BC Egg boosts food safety and enhances operational planning


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Tracking the complete life cycle of 65 million eggs per year with IBM Business Analytics solutions.

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BC Egg boosts food safety and enhances operational planning

  1. 1. Consumer ProductsLet’s build a smarter planet The British Columbia Egg Marketing Board (BC Egg) was established in 1967 to help producers provide consumers and businesses with a stable supply of eggs at a fair price. The organization’s main focus is supply management – planning and controlling production to ensure that fluctuating levels of demand can be managed effectively. This is achieved through a quota system, where each farm is allowed to keep a certain number of birds, and BC Egg conducts regular bird-counts to ensure that the quotas are being managed properly. BC Egg is also responsible for ensuring that its producers are complying with local and federal regulations, such as the British Columbia biosecurity guidelines and Egg Farmers of Canada’s ‘Start Clean, Stay Clean’ initiatives. “We are a small organization with only 12 full-time staff, but we need to be able to oversee a huge and important industry,” explains Anne- Marie Butler, Director of Finance and Administration at BC Egg. “We work with 130 producers, each of whom may have one or more farms and thousands of birds. In total, our producers keep 2.6 million chickens and our grading stations process 65 million eggs every year. Matching supply to demand, maintaining a steady income for producers and enforcing rigorous quality and biosecurity standards are major challenges – and IT plays a major role in helping our small team to meet them.” BC Egg boosts food safety and enhances operational planning Tracking the complete lifecycle of 65 million eggs per year with IBM Business Analytics solutions Smart is... Increasing public safety and improving operational planning by tracking millions of chickens and eggs throughout their lifecycle. With a range of responsibilities including quota management, capacity planning, inspections and biosecurity regulations, BC Egg realized that it needed to make smarter use of operational data in order to provide a better service to its stakeholders, including egg producers and the general public. Building on an IBM Business Analytics platform that was initially introduced for financial planning and budgeting, BC Egg has created a range of solutions that help it both to analyze data about many aspects of its operations and to access historic data from its legacy system. One solution allows Producer Liaison Officers (PLOs) to collect farm inspection data and perform bird-counts electronically using tablet PCs. Another will soon help to track producer flocks and their eggs through the entire production and distribution process.
  2. 2. Consumer ProductsLet’s build a smarter planet The need for a new solution For many years, the organization had relied on a legacy system known as LUCY to manage its operational data. As local and federal regulation of the egg industry increased and other requirements emerged, the organization began to supplement LUCY with a range of spreadsheets and other systems. This gradually became unsustainable. “LUCY was starting to show her age – we had concerns about the quality of the data, and it was also very difficult to generate reports or gain insight into operations,” says Anne-Marie Butler. “It was particularly difficult at budget time, because we had to gather information together manually from many different sources: we were spending about two full months every year on creating the annual budget, and if we wanted to do any kind of ‘what if’ analysis, each different scenario would take about a day to compile.” Choosing IBM Cognos TM1 The organization decided to implement a new, more automated financial planning and analytics solution to reduce workload for the finance team and improve data quality by reducing the risk of manual errors. “We looked at various solutions for financial planning, but when we saw IBM® Cognos® TM1® , we realized that it had the potential to offer us so much more,” states Anne-Marie Butler. “As well as modernizing our IT environment and solving problems in the finance department, it provided a significant opportunity to enhance production planning and Business Benefits • Enables BC Egg to identify the optimal time to add or replace flocks, scaling production up or down to meet seasonal demand patterns, and maximizing inventory levels. • Enhances public safety: for example, in the event of a salmonella outbreak, it will be possible to trace individual eggs from the point of sale back to the individual flock that produced them. • Cuts basic farm inspection workload by 66 percent, enabling PLOs to spend more time helping farmers address biosecurity issues and comply with local and federal regulations. • Automates many financial planning processes, reducing the budget cycle from two months to less than two weeks – an improvement of more than 75 percent. • Increases BC Egg’s overall productivity, saving around $100,000 per year that would otherwise need to be spent on additional staff. Smarter Consumer Products Instrumented Each year, 65 million eggs and 2.6 million chickens are registered in BC Egg’s systems. Data from farm inspections is also gathered via tablet PCs and integrated into the organization’s databases. Interconnected Analysts at BC Egg use IBM Business Analytics technologies to gain insight into this wealth of data, creating reports that help to plan production and help farmers address issues. Intelligent New insights enable BC Egg to plan production more efficiently, predicting seasonal changes in demand and ensuring that the right number of birds are in place to lay the right number of eggs. Both eggs and chickens can also be traced throughout their lifecycle, helping to address product quality and public safety issues rapidly and effectively.
