How The Belgian Chocolate Group tackles planning efficiency

Chocolate seashells, flake truffles, fine pralines or the classic Koetjesreep: there is something for every chocolate lover at The Belgian Chocolate Group. To make these high-quality delicacies at the best possible price, the chocolatier seeks to constantly improve efficiency. Since a while, SAP embedded Production Planning/Detailed Scheduling (ePP/DS) has helped optimize planning.

The Belgian Chocolate Group SAP PPDS Scheduling planning Flexso 2

Nearly 70 years after the Gartner family opened a small chocolate shop in Antwerp, the chocolate products made by The Belgian Chocolate Group are loved by chocoholics in over 100 countries around the globe. The 160 employees of the organization are driven by their passion for the job - and chocolate! To ensure exceptional quality and sustainability, the group continuously invests in improvement and innovation.

Looking for optimal production efficiency

Still, no matter how sweet the products, the chocolate business is challenging. Competition is fierce and like every other food company, the group faces supply chain disruptions and soaring energy, packaging, labour, and raw material (cocoa) prices.

“To stay on top, we needed to raise efficiency and focus on driving efficiency in our production and planning processes,” says Patrick Den Hond, IT Manager. Since 2021, SAP S/4HANA has been helping Patrick and his colleagues with that. Shortly after the go-live, they decided to overhaul planning.

The sweet spot: SAP (e)PP/DS

“We needed a future-proof planning tool that would centralize all our supply chain data,” Patrick explains. “Using Excel for supply chain management like we had done for years, was time-intensive and as information was spread across planners and departments, we lacked supply chain visibility. That hampered our planning efficiency. Moreover, cost calculations were difficult too, while that’s also key in today’s competitive market.”

SAP Supply chain Planning PPDS S4 HANA

The idea was to implement a fully-fledged planning solution. With the advice and support of Flexso, however, the company decided to take on a step-by-step approach: First focus on the main planning pain points, and tackle those. Second, analyze the supply chain processes to identify improvement area. To finally, embrace a comprehensive planning system.

Enter SAP’s low-threshold solution: embedded Production Planning/Detailed Scheduling (ePP/DS).

SAP ePP/DS: low threshold, big wins

Fully embedded in SAP S/4HANA, SAP ePP/DS is a reliable, easy-to-use planning tool that can be implemented in just 50 working days (incl. change requests) – at a feasible cost.

> Discover 5 benefits of SAP ePP/DS.

The solution: pegging and alert-based workflows

ePP/DS significantly boosts efficiency and visibility at the group’s three chocolate factories in Belgium and Croatia, mainly thanks to these two features:

  1. Pegging is used to assign product receipts and product stocks (supply) to a product requirement (demand). By clearly documenting and labelling every component and raw material, the group can better organize the material flow across the entire supply chain – from the procurement to delivery of sales orders. This way, they avoid quantity and date/time issues.
  2. The transparent, alert-based workflow lets planners focus on exceptions – in orders, resources, packaging, … – instead of having to control the entire process. That helps them monitor the accuracy of the planning and take proactive action to prevent supply chain issues.

5 business benefits driven by SAP ePP/DS

“Primarily, the centralization offers big efficiency advantages, as do the pegging and alert-based workflows,” Patrick summarizes. “In addition, the novel approach mitigates risks in our production processes, which helps us elevate our customer services too. Last but not least, we can now accurately calculate costs and even identify the most profitable products and customers, as we know exactly what materials to allocate to each order.”

Patrick den Hond The Belgian Chocolate Group

“The pegging and alert-based workflow save us a lot of time and reduces risks in our production processes. That helps us lift customer services to new levels too.”

Patrick Den Hond - IT Manager, The Belgian Chocolate Group

Key to success? Involved stakeholders

As The Belgian Chocolate Group has a modest level of IT expertise, they relied on Flexso to help set up ePP/DS – a job done with professionalism, Patrick confirms: “The Flexso experts know what they’re talking about when it comes to production planning.”

More than offering advice and implementing the solution, the Flexso team also helped with change management. Or rather, they involved stakeholders from the very first days to ensure user adoption, by organizing

  • workshops to map expectations and requirements together
  • information sessions to communicate openly about the project’s progress, challenges, and benefits
  • train the trainer sessions.

Curious about the Flexso approach on Change Management and Key-user trainings?

Check out our Business Transformation services.

Planning (in) the future

Looking forward, Patrick will keep optimizing and extending the solution to further enhance the scheduling and planning capabilities: “Adopting ePP/DS was the perfect approach to achieve quick wins. The solution is user-friendly without sacrificing functionality. Our focus is now on refining our master data and integrating third-party plants into our operations.”

In a next step, The Belgian Chocolate Group plans to embrace additional features like the visual planning board and fully integrate their planning processes within the embedded S/4HANA planning solution – to make sure their chocolates get on the shelves quicker than ever.

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