The ROI was immediate, from the deployment of the first project. We can now concentrate on future strategic projects. Talend has opened up many development opportunities for us. Due to the wealth of its connectors and its features, we never feel limited.Yann Pilpré, Head of Information Systems at ALPM Group
Lœul & Piriot is an agricultural product and food company specializing in the processing of rabbit meat, whose roots trace back to the early 20th century. The company, headquartered in Thouars in the department of Deux Sèvres, operates in France and Europe and distributes 300 tons of rabbit meat per week. In 2011 it earned a revenue of 117 million euros and it has nearly 500 employees.
Lœul & Piriot is part of the ALPM Group, created in 2012 after the merger between Lœul & Piriot and the company Multilap. The group employs 650 people across 6 sites in France. After the purchase of Bretagne Lapins on January 1, 2013 and the merger with the Terrena cooperative, the group further reinforced its position in the European market as ALPM was already a leader in France.
Innovation to preserve business dynamics
Despite general meat consumption being on the decline in Europe, rabbit meat remains firmly anchored in French culinary tradition in addition to southern Europe (Spain, Italy), and is beginning to grow in popularity in some northern and eastern European countries, mostly due to its nutritional qualities.
Following the example of numerous exporting companies, Lœul & Piriot strives to make innovations to preserve this dynamic and make its business sustainable, in addition to that of its industry. This innovation is simultaneously focused on the creation of new products and new recipes (the company diversified, for example, by distributing goat meat), R&D (taking into consideration the evolution of practices within the sector: breeding methods and animal well-being) and traceability throughout the entire industry.
That being said, the IT Department of Lœul & Piriot deployed two specialized ERPs. The first – VIF – is the reference ERP for the food industry, enabling the directing of commercial management and the management of production flows, from the moment when orders are received to their preparation, logistics and delivery. The second – Kerhis – is an application that facilitates upstream management: purchasing of live animals and supplies.
“We were seeking to create bridges between these two applications, and ultimately facilitate the integration of other business applications in our information system. For example, we developed an in-house industrial application for the management of barcode readers or food inkjet printers, which is fed by data coming from the VIF ERP,” explains Yann Pilpré, Head of Information Systems at ALPM Group. “Taking into consideration our rate of growth, which has significant implications in the development of our information system, we did not want to develop point-to-point integration, which would prove difficult to maintain in the long run. The goal was to avoid the development of new specific interfaces as much as possible, while preserving the accelerated development times to respond to business requests.”
For this reason, Lœul & Piriot tested different ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) solutions, including Talend ESB and Sonic ESB by Progress Software.
“Given that VIF is based on Java technologies and Kerhis on the .NET platform, we were looking for a solution that would not require advanced development skills, our IT team operates more like an integrator than a developer,” continues Yann Pilpré. “We finally chose Talend because it did not only offer excellent performance, but more importantly, it is easy to use and deploy in order to meet our needs. Furthermore, it is the most comprehensive solution that we tested, particularly in terms of overseeing integration flows and functional wealth. With version 5 of Talend ESB, the aspects related to flow development were very clear due to a simplified and seamlessly ergonomic user interface.”
Talend ESB: flexibility, cost control and interoperability
While the application integration projects are now all completed via Talend ESB, the data integration flows are in the process of being migrated to the Talend solution. In fact, Lœul & Piriot feels that Talend’s open source solutions offer the flexibility, scalability and responsiveness necessary to manage all the integration projects. “Our IT team has a historical open source culture. This method of software distribution allows us to easily test a solution over a long period of time by downloading the community version free of charge – the only cost lies in investing in personnel to learn how to use to the tool – as we have done with Talend. After having tested it in different situations, we chose the enterprise version in order to enjoy the shared repository (which facilitates distributed development) and the ESB service performance supervision features,” adds Yann Pilpré.
Today, three members of the IT department use Talend ESB on a daily basis. “We created Data Services at the front end of our ERP. For example, to free ourselves from the proprietary format of ERP data, we developed a Web Service permitting the translation of said data into csv format,” explains Yann Pilpré. “Meanwhile, for the barcode scanners, Talend ESB translates the frame of the scanner in a canonical format via another Web Service which then feeds the inventory management application. In short, we use two main Talend modes: mediation and service, all through an Apache Karaf server that operates 24/7.”
The IT team also developed, in the same integration bus, a system for collecting the information originating from the ERP allowing one to pre-configure the applications that use this data. In order to manage all the upstream business activities, the Kerhis ERP directly dialogues with the ERPs of the producers. When the latter are not equipped, Talend ESB exposes services that translate exchange flows into the most suitable format.
“These exchanges are particularly useful for ensuring the traceability of products. In the event of a health crisis, we are able to easily track down the lots concerned in order to quickly determine the livestock at the source of the problem,” adds Yann Pilpré. “The information is transmitted to veterinary services and ultimately this operation will be automated and completed in real-time.”
Responsiveness, cost optimization, scalability of the information system and precise management
According to Yann Pilpré, the automation of interapplication exchanges now enables Lœul & Piriot to improve the company’s responsiveness and therefore sell more and better products. The Talend solution – based on technology standards – avoids relying on a proprietary vendor, both for solution developments and needs for specific developments (which remain much more accessible thanks to Talend). Finally, Talend ESB helps Lœul & Piriot optimize costs by freeing it from the point-to-point approach which is particularly costly over time.
“The stabilization of our information system is an important strategic aspect, ensuring our technological independence. Alleviating dependence on vendors is a way to guarantee scalability,” confirms Yann Pilpré. “Likewise, thanks to Talend, we have built our interapplication exchanges via precise standards, which allow us to perfect both in house and external dialogue.”
One of the main benefits highlighted by Lœul & Piriot lies in the significant productivity gains obtained in the availability of the interfaces, “The gains in productivity are stunning – practically double – where we once needed 2 development days in the past, only one day is now necessary. That being said, we are currently focusing on business projects, which is where a large portion of the added value provided by the IT department lies,” comments Yann Pilpré. “In the end, we quantified this gain to 5 man-days per week, with Talend ESB allowing us to break away from manual data entry processes. This is without even mentioning the gains in consistency: the error rate plummeted from 70% to less than 1% with the barcode readers. Our management particularly appreciates having accurate figures now, in real-time (for example, the inventory reports). Ultimately, we benefit from more precise and efficient management.”
“All these gains directly translate into increased profitability. The ROI was immediate, from the deployment of the first project,” concludes Yann Pilpré. “We can now concentrate on future strategic projects, like the availability of commercial management data on mobile phones, for example, or the dissemination of information to consumers (quality). Talend has opened up many development opportunities for us. Due to the wealth of its connectors and its features, we never feel limited.”