Case study: Snack Brands
A New Level of Decision Support with RELEX



reduction in SKUs run each week



reduction in plan generation times




Streamlining Production with Advanced Capacity Planning

Since the mid-90s, the growth of Snack Brands, one of Australia’s largest suppliers of snack foods has been truly impressive. The snack foods supplier, whose portfolio includes some of the nation’s favourite chips, has seen production increase from 15 million packets per year in 1996, to over 200 million today, and with their new Orchard Hills NSW manufacturing site, there’s no sign of any slowdown.

Back in 2014, Snack Brands was starting to feel the squeeze, as the existing spreadsheet-based planning approach was showing its limitations. Planning was simply too time-consuming and didn’t offer any real decision-making support.

The company initially sought a rough-cut capacity planner that would provide a medium-term view of production loads and key raw material requirements. Their goal was to balance the factory load and increase operational efficiency, including reducing overtime.

Dealing with new product introductions, frequent updates to flavors and packaging, and regular product deletions were constant challenges. Additionally, the short order lead times, often around 48 hours, added significant pressure to their operations.

A crucial aspect of the company’s production process involves the synchronization of packaging machines with the fryers. These critical resources, shared across multiple product groups, require precise timing. Packaging must be readily available to draw products from the fryers as soon as they become available, ensuring a smooth and efficient production flow.

Navigating the Complexities: A Quest for an Advanced Planning Solution

The company recognized that any solution they considered needed to encompass a wide range of capabilities to support their complex demands. Their requirements were influenced by factors such as short SKU lifecycles, seasonality, and shutdown periods, as well as the intricacies of their production process and various resource constraints. This understanding led them to seek a solution that surpassed the capabilities of traditional planning tools.

After consulting with their ERP application partner, they considered RELEX, with the depth of capabilities they needed and an existing interface compatible with their Microsoft Dynamics AX system.

The team decided to conduct a pilot on one of the key production resources. They chose to model one of the fryers, investing considerable time to understand how to utilize the system effectively. This effort was deemed essential; they needed to thoroughly grasp each manufacturing operation’s workings and interrelations to accurately define these in their ERP system and drive the RELEX solution effectively. Although this was the most challenging part of the project, it was pivotal. Successfully doing so unlocked unlimited possibilities for developing planning scenarios and viewing their production from entirely new perspectives.

The solution was rolled out to the rest of the production. From the start of the pilot to the go-live, the whole process took one year.

Harnessing RELEX: Revolutionizing Production and Enhancing Efficiency

Today, RELEX provides up-to-date, optimized production plans every week, covering two factories and twelve separate resource operations. Snack Brands uses RELEX to sequence like products, and products that use the same equipment. The software also optimizes production around shutdowns and planned maintenance to ensure the right amount of stock is built to service customers while these essential works take place.

The tool’s intuitive design appealed to the company. Its ability to rapidly generate optimized plans and scenarios was seen as invaluable, making it a critical decision-support tool. This represented a fundamental shift from the company’s previous reliance on spreadsheet-based approaches, offering a more advanced and efficient solution for planning and analysis.

Any initial concerns regarding the interaction with existing systems have also been removed. All master data is drawn directly from MS Dynamics, so the information is always up to date. This includes material activation dates, a critical piece of information for a company that so frequently updates their packaging.

The RELEX supply chain optimization solution has given Snack Brands an ideal tool to support the continuing growth of its business. Plan generation times have been cut in half and alternative scenarios can now be generated to support various business decisions.

RELEX enables them to optimize based on total cost to the business has also helped the company strike a better balance between supply and demand. As a result, the number of SKUs that are run each week has gone down significantly. The company has successfully streamlined their SKU management for a specific brand, reducing the number of SKUs run each week from approximately 40 down to about 15.

This change has led to significant savings by reducing the number of required changeovers. Utilizing RELEX, the company ensures that all products in a group are run simultaneously, maximizing efficiency in the production process.

The results



plan generation time



supply and demand