When Campari purchased Wild Turkey in 2009, they had to move quickly to find a stock control system to manage their maturing inventory. Beverly Tutterow, Wild Turkey Distillery Controller, explains: “Wild Turkey was using an in-house system, but the change in ownership meant that access to the system would be withdrawn. There didn’t seem to be a system available in the US that provided the functionality we were looking for.”
With over ½ million barrels of bourbon and rye in stock, Wild Turkey needed a system they could trust, and a supplier who could be relied upon to meet the tight timescales involved.
Fortunately, Campari was already aware of a possible solution to their problem; Trapeze’s Distillery Records & Management System – DRAMS.
An excellent working relationship already existed between Campari and Trapeze, dating back to 2006 when Campari acquired the Glen Grant distillery in Scotland. At the time they had just six weeks to install a new stock control system for a large inventory of maturing spirit. They selected DRAMS after consulting other whisky producers and discovering that it was the market-leading maturing inventory system in the UK.
With the help of the DRAMS team, Campari was able to implement the new system – including a 100% accurate data transfer – and complete the move on time. Carlo Bidoglia, Group Project Coordinator for Campari, was involved in the Glen Grant project and also the Wild Turkey implementation: “It was an easy choice to go with DRAMS at Wild Turkey after our experience at Glen Grant. It made sense to go for a proven vertical solution for the maturing inventory rather than developing a custom solution on our ERP.”
Campari approached Trapeze to see if the DRAMS system could be adapted to meet the specific needs of a major Bourbon producer. The answer was “yes”.
The project began with a detailed gap analysis to identify the changes required for DRAMS to meet the needs of Wild Turkey. DRAMS Product Manager Graham Murdoch travelled to Kentucky to work on the specification of those changes alongside key personnel at Wild Turkey: “We knew there were parallels with Scottish whisky production and storage, but we were determined not to fall into the trap of assuming that what works in Scotland would also work for Wild Turkey,” he explains.
It’s a view shared by Eddie Russell, Wild Turkey Associate Distiller: “Prior to DRAMS, we had to fit our processes into a system that wasn’t specifically geared to our way of working, and that caused us problems. With DRAMS we were able to get the system to fit our needs; we felt it was built around us. It was a two way process; we told Trapeze what we needed and they also made suggestions that we have really benefitted from.”
Using the System
Ease of use is one of the key features of the DRAMS system that Beverly is keen to highlight: “DRAMS is so much easier to use than the previous system; that’s what the users like about it most. We found it very easy to learn, and the quality of the user documentation – which was tailored to our setup – really helped”.
That ease of use brought Wild Turkey an unexpected benefit: the intuitive step-by-step nature of the data entry process in DRAMS has enabled managers to delegate more work: “Tasks which were previously assigned to managers because of their complexity have been removed from their daily work schedule, freeing up valuable time,” says Beverly.
Additionally, Eddie has found the level of technical support from Trapeze to be excellent: “If I have an issue I can contact support by telephone, email, or via the online help desk, and they will get right back to me. Prior to installation there was a slight concern that the time difference may cause operational issues, but that simply hasn’t been the case.”
The reporting capability of DRAMS is a feature that Beverly singles out for praise: “We have many more reports available to us than in our previous system. Trapeze has also made enhancements to several areas of the system since installation, including the ability to easily export data to Excel.”
A number of reports were written specifically for Wild Turkey during the development project, and these have been valuable additions: “The TTB reports have been of real benefit. Previously we had to collate figures from many sources to produce each of the monthly operations reports; in DRAMS we have a single report providing these figures. That saves a great deal of time, and helps to ensure the accuracy of our TTB returns.”
Another key benefit for Campari has been the up-to-date valuation of their maturing inventory. Each month overheads can be assigned to the maturing inventory which has the knock-on effect of providing a more accurate end product cost. Carlo feels this is essential for a company with such a large stock holding: “The financial controllers at Campari are very happy with the accurate and detailed cost information available with DRAMS.”
DRAMS’ stock inquiry function has particularly impressed Eddie: “I can inquire on stock using a variety of filters such as spirit type, filling year, batch or warehouse location. If I have any concerns over stock availability I can go to this screen and quickly identify the stock I’m interested in. This is a huge benefit.”
Maturing Inventory Manager, David Jordan, uses DRAMS to report on warehouse usage and available storage space: “For any warehouse, any floor, any rick and any level, I can now see what stock is in there and how much free space I have. Before, I had to walk each warehouse looking for available space; DRAMS gives me this information at the push of a button. There is even a report which shows only the fully empty levels; I absolutely love this report – it’s a wonderful feature.” And with the substantial cost of building new warehouses, it’s valuable too.
Following the success of the initial DRAMS implementation, Wild Turkey saw an opportunity to replace their Excel-based system with the DRAMS long term inventory planning module. Beverly explains: “We used to update our forecasts once a year. Now we have the flexibility to make changes to sales forecasts at any time, and to see the impact of those changes against an up-to-date stock profile almost instantly.
DRAMS also provides a report forecasting our change in inventory month by month, showing us exactly when we can expect to run out of warehouse space, and helping to plan future capital investment.”
The success of the Wild Turkey implementation has further cemented the working relationship between Campari and Trapeze. Roberto Gollin, Campari’s Head of Group IT, explains: “DRAMS has been selected as the standard solution for maturing inventory management across the Campari group, and will be applied to all distilleries with this kind of business.”