Netting new efficiencies in the tuna supply chain

Grupo Pinsa integrates and automates its businesses with IBM Cloud Paks
by Kristin Fern Johnson
5-minute read
Tuna catch on boat

Grupo Pinsa may not be a household name, but you’ll find its brands and products all over the world: from cans of sardines on Mexico’s supermarket shelves to full-size tunas in Japan’s sushi restaurants to fishmeal in US cattle feedlots.

The forty-year-old holding company is made up of several other companies that collectively cover the entire supply chain for the tuna, sardine and fishmeal industries — including fish capture, storage, processing, distribution and sales. The company has production facilities that house more than 13 production lines, a fleet of 23 tuna and 14 sardine fishing vessels, and two additional manufacturing and production facility locations.

Most of Grupo Pinsa’s companies are interdependent, often selling to or buying from each other as product moves across the supply chain. The volume of interactions between people, systems and applications, both internally and with partners and customers, can be mind-boggling. Today, the company is using the IBM Cloud Pak® for Integration and IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation solutions to manage those integrations and to standardize and automate processes companywide.

The move toward IBM Cloud Paks started in 2018, when the company reached a potential bottleneck in its quest for optimal growth. At the time, 40% – 50% of integrations between applications were point-to-point — each connection had to be individually coded and managed. What’s more, the company often lacked common standards for operational processes across similar functions within its internal departments and companies.

Morning catch of tuna in net

IBM Cloud Pak for Integration is already managing

60%

of the group’s application integrations

The time to reconcile accounts receivable has been reduced from 32 hours to

30

minutes

Approximately 60% of the company’s integrations are now done through IBM Cloud Paks … It’s difficult to separate automation from integration — it’s all part of one big automation framework.
Orlando Martinez
Director of Information Technology, Grupo Pinsa

As a result, information was isolated in organizational and functional silos and difficult, if not impossible, to integrate, organize and analyze across groups. This disconnection created a lack of visibility into such things as production performance, supply and demand levels, and administrative procedures.

Business processes were often manual, paper-based and labor-intensive. Cycle times could be long, sometimes requiring multiple physical signatures. Customers often experienced lengthy wait times, and compliance issues could take considerable time and effort to resolve.

Grupo Pinsa needed a more efficient IT application architecture that enabled multiple complex systems to communicate with each other seamlessly and that could standardize and optimize processes across its brands and companies.

Canned tuna on conveyor belt
Sardines packed in can
We are starting to see the need to apply machine learning and AI to our analytics for improving business processes — to go beyond prescriptive analytics toward more of an AI-powered analytics model.
Orlando Martinez
Director of Information Technology, Grupo Pinsa
An integrated, automated infrastructure
We are starting to see the need to apply machine learning and AI to our analytics for improving business processes — to go beyond prescriptive analytics toward more of an AI-powered analytics model.
Orlando Martinez
Director of Information Technology, Grupo Pinsa

Grupo Pinsa worked with IBM Business Partner Emergys to design and implement a new application architecture using IBM Cloud Pak for Integration and IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation technologies, which are optimized for deployment Red Hat® OpenShift® on any cloud or IT environment.

The IBM solution beat out its competitors due to its flexibility for continuous growth, the interoperability of IBM Cloud Pak capabilities and its ability to operate in a multicloud environment. The solution also enabled the company to develop a set of reusable services with which to automate integrations between applications, and to eliminate redundant processes across its businesses.

Grupo Pinsa first implemented the application integration capabilities of IBM Cloud Pak for Integration to connect its internal and external applications to each other and to the company’s internal systems — especially to its ERP system, which is housed both on premises and in the cloud. The company subsequently tapped into additional capabilities from the IBM Cloud Pak, including:

  • API management to expose and manage APIs for shared services with internal and external stakeholders, such as inventory or ordering services for supermarkets, which make up 60% of Grupo Pinsa’s customers.
  • API gateway management to secure and control access to those API transactions.
  • Message queueing to securely send messages between systems — for instance, transmitting data from sensors in fishing vessel storage tanks to the onshore ERP system to monitor and ensure the fish are always kept at safe temperatures.
  • To fulfill its process automation vision, the company implemented the process mapping capability of IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation to model business processes and the workflow capability to optimize the flow of processes and information. The value of using robotics to automate manual aspects of processes — such as extracting accounts payable information from the cloud to reconcile customer accounts or registering transactions from legacy systems into the ERP system when APIs or web services were unavailable — quickly became apparent. To that end, the company took advantage of robotic process automation capabilities.

