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Production and planning at Haigh's - A site visit report

Supplier: apicsAU
11 September, 2012

On the 26th June 2012, apics SA members and associates were escorted on an educational site visit to Haigh's Logistics in Mile End. Eighteen participants were in attendance under the guidance of Peter Millard, Supply Chain Manager at Haigh's.

Peter began the visit by sharing Haigh's story. Haigh's is one of the few manufactures remaining in Australia who still produces chocolate from imported cocoa beans. He led them through the process of manufacturing chocolate, which begins with the roasting of the cocoa beans, cracking and de-shelling them and then grinding the 'nibs' to a rich paste known as 'chocolate liquor' (the foundation of all chocolate products). The liquor is then pressed to remove the cocoa butter, and what is left is a compacted disc known as 'cocoa press cake'.

This is pulverised and produces cocoa powder. Cocoa butter and sugar is then mixed into the powder before the final stage of  'conching' occurs. Conching is the end stage that determines the flavor and texture of chocolate. It involves kneading and massaging the chocolate mixture for anywhere from several hours to several days, at various speed and temperature.

Peter went on to share some of Haigh's long term planning strategy as it applies to resource planning in their main distribution warehouse and chocolate making facilities. Due to the highly seasonal nature of their product, Peter stressed the need for and shared some details of their robust demand planning process. Haigh's understood that long-term planning was critical for the company to reach their growth plans and achieve success in the handling of demand variability.

Although this planning may result in excessive warehouse capacity at certain times of the year, it does enable Haigh's manufacturing operations to run more efficiently as they are able to implement a 'level production' plan approach.

As well as planning, the company has invested into the layout of the warehouse which is specially designed to generate efficient product picking and handling by segregating the stock into high and low volume products. Peter shared how the company's ERP system, QAD, provides picking lists sorted into an order which minimises picking effort and physical movement of both product and personnel.

The apics group, who attended the visit under the guidance of apics SA committee member Wayne McAinsh, would very much like to thank Peter for a highly informative visit and for sharing their approach to planning, production and distribution.