Founded in 1938, Mackays are one of the UK’s most established manufacturers of preserves and marmalades. Based in Arbroath in Scotland, Mackays currently employ around 170 members of staff who work to manufacture, sell and despatch their range of Jams, Marmalades, Chutneys and Mustards. In total Mackays stock approximately 900 different SKUs, including both their built products as well as all their ingredients and raw materials such as glass jars, labels and metal caps. All soft fruits, including raspberries and strawberries, are bought locally from farms within a 30 mile radius of Mackays. All other components are also UK sourced, except for citrus fruits which are bought from Spain and Jute bags which are imported from India. Once manufactured, Mackays will sell their products to companies throughout the UK and to 86 markets internationally. On average, across all their revenue streams Mackays will receive around 10,000 orders each year.
Mackays have now been using OrderWise for over a decade, implementing their initial OrderWise solution when the company acquired the Mrs Bridges brand in 2001. To find out how OrderWise has been able to evolve alongside Mackays’ growth and helped them to keep their operations manageable during this time, we spoke to Mark Thomson, Financial Accountant at Mackays, to learn more.
Mackays have been using OrderWise since around 2001, upgrading to each new version of OrderWise as it was developed and released along the way. However although Mackays were making sure they were keeping up-to-date with each new version of OrderWise, at the time they were only using it for their order processing and not within their warehouse or other operations. With the business continuing to grow year on year, Mackays reached a crossroads in 2014 where their method of working on a daily basis was no longer feasible or efficient for a company of their size.
Essentially, once an order had been placed, a picking note would then be placed into a tray where someone from the warehouse would collect it. They would then go to pick the stock, ticking off what they had picked and how many as they went along. This was not only time consuming but meant mistakes could be made. Therefore to help them streamline their daily processes and reduce the errors generated by this paper based system, Mark knew they needed to move everything onto a more automated solution.
“At that time, we had no electronic stock control, picking or despatch system, so there was far too much paper floating around the business. We knew we needed to take our operation into a more computerised system and get rid of the endless papertrail in the warehouse in order to be a much slicker and more efficient business.”
With the decision made, Mackays began their search for a new system that could manage all their key operations. A team led by Managing Director, Martin Grant, were put in charge of finding the solution and they knew OrderWise had worked well to manage the order processing side of the business and therefore could potentially help them to manage the rest of the business too. Having extensively researched the market, what sold Martin, Mark and the team on rolling out OrderWise across their whole business was OrderWise’s commitment to ongoing development. Mark explained how this helped them know OrderWise was the right system for Mackays to continue to grow alongside.
“Basically the work OrderWise had done to get the software to where it was, that was what attracted us to expand the system across the business. We looked at top end ERP Systems, MRP Systems, Microsoft Dynamics, all these type of things – ultimately they all would’ve needed a lot of bespoke work which meant they all proved far too expensive.”
With OrderWise proving to Mackays that it was the right system for them going forward, the implementation process begun. With Mackays having such an extensive operation, it was important that they experienced minimal disruption to their daily routine. To achieve this, it was important that OrderWise dedicated the time and manpower to ensure that everything was carefully organised, which Mark said was indeed the case.
“There was obviously a lot of consultation, we planned everything out and had a number of meetings with OrderWise beforehand. David (Managing Director of OrderWise) was here himself three or four times and he had an excellent team with him. Once we were convinced that they could deliver what we were hoping for, we then began the training phase.”
In order to experience a seamless transition to a companywide OrderWise solution, it was vital for Mackays to get their key operational staff trained up on the software as quickly as possible. Therefore Mark and his team booked for OrderWise to travel to their offices in Scotland on a number of occasions, ensuring the software was set up as they needed and each department was trained on the areas of the system relevant to their various job roles. This on-site training and attention to detail in ensuring the implementation was successful was something that particularly impressed Mark.
“We explained how we had been working and the problems we had found with a predominantly paper based system. We then spent the next 3 or 4 months putting an action plan in place to overcome all of the issues we had. We then had extensive training for which OrderWise put a very big team up here which allowed us to look at everything from top to bottom, from the girls in the office right out to the shop floor users.”
With everything in place, Mackays officially went live with their new end-to-end OrderWise business management solution. The big question is, has it been able to streamline the daily running of their business as they had hoped?
