LISA as the driver of far-reaching optimisation

The excellent reputation Claerhout Computer Engineering has built up over the years is not just related to its “LISA” ERP package. The willingness to tailor the application to meet the needs of users does not go unnoticed. A good example of this can be found at Hygiena, where CCE works in tandem with The Staff Solutions to optimise business processes. With “LISA” in the lead role of course…

Hygiena on the IT menu

Some people can transform a negative event in their life into something fantastic. And this is true of Lucien Muyldermans from Sint-Niklaas who had to contend with annoying stomach problems in the early fifties that could only be relieved by an adapted diet made up of mainly natural food items. “The results were so satisfactory – planned surgery was no longer necessary – that he wanted to help other people with health problems,” says son Jozef, who is now the Hygiena CEO. “In 1954, he quit his job to start a small shop. And it proved to be the start of a great adventure that resulted in a solid family business that is projected to enjoy turnover of €17 million this year.”


5000 products!

Hygiena has grown into one of the most important Belgian distributors of organic food. The range currently consists of approximately five thousand different products, mostly from manufacturers with whom the company has entered into an exclusivity contract for our country. “In 1960, we also launched our own range under the Hygiena brand,” says Jozef Muyldermans. “In the meantime, this has grown to include various types of cane sugar, speculaas, nuts, dried fruits and muesli, which are produced by third parties using our recipes. We package the nuts and dried fruits ourselves so we can retain control, from production in the country of origin to the finished product. We have also successfully pushed these products over the border and already include many French importers and retail chains in our customer base. However, we focus exclusively on Belgium with the rest of our offer. We supply about six hundred health food stores, almost all of which are in our country.”

Need for new ERP application

Because many of our customers operate on a relatively small scale, Hygiena can still deliver individually if desired. But, combined with the large number of products we offer, this naturally results in a complex management of sales, delivery, accounting and storage. This is why the company implemented an ERP package at the end of the eighties. Unfortunately, two decades later, Hygiena was confronted with a problem that is not exceptional in the ICT sector: the supplier stopped all support for the system in 2010. “A small catastrophe for us since we are too small to hire an IT manager,” says Jozef Muyldermans. “we had no option but to invest in a new ERP application. We took the advice of some food industry players and approached Claerhout Computer Engineering (CCE). We were immediately charmed by the no-nonsense attitude and the way the employees carry this company, simply because it reminded us of ourselves. Just like Hygiena, CCE is also a family business. And when we got a demo of LISA, we were completely sold. This package is really written for the food industry. In addition, because it uses the same technology used in our previous package, we were able to import all the data from our previous application. This was crucial when it came to limiting costs and getting started quickly. Furthermore, LISA is very user-friendly and comes with all the necessary functionality. The latter was very important for Hygiena because we had to start up as soon as possible. It would never have worked if we had been forced to make major changes to our operations and procedures.”

LISA goes live after a few weeks

Hygiena didn’t let the grass grow under their feet. The management was so impressed with the “LISA” functionality that they didn’t bother to look any further and signed the contract immediately. Bernard Van Praet, project leader and ERP consultant at CCE: “Because we were able to transfer almost all the data, the preparation was limited to a few adjustments. For example, Hygiena wanted to send transport requests and external documentation in the same format as before. But this only required minimal adjustments so we were able to go live after a 16-week lead time. On 1 January 2013, all the LISA functionalities were started up without backup or duplication. It’s always an exciting moment, and with the exception of a few teething problems, everything went very smoothly.”

Jos medewerkster Bernard Serge

Working together to find optimisations

At the end of 2015, Jozef Muyldermans accidentally met Serge Demeyere, manager of The Staff Solutions. “As an independent consultant, I offer IT policy guidance to SMEs,” Serge explains. “I am predominantly active in the food industry, but the IT applications can be placed in many domains: from production, storage and transport, to sales and marketing. Jozef saw me as the ideal partner to optimise Hygiena’s processes. Since LISA is now the beating heart of the company, it was only logical that I contacted CCE to request I take the lead. The staff were very enthusiastic about the project from the start, and this has never waned. We are now 2.5 years in and we still always succeed in coming up with new optimisation ideas, as well as working them out together.” “It is logical for CCE to cooperate with this,” explains Bernard Van Praet. “On the one hand, we would like to help our customers get the most out of LISA. On the other hand, it is our goal to constantly optimise LISA. CCE draws her inspiration from the experience gained by customers. This ensures LISA can be continuously enhanced so all our customers and their users can benefit from it. In the case of Hygiena, we get the chance to look at things from a completely different perspective, namely those of an external IT consultant. Which is of course incredibly instructive and constructive.”

Collaboration with results

The collaboration has already resulted in numerous optimisations. For example, the picking locations have recently been optimised. Since then, location codes generated by LISA have been used. The representatives were given tablets some time ago to look up all the information they need online: sales figures, arrears, evolutions in purchasing behaviour, an electronic catalogue, the webshop, etc. Bernard Van Praet: “Of course, LISA is the driving force behind this solution. The data is stored in a single place within the LISA ERP package. We have also linked our labelling with LISA more closely. Furthermore, the electronic catalogue has been linked to the LISA ERP data.”

Thanks to far-reaching digitisation of our sales, we can optimise our workforce and our people can take care of other important matters.

Sales optimisation

At the beginning of the year, Hygiena also started a webshop so orders could be placed electronically. Serge Demeyere: “250 of the 600 health food stores have embraced this solution, and more than 20% of our orders are already coming in via this medium. We are currently developing a system with CCE that allows uniform data exchange with customers, a kind of EDI.” Jozef Muyldermans: “Thanks to the far-reaching digitisation of our sales, we can optimise our workforce, and our people can take care of other important matters. This means, for the time being, we can continue to grow without additional recruitment, which obviously benefits Hygiena’s profitability. By the way, this is a necessity because we added five brands in 2017. With another 500 additional new products, we expect our sales figure to increase by about 40% this year.”

E-commerce soon for all LISA users?

All these initiatives at Hygiena naturally reduce the error rate, which also translates into cost savings. “Customer satisfaction is also growing, which is a priceless advantage,” says Serge Demeyere. “After all, customers can place their orders with a minimum time for delivery, and they receive their invoice, which is always correct, immediately.” Bernard Van Praet: “CCE is also very satisfied with the result. Thanks to Hygiena we have taken another step forward. And this is a step that many of our customers will certainly appreciate going forward. After all, e-commerce is the future, even in the food sector.”

Pictures Marc Masschelein

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