    Convincing employees to put in the time and effort to adopt the new technologies was initially a challenge. But Orlando Martinez, Director of Information Technology at Grupo Pinsa, was focused on the long-term benefits of boosting efficiency.

    When it came to process automation, the potential for improvement was clear. “Around 80% of process design is common across our different functions and companies,” he says. “We started with a pilot project in one company based on that company’s specific business rules. We then applied the base process design to our other companies, using flexible business rules to address each company’s unique characteristics.”

    Emergys worked closely with the Grupo Pinsa team throughout, training the company’s IT staff along the way. Within four months of the initial implementation, Grupo Pinsa was able to do its own integrations and automations completely independently.

    Cross-company integration and automation

    To date, Grupo Pinsa has made excellent progress with its integration and automation initiatives, resulting in faster response times to customer requests, lowered costs and greater IT efficiency. Within the accounts receivable area alone, the company’s automation and optimization initiatives have resulted in a 30% increase in timely account collections, a reduction in time to reconcile accounts from 32 hours to 30 minutes, an increase in monitoring frequency from weekly to daily based on process scheduling and a 40% reduction in errors and the time required to fix them.

    According to Martinez: “Approximately 60% of the company’s integrations are now done through IBM Cloud Paks — whether it’s integrating one application with another with IBM Cloud Pak for Integration or as part of an end-to-end process managed by IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation. It’s difficult to separate automation from integration — it’s all part of one big automation framework.”

    At the same time, Martinez sees a lot of work yet to be done. Across the supply chain, there are areas of the company in which processes haven’t been automated. The team has developed a pipeline of automations to cover some of these areas, with the ultimate goal of developing a full perspective of the journey of a tuna lot — from capture through processing through sale.

    Future explorations include the possible use of blockchain to help improve visibility into business performance and to enable business intelligence dashboards. Martinez also sees the potential for incorporating AI. “We are starting to see the need to apply machine learning and AI to our analytics for improving business processes — to go beyond prescriptive analytics toward more of an AI-powered analytics model,” he concludes.

    Grupo Pinsa logo
    About Grupo Pinsa

    Founded in 1980, Grupo PinsaExternal Link is a leading tuna and sardine production company in Latin America, with businesses that vertically span the supply chain: from fishing to production to commercialization. With headquarters in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico, the company has a processing plant with 13 production lines, and a fleet of 23 tuna and 13 sardine fishing vessels. The company has approximately 6,000 employees across its businesses and customers throughout the world.

    About Emergys Mexico

    Founded in 1980, Emergys MexicoExternal Link, a subsidiary of IBM Business Partner Emergys LLC, was founded more than 18 years ago. Headquartered in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, the company delivers IT technology and consulting services for a host of solutions from major technology providers, including robust business process automation and application integration solutions, among others.

    Solution components
    Grupo Pinsa logo
    About Grupo Pinsa

    Founded in 1980, Grupo PinsaExternal Link is a leading tuna and sardine production company in Latin America, with businesses that vertically span the supply chain: from fishing to production to commercialization. With headquarters in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico, the company has a processing plant with 13 production lines, and a fleet of 23 tuna and 13 sardine fishing vessels. The company has approximately 6,000 employees across its businesses and customers throughout the world.

    About Emergys Mexico

    Founded in 1980, Emergys MexicoExternal Link, a subsidiary of IBM Business Partner Emergys LLC, was founded more than 18 years ago. Headquartered in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, the company delivers IT technology and consulting services for a host of solutions from major technology providers, including robust business process automation and application integration solutions, among others.

    Solution components