To this day, Mike and Lisa Hinckley, founders of San Diego-based craft brewery Green Flash Brewing Co. take every measure they can to keep their beer-first philosophy at the heart of all they do. Established in 2002 as an independent craft brewery, the firm achieved great success with the launch of its WestCoast IPA. Soon after, the Hinckleys formulated a plan that involved expanding their product range and distribution network to help them take advantage of the growing taste for artisan beers in the United States. Although their existing manufacturing management system had worked well when just one product was being produced, it provided neither the flexibility nor the functionality to support the firm’s ambition.

Green Flash needed an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that could integrate the processes and information required to innovate product lines and increase sales, yet one that allowed the brewer to keep its point of differentiation — a beer first philosophy — alive. Having searched the market for options, and following a four-month migration process undertaken to support future expansion, Green Flash went live with the Plex Manufacturing Cloud in October 2013. The operation now has the capacity to brew as many as 100,000 barrels.

“The new system allows us to reconcile accounting information faster, and it automates our month-end compliance reports,” says Steve Goodger, chief financial officer for Green Flash.

In fact, because the Plex Manufacturing Cloud is totally integrated — all ERP modules can be activated on demand and features are automatically updated. Plex’s approach of a cloud ERP built from the ground up, rather than the top floor down, allows Green Flash to be a specialist brewer and not an IT-driven organization.

“With the Plex model, we were able to get significantly lower cost of ownership over a 10-year period,” Goodger says. “Plus, I don’t have to deal with the headache of having a big IT system in-house. It allows us to focus on what we do best, and gone are the mountains of spreadsheets. Plex has allowed us to be more process-oriented, which is going to let us scale our growth so much easier.”

Goodger adds that the company has plans for a brewery in Virginia Beach.

Quenching the thirst for self-improvement Plex Manufacturing Cloud also helped the management team make more informed decisions. Goodger recounts a situation in which the company became aware of what it thought might be a lower-cost alternative to one of its malt suppliers. When the team dug deeper, it discovered that the less-expensive option also was lower on yields, information that helped the team stick with its existing relationship. “We were able to see that our current provider was far more efficient,” Goodger says.

At the production level, Plex Manufacturing Cloud was having a transformational effect, too. For any manufacturer of craft products, quality is everything. “With our brewers going from whiteboard, pencil and paper to a structured platform, the risk of too much complexity could have jeopardized the entire implementation,” Goodger says. “Besides, we want our brewers focusing on what they do best — making great beer. What’s really great about Plex’s audit trail functionality is that it is right there, on every screen for everyone to access. While this capability is often used for ensuring internal controls, we primarily use it for on-the-spot troubleshooting.”

Benefits you can raise your glass to

With Plex Manufacturing Cloud in place, Green Flash was able to achieve its future growth plans while maintaining the founding values of the business.

The following are some of the benefits the craft brewer has found with this new system:

  • Rapid collaboration: Brewmasters can collaborate with finance on price points for new products. Sales teams who are out signing new distributors can simultaneously access customer service queries.
  • Increased employee productivity: Access to business data any time, any place has assisted productivity.
  • Improved shipping accuracy: Green Flash is able to make exactly what it needs and ships it on time and with 99.7 percent inventory accuracy.
  • Enhanced profitability: Inventory discrepancies are down from $155,000 to a known $647.
  • Deeper customer satisfaction: This allows Green Flash to keep its point of differentiation as a pure craft brewer. BI

 Plex Systems is the Manufacturing Cloud, delivering ERP and manufacturing automation to more than 400 companies across process and discrete industries. For more information, visit