Ice Cream from Unilever MARCO customer case study

Unilever is the world’s largest manufacturer and currently operates ice cream factories throughout the world. Its ubiquitous ‘heartbrand’ products are sold in more than 40 countries worldwide and its famous Walls brand maintains its UK market leadership.

Although very efficient when correctly implemented, it is widely accepted that ERP systems suffer from what are termed as ‘unaccountable losses’, typically emanating from discrepancies in raw material usage and wastage. (SAP usually bases its calculations on set target values and when, as is common, the actual usage varies, these losses accumulate.) MARCO Trac-IT has been specifically developed to counter these shortcomings by continually updating systems such as SAP with live data from critical control points on the factory floor via MARCO’s DataMaster terminals.

Acutely aware of these losses, Unilever Gloucester’s SAP administrator Neil Drew and his colleagues recognised that their mixing room presented a ‘black hole’ regarding accurate data. Recipe make up was based around an outdated manual entry system, which was too susceptible to human error and did not have adequate cross checking to maintain optimum efficiency. By the time data arrived at SAP it was historic and often inaccurate. This in turn had a direct impact on raw material usage and stock control. Having seen MARCO Trac-IT in operation at another Unilever plant, it was decided to investigate whether this could help to solve the current shortcomings and following lengthy discussions and presentations, the contract was awarded to MARCO.

Any business which converts raw materials into finished product will have unaccountable losses unless they have an effective Manufacturing Execution System (MES) in place. Trac-IT has given us an environment where we now have total control, total reportability, less mistakes and one where every action is logged. This clearer operational visibility has enabled us to reduce our raw material stock holding levels. MARCO personnel have been extremely accommodating throughout and installation has been carried out with minimum disruption to our operation. The MARCO system has evolved on a continual basis and we are now in the process of bringing other areas within the factory under the Trac-IT umbrella.

Neil – Unilever

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