Supermarket Perimeter - June 2020 - 70

PRODUCTION
MANAGEMENT
by Andy Nelson

WYNNE BARRETT has intimate
first-person knowledge about the
coronavirus.
Barrett, a partner in Hopkinton,
Massachusetts-based software
specialist Jera Concepts, first
took care of his wife in their
Connecticut home after she
came down with the virus. After
a few days, she was mostly back
to normal.
Barrett also contracted the
virus, but he wasn't so lucky. He
had a fever for 16 straight days.
Fortunately, he didn't have any
other symptoms, and he was
usually able to do at least some
work each day.
As a company, Jera has been
comparatively lucky. Other
than a small support staff in
the company's Hopkinton
headquarters, everyone else
works from their own offices
anyway. Jera didn't have to lay
anyone off.

But of course that doesn't
mean the company hasn't been
affected like everyone else. The
company cut prices for some
of its clients who were suffering
severe economic fallout from the
pandemic.
"We know they're hurting, so
we should hurt a little bit, too,"
Barrett said. "Everyone's down 40
to 60%, though the grocery piece
is still hanging in there."
Fortunately for Jera and its
customers, the production
management software the
company provides can really
prove its value in difficult times
like this, Barrett said.
Some of the biggest challenges
the manufacturers Jera
works with have had during
the outbreak is staffing. One
result of that has been split
production schedules, where
two production cycles are run
with the same, smaller group of

employees working longer hours
- instead of one group of people
handling one cycle and another
the second.
Menu simplification has been
another effect of the coronavirus,
Barrett said. If a food producer
only has 10 people coming into
work, they may make only half of
the products they usually make.
"For us, mostly we're just trying
to help them change orders
quickly," he said. "You go down
(in production), but then you
go down too much. The tools
we have help groups with that.
They're able to pull products,
make percentage drops in
ordering, have a whole suite of
software with the ability to help
them change things."
On the issue of split
production, Jera's software
allows companies to separate
production into components,
rather than one just have "one big
production," he said.

A new model, post-virus
Bronxville, N.Y.-based At-YourService Software Inc., makers
of cloud-based ReciProfity
food costing software, has
seen increased competition
for take-out foods because of

At-Your-Service's ReciProfity software helps retailers cut waste,
which is more vital than ever in the wake of COVID.
70 - JUNE 2020

supermarketperimeter.com

the coronavirus. As a result,
retailers have to be even more
creative and cost-conscious,
said Matthew Starobin, the
company's CEO.
"On the costing side, we see
lots of user data that does not
include packaging as a food
cost. Since packaging is a direct
recipe (as opposed to overhead
and labor), we think it belongs in
the recipe, and accounted for in
the selling price," he said. "I think
that delivery will be embedded in
the restaurant model forever, and
won't recede when the virus is
behind us."
The "retail vigilance" Starobin
describes must therefore
be followed going forward.
Decisions related to IT, apps,
etc. must be informed by these
new rules.
One thing, however, that hasn't
changed with the coronavirus,
Starobin said, is the need to
"produce to par." A production
system should be able to tell
operators exactly what's needed,
so prep people pull only the
required inventory.
"Operators tell us that
production waste is a huge
variable cost that requires
controls and oversight. Since
we have so many grocery users,
'produce to par' is an essential
feature."
At-Your-Service has seen
retailers more and more
concerned with production
costs, i.e. "really managing the
waste potential in daily prep,"
Starobin said.
With ReciProfity, that task is
much easier.
"Kitchen prep can now
view and scale recipes on a
tablet right in the kitchen, and
see the required quantities
without leaving their station,"
Starobin said. "That's a major
improvement over having to go
to a desktop PC, scale, then print

AT-YOUR-SERVICE, NEXTRECORD - STOCK.ADOBE.COM

TECHNOLOGY


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Supermarket Perimeter - June 2020

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