In 1990, Günter and Ilse Achleitner transformed their conventional farm, located alongside the fertile banks of the Austrian Danube, into an organic operation. Both were wholeheartedly convinced of the benefits of using natural farming methods. Neither could imagine at the time how successful their endeavour would prove to be.
The farm’s owners have always treated their business as a living organism whose vital components include soil, plants and animals—not to mention the creative force of human communities! These constituents are closely interlinked and each must be fostered in order to develop and maximise their collective impact. The Achleitners have applied this philosophy to grow their organic farm into a substantially-sized operation that values regional ties, sustainable practices to benefit both humans and nature, and a healthy lifestyle.
The farm does much more than just cultivate crops. It delivers boxes of organic produce to 8,000 private households each week and also supplies 500 organic food retailers. On top of that, it runs a store offering 5,000 non-produce items and dishes up organic meals in its own restaurant, the Kulinarium. Operating under the company name Achleitner Biohof GmbH, the farm employs 120 dedicated workers with a genuine passion for all-natural nutrition.
An integrated system to promote diversity.
Each of the Achleitner farm’s four business areas grew independently of the others, organised by separate ERP systems. In 2013, the Achleitners decided to combine their data into a single, integrated solution. Their search for a suitable partner led them to MODUS FOODVISION®, a software offered by Bechtle subsidiary Modus Consult. Modus Consult’s food industry specialists impressed the Achleitners with their experience in requirements planning and the collection of operational data. Experts helped them answer the question, “How do we take our massive volume of produce and provide them to small-quantity consumers in a customer-specific, highly efficient and reliable way?”
The greatest challenge at the project’s outset was to eliminate redundant master data, ensuring a single data record for each product. The project team created 800 records for fruits and vegetables alone, with each record supplemented by up to six variants. Given that some items had had 11 or 12 product numbers previously, this step cut data volume drastically.
The Modus Consult team always provided the exact support we needed, when we needed it. We were especially impressed with the effort they put in to stay on schedule, as well as their professionalism in preparing and finalising the project.
Rainer Rathmair, Head of IT, Achleitner Biohof GmbH.
Accelerating processes to deliver customised produce boxes.
Distilling four disparate systems into a single, integrated platform was only half the job—the Achleitners had still another puzzle to solve. But first, a bit of background knowledge. Each week, their farm delivers boxes of organic produce to the homes of some 8,000 subscription customers. Not only can customers select from different-sized boxes, they are also able to note special requests, such as a dislike for tomatoes or an allergy to celery.
The farm calculates the required quantities of produce one week in advance, purchasing from other suppliers if their own crops are insufficient. If, for some reason, scarce items cannot be purchased elsewhere, alternative products are substituted in. Now for the challenge: the quantities of planned fruits and vegetables, as well as any substitute products, must be calculated in under ten minutes.
Modus Consult found a solution that would crunch the numbers in just two to three minutes. In addition, the new solution—an integrated master database accessed by 40 users—has enabled the Achleitner farm to respond quickly, avoid duplicate orders and save time.
Standardisation of master data for products and customers using Microsoft Dynamics NAV
Automatic calculation of required quantities for produce baskets, followed by multiple weighing and box preparation locations
Connection to financial accounting system and Austrian payment systems
Implementation of Bizerba WinCWS, a POS system specifically for food retailers, at the farm store
The Achleitner Organic Farm.
Ilse and Günter Achleitner have been growing organic produce in Unterschaden, Austria, for 25 years. They’ve run a farm store from the very beginning, providing a platform for their own products and other items as well. In 1998, they began offering organic produce boxes through a flexible subscription scheme. Today they have their own logistics team delivering fresh, organic fruits and vegetables to some 8,000 households and businesses each week. The company facilities in Eferding, built according to the passive-house standard, houses the produce-box business, an organic farm store and a restaurant. The Achleitners consider themselves as partners to both producers and end-consumers.
For many organic farms, in particular small-scale operations, the Achleitners’ produce boxes provide a vital outlet for selling their own products. Consumers, for their part, can enjoy a rainbow of organic fruits and vegetables year round.