Mitch Summerfield

President, Oliver Packaging and Equipment

Supernova Award Category: 
Tech Optimization and Modernization
The Organization: 

Oliver Packaging & Equipment, a leading designer and manufacturer of premium food equipment and meal packaging systems, is a trusted brand found in food service environments around the world.  Designing and manufacturing high-quality bakery equipment and meal packaging solutions allows Oliver’s customers to serve more meals efficiently every day. 

Originally started as a woodworking equipment company, Oliver’s expertise with blades led to the introduction of the first bread slicer in 1932. For 90 years, Oliver has been providing quality equipment and unmatched customer service to bakeries, supermarkets, restaurants, and senior and student nutrition programs. 

The Problem: 

In the realm of SMB manufacturing, embracing cloud modernization is vital to maintaining competitiveness, particularly in meeting customer demands promptly and effectively, thereby ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on our business. The demand for our products surged, while we encountered supply chain challenges. For instance, senior meals programs and schools transitioned from congregate settings to prepackaged meals, necessitating our ability to adapt quickly and ensure uninterrupted product delivery to schools and senior meal programs across the United States.

One of our primary challenges the post-pandemic revolves around accurately forecasting customer demand while simultaneously maintaining low inventory levels. Given the fluctuating purchasing patterns and supply chain disruptions, accurately predicting which products customers will require and when has become a daunting task. Furthermore, as we venture into new markets, we face the additional challenge of close monitoring and accurately predicting customer demand in previously unexplored territories.

In instances where a specific product is unavailable at our warehouse, we have implemented a strategy to ship alternative products to ensure that communities receive the necessary sustenance. Consequently, we are actively seeking ways to reduce costs associated with these unexpected expenses incurred while shipping alternative products.

The Solution: 

With customer purchase patterns continually changing, we knew there had to be a better way to detect these changes so that the right products could be delivered on time.  We needed a faster and more accurate way to track abnormal changes in order and item amounts so we can make the right adjustments. To identify these variances, it was a monthly process in Excel to pull the data together and do the analysis, looking at thousands of lines of data hoping not to miss anything. Leveraging Infor Coleman AI, integrated with Infor CloudSuite Industrial, we implemented anomaly detection to identify abnormal customer orders and amounts quickly and more accurately. Integrating AI was possible due to ERP modernization 4 years ago with Infor CloudSuite Industrial.  We also use AI to improve our forecasting, replacing a manual process with an automated solution combining historical data with more recent trends. Collectively, these AI solutions help us better meet customer demand.

The Results: 

Since moving to the cloud 4 years ago, Oliver Packaging has continued to grow.  We are at the point now where we are taking advantage of some of the most powerful technologies that Infor has to offer, such as Coleman AI, to better forecast the future and identify changing customer behavior patterns so that we are more accurate and effective. Helpeing us grow through the pandemic and ensure communities get fed.

We are more data-driven and can track our investment in moving to Infor CloudSuite Industrial. We have a system that has greatly improved our operations, and we've seen significant margin improvement, simply because we're able to better project what products we need. Customers and employees are happier because the right products are delivered at the right time, and employees are less stressed because of the operational efficiencies in place. Oliver Packaging is light years from where it was four years ago.

Oliver Packaging has been able to provide products to customers that some of our competitors have not. During the pandemic, there were a lot of challenges associated with the supply chain and labor, which we were able to mitigate through planning and forecasting. This led to greater manufacturing efficiency. We have some of our competitors' customers calling us, looking for products, and our ability to provide that in a timely fashion has enabled us to gain market share. Use Case Video


Our investment in cloud modernization with Infor was to enable us to meet the current demands, make sure that we can efficiently operate our business, and allow us to grow and move into new markets. And our ability to be able to forecast our business more accurately, when we have not been in those markets before, will be critical to our success. Overall, the integration of AI solutions, such as anomaly detection and automated forecasting, has enabled us to better track customer demand, make timely adjustments, and ensure the efficient delivery of products:

  • 30X faster (monthly to daily) to detect anomalies to better optimize inventory for shifting demand
  • 90% workload reduction in identifying anomalies and forecasting
  • $1.3 million in variance identified 2 months
  • Lower costs by reducing the need to ship more expensive alternative solutions or expediting shipments when the right item is not in stock
  • Increased customer retention with Sales quickly contacting customers to address new requirements
  • Improve customer satisfaction by providing the right product instead of shipping alternative solutions
  • Less than 90 days time to value

After moving to Infor CloudSuite Industrial ERP, improvement in KPIs:

  • 55% increase in on-time deliveries
  • 15point increase in Net Promoter Score
  • 15point increase in employee engagement
The Technology: 

Innovations created to improve the efficiency and accuracy of key business processes at Oliver are possible with low-code, Infor OS services to extend Infor CloudSuite Industrial ERP. Orders from CloudSuite are automatically collected and managed in the Data Lake, with integrated services to build, deploy and consume AI-driven insights. Infor customers have a toolbox for innovation with Infor OS, I encourage other Infor customers to migrate to the cloud to maximize this opportunity.

Disruptive Factor: 

Through automation, Oliver Packaging has not needed to scale resources as the organization grows. In fact, the efficiencies gained from moving to the cloud have freed up time, making employees wonder if the business has slowed down. During some of the highest load times, we had some of our associates come and ask if business was down. We were intrigued because our business was up significantly. We learned that the reason why our associates felt the business was down was that they were more productive and not wasting time or working so hard.  Our ability to have material in-house and not be chasing parts made their jobs much easier.

One of the game-changing things for me is the Infor Go mobile app. I travel quite a bit and with a few clicks on my mobile phone, I can check on various areas of the business such as order status, accounts payable and accounts receivables. I feel more at ease knowing that I have a grip on what's happening every day and that my staff can see the same thing to address issues right away.

A game-changing for the Operations team is using Infor Document Management to automate the process for identifying and routing soon-to-be expired contracts.  The system proactively monitors soon-to-expire documents, with customized workflows to review and take the right actions to renew contracts or close them. We haven't missed a single expiration, negotiation, or building lease expiration, and our company is benefiting greatly from that.

Shining Moment: 

I am proud that Oliver Packaging is leveraging modern technology in the best way possible to successfully deliver meal packaging to communities because we know failure could mean a child goes hungry or a senior may not get needed nutrition. We serve what matters. That is our motto. If we don't have the correct product that is ordered, we make sure they have an alternative solution.  And now, with AI, communities will get fed with improved less impact on our bottom line. 

About Oliver Packaging and Equipment

Oliver Packaging & Equipment Company has been developing and manufacturing high-quality, innovative food equipment and meal packaging solutions for diverse markets since 1890. Our free-standing and countertop bread slicers are state-of-the-art, incorporating the latest technologies, and their fully integrated meal packaging systems are used daily across North America, Europe, and Australia.