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Dairy Crest moves to cloud-based supply chain system

Company targets better communications with 40 major customers

Dairy Crest is improving attempting to improve its supply chain with a new cloud-based e-commerce system from GXS.

The company's major brands include Cathedral City cheddar, Clover spread, Country Life butter and Frijj milkshakes. It also supplies milk to retailers throughout the UK, from major supermarkets to village stores, while its milkmen deliver milk to thousands of homes in England and Wales each day.

Dairy Crest wanted to reduce business risks through a new managed business to business e-commerce platform to support over 40 major customers in the UK, including the major high-street retailers.

The firm's existing system was based on a patchwork of internal and external resources that left Dairy Crest potentially vulnerable to unexpected outages. When IT staff left, for instance, they took their accumulated knowledge with them, leading to a lack of continuity.

Highly specialised tasks such as EDI mapping were sometimes carried out by people who were not necessarily dedicated to an increasingly complex set of B2B requirements. Sometime there was a significant backlog of requests that could not be fulfilled timely.

John Butler, operations manager at Dairy Crest, said, "Orders are coming round the clock and it is essential that we turn orders round as quickly and efficiently as possible. If we were to have one significant outage, that would be one too many."

Dairy Crest decided to shift from an in-house B2B electronic trading model to one based on outsourced managed services to support development, mapping, testing, monitoring, support and, as and when required, the on boarding of new trading partners.

The chosen solution was the cloud-based GXS Managed Services, which is already deployed at over 600 companies worldwide. GXS is able to work with Dairy Crest's ERP system and other internal operations architecture, along with the trading systems used by Dairy Crest's customers and partners.

Dairy Crest group IT director Shamash Merali said, "Our goals were to reduce risk, drive down costs and improve time to market with our customers and suppliers, which is what we have achieved with GXS."

Earlier this year it was announced that global dairy products firm Danone would be working with IBM on a similar electronic trading platform. And UK and Ireland Dairy Crest rival Kerry Foods recently chose to move to GXS Managed Services too.

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