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Business Forward

Majans spices up operations with Dynamics 365; lays foundations for factory of the future

Majans, the snackfood company behind a best-selling range of Bhuja Snacks, traces its history back to Fiji in the 1960s. Back then it would often sell its goods from carts.

Today it’s a thoroughly modern manufacturer, headquartered in Queensland and employing 120 people, with a decent share of Australia’s $1.2 billion snack market. The company has grown exponentially in the last few years with brands like Bhuja and more recently the Infuzions snacks range.

While successful today, its gaze is firmly fixed on the future, and the opportunity to create an intelligent, efficient, data-driven factory of the future.

It’s building the foundations right now.

Working with Microsoft partner Sable37, Majans has replaced an SAP Business One solution with Microsoft’s Azure-based Dynamics365.

Amit Raniga, Director, explains that the business is focussed on gaining a competitive advantage by digitally transforming its end to end business processes. Majans is a significant player in the snackfood market – but dwarfed by its giant international competition.

Sustained success and the opportunity to expand into international markets will rely on discovering ways to do things smarter, faster.

“We have a weekly forum, we’re calling it Majans’ Labs, and the forum’s clear mandate is to drive process change and process improvement.  As an organisation our clear purpose is inspiring discovery and a growth mindset,” says Raniga.

Technology he says, plays a critical role, providing a platform for innovation, for streamlining the supply chain and optimising operations.

“The traditional approach in manufacturing involves collection of data on paper, whiteboards and legacy systems. As a business we’re asking, how do we use emerging toolkits to help us gain an edge.”

– Amit Raniga

We’re a high velocity, high quality manufacturer with a diverse range of stakeholders through our supply chain.  Whether you’re in the manufacturing, logistics or part of the sales teams, we needed a comprehensive information solution that could meet the needs of the entire business.

Majans has deployed a range of Microsoft technologies with the Azure based Dynamics 365 at its core and leveraging Microsoft PowerApps, Flow, PowerBI and Teams.

Majans has for the last three years embraced a LEAN approach to operations, which coupled with the digital transformation now underway creates the underpinnings of a sustainable competitive edge by creating an information ecosystem that can collect and analyse information, gain insights from that information and act on it.

According to Raniga; “In real simple terms, the value driver here is the ability for the cycle time around any given process to be compressed. So, the pain point here is that 80 per cent of our time is spent collecting and analysing information, so by the time you gain insight, to have that light bulb moment to act, we typically experience action fatigue.

“What digitisation allows you to do is automate the whole collect and analyse part, so if you can collect and analyse digitally and automatically using emerging cloud toolkits and IoT, the goal is to spend more time on insight and actions, which is where the value drivers are. The value drivers aren’t in collecting and analysing – they’re are in insight and actions. “

Factory of the Future

The foundations for Majans’ factory of the future are now deployed with Dynamics 365. In parallel, Majans is using SharePoint, PowerApps and Power BI.

“We’ve got a portfolio of PowerApps live in our environment handling last-mile requirements around our people, production, quality, engineering and lean systems.  We’re developing these apps internally with champions in functional areas driving change management. We’re extraordinarily excited about the extensibility capability between PowerApps and Dynamics 365 as well, which we’ll also be building capability on,” says Raniga.

At the same time Majans has been an early and enthusiastic adopter of Microsoft Teams to spur effective collaboration and communications.

“Probably in the last 12 months if you were to say ‘what’s the one of the core value drivers in our digital transformation for Majans’, probably Teams would be it.  Now everyone across the Majans family, from frontline teams to the leadership group has unprecedented visibility which is real-time. So, it’s very transparent, activities are very transparent.”

Majans is already planning to take that transparency to the next level by launching gamified reporting and scorecards to encourage visibility and continuous improvement across the workplace.

“We’re going through planning stages of our Power BI-driven visual management 2.0 system. Rather than the traditional method of measuring performance, which is by day or the shift you’re working on or the or machine you’re working on or the product you’re making, we’re flipping that on its head and saying, performance for a business isn’t driven by a machine or driven by a shift or driven by a product. Performance is driven by people, and through the use of PowerApps, Power BI and SharePoint, we are collecting performance information from our business on the front-line and pushing it back to Power BI, and visualising our results as leader boards.”

“The traditional methods of operational reporting are very tired and very unengaging.    Our teams are nervously excited about the idea of gamified reporting. Some are nervous because your name is up there in lights, your performance is up there in lights, but we are sensing an opportunity to lift engagement and accountability in a healthy way”

“We’re coming to this space where by the year 2020, 50 per cent of our workforce will be millennials, who are digitally native. They understand leader boards. They connect with that whole idea of ranking your performance and promote healthy competitive spirit that should be the basis of all great teams.”

– Amit Raniga

Unleashing IoT

An additional and critical ingredient to Majans’ success with its factory of the future ambitions is to ask how they can achieve digital excellence in manufacturing.

Traditional food and beverage manufacturers collect data from machines on the frontline either manually or to legacy systems.  Quality control processes also required collecting information from laboratory instruments to monitor key quality control parameters.

A project bringing together Microsoft and factory systems specialists Omron is currently piloting Azure IOT solutions to ingest operational data from of our machines and instruments and push this to the Azure cloud for real time reporting.

At the same time Majans is looking to use Microsoft technologies to optimise the supply chain.

“In simple terms we’re talking about every data point we have across our supply chain, whether it’s our demand forecast, warehouse inventory, customer distribution centre inventory and to the purchase point at store level – all of these data points we currently have access to, but they’re all in disparate systems all over the place,” says Raniga.

Majans is now working with Microsoft to have Azure ingest that information and provide end-to-end supply chain visibility.