Optimizing palm buying process
November 3, 2023
Optimizing palm buying process
The initial phase of MeFarm primarily revolved around optimizing the palm buying process, beginning with the pricing structure. Palm prices were highly dynamic, influenced by factors such as demand and supply. Therefore, the prices were updated multiple times a day and were subject to negotiation with farmers. Moreover, managing the price requests manually, especially when they were substantial in number, posed a significant challenge. Consequently, a system was needed to automate price approvals and allocations. Thana Palm Products operates numerous palm-purchasing branches across Chumphon and Surat Thani, Thailand. The palm fruits gathered at these branches must be transferred to the headquarters. Therefore, the Mefarm-Mass desktop application plays a crucial role in this process, as it is integrated with calibrated scales at each branch to weigh the palms accurately. Additionally, the application is able to capture images of the trucks carrying the palm fruits, generate bills, and facilitate money transfers to the farmers' bank accounts. Another challenge the company faced was related to defects and fraudulent activities during palm deliveries to the headquarters. This issue was caused by external factors like heat affecting the palm weights and internal factors, including staff behavior. Therefore, it became essential for the Mefarm system to thoroughly record all data, including customer information, purchase orders, transfer orders, and payments, to track and reduce such issues. Moreover, the system's ability to export data to Excel files for reporting is also crucial.
To tackle the dynamic nature of palm prices, the Mefarm system introduced the "Price Announcement" menu, enabling the creation and management of prices. Branches could be grouped into zones, allowing for more efficient pricing management. The managing director (MD) is responsible for approving prices after they are submitted, and prices could also be negotiated by customers. Furthermore, the "Price Quota Request" feature was also implemented to handle a high volume of price requests, allowing the marketing manager to bundle numerous buyable weights for a single approval by the MD. The Mefarm system was designed circumspectly with a well-structured architecture and interconnected menus. Extensive testing was conducted to ensure the proper functioning of all services. An "admin site" was also developed to allow the MD to correct parameters and reverse certain processes in case of errors.
On-Site Visits and Requirements Gathering
The project began with on-site visits to the customer's locations in Surat Thani starting in October 2020. During these visits, the team conducted detailed observations, interviews, and discussions with the customer and on-site personnel. This hands-on approach allowed the team to understand the existing processes and operational challenges thoroughly.
Integration with Scales
One of the critical technical aspects of the project was integrating the system with the scales at each branch. This involved setting up and calibrating individual scales to ensure accurate measurements. The team likely used specific software and hardware tools to facilitate this integration, such as communication protocols and data transfer mechanisms.
Training and Deployment
After the system was developed and thoroughly tested, training sessions would have been conducted for the users at each branch to ensure they could effectively use the Mefarm-Mass desktop application. Deployment procedures would have been established to roll out the system across all branches.
The implementation of the Mefarm System yielded significant results over two years of use by Thana Palm Products: - The total number of branches increased by 50%. - The system accommodated 190 users. - During peak seasons, the system processed nearly 1,000 daily orders with a total value of 5 million THB. - The system effectively collected and tracked data related to buying amounts, lost weight, payments, and other critical aspects of the trading process, enhancing overall transparency and control. - These results demonstrate the successful integration of the Mefarm system into Thana Palm Products' operations, leading to improved efficiency and data management in their palm trading business.
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