Digitized Business Processes:
System Services of America Foods (SSA Foods) prides itself on using cutting-edge technology. The privately-held company is a foodservice distributor that provides products to the largest chain restaurants on the West Coast. 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 1,200-1,400 deliveries a week. Nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley, its business leads are exposed to the latest enterprise software tools. It partnered with Pulpstream on a digital transformation initiative with the goal of reaching high product and service quality performance goals.
“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.
Supervisors at the Northern California Division used to collect worksite evaluation information with pens and paper. It was a slow process. After collecting the information, they would give the inspection paperwork to someone who spent 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. These storage areas exist throughout the USA, because USDA and OSHA compliance creates stacks of paperwork for food services distributors.
Most of SSA’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 that keep branch performance high. As a result, Bradley’s distribution center is a top performer in the USA. He attributes this to his team’s ability to perform work with greater accuracy. The division has used Pulpstream since 2014 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. The orders are very large. Workers need forklifts 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. Cost per delivery is crucial.
“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.
Data Collection on Mobile Devices Creates New X-Factor
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 digital forms that streamed to his employee’s devices. Digitizing these data points empowered Bradley to more effectively 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.”
Before the Pulpstream partnership, 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.
Worksite Evaluations on Tablets Transforms Company Culture
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. These native mobile features increased accuracy across the board. Pulpstream aggregates data from all team reports and pushes it into a real-time analytics dashboard. Bradley sees progress towards performance goals and can 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 manage food safety and quality quality transformed the Northern California Division’s workplace culture. The data obtained during each touch point empowers Bradley to make informed decisions that improve performance, year-over-year.