Case Studies

The Big Squeeze

Built-in best practices help Welch's get the most from ERP.

By Molly Rose Teuke

May 2006

Welch's focus on innovation is one of the reasons it is a leader in the competitive consumer fruit products marketplace with more than 400 offerings on grocery shelves—from jams and jellies to bottle and refrigerated juices. Welch's is the processing and marketing arm of the National Grape Cooperative Association and it depends on Oracle enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools to help effectively manage its manufacturing, inventory, and distribution processes.

Welch's began the move to Oracle ERP in 2003 and expects to complete the deployment in 2007. Welch's CIO Larry Rencken has spearheaded the move from the firm's formerly nonscalable environment to one that offers a strong foundation on which to grow. Important core processes are being transformed under Oracle ERP, including product lifecycle management, plan to produce, and demand generation.

Learn how Welch's is achieving a single comprehensive data repository, smooth integration among production facilities, and streamlined and automated processes with Oracle's ERP applications—putting the firm in a stronger and more flexible position to embrace opportunities in highly competitive arena.

Welch's, an agricultural cooperative, is the world's leading producer of juices, jams, and jellies made from Concord and Niagara grapes, grown in the United States and Canada.

Location: Concord, Massachusetts
Product portfolio: 350
Does business in: 50 countries
Year founded: 1869
Revenue in FY 2005: net (sales) of US$578 million
Number of member growers: 1,309
Number of employees: 1,210
Oracle products and services: Oracle9i Database, Oracle Application Server, Oracle Real Application Clusters; Oracle E-Business Suite 11.5.10, including Financials, Human Resources Management System, Manufacturing, Order Management, Supply Chain Management; Oracle Consulting
Other products and services: 42-way Dell Servers 2250 and 24-way Dell Servers 6650 running Linux Red Hat version 2.1; consulting services from Rapidigm

When they talk about the weather at Welch's, it's not idle conversation. Weather conditions have a direct impact on crops harvested by Welch's 1,309 growers across the U.S. and Canada, and that, in turn, has a direct impact on the complexity of Welch's manufacturing, inventory, and distribution processes.

Welch's can't do much about the weather, but it can embrace a climate of change in supporting and driving those processes. The company—and the fruit juice industry as a whole—is still using the pasteurizing principles Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch borrowed from Louis Pasteur in 1869 to process the first unfermented commercial grape "wine." But even as the company remains true to its scientific roots, innovation is what keeps Welch's a leading presence on grocery store shelves. Its portfolio of some 400 products ranges from jams, jellies, and spreadable fruit to bottled juices, refrigerated juices, and sparkling juice cocktails; frozen and shelf-stable concentrates; and a variety of single-serve fruit products.

Welch's began implementing enterprisewide technology solutions in the early 1990s and made a decision in 2003 to implement Oracle's enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools. Which brings us back to the weather and its impact on how the company does business.

"When our growers bring in a very large crop, we have to have demand in place that balances well with our supply," says Larry Rencken, Welch's CIO. "And a large crop that's high quality is a much different dynamic than a large crop that's poor quality, because we have very strict standards for our end products. With these factors in place at the ground level, we needed to make a good decision from an overall infrastructure perspective that allowed us to compete in a profitable way."

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