CSB Solution Streamlines Processes And Saves Time

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

An IT solution from CSB-System is enabling Switzerland’s number one supplier of mozzarella and other cream cheese specialities to efficiently plan and optimise workflows and information throughout all its operations, leading to a fifty percent time saving in order picking.


Züger Frischkäse AG’s exports account for about 40 percent of its business, including countries as far away as South Korea. The company’s philosophy is to supply customers with easy-to-handle products that provide a high level of convenience—for example, cheese in cubes or slices. Züger also offers a comprehensive organic product line, as well as packaging sizes that cater for large-scale consumers and households, and the possibility of ordering small batches.


High Demand For Software And Technologies

In this context, a professional IT infrastructure is a must for Züger. While the company’s niche position can undoubtedly serve as an advantage in the highly competitive dairy industry, in many respects, Züger’s high number of products and production of small batches make efficient production more difficult and costly. Another complicating factor is Switzerland’s expensive production conditions—Züger must ensure their changes do not affect prices too much, especially in international markets.

To keep processes at the factory as lean as possible, the cream cheese specialist has linked all areas of the company into a single network, with the aid of an end-to-end software solution by CSB-System.


CSB-System Ensures Efficiency

Züger’s operations are highly complex. The company processes milk from 400 vendors to make around 700 different products. This involves 2,500 packaging components, seven production departments, and three high-bay storages.

With the ERP software from CSB-System, all processes in administration and resource management can be controlled in an optimal manner. All data—from milk acceptance, production, and inventory management to picking and shipping—is entered directly into the ERP system for further processing. As a result, Züger can efficiently plan and optimise workflows and information in all areas.

“CSB provided our first ever ERP system nineteen years ago,” comments Züger CEO, Christof Züger. “We had five employees back then; now we employ 250 people. Thanks to the growth of CSB-System, we were able to map the organic growth of our company and keep efficient structures. Today, we have CSB as a turnkey solution. This means we have only one system for financial accounting, human resources, procurement, inventory, sales, and quality management.”


Fifty Percent Time-Savings In Picking

With every investment, the CEO has remained true to his strategy of spending only as much on IT and technology as necessary. As such, every new project is based on a process and cost-benefit analysis. This was the case in 2011, when Züger expanded its production and warehouse capacities while at the same time automating the internal logistics. The centrepiece is the combination of high-bay storage and mobile picking.

Due to the high land prices in Switzerland, the company manufactures in several production areas located on various floors. On every level, there are so-called ‘I points’ where the finished products can be entered in the high-bay storage. Items are stored according to the first-in, first out principle, so the goods can be delivered as fresh as possible. The system links every pallet with the sell-by date and the lot number.

Often, test steps programmed into the software are carried out in the background. These include ‘What are the dimensions and the size of the pallet?’, ‘Does the product have to go to a quick-freeze location first?’, and ‘On which side of the warehouse and at which height does the pallet have to be stored?’

Permanently communicating with the inventory management computer, the software also controls the automatic stock removal of pallets as replenishment for picking.

Customer orders are transmitted directly to the touch panels of the electric forklifts via a wireless connection. The screen shows which area of the picking zone the pallet with the ordered product is located in. The picker scans the pallet label, removes the item and confirms the picked quantity at the scanner. All other processes run automatically in the software.

When a pallet is empty, the system automatically requisitions a new pallet from the high-bay storage.

“This ensures permanent replenishment of the picking zone so that customer orders can be processed in a quick and efficient manner,” Züger explains. “Compared to the past, we were able to save around 50 percent of the time spent here. At the same time, our paperless picking methods have minimised the error rate.”


Optimal Coverage Planning Instead Of “Plan By View”

The introduction of CSB coverage planning was also the result of economic considerations. Previously, Züger’s staff managed only “by view”. Information quality was poor and there was often a mismatch between physical and informational stocks. Even though there were only a few real delivery bottlenecks back then, the situation today is much more relaxed and accurate.

With CSB Coverage Planning, Züger secures the availability of materials and capacities, and can drive the internal processes in such an efficient manner that all orders can be delivered at the requested date and at minimal cost.

Important data—procurement, production, inventory and sales—is available in real time. Plus, the availability of materials and capacity is monitored constantly. Manual work is not needed anymore in order to provide the required materials in time. As safety stocks, replenishment stocks, expected and maximum stocks are taken into account for determining the optimal order times, inventory capital commitment is reduced as well.


Better Control Over Returns

No matter how high the quality of their manufactured products, every food manufacturer will receive complaints. Be it incorrect labels, transport damages or price differences, having returned perishable goods on your company premises means you have to act quickly.

In such cases, it is useful to know the reason why the goods were returned. Was it simply due to wrong loading or incorrect labelling of the products? Is it necessary to inform quality assurance or is it sufficient to issue a credit note to the customer? Or is the carrier responsible and has to pay the damage?

Züger recently started using CSB-Document Steering for such cases, and returns are now handled according to defined standard procedures:

The advantages are obvious. Controlling and managing everything within one program results in a much clearer overview than before. The employees in-charge can better analyse the reasons for the returns in terms of quantity and respond accordingly. All information such as item data, department and reasons for the complaints are documented transparently in data sheets. Plus, the system facilitates paperless processing, and the archive gives the employees quick access to the documents.


Digitisation Remains A Top-Floor Issue

Züger is seeking to drive digitisation further in order to become even more competitive. The new goal of the cream cheese specialist is a networked factory that conforms to Industry 4.0. Even though the technological course has long been set, digitisation still remains a top-level issue for Christof Züger.

“We believe that we have already installed a lot here in Oberbüren, and can effectively operate a kind of Industry 4.0,” he says. “This has many benefits for us, but also for our customers. Right now, we are upgrading our German branches to CSB, with the same logic we have here in Oberbüren, so we will have the same business processes in Germany as we have here.”

At Züger’s main plant in Oberbüren, the maintenance module is also to be implemented in order to facilitate early maintenance and repair of the machinery pool. It also helps with getting a clear overview of weak points and costs.

In the future, goods receiving will be handled with hands-free terminals so the data is transferred to the ERP system even faster. Apart from that, the introduction of the Business Intelligence solution by CSB is in full swing, led by Christof Züger’s desire for more transparency at his company and the improved ability to analyse the complex data volumes from production and logistics.

Züger’s perennial goal? To make the right operational and strategic decisions—and to make them faster. 


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