Improving Operations

Earlier this year, I had an opportunity to visit La Huerta, an organic produce farm in Aguascalientes, Mexico. The family-run company is one of the largest frozen vegetable exporters to the United States, and counts Wal-Mart, Costco and Gerber among its customers. La Huerta, which means "the farm" in Spanish, built the first rack-supported automated freezer warehouse in Mexico a couple of years ago.

In this issue's cover story, "Always Fresh and Natural" [page 32], we take a look at La Huerta's operations and how the automated freezer has enabled the company to save more than $800,000 a year by reducing storage costs and manpower.

Also in this issue, we focus on transportation—with fuel prices skyrocketing, this topic continues to be of great concern to everybody. We report on the Grocery Manufacturers Association's 2005 Logistics Survey, which found that fuel costs, hours of service regulations and driver shortages are taking a toll on food and consumer goods manufacturers. Find out how industry leaders are tackling these issues in the story [page 22].

In our annual Fleet Manager's Handbook [page 18], industry experts offer tips to help reduce costs and improve operating efficiency.

In "Warehouse Hangover Helper" [page 28], we look at how alcohol beverage distributors are improving their operations with warehouse management systems (WMS). These companies are using WMS to improve picking and put-away efficiency and inventory accuracy, as well as better manage unsaleables and meet their retail customer demands.

Each of these stories offers insight into how you can improve your operations. Hopefully, you will get an idea or two that you can put into action—after you get back from summer vacation.