How WMS Can Enable Food and Beverage Companies’ Growth Strategy
Published on 15 February 2022
Successful growth strategies require technology-enabled innovation. Food and Beverage Companies can look at various technologies to automate operations, improve efficiencies, and scale more efficiently throughout the entire supply chain. A WMS is one technology that can help businesses in the food industry transform their warehouse or plant operations to scale for growth.
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A good WMS will provide real-time inventory visibility and create new efficiencies within inbound, warehousing, manufacturing, and outbound processes. SOLOCHAIN WMS combines warehouse management and manufacturing execution system capabilities to deliver a flexible platform with features and capabilities to enable efficiencies and support operational excellence.
Inbound Processes – Improve Receiving, Quality Assurance and Put-Away of Inventory
The goal of a WMS is to reduce the number of steps in a process and the touches or movements of inventory. During inbound processes, the WMS optimizes inventory receiving.
- WMS enables cross-docking by receiving, creating the picks, and staging the inventory to ship out within a cross-dock zone without putting the inventory into overstock or pick locations within the warehouse. Cross-docking can help move products more quickly based on sales orders and reduce overall handling and movement of inventory.
- Put-away logic in the WMS can help workers put inventory in the best or right location when it enters the warehouse. This is important for frozen and refrigerated foods to ensure they are in the optimal location. Likewise, put-away logic can bring additional efficiencies if it makes sense from a logistics standpoint to allow forward pick locations to be topped up during the receiving process while still respecting FIFO/FEFO rotation. Put-away logic will help optimize the picking process and improve inventory turnover.
- Food and Beverage companies often experience seasonal fluctuations in inventory reception. An example of this is YCH, a large hop supplier to breweries and individual beer brewers. YCH’s facility in Belgium receives most of their annual hops harvest in an only a few weeks of time, making a WMS an important system to optimize inventory reception and put-away.
Warehouse Processes – Improve Inventory Control, Accuracy, and Movement of Inventory
Our WMS can improve inventory control and accuracy within warehouse processes and make inventory movement more efficient and productive.
- Cycle counting within SOLOCHAIN WMS allows for inventory control and accuracy. Inaccurate inventory is one significant way businesses lose revenue. A strong cycle counting process gives a warehouse an ongoing measurement of inventory accuracy while reducing stock shrinkage and shutdowns and the ability to identify out-of-sync inventory or mistakes more quickly.
- Warehouse movements are managed in the WMS. These can include put-away moves, replenishments, pre-emptive replenishments, manual moves, and picking. To improve operational efficiency within the warehouse, task interleaving can reduce deadheading and maximize travel time. For example, a forklift operator will complete the next closest task based on their location in the warehouse – it could be a pick, a cycle count, a replenishment, etc.
In the food and beverage industry, inventory often includes perishable items as well as those having a defined shelf life making accurate cycle counts and inventory control a must.
Manufacturing Execution Functionality – Support Kitting, Multi-Stage Manufacturing, and Recall Reporting
Unlike many WMS, SOLOCHAIN WMS has MES functionality built into the platform to give businesses real-time visibility and traceability throughout the supply chain.
- Kitting or multi-stage manufacturing processes can be managed with the WMS to produce finished products. The warehouse becomes connected with the production floor to ensure a consistent material flow.
- Traceability and recall reporting is made possible by WMS. Throughout assembling or producing a finished product, detailed information about each material used is tracked, including lot numbers. As a result, manufacturers can trace forwards and backward. For example, if there was an issue with a single ingredient, the manufacturer can trace all finished products where it was used. Alternatively, if there was an issue with a finished product, the manufacturer can also identify all raw materials used to produce the good. Real-time traceability allows for recall reporting in instances where there are product issues. Companies like Cameron’s Coffee say that this functionality would allow for a quick and efficient recall process, had there been issues with a product. This would also mean cost savings as only the relevant batches would be discarded. This functionality is ideal for industries with traceability regulations in the food and beverage industry.
Outbound Processes – Manage Order Types, Fulfill Efficiently, and Meet Customer Compliance Requirements
As customer buying behaviors have shifted significantly, businesses strive to enable new channels to support customer needs, such as eCommerce and omnichannel experiences. How efficiently outbound logistic processes operate is critical to success. Outbound processes managed within the WMS are flexible and highly configurable.
- Multiple order types are managed within this WMS, and the solution looks to optimize the picking process for the specific order type. A warehouse can fulfill orders for direct eCommerce, omnichannel, and traditional wholesale more efficiently as WMS will direct the pick from the most efficient location. For example, if a large pallet quantity is in the order, the WMS may suggest picking the oldest pallets from bulk overstock rather than from forward pick locations. Likewise, customer compliance requirements can be generated through our WMS.
- From a shipping perspective, SOLOCHAIN WMS can be integrated with a TMS. If the WMS is integrated with the TMS. the platform can further optimize the picking process. For example, SOLOCHAIN WMS can wait for enough case quantities to create a picklist that will pull a full pallet shipped out by UPS. The UPS shipping labels are printed and applied in sequence during the pick creation as the worker picks the product. With a whole pallet of product, the worker can move and load it onto the UPS trailer versus taking it to a packing station.
The core capabilities of SOLOCHAIN WMS optimize processes – inbound, outbound, manufacturing, warehousing – and accurately capture data and use it to enable new efficiencies. In the Food & Beverage industry, companies can take advantage of how process optimizations support the food-specific management, storage, and preservation of inventory, as well as detailed traceability and accuracy of lot numbers, expiry dates, and more. To learn more about the features and capabilities of WMS, download the Gartner Magic Quadrant for WMS Report today.
About Generix Group
As omni-channel driven demands become the norm, with resulting customer satisfaction harder to achieve, supply chain professionals need to leverage advanced WMS technology to keep their operations nimble, efficient, and scaling - especially in these volatile times.
Given Generix Group's completeness of vision and ability to execute, as recognized once again by the Gartner analyst community, their SOLOCHAIN WMS is well positioned to help companies needing a modern, flexible and agile solution that can easily adapt to their changing needs. We invite you to contact us to learn more.