5 Things You Should Know About the Aras PLM Solution Download PDF

Kinnerton is the UK’s largest independent manufacturer of chocolate and novelty confectionery.  It has around 800 employees across three manufacturing sites in the UK and it prides itself on its flexibility and ability to quickly innovate.

It makes chocolate bars, lollies, advent calendars, biscuits, Easter eggs...  to name but a few of its products and it produces private label and bespoke confectionery for some of the UK’s largest retailers including some very well known UK brands.

It also specialises in character licensing which means creating a new product around perhaps a well known movie or cartoon character.  Kinnerton even has a special factory that is dedicated to producing chocolate products for people with nut allergies.

Here’s a few interesting facts and figures. 

  • Kinnerton made over 10 million Advents last year and over 20 million Easter Eggs this year.
  • It has used over 200 licensed characters over the last 30 years and it develops over 400 new products a year
  • Around 50% of Kinnerton’s product line is seasonal.  That means producing Easter eggs for Easter and advent calendars for Christmas.  You can’t be late for obvious reasons.

So Kinnerton’s sales and profitability rely heavily on the company’s ability to get new products to market very quickly and efficiently.

The PLM Challenge At Kinnerton

Following waves of growth and expansion, the company was starting to become a victim of its own success.  With an ever-expanding product portfolio, Kinnerton’s process for new product development and introduction (NPDI) had grown overly complex and unpredictable.

Employees from various different departments lacked visibility into the overall process and struggled to manage the huge volumes of documents associated with such a wide range of products. 

This tended to extend the early phase of production and forced product teams to continuously make up for lost time by compressing the later stages of the NPDI process.

The situation was becoming untenable and began to create some big financial risks. “We need to deliver seasonal products on time at the beginning of each season,” said Matthew Davies, Head of IT for Kinnerton. “If we miss a date, millions of pieces go unsold.”

So Kinnerton needed to find a way to get its product information and NPDI process under better control.  This would enable it to get new products into production faster and get more products developed in the same amount of time.  It would also help cut out the ‘fire fighting’ late in the process.  Thus, combining mass production with high rates of innovation would then give them an edge over the competition and ultimately of course help the company make more money.

Looking For a Solution

Kinnerton decided they needed a solution that would provide a single source of product information across the entire company.

  • It had to be open and easy to integrate with other business systems.
  • It had to be scaleable across a growing user base and provide ‘virtually unlimited capacity’ for storing all kinds of data and information associated with each product
  • It had to be web-based to reduce IT overhead
  • It had to provide sophisticated control over product versions and links or relationships between different pieces of information.
  • It had to provide the ability to build complex workflow and approval processes

But very importantly it had to provide the capability to build the data model that Kinnerton actually needed.

A ‘one size fits all’ data model just wouldn’t cut it.  Kinnerton wanted to do it their way.  They wanted to differentiate their processes.  Not be like everyone else.  Where’s the advantage in that they reasoned.

Perhaps most importantly of all, they needed a solution that they could change, adapt and extend.  They recognised that their processes would never stand still and would constantly change and evolve.  And they know this would happen a lot.  They needed a solution that could cope with this churn without breaking and without causing upgrade issues.

They started by looking at various so called ‘business process management’ or BPM solutions.  But none of these could really ‘cut the mustard’ because they lacked the basic functionality in nearly all areas.

Recognizing BPM’s shortcomings, Davies investigated PLM solutions after hearing from other industry partners that PLM systems were now providing the kind of functionality that Kinnerton sought.

“I had always thought of PLM as a tool for high-tech and engineering-based industries” explained Davies.  “But I started to recognise that the combination of advanced capabilities, really only delivered  by PLM technologies, could prove increasingly valuable in the CPG and Food & Beverage sector”

Why Kinnerton Chose Aras?

After evaluating several PLM systems, Davies and his team chose Aras Innovator for its flexibility and ease of deployment.

Aras uniquely makes PLM flexible and allows process modifications that are quickly and easily configured. “Flexibility is hugely important for us,” said Davies. “It means we can keep evolving the way we do things and maintain our entrepreneurial spirit of innovation.”

Moreover, because of Aras Innovator’s open, web-based platform, Kinnerton could continuously incorporate new processes and capabilities over time.  Davies again, “This all adds up to innovation at the lowest possible cost.  Aras definitely stands alone in terms of solution flexibility to suit our changing needs.”

To continue reading and to find out more about how Kinnerton use Aras to drive their NPI process, please download the full PDF article here 
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