What role does ICT play in the business?
There is a great deal of work done at the factory that incorporates ICT of some description.
On the administration side, much of the work is done through the factory's networked PCs. A range of office software programmes are utilised for this purpose - word processing packages, databases to hold HR records, stock details and so on and the use of spreadsheet packages for statistical record keeping and analysis. The finance director has access to accounts software that monitors revenue and costs and generates reports on the current financial status as well as historical data to enhance data analysis and inform decision making. BACS Payment Systems are used to pay suppliers and employees with around 700 payments a week processed in the time it would have taken to write out a few cheques.
On the production side, much of the machinery is controlled and monitored through some form of computerised system. Whether it be a record of the stock coming into the factory and the system to track that stock right the way through the supply chain, to computer controlled temperature systems on the ovens, timing devices on the cooling systems for the meat, software that generates patterning used for potato toppings to the systems that help with the statistical process control, the factory relies on ICT to help it in its work. Bar coding is used extensively and provides a quick and accurate method of identifying raw materials, individual meals, cases of product and pallets of stock.
Without such sophisticated systems, the factory would be a great deal less efficient. Essentially, ICT is used to inform decision making and its role in that is to provide accurate data to ensure that the resources used are combined in the most efficient way possible to maximise output at lowest possible cost.
One example of how data can inform decision making is the role it plays in production planning. Part of the production planner's work is to use their professional judgement about the possible pattern of demand throughout the year. However, computer systems generate a wide range of data that will highlight historical patterns which will help to give support to the judgements being made by the production planning team.
One of the company's future projects will be to look at how they interface key production machines and transfer the trend data contained within them to the core software to allow production and administration managers to analyse the data and better control the process.
Kettleby Foods does not have much of a web presence - the company has a page with a very broad overview of the business on the Samworth Brothers' Web site. This reflects its position within the Samworth Brothers Group in that the business does not have a Kettleby Foods' Web site in its own right. In addition, as Kettleby do not have their own brands, there is little more the company would want to include on a site. As Kettleby only have a single buyer for their products, Tesco, there is no opportunity for e-commerce transactions with other purchasers to take place.
However, Kettleby use Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) technology to receive high volumes of orders from Tesco which can be processed quickly and securely by file transfer, this means that the staff can upload around a thousand lines of orders per day in around 2 minutes. The same system is then used to invoice the customers. Typically, 15,000 lines of invoicing can be sent in a couple of minutes - Tesco then upload the file directly into their systems and process without the need for re-inputting or paper invoices.