  3. 3. Consumer ProductsLet’s build a smarter planet management. It would give us the power to track each flock of chickens – or even each bird – throughout its production lifecycle, and to trace every individual egg from the producer via the grading station to the point of sale. Moreover, by integrating data from the farm inspections too, we would be able to get a real 360-degree view of our entire operation.” A strong partnership with IBM BC Egg decided to work with IBM Business Analytics Software Services to implement the solution. “The breadth and depth of IBM’s service organization made it a compelling proposition for BC Egg,” comments Anne-Marie Butler. “The idea behind this project was to make fundamental changes to the way we manage our whole organization, so we really needed to ensure we got the right support. From the technical perspective, we wanted access to the top Cognos experts from IBM; from the project management side, we were keen to harness IBM’s vast experience of analytics implementations in the consumer products industry; and we also wanted top-class training to get our users up to speed.” A team from IBM Business Analytics Software Services worked closely with subject-matter experts from BC Egg to assist in the design, build and testing of an application that could analyze data taken from the grading stations. IBM experts helped to develop an IBM Cognos TM1 solution with five primary cubes and several supporting cubes to accommodate the data. The team authored a high-level design document encompassing the new cubes, dimensions, calculations and interfaces. IBM Cognos TM1 Turbo Integrator processes were developed to import data from the grading stations into the application and integrate it with BC Egg’s Sage ERP ACCPAC accounting system. The application design was also expanded to integrate data on quotas, hatcheries, producers and industrial product. BC Egg also decided to renew its long-standing relationship with IBM Education Services. To ensure success with the new solution, BC Egg opted for a blend of public education and private training. Public education allowed BC Egg team members to learn in a collaborative environment with other customers and gain an understanding of how the software solution was being applied at other organizations. Private training allowed BC Egg to bring together staff from across its organization, identify the key areas of the course, and ask the instructor to tailor the learning to BC Egg’s specific needs. Private training also enabled BC Egg to schedule the training at a convenient off-site location that eliminated day-to-day distractions for the participants. “By making data easier to collect, analyze and share, the IBM solution has enhanced productivity in almost every area of our operations.” — Anne-Marie Butler, Director of Finance and Administration, BC Egg Solution Components Software • IBM® Cognos® TM1® Services • IBM Software Services for Cognos
  4. 4. Consumer ProductsLet’s build a smarter planet According to Anne-Marie Butler: “The private training in particular was incredibly helpful because our instructor was not only able to tailor the content to our needs, but also incorporate our own data into the training, which made it much more relevant. Our team understood instantly how they were going to be able to use and apply the training to their everyday needs. This eliminated the ‘double learning curve’ that sometimes comes with training, where you learn something generically and then have to start again and work out how to apply it to your specific situation. We found this approach to be very engaging and valuable.” Better budgeting The implementation was carried out in several phases, starting with the financial planning process. By automating the collection of data and making it easier to gain input from stakeholders, IBM Cognos TM1 has transformed the organization’s ability to complete its annual budgets in a timely, accurate way. “I’m an accountant, so I know exactly how painful it used to be to prepare our budgets. Compared to our old spreadsheet-based process, TM1 is a marvel,” comments Anne-Marie Butler. “The budget for this year only took two weeks, which is at least 75 percent faster than our old process. It’s also easier for us to collaborate on the budget now, so I can get more help from my colleagues: there will be three of us working on the budget for next year, and I expect we will get it done in about a week. “Best of all, when I present the budget to the board, I can give them several different scenarios, so they can see what might happen if there are fluctuations in significant variables such as the cost of production or the levy rate. This helps us to make contingency plans for the coming year, so if economic conditions are easier or tougher than our best estimate, we can act quickly to minimize the impact on producers and end-customers. Scenario planning used to require a huge amount of manual effort, but with TM1 we can just alter the inputs and run the numbers again in seconds.” “The private training in particular was incredibly helpful because our instructor was not only able to tailor the content to our needs, but also incorporate our own data into the training, which made it much more relevant.” — Anne-Marie Butler, Director of Finance and Administration, BC Egg
  5. 5. Consumer ProductsLet’s build a smarter planet Simplifying farm inspections With the success of this first phase of the project, BC Egg continued to work with the IBM team on a second solution – this time, helping Producer Liaison Officers (PLOs) gather information during farm inspections. “The PLOs have a lot of work to do during inspections,” explains Anne-Marie Butler. “First off there’s a bird-count, to make sure that the producer has the right number of chickens and isn’t exceeding the quota. Then there are the assessments for the ‘Start Clean, Stay Clean’ program and the British Columbia biosecurity program. Previously, the PLOs had to carry a huge set of paperwork around with them during the inspection, and once they’d completed one survey, they would often need to backtrack to an area of the farm they had already visited in order to answer questions from a different form. The farmers used to dread the inspections because they took hours to complete.” The IBM team helped to create an application that collates all the