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Full control from the grain mill to the shop shelf

News   •   Feb 18, 2016 07:31 GMT

Lot control integrated into M3, with Merit Portal as a part of the ERP system, providing better traceability, forecasting and inventory management at Norgesmøllene AS. A leading foodstuffs company within the field of flour-based products for the grocery, bakery, industrial and catering sectors in Norway.

Automation has been a key word within development through the decades and the mill systems at the company's three grain mills now work 24 hours a day with operators only during the daytime. M3 is at the core of the activities, with all the data and information available to users in real time at the touch of a button. 

Industrial mills

Today's corn mills have little in common with the mill that was built in Vaksdal outside Bergen in 1866, a mill that signaled the start of what today is Norgesmøllene AS, with products marketed under the ”Møllerens” logo. Automation has been a key word within development through the decades and the mill systems at the company's three grain mills now work 24 hours a day with operators only during the daytime. Automation within production planning, logistics and order handling is also a central element of today's grain mills, where Infor M3 has been the ERP system for the last 20 years, starting with Movex 9.7 in 1995 to today's version 13.2 of M3.

"M3 is at the core of the business, and is where all our data and information is available to users in real time at the touch of a button", say IT/Process Control Manager Dag Petter Berg and IT Manager Rolf Palmesen at Norgesmøllene AS. A recent addition to the system means that lot control also has been integrated into M3, with Merit Portal, as a part of the ERP system. "This provides benefits in many areas, and we expect to recover our investment over the course of the first few years", they say.

Valuable information

Norgesmøllene owns and operates three of Norway's four largest grain mills and supplies a wide range of proprietary flour-based products to the grocery sector, in addition to different products for bakeries and other professions. The requirements and wishes of the market within areas such as traceability, electronic order handling and forecasting, make it necessary to have data regarding the contents of our own consignments available in a more detailed way than previously. IT Manager Rolf Palmesen says there is now much more information available than previously, and that the information is available in M3 immediately after having been recorded. "We now have up-to-date information in M3 about every single product on each pallet in a goods consignment, including traceability data for the raw materials, production and packing time, best-before information, etc. We can use this information in many areas, including for calculating future stock situations, simpler handing of logistics in accordance with the FIFO principle, and more reliable traceability right back to the correct raw materials supplier in a simpler way than before", he says.

"We also satisfy the individual customer's wishes for electronic packing slips (packing slip level 4) and electronic order handling. Full lot control in M3 also makes it easier to discover whether a consignment is approaching the limits for when we can sell it from a best-before perspective. This means we can implement measures at an earlier stage to get the consignment sold and avoid the goods having to be destroyed. The new solution for lot control enables us to utilize M3 even better than before", sums up Dag Petter Berg.

Thorough testing prior to the start

The requirement specifications from Norgesmøllene were both comprehensive and specific when they contacted Merit at the start of 2015. The solution was developed and implemented in a collaboration project using both our own resources and consultants from Merit. The start was originally scheduled for the start of summer 2015, but was postponed until November as the changes required to M3 were more extensive than first thought. Merit Portal was commissioned at the same time as the implementation of the lot control solution. "We had at that time carried out testing over two weekends where we simulated the start", says IT Manager Rolf Palmesen. 5,000 pallets with goods were re-registered using a new conversion solution the company had developed itself. The employees in the storeroom and those involved with transportation received new screens and registration tasks, but were largely able to use the same hand-held devices that they were accustomed to. Our experience has been that the two test weekends were necessary for the commissioning to be as problem-free as it was. "Of course, some situations arose that we hadn't anticipated, but we were able to maintain production, deliveries and invoicing from day one. So we would say that the commissioning was successful. After two months in operation, we can see that the lot control solution is solving the tasks that we wanted it to solve, and that we have more opportunities to use M3 in an even better way", says the IT manager.

Equipped for the future

Eating habits are changing, and the trend is towards less packaging and more products containing everything you need to bake. The traditional housewife who buys 2 kg packs of flour is being replaced by busy people who quickly buy a product that contains flour, yeast and other ingredients to bake coarse bread rolls using a 1-2-3 method. The packaging is playing a different role to before, it needs to contribute to selling the product and not just be functional. As the country's largest producer of flour-based goods, Norgesmøllene always tries to be one step ahead of developments. "The requirements this places on IT, production and logistics are always stringent. With M3 as our ERP system and Merit as a collaboration partner, it is easier for us to be at the forefront", conclude Dag Petter Berg and Rolf Palmesen from Norgesmøllene.

About Norgesmøllene AS

Norgesmøllene AS is a leading foodstuffs company within the field of flour-based products for the grocery, bakery, industrial and catering sectors. Norgesmøllene AS was founded in 1995 through a merger of three mills. In 2003, FelleskjøpetØst Vest acquired Norgesmøllene, and 2005 sold parts of the shareholding to StiftelsenFritt Ord. Norgesmøllene AS has approx. 140 employees, distributed over the head office at Midtun outside Bergen and the production facilities in Skien, Buvika and Vaksdal.

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