Fresh produce company N&A Group transforms with LINKFRESH

N&A Group is a leader in the Australian fresh produce industry. Since its humble beginnings in Haymarket, Sydney, in 1956, the company has expanded to include growing, packing, distribution and export of fresh produce, including organics.

Previously hampered by a cumbersome, manual tracking system which saw precious hours wasted in processing orders for fresh produce, N&A Group engaged Dialog to implement LINKFRESH™ – a real-time ERP system that provides complete visibility, traceability and accountability into all goods, all of the time.

Manual system lacked traceability and visibility

The fresh produce industry is notoriously fast-paced and dynamic. Often, customer orders come through in the morning and need to be delivered that day. To meet these changing needs – and to make accurate pricing decisions amidst this volatility – producers need the ability to think on their feet.

N&A Group was finding it difficult to keep up with the pace of change. As Duncan Ritchie, CIO, said, “We were very top-heavy on the admin side of things, weighed down by a manual, paper-based system where multiple employees handled transactions multiple times. It wasn’t efficient, nor was it sustainable.”

Stock control suffered as a result, as did quality control. Without visibility into where orchard deliveries were sitting, the holy grail of ‘first in, first out’ was difficult to achieve. Plus, it was taking too long to produce management reports – it was difficult to react to problems and rectify them.

“We needed a single touch data entry system to reduce labour costs; greater traceability for compliance with our quality assurance obligations; and better visibility right through our supply chain,” said Ritchie.

LINKFRESH ticks all boxes for fresh produce

When it comes to technology, the fresh produce industry has unique requirements. The attributes of fresh produce are complex – with classes, sizes and colours dictating price and order quantity. Throw in a multi-faceted operation that covers growing, pre-packing, distribution and more, and the complexity grows.

N&A Group CFO Tony Kelly, set to work, exploring ERP solutions that would cater to the company’s specific needs. The LINKFRESH™ solution, proposed by Dialog and built on the Microsoft Dynamics platform, ticked all the boxes.

Dialog worked with N&A Group to initially deploy LINKFRESH in the wholesale distribution division. Next, it was deployed into N&A Group’s pre-pack business. The organics and export businesses followed; as did N&A Group’s orchards.

“With the support of LINKFRESH and Dialog, the implementation was very doable. It was easy to get information into the databases and get up and running,” said Kelly.

N&A Group reaps significant time and cost savings

Since implementing LINKFRESH, N&A Group has experienced significant savings and efficiencies. Previously, eight clerical staff were inputting orders each day. Now, labour costs have more than halved thanks to the automation achieved. And stocktakes, even in the busiest weeks of the year, take less than an hour – compared to over four hours previously.

“What we have now is a single entry system – a transaction is entered once, and that’s it. It flows right through all of our stock control and financial systems, giving us information that’s current, reliable and up-to-date. We can react quicker to changing conditions and fix things like margins in real-time,” said Ritchie.

“Plus, the traceability in LINKFRESH allows us to track a product from harvest through to storage on a farm, and then to packing and distribution to the end user. It is a true end-to-end system. The depth of functionality in LINKFRES is outstanding. I honestly don’t understand why anyone in fresh produce would use anything else.”

 

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