Pentarch’s General Manager of Business Systems, Jarrod Wallis, manages a team of four. Since joining the business, Wallis has been responsible for driving for a range of innovative JD Edwards enhancements to improve and automate processes.

There’s more to hay than meets the eye

Pentarch’s Agricultural Division exports hay and grain. The division blends and compresses quality-controlled crops of Australian oaten hay at 2000PSI into 25kg and 50kg bales. The bales are then packed to into containers and shipped to customers in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China. The highly nutritious, ready-mixed bales simplify farmers’ cattle feeding regime, optimise milk-yields in dairy cattle, and promote growth in beef cattle.

However, despite the apparent simplicity of the hay bale process, there’s more to it than you’d expect.

Pentarch has immense bale processing and undercover storage facilities strategically located on the west and east coasts of Australia. As well as site certification, the business adheres to strict chain-of-custody requirements. A tag on each bale captures the precise ‘who/what/where’ details of the raw materials in it. This degree of tracking is especially critical to identify the origin of any ryegrass toxicity (which can cause livestock fatalities) in the hay mix.

The disconnect between inventory and warehouse

It’s critical to Pentarch that they know what raw materials they have in stock to make hay bales, and how many types of finished bales are on hand to fulfil customer orders. However, due to a system disconnect, reconciling stock between inventory and warehouse was far more complex than a simple ‘crops in, hay out’ scenario. Getting an accurate, on-demand view of inventory not only took a considerable amount of time, but was a largely manual process.

“We manage our inventory in JDE to Level 3, This level captures the item, location and lot number – it’s quite granular. We also track everything to that same level in our warehouse management system."

Jarrod Wallis | Business Systems General Manager, The Pentarch Group

“However, the inventory we were using in JDE wasn’t really working. It was only tracking what was in the system, not where it was in the warehouse. So, from a logistics perspective, we had to manage RMT (raw material type) in spreadsheets, and continually count bales by hand. As at any one time, we can have up to 50,000 bales of hay in our warehouses — with up to a hundred combinations of grower, grade, and location — the process would take us between one and a half and two FTE (full time employee) days every month. We’d then have to do a monthly reconciliation between the spreadsheets to our JDE records. And then, because we were doing constant conversions between tons and bales, the actual inventory level in JDE was always out.”

“As a consequence, we were processing manufacturing orders for bales, and finding that we either didn’t have the raw materials, or that stock levels were wrong. It was frustrating.”

Jarrod Wallis | Business Systems General Manager, The Pentarch Group

Saving time, streamlining processes

To eliminate the time and manual effort that went into reconciling inventory and warehouse data, Wallis worked with Fusion5 to develop a Warehouse Inventory Management app based on Microsoft’s Power Platform (Power Apps and Power Automate) and JDE Orchestrator.

“The app is designed to let us manage up-to-the-minute RMT inventory in our warehouses, and within JDE. It’s been a game changer for us. Now our onsite inventory management team can track the movement of stock and count adjustments throughout the month in real time, and share the data directly to JDE. This has effectively eliminated the manual month-end reconciliation process.”

Jarrod Wallis | Business Systems General Manager, The Pentarch Group

Wallis says that within months of introducing the app, the business could complete the reconciliation process within just hours instead of days. Pentarch can also resolve inventory adjustments (which previously took 3-4 months to sort out and were often 10-20% out), just as quickly.

As a result of rolling out the app, Pentarch’s JD Edwards inventory is now always up-to-date, accurate and available to sales, marketing, and procurement team members. The next step, says Wallis, will be to present users with up-to-the-minute inventory on role specific dashboards.

Orchestrating business improvements

As well as utilising Power Apps to improve processes, Wallis is working with Fusion5 and JD Edwards Orchestrator to introduce more automation into the business.

Orchestrator enables users to collect, filter, analyse, and act on real-time data. It introduces extreme automation, integrates with external systems and devices, removes repetitive, mundane work for human users, reduces errors and costs, and improves the quality of business data. 

While Wallis took a lead role in developing the Warehouse Inventory Management app, he says he relies heavily on Fusion5’s expertise and experience in JD Edwards Orchestrator development.

“Fusion5 are good people to work with, very good. They're always helpful, and more than happy to share their knowledge and advice. That’s something I appreciate; it helps us retain some autonomy.”

Jarrod Wallis | Business Systems General Manager, The Pentarch Group

The future

With the Warehouse Inventory Management app successfully delivered and in use, Wallis and Fusion5 are now working on a range of other projects designed to automate processes and integrate line of business systems with JD Edwards.

“To streamline how we work with shipping and logistics suppliers, we’re currently working to use EDI to capture delivery and invoicing information. The data from our freight companies goes into our BSM (buy, sell, move) system, and we plan to automate posting that information into JDE accounts to streamline payment. Likewise, we’re also automating posting data from our expense management system into JDE accounts payments.” Other projects include automatically uploading to JDE the data collected at Pentarch’s weigh bridges.

“The decision to work with technology partners like Fusion5 has played a significant role in reducing our cost of doing business. And it’s highlighted that if there’s anything you can do to automate processes or use technology to help you out — do it! The ROI outcomes are well worth it.”

Jarrod Wallis | Business Systems General Manager, The Pentarch Group
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