Birdsong Peanuts / Nut.Net Peanut Buying Management System
Birdsong Peanuts (“Birdsong”) was founded in Virginia over 100 years ago, and today is one of the largest peanut buyers in the United States. Each year they buy billions of pounds of carefully selected peanuts directly from the farmers’ fields. They then clean, shell, size, and ship in truckload lots to manufacturers who turn them into many popular food items, from peanut butter to peanut M&M’s. If you eat products made from American peanuts, chances are you’ve consumed peanuts from Birdsong.
Birdsong Peanuts operates 6 large-scale shelling plants and over 85 buying points serving producers in all of the major peanut growing states from Virginia to New Mexico. Birdsong maintains warehouse storage for up to 2.4 billion pounds of Farmers Stock in the shell as well as cold storage facilities to keep up to 250 million pounds of shelled peanuts for their manufacturer customers.
Birdsong had been relying upon a legacy desktop-based application to manage and facilitate the peanut buying process. The legacy application required installation and configuration at each individual buying point and lacked a centralized database, requiring daily import/exports for data sharing. The technology stack was no longer in support due to age, so Birdsong management was interested in a new custom-developed replacement solution.
Marathon worked with the Birdsong team to define business requirements for the replacement system through an initial analysis and design project. Throughout the collaborative process, the Marathon team was able to understand the intricacies of the peanut buying business, and architect a new web-based application that provided all the functionality available in the legacy system as well as needed enhancements to further refine, streamline and automate Birdsong’s complex peanut buying and management processes.
During the design phase, our UX designer created two new brand logos for the Nut.Net and Producer Portal applications along with a clean and flexible user interface (UI) design that reflected the personality of the brand while supporting the functionality of the application.
The application solution Marathon developed was a web-based .NET Core custom application utilizing a SQL Server database to centrally store data. The web-based application allowed for easier deployments to the buying points, real time data access by buying point operators and management and improved processes utilizing technologies like Docusign to replace paper-based procedures.
- Real-Time Data - The new custom developed application offered numerous improvements over the legacy system. One of the biggest benefits was implementing a centralized SQL Server database to allow real time data availability and sharing among Birdsong’s 85 buying points and Corporate Headquarters. The new application interfaced with the company’s enterprise accounting system allowing management instant access to transaction data happening across the country.
- Fast Deployment & Low Maintenance - Birdsong’s legacy application was desktop-based, requiring the software to be installed/configured at each buying point. The implementation of a web-based replacement system allowed for quicker deployment of new features and patches as well as less maintenance required by IT staff at the individual buying points.
- Online Reporting - Marathon also implemented online reporting capabilities through Microsoft Reporting Services. These reports replaced paper-based processes allowing Birdsong to be more efficient. Docusign was also utilized for electronic signatures to further increase productivity.
- Digital Contract Management - With the legacy system, each contract had to be printed in multiple copies, and signed by all parties which could take a long time, and many miles of travel. The new system now automatically routes and tracks the contracts as they are signed and then sent back to the system using the DocuSign API providing a huge savings in time and cost as well as much improved accuracy.
Marathon was able to successfully build and implement into production the new procurement system before the start of the harvest season. As a result, Birdsong was able to leverage the new application to create contracts with producers and facilitate the purchase of over a billion pounds of peanuts during the application’s maiden buying season.