The Warehouse Management Solution
The main reason Mackays wanted to have a single companywide system in place was to reduce the amount of paper notes around the warehouse and manual transferring of information on which the business previously relied. To achieve this and keep their warehouse operating productively, Mackays decided to introduce OrderWise Mobile WMS Devices so they could use barcode-scanning technology to make picking orders, completing manufacturing processes and performing common warehouse tasks as efficient as possible. However as much as these devices have improved speed within Mackays’ warehouse, the accuracy they now have from having a real-time stock feed through these devices, Mark explained, has completely revolutionised the business.
“The biggest change is everything is now live, so we can see orders that are getting picked and we can see our manufacturing process on a computerised basis, so it’s basically brought everything into one hub. We were a paper heavy organisation before but now with OrderWise’s handheld technology, all of that paper trail disappears and the guys are using those handhelds to go and pick the orders. These devices are telling them how many we need, the stock location of the goods and also, as our jam comes off the end of the manufacturing line, staff are using the scanners to then book the finished items into stock. It’s just 100% slicker.”
However it is not just the actual performing of manufacturing processes where OrderWise has been able to assist Mackays with their production. Mark explained how having a structured method of managing their various bill of materials (BOMs) has enabled the company to better plan their busy manufacturing schedule.
“OrderWise has allowed us to streamline our manufacturing planning process. Now our Manufacturing Services Manager plans the next week or two weeks ahead, builds the BOMs and then everything else is completed on the shop floor by the workers – so it’s a whole lot slicker and more efficient.”
The OrderWise Solution
As a food manufacturer, being able to accurately track stock at any time is something that is especially key for Mackays. When it comes to correctly handling their batch and expiry dated stock, regulations state Mackays need to have access to a full audit trail of every individual item that comes through their warehouse. Mark explained that thanks to OrderWise supplying the business with full end-to-end traceability, they can be sure their operation effectively meets these requirements.
“One of the many advantages of the end to end system comes when we are required to run a product trace for audit purposes. We can use OrderWise to find out when a product was manufactured, what raw materials were used and to which customers the product was sold. Also with the use of stock control techniques like FIFO, we know that when we are asked to pick a product from the warehouse, we are being directed to the oldest stock in the location.”
Mark also mentioned how OrderWise has helped to make his job easier. As Financial Accountant, one of the key aspects of Mark’s job is gathering data and analysing how the company is doing on a regular basis, seeing where Mackays may be able to make improvements. By now having access to the information he needs and more importantly when he needs it, Mark can always gain an insight into how the business is performing.
“Because I’m financially minded, I like to know what orders are coming in and what our invoicing is on a daily basis. By simply looking at a few modules and running reports within OrderWise, I can get a snapshot of the day, the next two weeks, the next four weeks, the next 3 months and so on. So as far as I’m concerned, it’s all about having somewhere I can go to get a snapshot of information.”
However when it came to choosing a new business management system, for Mackays it wasn’t just about the software functionality and how it would be able to improve their processes. The reason Mackays decided to implement OrderWise was due to the company’s commitment to improving the software offering available by keeping up with all the latest technology and developing new features all the time. Mark explained how, through OrderWise’s support over the years, Mackays were right to see OrderWise as a long term business partner that would help the business to grow.
“The support has been first class, I think because it was such a big project we’ve always worked closely with David (Hallam, OrderWise Managing Director) and Sean (Cooper, Project Manager) who has essentially been our Account Manager. I’m still almost every day in direct contact with Sean who has been brilliant throughout, he gets back to me within 24 hours and can solve any issue that has come along. Obviously where he feels there’s a little bit of development or a report that needs to be written, he’s our central man who will then be going out and speaking to the different OrderWise Teams to make sure that what is needed gets done.”
What’s Next for Mackays and OrderWise?
So with OrderWise able to help Mackays to eliminate paper documents from their warehouse, improve their batch traceability requirements and provide them with all the tools they need to expand moving forward, what’s next for Mackays and OrderWise?
“Well we are an aggressively growing business, which means we’re always looking for new markets and customers while still developing our relationships with our existing clients. So for us it’s all about having a computer system and a partner there that allows us to grow together. OrderWise’s potential is limitless as far as we can see, so it’s all about planning what we can do now, what we can do a year down the line and just bringing everything that OrderWise can do for us into fruition.”
For more information on Mackays, you can visit www.mackays.com