- On September 18, 2015
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Founded in 2009, Edesia is a registered 501(c) (3), nonprofit manufacturer of nutrient-rich, peanut-based, Ready-to-Use foods (RUFs), designed to treat and prevent childhood malnutrition in developing countries worldwide. Headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, and with a current staff of 75 employees hailing from 23 countries, Edesia produces ready-to-use therapeutic and supplementary foods — enough to improve the lives of over 800,000 malnourished children each year. The organization’s largest customers, such as US Agency for International Development (USAID), UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP), work globally to alleviate the humanitarian crisis of childhood malnutrition. In the five years since opening its doors, Edesia has helped treat and prevent malnutrition for over 3 million children in more than 46 countries worldwide — throughout Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Southeast Asia.
Lack of Integration Produces System-wide Inefficiencies
Since its inception, Edesia, under the leadership of founder Navyn Salem, has achieved tremendous success in fulfilling its mission of sparing children across the globe from the ravages of extreme malnutrition. A key factor in this success has been the organization’s adherence to strict quality control benchmarks throughout the process of formulating nutrient- and vitamin-rich blends that comprise the company’s lineup of ready-to-use foods (RUFs). Any deviation from the precise formulas that constitute these food blends could compromise the nutritional value that is so critical to helping children overcome malnutrition.
To help meet these exacting standards, Edesia relied on a custom software product that offered comprehensive Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC) functionalities. While the software served Edesia well for over five years, it lacked integration with other business applications, resulting in ongoing inefficiencies throughout the enterprise, especially in the areas of shipping and production.
Without real-time data and detailed monitoring of raw materials, all of our processes were too labor-intensive and time-consuming,” said Brian Dugas, Senior IT Manager for Edesia. “It was clearly time for an upgrade to a more robust and flexible solution.”
SAP CSR Program Helps Edesia Reach More Children and Reduce Expenses
Soon after Dugas joined Edesia, he was tasked by Salem with finding a comprehensive ERP solution that would help Edesia fulfill its core mission of reaching as many malnourished children as possible.
According to Salem, “Our goal was to simplify our systems and automate our business processes. Specifically, we wanted real-time access into all the production, inventory and financial data to manage our operations more efficiently and cost effectively.”
Fortuitously, at the same time Dugas was searching for ERP solutions, the MIT Sloan School of Management contacted Edesia to see if their students, who were seeking a special project, could assist. Edesia enlisted their help to find the right ERP software solution. Working collaboratively, three potential software packages were identified and SAP Business One, a proven solution with a stellar track record with food-centric businesses, emerged as the best choice.
SAP moved quickly, reaching out to Edesia to gather additional information on the entire SAP Business One implementation so they could submit a grant proposal to the CSR program. The proposal included additional funding for Softengine’s proposed customization inside SAP Business One and the development of new modules that would leverage the functionality of Edesia’s existing QA/QC software. Boyum IT also agreed to donate its B1 Usability Package to the project.
SAP Business One’s robust ERP functionality was the ideal solution to integrate all of the organization’s business processes “under one roof.” Edesia added two features: Open Items List and Perpetual Inventory. The Open Items List enables users to view all open sales orders, monitor the progress of production orders and see the status of open deliveries (to determine which products have shipped and which are still in the warehouse). The Perpetual Inventory feature is an invaluable tool to analyze profitability and help businesses improve their margins with up-to-the-minute data on inventory valuation and costs of goods.
Traceability of raw materials from vendor to finished product was another essential requirement of the new system and the combination of SAP Business One and Softengine’s Food One filled the bill admirably. Every finished product is assigned a batch number, which contains complete “up and down traceability” of each raw material in the blend.
Softengine QA Module — Softengine created a new, user-friendly QA module, which Edesia quality staff primarily utilize to facilitate the testing and approval process for each ingredient. All raw materials are sent to a third-party warehouse for pre-inspection and then to an independent lab for another round of inspection. Results for ingredients that pass inspection are keyed into the QA module and then sent to the inventory module in SAP Business One, where their status automatically changes from “On Hold” to “Usable.” Finished products also undergo a similar testing process prior to shipment.
Softengine Blending Module — Softengine developed its custom blending module to deliver complete traceability of every raw material incorporated into Edesia’s food blends through barcoding of each ingredient. A scale is also connected to the computer to ensure that all measurements are precise. The addition of a touch screen eliminates any need for keyboard entry and switching between modules during the blending process. Strict controls were built into the system to ensure accuracy and to certify that all the nutrients and vitamins required for treating and preventing malnutrition are present in the right quantities. Once all of the ingredients have been measured to specification and added, staff proceed to a work-in-process stage in which all the ingredients are blended together, finished and packaged in boxes for shipment.
SAP Business One and Softengine Custom Modules Deliver Perfect Blends for Edesia
Edesia’s relentless drive to help eradicate the global crisis of malnutrition has certainly received a much-needed boost from SAP and Softengine, who believe wholeheartedly in the organization’s humanitarian mission. Likewise, SAP’s commitment to providing young people around the globe with greater opportunities to survive and thrive has certainly found a champion in Edesia.
“Our new system is so intuitive and easy to use and our business processes are almost completely automated,” declared Dugas. “With SAP Business One, we have real-time access to all the data we need to help us reduce costs and trace our raw materials from start to finish. Having total visibility into our entire production process is exactly what was needed for Edesia to remain nimble.”