Being able to react quickly to disruptions and strongly fluctuating market conditions, without losing sight of sustainability. That sounds like a difficult task, but it is an important condition for success for the world’s largest manufacturer of plant-based consumer products Upfield. In order to realize this, the company migrated various solutions towards an integrated range of modern SAP solutions, based on SAP S/4HANA.
Upfield started as an independent company in 2018. While the company is relatively new, the brands are not. Upfield specializes in vegetable margarines, cheese, cream and spreads and carries brands such as Blue Band, Proactiv, Becel and Lätta. It has a clear mission: to make people healthier and happier with nutritious and delicious, natural, plant-based foods that are good for people and for our planet. The company operates in a challenging market that is highly sensitive to economic and social indicators. The corona crisis and the war in Ukraine, the largest producer of sunflower oil in the world, recently made this very clear. “Disruptions in the supply chain such as the scarcity of sunflower oil directly affect our recipes, but also issues such as transport, production processes and communication with our suppliers,” says Anand Mathew, Platform Lead Supply Chain Applications at Upfield.
Under a magnifying glass
“At the same time, all those links must remain sustainable, whereby we have to deal with CO2 and methane emissions and the preservation of our packaging from plastic.” That is a complex puzzle, in which Upfield, according to Mathew, cannot afford to make mistakes. “We are under a magnifying glass. Failure to meet our mission statements will quickly cause negative publicity and a direct impact on brand value and sales.”
Upfield’s old IT infrastructure was not suitable for aligning all those things in the supply chain. The company decided to replace the various systems with an integrated set of SAP solutions, with SAP S4/HANA as the backbone.
In addition, the company uses SAP Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), among other things, to manage 2,500 recipes and 4,000 ingredient specifications. The planning of the supply chain is done via SAP Integrated Business Planning (IBP). The company uses this solution for, among other things, supply and demand management and sales&operations; planning (S&OP;). “And that for 200 users in all 95 different countries in which we are active. This allows us to base our S&OP; processes entirely on data from IBP.”
Fast supplier changes
Due to developments in the market, the company must be able to switch suppliers quickly on a regular basis, without jeopardizing the sustainability objectives. According to Mathew, they use SAP Ariba, a corporate business network for procurement, for this. “Via SAP Ariba we can quickly select suitable suppliers, also for our plastic-free materials. We use the network for sourcing, supplier selection, contract management, and that for both direct and indirect procurement.”
Upfield also relies on modern SAP technology for its worldwide logistics processes. The company uses SAP Transportation Management in tandem with SAP Business Network for Logistics for carrier tendering, cross-docking and freight handling, among other things.
With success, says Mathew. “We use SAP Transportation Management for transport movement calculation, shipment planning and route optimization. Any resulting freight orders are passed on to the carrier. There, our carriers can either log into the carrier tenant directly to accept or reject the freight order, or use the booking functionality to specify time slots for dock reservations. Overall, SAP Business Network for Logistics improves communication with our carriers,” he adds.
Upfield’s close integration enables it to accurately manage the life cycle of each product. “At every stage, every system must be coordinated to avoid the risk of obsolescence. “And we are reducing obsolescence costs through a synchronized end-to-end process,” adds Mathew.
“The main advantage is the integrated scheduling capability that we have across our supply chain. SAP S/4HANA and the supply chain solutions have helped us to be more agile. We can now react much faster to disruptions.”