Houwelings Tomatoes Case Study

Houweling’s Tomatoes is North America’s leading producer of hydroponically grown non-GMO tomatoes. By introducing RF-SMART, they were able to improve customer relationships by removing third-party shipping from their business processes. Recently, they successfully upgraded from AX 2009 to AX 2012 without interrupting day-to-day operations.

Houweling’s Tomatoes is a privately owned company that produces hydroponically grown tomatoes and cucumbers year round. It was founded in 1956 and is now a leading producer of hydroponically grown non-GMO tomatoes in North America. Houweling’s operates more than 200 acres between its three sites in California, Utah, and British Columbia.

The Challenges:

With continued growth since implementing Dynamics AX 2009, Houweling’s set their sights on achieving more direct sales. To accomplish this, they needed to bring distribution operations in-house by establishing direct relationships with the buyers rather than going through a third party for delivery to customers. To achieve their business objectives, Houweling’s recognized the need to improve processes, move away from a dependency on paper, and achieve real-time visibility. It became evident that the only way to accomplish this was through the implementation of automated data collection. 

The company reviewed a number of automated data solutions, selecting a lower cost competitor to RF-SMART. Unfortunately for Houweling’s, the results of this alternate solution did not deliver  dependable functionality. Experiencing software crashes on a regular basis resulted in increased labor hours and a determination that the selected solution was not achieving their objectives. 

The Proven Solution:

Houweling’s quickly saw their need to implement a proven mobile solution. Houweling’s called RF-SMART, a Certified for Microsoft Dynamics (CfMD) provider of automated data collection used by over 300 AX customers across the world, and were up and running within two weeks.

“We use RF-SMART 24 hours a day. It never goes down,” said Steve McEneany, Houweling’s Project Director.

Houweling’s achieved their operational goals and significantly increased their speed of operation, quality, and accuracy. For the first time, Houweling’s had real-time visibility into their processes,  eliminated double-handling of data and decreased their dependency on paper. 

“The better you can control your processes, the more benefits you see. We can have better control over our processes by having real-time and accurate information,” Steve said.

The Upgrade & Results:

The increased efficiency with RF-SMART lent time for Houweling’s Director of IT Linton Clarke to examine other areas of their business and realign corporate goals. A major project to further their growth was upgrading from Dynamics AX 2009 to AX 2012, which was so successful it let Houweling’s expand to its third site. Along with their AX upgrade, Houweling’s upgraded to RF-SMART for AX 2012."

The upgrade from AX 2009 to RF-SMART for AX 2012 was seamless. It was simple and has helped keep our costs down,” Clarke said.

Due to RF-SMART’s architecture, Houweling’s was able to complete their upgrade and testing, without interrupting day-to-day operations.

“The architecture of RF-SMART cuts down on overhead of upgrading and the cost of deploying,” said Clarke. “The upgrade was a good choice for our business with low overhead, one server to manage, easily configurable and with no lags in performance.”

The users were equally happy with the upgrade to RF-SMART for AX 2012. Using the traditional interface they are accustomed to, Houweling’s employees are experiencing the same real-time data accuracy - but now with additional functionality.  This eliminated the need to revisit orders, boosting efficiency in their distribution processes. With their operational goal achieved, Houweling’s has been able to focus on their primary business goal, establishing direct sales.

“Our customers benefit from increased accuracy with RF-SMART. We have less picking errors, which means the right product going to the right customer more often. This results in fewer customer credits and more importantly greater customer satisfaction.” 

Read how RF-SMART was able to produce a discrepancy of under $2.00 during their first stock count of over a million dollars of inventory.

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