questions from the different surveys and puts them in a more practical order. The PLOs can access the application from their tablet PCs, and by following a set route through each farm, they can input the answers quickly and efficiently. The data is then digitally signed off by the farmer and automatically uploaded to the central IBM Cognos TM1 database, where it can be analyzed. “The use of the application means that our PLOs can get the basic parts of farm inspections done in about a third of the time it used to take,” says Anne-Marie Butler. “This gives them much more time to discuss their findings with the farmer and address any issues that have arisen. They can also use the TM1 analytical tools to show farmers useful information – for example, what are the most common issues that other farms in the area are facing, and what are the best corrective actions to take. This means we’re not just doing the bare minimum for compliance; we’re actually being proactive in improving the quality and safety of our processes and products.” Full lifecycle traceability In the third phase of the project, BC Egg is taking its most ambitious step yet: implementing a full-lifecycle tracking system for every egg and chicken in the production process. “Tracking the eggs is important from a quality and safety perspective – for example, if there is a salmonella outbreak, we want to be able to trace the infected eggs back to the place where they were produced,” says Anne-Marie Butler. “At the moment, we can find out which group “As well as modernizing our IT environment and solving problems in the finance department, IBM Cognos TM1, provided a significant opportunity to enhance production planning and management.” — Anne-Marie Butler, Director of Finance and Administration, BC Egg
  6. 6. Consumer ProductsLet’s build a smarter planet of farms produced a given egg, but when this TM1 project is complete, we’ll be able to identify the exact farm, the barn, even the flock. By pinpointing the problem, we can address any issues quickly without affecting production at other locations.” She adds: “Tracking the chickens is important for a different reason: it helps with production planning. Demand for eggs fluctuates throughout the year – it’s lowest in summer and highest around Christmas and Easter. Matching supply to demand requires a complex calculation of how many birds we need in production at any one time – and it’s not something that can be adjusted quickly. Chicks spend 19 weeks growing into pullets, and then a further 52 weeks producing eggs. We have to be able to plan at least 23 weeks in advance to ensure that we know how many chicks we need to order from the hatchery when it’s time for a farmer to replace one of his flocks. With TM1, we can see the age of all the flocks at each farm, we can monitor the rate of laying, we can analyze demand patterns and trends, and we can make smarter decisions about how to gear production in the coming months.” Significant time and cost savings Looking at the business analytics project as a whole, the effect on BC Egg’s operation has been dramatic. “By making data easier to collect, analyze and share, the IBM solution has enhanced productivity in almost every area of our operations,” concludes Anne-Marie Butler. “As a result, although two members of our team recently left the organization, we haven’t needed to replace them: the rest of us have been able to absorb the workload. This probably saves us about $100,000 a year in salaries – and when you consider that those two people made up nearly 15 percent of our entire workforce, it’s even more impressive! “Looking forward, we have a bunch of new business analytics projects we’d like to start working on. For example, we’ll be re-launching our website in the next few months, and we would like to make it possible for our producers to log in and view their own data from TM1. We would also like to build some dashboards for our directors, maybe using IBM Cognos Business Intelligence. We’re really believers in leveraging technology to help us make the right decisions, and we see IBM as a key partner in enabling us to achieve this.” “Looking forward, we have a bunch of new business analytics projects we’d like to start working on. For example, we’ll be re-launching our website in the next few months, and we would like to make it possible for our producers to log in and view their own data from TM1.” — Anne-Marie Butler, Director of Finance and Administration, BC Egg
  7. 7. Consumer ProductsLet’s build a smarter planet About IBM Business Analytics IBM Business Analytics software delivers actionable insights decision- makers need to achieve better business performance. IBM offers a comprehensive, unified portfolio of business intelligence, predictive and advanced analytics, financial performance and strategy management, governance, risk and compliance and analytic applications. With IBM software, companies can spot trends, patterns and anomalies, compare “what if” scenarios, predict potential threats and opportunities, identify and manage key business risks and plan, budget and forecast resources. With these deep analytic capabilities our customers around the world can better understand, anticipate and shape business outcomes. For more information For further information or to reach a representative please visit ibm.com/analytics. Request a call To request a call or to ask a question, go to ibm.com/business-analytics/contactus. An IBM representative will respond to your inquiry within two business days.
  8. 8. © Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 U.S.A. Printed in Canada January 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Let’s Build A Smarter Planet, Smarter Planet, the planet icons, Cognos and TM1 are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at: ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. Other product, company or service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. The content in this document (including currency OR pricing references) is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. The client is responsible for ensuring compliance with laws and regulations applicable to it. IBM does not provide legal advice or represent or warrant that its services or products will ensure that the client is in compliance with any law or regulation. YTC03394-CAEN-00 Please Recycle