Blending & Processing in Agiblocks: Streamlining entire operations

As a developer of an established flagship CTRM solution, we tend to focus on the CT and RM parts of the product. That is to say, the very foundation of our software is built on Commodity Trade and Risk Management, offering a product that supports trading management as well as financial management from the same source of data and within the same easily accessible application. However, as our mission is – and always has been – to not just provide the next generation of CTRM systems, Agiblocks continually strives to deliver cutting-edge solutions that confidently meet the dynamic and evolving business and technical needs of our clients. Our dedication to constant improvement ensures that our products are always under construction, setting new standards in the industry.

As we’ve proven in 2023 by introducing the latest version of our software, we’re always looking ahead. Even with Agiblocks 4.0, the culmination of our vision for the full the potential of our CTRM software, we’re still not done. Next up: tackling whatever it is that you need to streamline your blending & processing workflow too. Blending is a cost-effective way to process and match your deliverables to different buyers’ specifications.

CTRM systems as go-to solution

At any given point, all commodity trading professionals run up against the limitations of the mediocre software that was supposed to support them. As much as 80 percent of all CTRM system implementations fail and even in cases that succeed, traders feel huge pressure to fit their processes into the possibilities offered by the software. Studies show it’s not so much due to the product, but rather to the implementation – adopting a new system.

At Agiboo, we believe that the success of a CTRM system depends on an effective implementation too. Therefore, we’ve made it our mission to not only provide a best-in-class software solution, but an appropriate support system for accessible, successful implementation as well. It’s a huge part of what made Agiblocks what it is today – a CTRM solution with an impressive 93 percent implementation success rate thanks to the connectivity, scale and functionality of our commodity-specific solution.

Key to that success? At Agiboo, we love to collaborate with new partners. Just last year, we’ve reached out to Loqsea (to add real-time risk management to Agiblocks), teamed up with Quatro Solutions (to streamline implementation of Agiblocks and tackle the queues for our CTRM software solution), and of course partnered up with Afrisoft Africa, a division of TransLution Software to implement Agiblocks in southern Africa. Next up is an interesting partnership with Big Wave BI, which we’ll dive into in our very next Agiboo update.

But we love to work together with clients too.

Blending & Processing

Of course, proper onboarding is an important part of successful implementation. For a client in nuts and spices, we’ve decided to go a step further: to collaborate on introducing Blending and Processing within the Agiblocks dashboard. As is usually the case, that results in down-the-line benefits for our other users as well. We’re now looking to add blending and processing in our CTRM solution as a standard – albeit optional – feature of the Agiblocks dashboard. Even in 2024, it is very unlikely that you’ll find it in a CTRM solution (an ERP might have manufacturing and similar components, but we much prefer a CTRM –and here’s why). Until now. Because we just love to keep adding USP’s to our software solution.

Blending & Processing, much like Manufacturing, is basically a very specific set of components needed to deal with the daily steps of operations – both in terms of logistics and planning, but on the production side as well. That includes real-time access to inventory tracking and yield management, for instance – but also scheduling, work-in-progress, material management and execution. Blending is an important part of many commodity trading operations, from grains and oils to metals. It allows you to mix and match in- and output from various regions and indeed varying quality and still produce an outcome that meets the demands of the trader, buyer or consumer.

It’s easy to think of commodities as end-products. Whether they are agriculturally grown, mined or even drilled for, they could simply enter the logistics of the supply chain all the way to the consumer and that’s it. In the real world, it’s a bit less straightforward. Sure, there are primary commodities – natural goods that are produced/extracted directly from the natural resource point. But by and large, secondary commodities – goods manufactured from primary commodities to cater to specific markets – are where it gets more complicated.

hand-in-grain

Commodity Complexity

Cocoa beans, for example, are planted – step 1. The fruits or pods of a cocoa tree have a unique characteristic as they grow directly from the trunk or large branches of the tree in comparison to most fruits, which grow at the end of branches. Production of these fruits is a highly labor-intensive process: the entire cycle is performed by hand and the majority of farms are family-owned businesses. Worldwide production is almost exclusively performed on small farms, no bigger than 12 acres.

After harvesting, the beans are cut open and the beans and pulp are separated from the waste and laid out onto grates for several days, to undergo a process called ‘sweating’, which enables the pulp to liquefy through fermentation. The fermentation is critical to the quality of the cocoa beans, as this chemical process alters the eventual flavor of the beans.

The next step is the drying of the beans. This is commonly performed by placing the beans on a bamboo mat and letting the sun dry them for several days. During the drying process, the beans are shuffled multiple times to enhance the drying process and quality of the beans. When the beans are completely dried, only then will they be ready for transport. Of course, we’re still nowhere near the consumer at this point.

The most common destinations for the beans are the United States, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, as they are major producers of chocolate. The most common use after all is to produce chocolate. The beans are grounded into powder and the oil is extracted and is converted into cocoa butter. These two products can be mixed with a number of ingredients: milk, sugar, flour and eggs in order to create chocolate bars, cakes, chocolate milk and numerous types of sweets and candy. However, cocoa can be used in a number of other products besides food. Cocoa butter is very useful in the production of pharmaceuticals. Its unique character where the butter remains solid at room temperature and melts at body temperature, makes it ideal for this purpose.

coffee-and-beans

To make a long story short, there is a lot going on. Blending and processing – making sure any physical commodity matches customer specifications – is just one part of all that. Which is way it is very convenient to have the tools for it in the same place as all your other tools.

Another example, this time a quick one, is blending in the coffee world. There are a lot of processes and options involved in going from coffee plants to your favorite beverage to start the day with. Blending, pressing, grinding, burning, drying, breaking – to name just a few. In fact, it’s all but customary to mix and match along the way; coffees of various origins are usually blended in different proportions to find and enhance all those varying taste characteristics. CTRM solutions for cocoa and coffee – or any of the many other commodities Agiblocks caters to – need to handle the general complexities of that particular commodity while providing features such as usability, performance and integration.

Moreover, there are quite a number of specific aspects to it that not every CTRM solution will be able to handle with ease, or even at all. Agiblocks does, of course – it’s why cocoa and coffee are two of our specialties. But as we’re showing here with the latest additions to our scope, we’ll keep looking for the next step, keep finding new ways to tackle the complexities of our industry. It’s all part of the promise of our ongoing mission to simplify and streamline the daily practices of commodity trade professionals.

Would you like to know more? Request a free demo! 

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