Warehousing the Beverage Industry
By: Morgan Williams, Marketing Design Coordinator
As the economy has improved over the last five years, consumers have enjoyed a rise in disposable income, allowing them to branch out and change their beverage preferences. This has resulted in many consumers opting for more expensive or premium beverages. At the same time, many have become more health-conscious when it comes to their drink choices.
With demand at an all-time high for healthy, flavorful beverages, so too is the demand on beverage manufacturers and distributors to move these products quicker and more efficiently. Increased speed and productivity requirements are forcing the beverage industry to turn to automation. An automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) coupled with a software application such as a warehouse execution system (WES), for example, can reduce inventory levels and increase order fulfillment accuracy. By integrating a WES with an AS/RS, organizations have total control over their inventory. Whether it is a slow-moving beverage for the winter months, or a drink that is popular year round, software applications are being used to help bring products to the market in a more efficient manner.
A WES is an integrated warehouse management system (WMS) and warehouse control system (WCS) that eliminates the need for separate applications. It is imperative that the WMS and WCS are tightly coupled in an automated facility. If they are not, then product auditability and traceability can be compromised. The use of interdependent applications can also increase the intricacy of transaction processing, ultimately becoming less efficient for the operator. Having a single WES controlling all warehouse functionality greatly reduces the complexity of using several “function-specific” applications.
A WES can offer a real-time view of material handling equipment, labor status, and other KPIs that are crucial to an efficient warehouse operation. And size doesn’t matter. Because of its flexible structure, a WES can enable companies of all sizes to select the functionality needed to address their specific warehousing needs. As the size of the operation grows, an integrated system has the flexibility to grow with it.
So what does this mean for the beverage industry?
For most, this means doing things a bit differently in order to operate more efficiently, improve customer satisfaction and cut costs. As real estate costs continue to grow, the need to store more products in a smaller footprint will continue to drive companies to consider alternatives, like warehouse automation technology. The ability to manage inventory levels more closely and the need to provide unparalleled solutions for product traceability will require the beverage industry to further look into the benefits of warehouse execution system applications to manage their distribution and supply chain networks.