Supermarket chain Safeway is to invest in a web-based system for the development of new products that could cut launch times by up to 40 per cent.
The first phase of the hosted web package is due to go live in October and will replace an archaic and time consuming diskette system.
George Uden, head of the product technology group at Safeway, would not reveal the cost of the system from Ramesys, but insisted that it will streamline the development process.
"The diskette-based system was [slow] and the old structure [made it] difficult to search the database," he said.
"It will now be a quicker and more efficient system and will improve the accuracy of the data and provide better information to suppliers. These things are hard to cost."
For the first phase of the project over 1,500 suppliers of raw materials and packaging, and 40 Safeway technicians, will use the system for the development of around 10,000 private label products.
Previously, when a product was approved the supplier wrote a specification on a disk and sent it to the Safeway technicians. This was sent back and forth until it was finalised and put on a central mainframe.
Suppliers and technicians will now have secure access to a private website and will be able to create the product information and specification online. This can then be imported into a centrally managed and hosted database.
"It will speed up the approval of specifications and speed up the launch of a product," said Uden.
The timing of the second phase, which will extend the online system to the rest of the product development process, has yet to be decided.
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