Manager Project Management and Application engineering at BluePrint Automation
BluePrint Automation (BPA) is a global leader in innovations in the packaging sector. The company, founded by Bob Prakken in 1980, has grown over the years to a leading position in design and manufacture with locations in Woerden, Colonial Heights (Virginia) and Longmont (Colorado). In total, BPA has more than 250 employees and a total annual turnover of 60 million euros. Since 1980, more than 5000 case packing systems have been supplied all over the world to a wide variety of mainly food industries.
Also in the beginning of 2018, the moment we speak to Franc, there is steady growth. “Even with the foot on the brake, we are still growing by 10 percent a year,” says Franc.
Due to the rapid growth, the Woerden company requires just-in-time deliveries from its suppliers. Hardly any stocks are used. Franc: “A direct consequence of this is that you become dependent on the reliability of your supply chain. The reason for using Tradecloud is therefore in that area: we were looking for a tool to get a grip on the supply chain. ” The purchasing process starts with engineering. Drawings with parts come from the PDM system (Solidworks). There is a direct link between PDM and ERP (Ridder). As soon as engineering indicates that the model is ready, the items are immediately ready for purchase in the ERP system. “What we used to do is make purchase orders out of it. In practice, that meant producing many e-mails; so manual work. The supplier then confirmed our orders one by one and then the confirmations had to be retyped in the ERP system. It was clear that in that process we needed a piece of automation with which we could save on manual operations. An employee was always busy with manually confirming orders and processing prices in our system. By using Tradecloud we have been able to save 1 FTE on the purchasing side. ”
‘By using Tradecloud we have been able to save 1 FTE.’
BPA is now sufficient with one buyer who takes care of all purchases.
“When I look at our supplier base, we are at the point that all our suppliers with whom we do many order lines work with us via the Tradecloud platform. We no longer email each other, all communication regarding orders is through the platform. We are currently busy with our ERP system because we want to integrate our subsidiary Racupack into the system. Through a takeover, this company has become part of BPA and they also work according to BPA processes. This means that former Racupack suppliers will also receive their orders via Tradecloud.
Our largest supplier of structural parts, IMC in Slovakia, will also use Tradecloud. We are very pleased with that. We now have such a large quantity and variety of components that their administrative process cannot process that. They receive so many order lines from BPA that they can no longer cope. We expect them to provide feedback about the delivery time per part. Because they do the sales administration manually, that means a lot of work for them. We will soon take the step to connect IMC, together with Tradecloud. We were happy with the cooperation from IMC, because they were quickly convinced of the added value that this will bring to both of us.”
“Our largest supplier of structural parts will also use Tradecloud.”
Franc wants to have all main suppliers connected in the short term. “Then we reach a situation where we have much more control over our supply chain. The small suppliers are less relevant in view of the fact that there are fewer order lines. In any case, we will still make a selection for which suppliers it is appropriate.”
What did it deliver?
Franc has a short but powerful answer to this question. According to him, the purchasing department now has a clear insight into which materials are received and when. “Essential when working with just-in-time deliveries. Particularly pleasant is the fact that the matters that you coordinate with suppliers are immediately recorded in the ERP systems. This creates one truth, as it were, because both parties look at the same order information. Furthermore, we have been able to save 1 FTE on purchasing because the majority of operational purchasing is automated. The communication about orders also goes through Tradecloud. We like that very much because e-mailing or calling about orders is no longer necessary.”
“Emailing or calling about orders is no longer necessary”
“Our goal from the start was to stop operational procurement. When engineering presses the button, we want the data to go straight into the purchasing system so that our main suppliers can confirm immediately. With Tradecloud we will achieve this goal shortly.”
The platform also has a catalog module. If suppliers keep their catalog up-to-date in Tradeloud, the data is always correct. “That is certainly interesting for us as another goal is to have real time insight of the item prices of suppliers.”
“The analytics module is also a useful tool for us. It is on our agenda for this year to better monitor the kpi delivery reliability of suppliers and to manage suppliers accordingly. We do not have this in our ERP system, so it is nice that it can be found in Tradecloud. The supplier can now also see what his delivery reliability is to us every time he or she logs in to the platform. Invoicing is still done in a conventional way, but we also want to digitize in that area. The subject is on the roadmap for changes. If suppliers send their invoices via the Tradecloud platform, that makes much more sense. We also want to do this with Tradecloud as soon as we have connected more suppliers. All in all, we see that purchasing is being digitized further and further. A cloud platform such as Tradecloud fits in well with that, and in my opinion ‘is the sky the limit’!”
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