July 28 2021

Award-winning fish processing firm Aquascot partnered with FluidIT to realise their smart factory ambitions.

Aquascot saw an opportunity with FluidIT to bring in a team to deliver quick win solutions and build a longer-term plan to becoming a smart factory. Using FluidIT’s IT Director as a Service the leadership team delivered a digital roadmap, driving productivity and efficiency to 2025 and beyond.  

In under 12 months they have transformed the factory. The production areas are paper free, QA is fully digitalised with a new quality assurance management system Q-Pulse, commercial data dashboards provide real time reporting, M365 is fully implemented, and they have selected a new ERP/ MES system from software provider SI (Systems Integration).  

John Housego, Aquascot MD said, “By the end of this year the whole of our IT infrastructure will have completely changed. This offers up a wealth of new opportunities for us, not only with our customers but our business tracking and awareness, and product positioning. In a highly competitive market we will have the data to be able to focus on improvements and then meet the need.” 

The Scottish Seafood People 

Demand for Aquascot’s products soared during the global pandemic from clients like Waitrose catering to an increasing number of people eating at home. Based in the Highlands, the company is 100 per cent employee-owned and has been processing salmon and trout for more than 30 years. In 2021 they won the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) trophy for excellence in people development at the SCDI Highlands and Islands Business Excellence Awards. 

The Challenges 

Aquascot MD John Housego joined the business in March 2020 and almost immediately got to see how well the company responded to the challenges of the coronavirus crisis; putting strict safety controls in place while demand increased and business boomed. But as the people stepped up, their tools were holding them back. 

The IT estate of legacy systems had evolved to include lots of manual workarounds, paper-based processes and difficulty in getting visibility of data. The business was at a crossroads, whether to keep investing in their current systems or look to buy new ones.  

The senior management team had the vision to become a smart factory. They were interested in developing a long term digital and IT strategy and plan, as well as understanding how technology could benefit the business in the short term. 

Why Aquascot chose to work with FluidIT 

Aquascot MD John Housego, and Finance Director Simon Wrench joined an online workshop, Digital Quick Wins for Manufacturers, run by FluidIT in 2020. The webinar covered how to surface data, how to automate administrative processes and create bespoke apps to solve business problems.  

John Housego said: “FluidIT had experience in delivering digital transformation for manufacturers, and the capability to do the kind of rapid automation we needed. And having the IT Director as a Service was attractive, someone who would get to know us and guide us, and who we could call on whether five hours a week or whatever was needed. It meant we didn’t have to hire someone full-time or learn it ourselves.” 

The Digital Transformation 

Aquascot engaged FluidIT to review their IT and business systems landscape. The aims were to help them identify key challenges and recommend both strategic opportunities for building a future smart factory operation, as well as quick win solutions for immediate improvement.  

John Housego said: “From the first meeting there was a strong sense of honest appraisal of our situation and trust built very rapidly with every new member of the team we engaged with.”  

The initial engagement was split into two areas. 

  • Payroll Process Review 

The first step was to  analyse the payroll process, roles and systems to identify inefficiencies and problem areas. This concluded using a Power Query as a tactical solution to streamline processes while a new time and attendance system was selected. 

  • IT strategy and Technical Review 

The approach was to assess the IT systems landscape and IT operations, analysing security, resilience, scalability and ongoing support. 

Aquascot then agreed six packages of work: 

  • Commercial PowerBI Dashboard
  • Spec and Select a replacement quality management system
  • Company-wide adoption of M365
  • IT Director as a service
  • Project management services to support delivery of the new quality management system
  • Digital and IT roadmap setting out the plan to drive productivity and efficiency over the next three to five years

The Results 

In less than twelve months Aquascot, working in partnership with FluidIT, have transformed the factory. The production areas are paper free, and QA is fully digitalised with a new quality management system Q-Pulse. The technology enables Aquascot to continue improving their throughput, quality and consistency.  

The commercial data dashboards with PowerBI show actual versus forecast sales / orders in real time. Time spent on manually processing and reporting is significantly reduced.  

M365 is fully implemented across the organisation including a communication portal using Sharepoint.  

Aquascot has selected a new ERP/ MES system from software provider SI which will be implemented within the next three months.  

John Housego said, “I’d absolutely recommend working with FluidIT. The biggest thing I would say is, they delivered what they said would deliver, and they delivered it in partnership with us. They’ve gone at our speed and also pushed our speed. They found a way to manage that together and coach us through it. One of our values is partnership, and that’s what’s happened with FluidIT. It’s a mutual win, it’s been very rewarding on both sides. It’s been a very positive experience for us. “

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