The manufacturer says it will facilitate efficient production of Glacier Mints and Fox's other confectionery lines, worth about £16 million a year. The system will also support the company's plans for both organic and acquisitive growth, following a recent management buy-in.
Tropos will replace the corporate system provided by Fox's former parent company, Northern Foods.
"We planned to use the old system up to the end of August 2004, but we hope to have Tropos up and running well before that date," said Fox's IT manager Barrie Pitney.
The implementation will help the company in it's ability to keep track of every aspect of its operations. The recent Coca-Cola recall has highlighted the urgent need for manufacturers to install efficient systems to achieve complete traceability, especially with EU legislation coming into force in January 2005.
"The general comment about this Coca-Cola recall was that it was very efficient," Simon Lawson, Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) account manager with systems integrator Capula, told FoodProductionDaily.com. "Not many companies are as efficient as that, and this could have ramifications with EU legislation on traceability coming into force in 2005."
This legislation states that food manufacturers have to be able to show that they can trace products right through the food chain. Fox believes that the implementation of the SSI software will go some way to achieving this.
"Once again, Tropos is able to offer a practical and competitive solution to food industry requirements," said SSI managing director Trevor Lewis. "This contract establishes TROPOS as a credible supplier to an important sector of that industry."
SSI will supply a Tropos browser with white paper printing, application designer, active workflow and business information templates. The system will be managed remotely by SSI's managed services division.
"Tropos is very easy to use and, with the application designer tool, we will be able to design the system to suit our needs," said Pitney. "As an example, for new client capture or updating information, we will be able to present just the fields that we need instead of scrolling through several pages to find the relevant ones. Tropos will also allow us to automate aspects of our information processes."
Fox's began as a wholesale grocery and confectionery business, set up by Walter Richard Fox in Leicester. By 1897 he was manufacturing over 100 confectionery lines. Glacier Mints were created by his son, Eric, and they became so popular that the other confectionery lines were phased out. Later the company introduced Glacier Fruits, which also became best sellers.
In 2001, the Leicester factory and its brands became part of Northern Foods. More than £3 million was invested in technology to produce the Just Brazils and Poppets brands, which Northern Foods had previously acquired from Payne's.
In September 2003, the Leicester business was acquired by Big Bear, following the management buy-in.