In the fast moving world of food and beverage warehouses, reducing spoilage and improving order and shipment accuracy is essential for business. Utilizing the latest warehouse management systems (WMS) can assist warehouse managers towards that goal.
Recent government regulations coupled with the need to manage and increase warehouse velocity and throughput is driving food and beverage companies to implement and upgrade warehouse management systems.
Earlier this year, the FDA rolled out the Preventative Controls rule, part of the larger Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) legislation. The proposed regulation will affect food facilities that manufacture, process, pack and/or hold food products. Additionally, a food facility will be required to have a written food safety plan that monitors and prevents food contamination issues. Product traceability and responsiveness to product recalls are also big drivers to using WMS.
Growing companies are also attracted to the benefits of WMS. According to Chad Collins, chief marketing officer and SVP of Colorado Springs, Colorado-based Accellos, emerging niche food companies that are experiencing rapid growth are often hindered by their manual or paper-based processes.
WMS not only alleviates this challenge, but also provides many other advantages for food and beverage companies.
The top 6 benefits
Keeping the various driving factors in mind, along with the rising demands of the fast paced food and beverage industry, there are various gains associated with implementing software solutions such as warehouse management systems.
Below are the top six ways WMS can improve operations:
1. Traceability: Food and beverage customers are looking for ways to keep track of the freshness of their products from a food safety perspective and an efficiency perspective. Warehouse management systems give food and beverage managers a closer look into their products and help them determine what shipments need to ship first due to time constraints.
“Traceability has been a big initiative for a lot of food distributors because of the obvious perishability of the products and the management of expiration dates,” says Rik Schrader, EVP of sales for Plano, Texas-based Retalix. “The ability to be very proactive in terms of making decisions as well as making sure that mistakes are not repeatable, it’s really important to these type of operations.”
Additionally, in the event of a recall, a company can effectively locate and assess what products are potentially contaminated and where they were sent.
2. Accuracy and Visibility: Warehouse management systems offer better visibility into the warehouse along with a boost in order and shipment accuracy. Through a centralized software system, managers are able to view the movement of their inventory and ascertain the accuracy of the shipments.
3. Increased Throughput With Integration: Integration with other software solutions and automation systems helps boost throughput in the warehouse.
“What we’re seen in both food and beverage is they’re very focused on speed,” says Eric Lamphier, senior director of product management, for Atlanta, Georgia-based Manhattan Associates. “You’ll go into a very high-end fresh operation and they’re moving fresh fruits and vegetables and other fresh products through that facility in just a couple of hours.” WMS provides optimized functionality to handle high levels of complexity and volume throughput.
4. Improved Labor Productivity: Warehouse management systems can also leverage the power of labor management solutions. These solutions can track warehouse workers’ day-to-day activities, including the work they complete.
“We can understand what their expected time is for what they’re asked to do [versus] the actual time,” says Lamphier. “Then we can compare them and rate them based on their work for the day and have a really nice understanding of how the workforce is performing. You have associates that will hustle and really make some incremental pay based on working harder against the standards that have been outlined.”