Daniel Thwaites:Raising a glass to the AS/400

Currently the sixth-largest brewer in the UK, Daniel Thwaites has a long and varied history, stretching back nearly 200 years....

Currently the sixth-largest brewer in the UK, Daniel Thwaites has a long and varied history, stretching back nearly 200 years. This is no small operation, with the brewery producing 332,308 pints for thirsty drinkers every day. With 340 people alone based at the site in Blackburn, the brewery serves an estate of 380 pubs, 75 managed houses and over 600 free trade accounts, which include hotels and nightclubs.

Despite the scale of its lucrative business, the company is also aware of the recent climate in the industry, which has led to many breweries being forced to close. The dilemma faced by Daniel Thwaites was two-fold; on the one hand the company needed to update some elements of its business, whilst at the same time maintaining its strong image of tradition. Standardising with JDE's WorldSoftware product on the AS/400 platform was felt to provide the answer. Indeed, the AS/400 has been at the heart of its business for some time now, with Daniel Thwaites installing its first server in 1990. The company now has three AS/400s at its Blackburn site.

Mixes brew

Prior to using WorldSoftware, Daniel Thwaites was using a mix of bespoke, JBA and CGAS software for financial, distribution and property management. Because of the separate nature of the systems, time was wasted when sharing information between them, which effectively slowed processes throughout the organisation. Moreover, Daniel Thwaites also needed a system that would be compatible with its AS/400 platform to provide both management information and the flexibility to support the brewery. Ultimately, WorldSoftware was felt to provide the answer.

Paul Baker, managing director at Daniel Thwaites explains: 'Previous software systems did not provide the flexibility and agility we required. We looked towards JDE to provide us with an integrated, flexible product' According to Baker, WorldSoftware is now impacting every part of the business, and its flexible nature means that Daniel Thwaites can now concentrate its commercial drivers for the future. He adds: 'It fits into Daniel Thwaites' philosophy that combines traditional brewing recipes and techniques with modern technology to produce an excellent service to the customer.'

Whilst any discerning drinker would agree that disposing of the end product is all too straightforward, the process of getting a pint of beer to the consumer is complex and requires significant planning. The company took the decision to opt for WorldSoftware back in 1997, with Daniel Thwaites describing it as 'a highly reliable host-centric product for the AS/400 platform.'

A good example of the product's flexibility came in September 1999, when the brewery opened an additional depot at Shadsworth, just outside Blackburn which handles deliveries to its own pubs, free trade estate and the national wholesale market. According to Daniel Thwaites, this site was quickly integrated into the newly installed JDE system. The project was carried out by Daniel Thwaites project staff, with only one day's consultancy from JDE.

According to JDE, the system was integrated with the main brewery site within a month. Paul Baker explains: 'The development of the depot at Shadsworth was a major modification of our traditional business model of a single site brewery. We witnessed the flexibility of the WorldSoftware system when it only took one month to fully implement and meant that we did not have to re-design the system to incorporate the depot.' Baker maintains that by using the WorldSoftware product as a backbone to help improve reporting and accounting, Daniel Thwaites can now concentrate on customer service. He adds: 'J D Edwards is a hidden strength in the service Daniel Thwaites gives to its customers.'

Better control

Ultimately, the brewery believes that standardising WorldSoftware on the AS/400 platform across the company has led to more effective processes that ensure consistent and common information. It argues that this standardisation lets the business managers control and monitor every area of the business, which in turn gives them better control over the business as a whole, and improves profitability. IBM's mid range workhorse server already has an impressive reputation for reliability, scaleability, and security; JDE is effectively providing Daniel Thwaites with the ability capitalise on this.

Baker says: 'J D Edwards' WorldSoftware has provided us with the ability to provide better management information, which in turn improves commercial competitiveness.' He adds: 'We can see the financial information in a much clearer and concise format, and can direct management activity from this. For example, in the property market we now have clear and precise views of the performance of all our public houses, which allows management processes and decisions to be improved. We see WorldSoftware as an enabler, leading to improved processes and information throughout the company.'

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