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Packaged Produce Solutions Drives Growth and Continuous Improvement With Cloud-Based Aptean ERP
Packaged Produce Solutions Drives Growth and Continuous Improvement With Cloud-Based Aptean ERP
17 Aug 2023John McCurdy
When a small group of fresh produce industry professionals came together to launch Packaged Produce Solutions in 2019, they all agreed that in order for the business to succeed in both the short and long term, they needed to invest in a solid tech stack to serve as an operational foundation.
As a food processor specializing in the packaging of fresh vegetables, the San Antonio, Texas-based company needed a solution that was not only designed with the unique challenges of the sector in mind, but also cloud-based and optimized to deliver consistent results through highly structured workflows.
After a period of research and due diligence to vet various options, the leadership team selected Aptean Food & Beverage ERP as the platform to implement. Currently, the organization is getting great use out of many of the software’s features, including the warehouse management, shop floor execution and scheduling functionalities.
Terrie Molina, director of technology and improvement at Packaged Produce Solutions, spoke with Aptean team members to discuss the digital transformation journey from beginning to present, covering each of the phases in the process and discussing the major benefits that the business has been able to attain thus far.
Conducting Research To Find the Ideal ERP
Given that the initial leadership team recognized the value of purpose-built food and beverage software, they began their discovery process to assess the various alternatives on the market soon after the company was established. They found no shortage of options available, but Aptean’s solution stood apart thanks to its industry-specific features.
“Those of us that started the company, we all came from a produce background and we had an idea of what we wanted going in,” Molina said. “We looked at several different companies with various ERPs and the one that really sat well with us was Aptean Food & Beverage ERP.”
“It gave us a lot of the capabilities and functionality that we needed,” she concluded.
That same group of decision-makers also had ambitious goals for Packaged Produce Solutions and its future as a business, so scalability was another factor that weighed into their evaluations. Again, Aptean’s system offered what they needed on that front, with the option to first enable a basic set of tools and later add more functionalities—and users—to the platform.
“That was another driving factor—wanting to have something that was robust enough to get us off the ground and carry us through the first couple years,” said Molina. “And now that we’ve grown so rapidly, we’re really seeing how good of a choice it was.”
“As a business, we have confidence that we have the pieces that we need in place and the system touches just about everything we do.”
Implementing the Solution in a Short Timeframe
Packaged Produce Solutions chose an aggressive, condensed timeline for implementation of Aptean Food & Beverage ERP, leveraging the agility of a relatively small company and the expertise of a trusted business software provider. With support from Aptean’s dedicated professionals, the process progressed on-track and reached go-live with minimal issues.
“From start to finish, it took about three months—that was the timetable we set,” Molina said. “Aptean’s implementation specialists were very helpful. Everyone was very willing to answer any questions we had, and if we needed some sort of solution, they’d come back the next day with a recommendation.”
She also pointed out how the open line of contact between the two parties helped keep the project moving in the right direction. Aptean and Packaged Produce Solutions very much worked together as partners, which helped make deployment a manageable and organized undertaking.
“So for me, it was a very positive experience,” said Molina. “There was a lot of feedback, and I like that. Everyone was sure to follow up and make sure that we were comfortable with the progress.”
Working Together With Aptean’s Customer Success Teams
The foundational pillars of the relationship between provider and customer—collaboration and communication—have remained the same and grown even stronger since the system was put in place. Packaged Produce Solutions’ staff know that the highly qualified specialists at Aptean are just a call or email away and they get fast responses and informed answers in return.
“Everyone at Aptean has been very helpful. We’re three years post-implementation now, so we’re really comfortable contacting the support team if we need to,” Molina said. “Any time we have a question, we just submit a ticket and within a couple days, we have a resolution.”
And for those inquiries that require thinking outside of the box and exploring a few different avenues, Aptean’s experts are willing to go the extra mile and track down the best information and recommendations. This reliable level of service for a mission-critical solution has helped keep Packaged Produce Solutions in full gear.
“Anything the support team doesn’t know, they come back and keep us updated on the timeframe and whether or not we’ll need a customization or additional training,” said Molina. “The communication is clear and it’s been a good experience.”
Securing Key Industry-Specific Functionalities
The food and beverage industry—and the fresh produce sector in particular—comes with a unique set of challenges, including complying with government regulations, ensuring food safety and getting more sustainable. That made it all the more crucial for Packaged Produce Solutions to lock down the specialized features that the business needed with the purchase of produce ERP software.
“Since we process food and are involved in produce, some of the features we needed were country of origin labeling, traceability and quality control,” Molina said. “We need to be able to trace our food, what we’ve done with it and where it went to.”
