renmark, South Australia, Almondco has the largest and most modern almond processing plant in Australia. The company is undergoing a major growth phase that will see it processing more than 30,000 tonnes by 2015.

Almondco offers a broad range of almond products and has strategic partnerships with Australia’s key food manufacturers, re-packers, retailers, wholesalers, food service and confectioners. Almondco has well-established export markets in the United Kingdom, Western Europe, India, Japan, Middle East and New Zealand. Almondco is developing markets as supply permits in South-East Asia, Eastern Europe and China.

Simarloo is the largest huller and cracker of almonds in South Australia’s Riverland region, servicing more than 90 growers and processing a combined field tonnage of in excess of 30,000 tonnes. The company processes about 70% of Almondco’s annual harvest.

The considerable and rapid growth in the industry and the resultant increase in the volume of almonds for processing was putting production pressure on the operations of both companies, while also delaying sales opportunities and potentially affecting grower returns.

Graycorp worked with both Almondco and Simarloo to develop and implement a fully integrated electronic solution which automates the instant transfer of information between the two entities, allowing timely and informed decision making.

Simarloo negotiated with growers for the delivery of product from the orchard; however, Almondco had no real knowledge of what was being processed or what was available until the processed almonds were delivered to it.

Almondco needed timely access to detailed information regarding volumes, varieties, sizing and quality, in order to negotiate sales contracts and capitalise on opportunities that provided the best returns for growers.

The production process resulted in the generation of a large amount of paperwork which was labour intensive to create and manage, with the considerable potential for mistakes due to human error, undermining Almondco’s quality reputation.

With both companies aware of the expected significant forecast growth in harvest volumes, there was a real concern that the current systems and processes would not be able to accommodate the predicted future volumes.

There was also little scope for Simarloo to be able to report back to the growers with detailed information about the quality or quantity of the almonds they provided.

Graycorp worked with both Almondco and Simarloo to develop and implement a fully integrated electronic solution which automates the recording of Simarloo production and the instant transfer of information between the two entities.

In addition to implementing its standard Gcorp suite, Graycorp developed an Almond Cracking and Bin Tracking module that provides real-time integration and visibility of information between the factory and back-office operations of Simarloo.

Touch-screen consoles integrate with weigh cells and allow operators to quickly print bin labels while handheld mobile devices streamline the capture of information about the movement of bins within the factory and between Simarloo and Almondco.

Gcorp and the Almond Cracking and Bin Tracking module have become an integral part of the daily operations of Simarloo, providing a single system to manage the entire business while providing Almondco with instant information about the varieties, sizing, quality, quantity and details of the almonds being processed.

At the same time as the integration was being implemented, Almondco installed touch screens and handheld barcode scanners into its production process to allow a seamless transition of information through the production processes of both companies. In addition, a system to monitor grower forecasts was implemented, thus enabling constant review of intake volume against grower estimates.

With the rapidly changing demands upon both Simarloo and Almondco, as well as increasing volumes, the integrated solution between the two entities is reviewed and refined on an annual basis, enabling both companies to maximise their operational performance and bottom line benefit.

Graycorp’s integrated system has provided numerous benefits to both Almondco and Simarloo, ensuring both are well positioned to manage and benefit from the continued growth in the almond industry:

Almondco now has access to detailed information about the almond quality and quantity within minutes of a production run being completed. The company’s marketing and sales efforts can be regularly reviewed and adjusted as necessary to reflect the volumes and types of the almonds being processed and ensure the best prices can be secured for the benefit of growers.

The delivered solution has drastically reduced the scope for human error and double handling, reinforcing Almondco’s reputation for quality, which allows it to command a premium price for its product on world markets.

Simarloo’s weekly production cycles can be programmed to meet the specific needs of Almondco and its customers, providing a ‘pull through’ rather than a ‘push through’ system.

The delivered solution has allowed both companies to accommodate the large increase in volumes without having to significantly increase personnel numbers. Staff can now focus more on important areas such as quality control and value adding. The ultimate aim is to process and market growers’ almonds in a cost-efficient and timely manner. The integrated electronic solution developed by Graycorp helps achieve this aim.

Without the integration of Almondco and Simarloo’s systems, the significant growth in volumes would have meant both companies would have struggled to cope with the resultant paperwork.

Improved, more detailed reporting can now be provided to growers about the quality and quantity of the almonds they grow. In the future this is expected to provide the scope to be able to provide benchmarking information to growers.

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