SSA Foods Achieves New Levels of Transparency with Real-Time Data
Customer Since: 2014
• KPI transparency
• Seamless USDA and OSHA compliance
• Reduced supply costs
“Pulpstream made us more consistent with our workflow processes. Using the platform, we now have insight into real-time performance data across our operations. We can measure KPIs without going through 40 pieces of paper per week.” – Bob Bradley, General Manager, SSA Foods
Milpitas, California—Nestled in the East Bay of Silicon Valley, System Services of America Foods (SSA Foods) prides itself on being on the cutting-edge of technology. The privately-held company is a foodservice distributor that provides products to some of the largest chain restaurants in its region. It is a subsidiary of the Services Group of America (SGA), which exports to 28 countries, and Food Services of America, which is the 6th largest broadline distributor in the U.S.
SSA Foods Northern California Distribution Center makes between 1,200-1,400 deliveries a week in a region bounded by Bakersfield, California and the Nevada and Oregon borders. Nationally, the company is committed to leveraging leading-edge technology to reach performance goals of high product and service quality. On the West Coast, one team deployed a digital transformation initiative with mobile devices that enables them to outperform all the teams in the U.S.
Government regulations and product quality goals influence work streams
Before discovering the Pulpstream platform, work at the the Northern California Division moved slowly. Supervisors used pens and paper to collect information during worksite evaluations. They’d pass those pieces of paper to someone who would spend at least five hours a week typing data into a spreadsheet. When that was completed, the paper would be relocated to a storage area where it could be archived and referenced. Similar storage areas existed throughout the USA, because USDA and OSHA regulation compliance creates stacks of paperwork for food services distributors.
Most of SGA’s distribution centers perform monthly worksite evaluations. The Northern California Distribution Center is the exception to that rule. Its General Manager Bob Bradley oversees a team of supervisors who conduct weekly worksite evaluations to keep branch performance high. As a result, Bradley’s distribution center is a top performer in the US. He attributes this to his team’s ability to perform work with greater accuracy. Since 2014, the division has used Pulpstream to guide employees through a workflow that follows best practices.
Supervisors walk through the distribution center observing how employees pull products off of the shelves and place them onto the forklifts. Each customer’s order contains a shipment of all the things a large chain restaurant would use during daily operations, from meats to produce to equipment. Most orders are very large. Workers need a forklift to move items from the shelf to an order palette. Food safety and government regulations influence the way orders are stacked and placed to ensure that food products remain sanitary and safe. Frozen and dry products have to be stacked in specific ways to make sure that they arrive in optimal condition.
“If a case of product is damaged, and it costs half a penny per case, at 1,400 cases a week that turns into a huge dollar amount,” Bradley explains.
Delivering high-quality, undamaged products provides core value for his customers. Cost per delivery is crucial.
Prior to implementing Pulpstream, Bradley’s distribution center had started to use digital technologies. Employees used voice command technology to identify product location in the warehouse. They also used it to confirm product quantity on the order pallet. But they were still using paper for other operations processes, such as weekly inspections. This was an optimization opportunity.
Finding performance measurement methods
When Bradley met Pulpstream CEO Pankaj Malviya, he had an “aha” moment. Malviya demonstrated how to replace all the tasks his team did on paper with processes that streamed to his employee’s devices. Additionally he showed how the Pulpstream platform enabled him to obtain business intelligence he could use to measure and manage performance.
“With this kind of x-factor, it was kind of a no brainer,” Bradley said. “The ability to pull up the dashboard and see at anytime what kind of observations have been done, to see all the pictures that have been taken. Well, we didn’t have that before.”
Prior to using Pulpstream, Bradley analyzed 30-50 pieces of paper to discern how well his branch was doing in the categories of performance, safety, sanitation, and quality. These days, his office is paperless.
The SSA Foods team uses tablets to capture information about critical performance control points. During observations, they capture photos, sketch on them, and attach those to reports. With these intuitive, native mobile features, accuracy increased across the board.
Pulpstream automatically aggregates data from all team reports and pushes it into a real-time analytics dashboard. Bradley can see progress towards performance goals and communicate guidance to his direct reports within the platform. Quantitative data enables him to keep his team on track.
Supervisors have clear expectations about what is expected of them, which creates a new level of transparency within the workplace. And within a few clicks, Bradley can generate OSHA and USDA reports that can be e-filed.
Now that all the paper is gone, SSA Foods no longer needs to pay someone to do data entry. The ability to use mobile devices to complete work tasks enhanced the Northern California Division’s workplace culture; and the data obtained during each touch point enables Bradley to make informed decisions that improve performance, year-over-year.
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