Vita-Pakt Citrus Products Co. Selects BatchMaster ERP to improve product costing
Looking to improve service and support levels as well as product cost calculations, Vita-Pakt Citrus Products Co. a leading vertically integrated processor and supplier of industrial citrus ingredients, selected BatchMaster Software’s ERP for Food solution to replace their existing ERP application.
Clay Watson, CFO of Vita-Pakt Citrus Products Co. describes the company as a “Deconstructor of Fruit”. Having started in 1947, Vita-Pakt followed the long drift from the Covina / Los Angeles citrus growing area north to the central valley where they are located in Lindsay, California. In doing so, they survived the “War of Attrition” which saw the original 12 companies in similar businesses reduced to just a handful of survivors.
In Florida, a lot of fruit is grown, not to eat, but for juice. In California it is different. There the fruit is grown to be on the grocery store shelf. When harvested it goes to a packing house where any fruit rejected during grading – wrong size, discoloured, not ripe enough – goes into a trailer as a discard, and Vita-Pakt buy the discards. They essentially process rejects from the packing houses.
When Clay joined the company just 10 months ago, he found their ERP system was incapable of providing the accurate costing he needed. When Vita-Pakt break down an orange, they get juice, pulp, peel, oil, zests and powders. He said “Our Aptean JustFood ERP, originally implemented 11 years ago, was never intended to be an ERP system, only as Production software, albeit with the company having a very limited view of what such software could do.” The JustFood ERP software had been set up with the initial purchase cost assigned to the juice, with all the “by-products”, i.e. anything not juice, being assigned standard costs and yield quantities, meaning nobody knew how much anything cost because the assumption was everything was “desired”. “If I pay 10c/LB for this piece of fruit,’ said Clay, “I want that to be allocated into the actual pounds that I get out in each one of these products we produce. We need to do “Real” costing, we want the visibility. If we’re not making money on, say, pulp, we want to know. We would have to decide if this is a true by-product and we take a loss on it, or do we need to go back and adjust some overheads & allocations so at least we may be able to break even on that product.”
Clay had used SAP Business One twice before, including implementing it at one company. In looking for process manufacturing software to work with SAP Business One, they found that the new “Cut Room” offering from Softengine was simply “not ready”. Two of their customers recommended BatchMaster. Clay says “As we got into BatchMaster, we realized that even some of our biggest partners used it. BatchMaster has been doing this for a very long time – they have a history. It’s already a proven overlay for SAP Business One. This sealed the deal for us – it didn’t take us long once we sat down with the BatchMaster people to see that this was going to work for us. We gave them some business scenarios and issues. Some of the big issues like WMS I was confident BatchMaster could do, but one of our biggest issues was essentially this deconstruction of fruit and the applicable sharing of costs between multiple products. That’s where BatchMaster excels. With all of the associated quality steps and attributes and how we look at food and traceability – it all fits!”
Vita-Pakt expects their new system is going to reduce the number of touch-points they have that are outside of a centralized system. Their Quality attribute data is in Excel outside of the system, so they want to get that in, along with their Labeling and WMS which is currently third-party software. Mr Watson said “I think we will get a lot of increases in data visibility and true costs”.
Vita-Pakt does expect an improvement in support. Said Clay “Aptean hosts their JustFood ERP for us, they are our provider for that software. They allow us no access to the software itself. If we want a user-defined field added, we would submit a ticket and it would take 6-7 months for them to get it done. This was unacceptable moving forward. Not only was the software not meeting our needs, the provider wasn’t meeting our needs either”.
Having used SAP Business One before, Clay was delighted to find that BatchMaster provided the Boyum B1 Usability Package with their software, and that it worked in BatchMaster the same way it does in SAP Business One*. “In my last company where we were using SAP B1, we actually didn’t even call our provider that often”, said Clay. “We knew how to take master data and upload it. We knew how to add user-defined fields, make them required, put parameters around them, make them read-only, make them hidden, and drag them into forms. Because of that Boyum functionality we could do all that ourselves, in real time – we could do it today. We really need our provider to be there for the bigger stuff, the heavy lifting”.
What does it mean for Vita-Pakt?
“We’re excited that BatchMaster has a product that fits our unique business and our size and scope’, Clay told us. “We say it’s unique, which it is in the citrus field, but we are not unique in terms of deconstructing food products. Other businesses deconstruct pigs, fish, stone fruit – this is not that unique, however we are very grateful to have software that’s designed for what we need, that sits on top of an ERP that I know works pretty well”.