The manufacturing and production tools that Aptean Food & Beverage offers, which include integration with handhelds and real-time inventory updates, were another must-have for Packaged Produce Solutions, as was a centralized platform that integrated the data of all operational areas for maximum visibility and accessibility.
“When we looked at the shop floor execution capabilities, we saw that we could scan barcodes and really streamline our warehouse and production operations, and that’s what we were after,” said Molinda. “And having our accounting system tied in with all that was also very important to us.”
For her personally, it’s also a matter of keeping her community healthy. The fact that the vegetables that come through her company’s facility are served on the kitchen tables of many homes throughout the state of Texas makes it especially important to Molina that there are rigorous procedures and strict standards backed by technology in place.
“We knew we had to have an ERP,” she said. “From my personal perspective, I eat the food we sell. It’s sold in our local grocery stores. Our products are in one of the largest chains in the state, and if my friends and family are going to be eating them, I’m going to make sure we have processes and controls in place—and the more system-driven they are, the better.”
Leveraging Robust Capabilities for Improvement
One front on which Packaged Produce Solutions is already seeing better results thanks to Aptean Food & Beverage ERP is expiration management. That’s pretty significant in the sub-vertical of fresh produce, as spoilage leads to waste that represents a setback for both sustainability efforts as well as profitability.
“The use of the first-expired, first-out [FEFO] method is really driven home by the system,” Molina said. “Being in food manufacturing, it’s really important that we use our ingredients that are closest to their expiration rather than skipping lots, because we also have shelf life to think about.”
The company has also unlocked greater efficiency in the financial tracking area, minimizing the need for manual data entry and replacing those tasks with time-saving automations. Integration with electronic data interchange (EDI) tools speeds up transactions and is necessary for working with some larger retailers.
“Being able to have an end-to-end receiving and billing process is very nice too,” said Molina. “And EDI is also a beautiful thing—instead of having to sit there and key in all these sales orders, we just hit a button and pull them in.”
Going forward, Packaged Produce Solutions is future-proofed, equipped with the arsenal of functionalities that a modern food and beverage business needs to succeed. The organization will continue to leverage the produce ERP solution more and more as time goes by and that should facilitate additional expansion.
“As a business, we have confidence that we have the pieces that we need in place and the system touches just about everything we do,” Molina said. “And for anything that it doesn’t touch currently, we’re going through process improvement projects to get it there.”
Enjoying the Flexibility of a Cloud-Based ERP
An additional advantage that Aptean Food & Beverage ERP provides Packaged Produce Solutions is the highly flexible cloud hosting model. By opting for the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, the company has unlocked enhanced cybersecurity, stronger data protection, broader accessibility and greater dependability.
“We didn’t want to have to bring in a server to have an on-premise instance of an ERP,” Molina said. “We wanted to stay in the cloud—every other system that we use, as far as productivity tools and other applications, it’s all web-based. So that’s what we wanted to stay with.”
In much the same way the comprehensive toolset of Aptean Food & Beverage ERP has the company prepared to further establish itself as a major produce player in the Lone Star State, the cloud setup will help the Packaged Produce Solutions team feel ready to handle whatever obstacles come their way with a reliable, organization-wide digital foundation.
“Having our solution hosted in the cloud, that’s really great,” said Molina. “It takes a lot of work and worry off our plate.”
What Sets Aptean Food & Beverage ERP Apart
When asked for what she’d share with another food and beverage professional who was seeking an ERP solution for their business, Molina is quick to point out how much she values how Aptean Food & Beverage ERP has helped Packaged Produce Solutions standardize its procedures and generate predictably excellent outcomes.
“When it came to Aptean Food & Beverage ERP, one of the things that we really liked was that it made us define what our processes really are...we had to really establish what our business’s rules are,” she said. “And the way the system’s set up, once you establish your processes, it won’t let you deviate from them.”
“So, if your company is looking for an ERP that will really help drive the business, it’s a really good solution,” she concluded.
That’s in no small part thanks to the fact the system was developed by experts with decades of experience and an in-depth understanding of food and beverage industry best practices. The features they’ve put in place were built to tackle the complexities that companies in that market experience every day.
What’s more, when you choose Aptean as a provider, you can expand your tech stack with only one supplier as necessary by considering our food industry-specific solutions: overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), enterprise asset management (EAM), product lifecycle management (PLM) or transportation management systems (TMS).
Finally, our reputation in the software space speaks for itself. Frost & Sullivan recently recognized us with its Customer Value Leadership Award in North American ERP Software for the Food and Beverage Industry, demonstrating our commitment to our clients and outstanding solution performance.
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