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Sugar Creek ?Trims the Fat? Using Labor Management Solution

Leading Bacon Slicing and Packing Company Transitions to Biometric Products to Track Time and Attendance

Approximately four years ago, Sugar Creek Packing Co. formulated a plan to improve employee time and attendance tracking by implementing a biometric software package. The company expected to cut substantial fat from their operations by replacing an outdated time and attendance system with a comprehensive labor management solution.

Since the company?s establishment in 1966, Sugar Creek has taken pride in seeking ways to improve productivity and capacity, while maintaining quality standards. This effort continues today with investment in state-of-the-art equipment and technology, as reflected in the company?s advanced food testing laboratory and highly efficient distribution network. Sugar Creek?s labor management initiative served to support this tradition, as well as to give the company further competitive edge in overall performance.

Sugar Creek is the nation's leader in bacon slicing capacity and capabilities, producing over 100 million pounds annually in multiple facilities in Illinois, Kansas, and Ohio. Headquartered in Washington Court House, Ohio, Sugar Creek co-packages a variety of well-known national brands for retail stores and the food service industry.

Seeking Improved Labor Management
In striving to keep up with their history of running cutting-edge facilities, Sugar Creek Packing Co. began the search for a more effective labor management solution. With six USDA-inspected plants specially designed for bacon processing, their outdated system could no longer meet the needs of the growing company.

Vincent Perhach, Corporate IT Director for Sugar Creek, describes the situation: ?We were starting to have some performance issues. We found that the feature set within the older package just wasn?t there.?

To avoid suffering ripple effects throughout the company, including technology breakdowns, payroll difficulties, and inability to analyze employee productivity, Sugar Creek determined that they would replace their existing system, in order to evolve as an organization. ?Performance is an issue for us,? says Perhach. ?[Our former system] was using older technology that I didn?t want on my network anymore.?

Decision Factors and Initial Adoption
After researching a variety of software and service vendors, Sugar Creek chose to work with Time Spot, Inc., a leading provider of advanced time and workforce management solutions designed to help companies improve the tracking and utilization of labor resources.

Specifically, Sugar Creek selected Time Spot?s automated workforce management system based on its competitive pricing and its open system compatibility with other network programs. The client-server software combines with a wide range of data collection devices to automate the process of tracking, managing, and reporting the many aspects of employee time and attendance.

According to Perhach, ?We do an awful lot of in-house development and found Time Spot?s software to be very friendly to the developers. We could extend it and integrate it, and do what we wanted.?

Sugar Creek was particularly pleased with how easily it integrated with their accounting and payroll solution. After implementation, Sugar Creek?s developers simply gave control of the system to the Payroll department. As Perhach says, ?Being a Payroll function, they wanted to secure who could use the time and attendance system themselves.? The new automated system was so well received by the Payroll department that they fought for the continued responsibility of running it.

And fortunately for Perhach and his team, Payroll didn?t need help after receiving the system, much of which he attributes to ?the nice, friendly screens.? It provides the developers an open, easy-to-integrate technology, while giving end-users an intuitive, Windows-based interface. All levels of users get exactly what they need, which means the company operates more smoothly in front and back-offices alike.

Realizing Benefits and ROI
Sugar Creek has secured a strong position for meeting ongoing labor management changes and demands. From the outset, their labor management strategy was designed to support the company?s healthy future. Now, after using the automated system for nearly four years, they?ve accrued the operational benefits and return-on-investment to prove their strategy a success. Their relationship with Time Spot provides further assurance that they?ll stay ahead of the curve in this area. As Perhach puts it, ?[Time Spot] has been very good on service, very good on product? It?s been a nice relationship; it really has.?

For the initial product installation, Perhach called on the Time Spot Services team. As he explains: ?We made the decision to have them help us with the first site and then we installed all of our other sites ourselves.? Now, Sugar Creek is entirely self-sufficient, with the exception of occasional Help Desk calls, which Perhach notes, have been highly effective. ?In my department,? he says, ?I believe in the philosophy of ?train-the-trainer.? If I can?t get my people up to speed and we can?t support ourselves, then we shouldn?t be here. We just live by that philosophy.?

Because the new workforce management software has made people?s jobs easier at Sugar Creek, the system has received exceedingly positive responses from end users. As the company transitioned from traditional time cards to biometric clocks, Perhach expected more of a backlash than he received. ?We didn?t use [biometric clocks] before, but everything went very, very smoothly.?

Perhaps even more beneficial has been the response from the corner offices. With the software?s reporting capabilities, Sugar Creek can monitor the efficiency of employees, both individually and holistically ? something they couldn?t even dream of doing with the old system.

?The management response has actually been very nice,? Perhach explains. ?We?re now able to track time down to pounds-per-man-hour,? which for a bacon slicing company means increased efficiency at plants and improved productivity, both of which contribute to a fatter bottom line.?

The Bottom Line
Sugar Creek can extract precise information from the client-server software, giving them clear, data-driven insight into the strengths and weaknesses of their workforce, operations and productivity. ?There are new statistics that we?re able to bring out in a near real-time fashion simply because we have the time and attendance system,? says Perchach. Those statistics enable Sugar Creek to make more informed business decisions in key areas, such as workforce management, scheduling, and productivity.