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Sistema means “system” in Italian and also signifies the company’s systematic approach to manufacturing, which has helped the New Zealand business take on the world.

Sistema Plastics is a leading manufacturer of food storage containers. It was established in 1982, employs 600 people, and sells products in 82 countries.

Sistema’s success is two-fold. The company makes an innovative product that people want to buy repeatedly. It’s also obsessed with innovatively making products to help ensure ongoing global competitiveness. 

In 2017, Newell Brands purchased Sistema to facilitate its international expansion in the food storage category. Newell also owns household brands such as Coleman®, Rubbermaid®, Sunbeam®, Sharpie®, and many more.

Automation was Always Part of the Vision

Sistema’s leaders recognized during the early establishment of the business that they needed to be efficient and technically savvy. “The founders had great foresight. They knew they had to monitor the machinery, the importance of small part counts, and to be always aware of how close they were to the goal of a particular order,” explained Greg Heeley, Chief Technology Officer at Sistema Plastics.

Growth is now 20% year on year, and weʼve increased our OEE to 85% with a goal of increasing that to 90% in the next year

Sistema deployed Epicor Advanced MES about ten years ago to monitor all the elements that go into making its storage products. The company then added Epicor Kinetic software in Q4 2015 to further track the actual cost of producing and shipping different products.

Customized ERP

Sistema has added customizations to the Epicor Kinetic solution which include linking the ERP solution to the fully automated storage system it has in its state-of-the-art Auckland manufacturing facility.

“We incorporate everything into the ERP—we load the SKUs and track the product as it moves from storage, through Dexion racking, when it’s wrapped, put on the pallet, and arrives at the store. We handle all the customer shipments and work-in-progress tracking through the ERP.”

“We run a heavily customized version of Epicor Kinetic because we want to save every little bit of time we can and try and speed things up on the shop floor—reduce handling as much as possible,” said Heeley.

Data Analytics

In early 2018, Sistema decided to add Epicor Data Analytics (EDA) powered by Phocas. Sistema uses EDA to measure production metrics and find efficiency improvements. The data analytics solution also helps with inventory management.

“As a global business, EDA makes life a lot easier for us. We didn’t have to provide internal resources to build out our own BI solution for the business—either from the point of view of hardware, or software, or security. We don’t have to worry about the ingress into the system and to have to get that data. EDA has done it for us,” mentioned Heely.

Productivity Up, Costs Down

Content packs are the special ingredient that makes the integration of data into EDA so simple. Content packs are the sets of data that are automatically supplied as part of the package of EDA.

In Sistema’s case, the data in the content packs comes from the Epicor Kinetic and the Epicor Advanced MES systems and includes sales, production, supply chain, and inventory data which have built-in databases (currently Sistema has 86 different set-ups), dashboards (visualizations of all key metrics), and stock on hand, performance to forecast, actual time run vs planned runtime and many more. The majority of the structure required to carry out the analysis is ready to go, so Sistema can concentrate on customizing the small portion of the data to fit their specific business needs such as adding payroll information into the mix.

The data from the content packs syncs into the EDA cloud each day and provides the business with insights into operations—from manufacturing, through warehousing, to dispatch.

Epicor Helps Sistema be Proactive

The Epicor numbers and analysis are used to run Sistema’s daily production meetings. In these, the team discusses what went well and what didn’t during the previous day.

Production performance on the shop floor is measured, and Epicor helps Sistema keep an eye on operating efficiencies. Epicor also helps the production team oversee the problems.

Previously, the production team was aware of the machine downtime hours and where they took place, but now they know the reason for the downtime.

As a global business, EDA makes life a lot easier for us. We didn’t have to provide internal resources to build out our own BI solution for the business—either from the point of view of hardware, or software, or security.

This is because EDA has helped them link more information to the production numbers such as payroll expenses and the size of crews rostered on each day.

“EDA has allowed us to link staffing levels to productivity and machine running time. Previously, we knew ten machines weren’t running. That’s it. This did not explain the ‘why’ in the story. The real reason that machines were down is that we didn’t have enough staff on that day to attend to them. The payroll data has provided another layer of supplementary information. Epicor allows us to do systematic, proactive analysis rather than be reactionary so there is some balance around our analysis,” explained Heeley.

Efficient stock management is essential to Sistema’s commercial success, and the business measures stock on a week-by-week basis. It follows an inventory min/miscalculation methodology and maintains safety stock levels as an essential part of keeping suppliers happy.

EDA also helps Sistema analyze performance forecast from the shipping of products perspective. To date, the team is establishing measures from the current baseline data to drive ongoing efficiencies and encourage accountability to meet targets.

“Adding business intelligence is all part of Sistema’s continual improvement process. There is a finite point where we can’t make a plastic container any faster. We are using EDA to find efficiencies elsewhere such as increasing the speed of our back-end databases and to enforce greater data control,” added Heeley.

Sistema finds EDA simple to use, and the team creates dashboards easily at both an operational and executive level. Sistema does have a data analyst on-site, which makes any changes to the data requirements easy.

Differentiate From the Competition

Automation of production using Epicor Advanced MES has helped Sistema stay price competitive, and it has improved its ability to address customer requests. The business has a high SKU count because they create products especially for specific customers.

“If we do have a standard offering and customers want a different offering, we do listen to them, and we try and be accommodating to our customers and create something just for them. We can do that because the systems and reporting through our Epicor solutions help accurately forecast the time and cost to produce these new lines, “said Heeley.

What's Next?

Sistema is at the cusp of using machine learning for analytics. The company is testing sensors in its production machines to help monitor the machine behavior and moving from preventative to proactive action is getting closer.

“We service machines every three to six months to help ensure they are safe and working efficiently, but we want to get to the point that the data tells us when to do it—that’s the next step. Then, obviously, there’s the stage afterward that is telling you when—the predictive element. When is the machine going to break down? The tipping point will be finding new wins from the downtimes,” concluded Heely.

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  • Location: Auckland, New Zealand
  • Specialist Industry: Plastics and Rubber Manufacturing
  • Website:


  • Consolidating ERP/MRP and numerous other data sources for analysis.
  • Enhancing production metrics to uncover production and supply chain inefficiencies.


  • Automated data and reporting throughout the business.
  • Provided a systematic, proactive method of data analysis.
  • Dashboards are easily created inhouse for operations and executives.
  • Growth is 20% year on year, and Sistema have increased OEE to 85% with a goal of increasing that to 90% in the next year.

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