Warehouse automation: Competitive advantage for food manufacturers

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Categories: Food and Beverage, Inventory control
June 14, 2018
Inventory control

Warehouse technology today offers more tools to improve operations and boost efficiency.

As seen in the recent post, Leveraging Automation in the Food and Beverage Industry, there are amble opportunities for companies that invest in digital technologies that have the ability to transform.

For food and beverage companies, one area where these innovations can be particularly transformative is warehouse management. Warehouse automation offers the chance to boost efficiency, reduce costs, and respond to changes in the way food is made today.

That’s what’s at the heart of warehouse automation: competitive advantage for food manufacturers.

Ahead and Behind

The industry historically has been at the forefront of flexible approaches to warehouse management, even if it’s been decidedly low-tech. For decades, manufacturers have added equipment and people to respond to seasonal variances that require additional output.

The option is an affordable one for companies not willing or able to invest in the capital needed to add systems and technology.

Today, however, the competitive landscape has changed, as have consumer tastes. The need for new tools that automate processes, support employees, and collect and use data strategically is more critical than ever.

There’s been a proliferation of SKUs, meaning there’s additional demand, variety, and complexity to the products being made, stored, and shipped, and the number of ingredients and steps required for success.

Automation can influence many aspects of warehouse management, not only internally but across the supply chain.

Inventory control

Food manufacturers use automation tools to lower processing time and respond to ever-complex product mixes.

Here are some of the ways in which automation can have an impact.

  • Reduced processing time. With the rise of online ordering, next-day delivery, and more product variability, successful picking and packing management is essential. Shorter processing times allow for faster fulfilling and higher levels of customer satisfaction. Voice picking, sortation, and automated freezer pallet storage are just a few of the solutions that can drive down processing.
  • Scalability. As businesses grow or seasonal variability comes into play, automation can play a critical role in how quickly a company can adapt. Proportional deployment of technologies allows for better planning and certainty.
  • Order complexity. The increase in SKUs and rise of the omnichannel shopping continues to put pressure on warehouse operations. Maintaining accuracy in an era of growing order complexity puts added pressure on companies that need to be responsive to changing expectations and order composition.
  • Transparency. Today’s successful food and beverage companies need to leverage the expertise and problem-solving capabilities of supply chain partners. Automation tools can easily share data, trends, and insights across the supply chain, allowing for better insights and solutions across the supply chain.
  • Accountability. The food and beverage industry faces increased scrutiny and accountability from agencies and the general public. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requires companies to identify and prevent risks, document, and plan for track and trace functionality. Automation helps to monitor and track information and provide reports required for compliance.

At NexTec, we help companies identify their warehouse management needs and recommend solutions for inventory control and distribution management software. Our consultants work closely with clients to understand pain points and recommend the vendors, products, and features that will help solve problems.

Contact us to learn more about how NexTec can transform your food or beverage company’s warehouse operations and remain competitive.