Information bonanza at E.J. Brach – use of Prism, an information service software from Marcam Corp

E.J. Brach Corp., Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., is using a manufacturing information system that involves profound changes for this candy manufacturer. “It breaks departmental walls down,” says Mike Pfeiffer, Brach vice president of plants and planning.

“It meant putting in a new culture here,” adds Jim Wood, vice president information services.

It is Prism, which is the first product designed exclusively for process manufacturing. The software, from Marcam Corp., Newton, Mass., is run on Brach’s IBM AS 400 system.

The cost for the entire Prism project-including software, wiring, the AS 400-amounted to $3 million, yet the project paid for itself in a year.

In the past, different departments at Brach used their own databases. Now, maintenance, scheduling and production are all tied together. Using the system, Brach’s 2.4-millionsquare-foot Chicago plant forecasts production requirements 36 months in advance. Data is updated daily, “down to the absolute detail,” says Pfeiffer.

“Our installation, on a distributed platform, is by far the most complex installation of the Prism system,” says Wood. The Chicago plant has more than 200 personal computers networked.

With Prism, Brach runs production schedules by shift. It provides real-time information about ingredient amounts and other aspects, such as amount of film needed on the packaging fine and the number of man-hours necessary per shift.

As a result, Brach has been able to reduce its raw materials inventory by more than 30% and its packaging inventory by 20% due to the on-line and integrated capabilities. After nine months, the caramel and soft candy department, the first department at Brach to use Prism, could rely solely on Prism for production control.

The system also lends itself to new product development. “Prism helps us track variances and schedule trials for new products,” says Pfeiffer. “We can accurately know what it costs to produce a product before we make it.”

Due to the Chicago plant’s success, Brach is implementing Prism at its three other manufacturing facilities.

Marcam Corp.

COPYRIGHT 1991 Business News Publishing Co.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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