Norway is the world’s top producer of farmed Atlantic salmon and Bergen-headquartered Marine Harvest is the world’s largest salmon farmer – but the company’s operations extend far beyond the cold, clear fjords of its homeland.
These days, Marine Harvest produces salmon in Canada, Chile, Scotland, Ireland and the Faroe Islands, as well as in Norway, and the €3.5 billion company has processing and sales offices throughout North America, Asia and Europe.
This far-flung network of business units, along with a pretty active acquisition strategy, could quickly lead to unnecessary complexity – a situation that the company is keen to avoid, according to Jørn Berg, group IT applications manager.
For that reason, Marine Harvest has been working with Infor for some years now on a strategy to establish standardized processes, underpinned by software, right across the 23-country, 10,000-employee business. In 2013, it selected Infor M3, Infor Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) and Infor Supply Chain Planning for its global operations. And towards the end of 2017, it announced it would be moving its M3 implementation into the cloud and adding Infor CloudSuite Food and Beverage to the mix.
Hunting for standardization
This has clearly been a complex journey and there is still much work to do. According to Borg, Infor M3 has been partially rolled out, but the company has run up against a need to double its number of end-user licences and also to address the stability of its environment: the system kept going down and Marine Harvest was unhappy with its hosting provider. Says Borg:
This combination of wanting to accelerate our global roll-out, needing more licenses and wanting more stability led us into a discussion with Infor that concluded with the decision to move the software to the cloud and let them [Infor] take more responsibility for the environment.
But there’s more to the decision than this: at the moment, we have quite a fragmented system architecture, so we want to move from around 14 different ERP systems to one and make it global – so it’s got to be scalable and it’s got to be stable. At the moment, we have different businesses on different software versions and we want to bring our whole business onto the same version and have more regular updates, too, so no part of the business falls behind in terms of the type of technology solutions that they have.
Once the goal of a single, standardized ERP system, based in the cloud, is achieved, he sees all kinds of advantages for Marine Harvest - above all, better traceability of product, a big priority for a company in the business of perishable foodstuffs. But also there are the usual issues of joined-up procurement, better insight into costs and standard key performance indicators for different business units.
It will also make things easier when Marine Harvest needs to integrate new acquisitions; in December, for example, it announced its intention to buy Northern Harvest, an East Coast Canadian fishing farmer.
Deploying Infor CloudSuite Food & Beverage, meanwhile, will bring new features and functions that offer a closer fit with the way Marine Harvest operates than those available in standard, non-industry-specific software, says Borg.
A good example is Food & Beverage’s handling of ‘sub-lots’, which relates to the way that groups of items can be broken down into smaller, logistical units. At Marine Harvest, workers are typically focused on the movement of palettes, with each palette carrying 27 boxes. Right now, software is set up to manage on the level of individual boxes, so every time a palette is moved, 27 different transactions are created.
Once the sub-lot functionality is introduced, the company will be able to manage things at the palette level, while maintaining control over the sub-lots – or in this case, the boxes. Says Borg:
That will do a lot to reduce complexity in our accounts and also do a lot to reduce database size, because there’s far less data to handle and store.
Rolling out the software could still take two or three years yet, says Borg, but in recent months, representatives from all around the business have contributed in the effort to define a global template for business processes that the software will support. He’s hoping this will make all the difference in terms of getting the software accepted in all the countries and regions in which Marine Harvest does business:
A great deal of participation was involved in defining the ‘Marine Harvest Way’ of doing things – of producing, of purchasing, of selling. So when it’s their time to have the software implemented, we’re hoping that business units will be familiar with the processes and understand the importance of standardization.