How a Food Distribution WMS Can Help You Manage and Exceed High Consumer Expectations
Food and beverage supply chains can be particularly complex for a variety of reasons, but most of the complexity can be attributed to the simple fact that consumers now have so many more options for getting their groceries. From home delivery to front-of-the-store pickup, the consumer is completely transforming the supply chain.
Food manufacturers and distributors are also forced to deal with the inevitability of food spoilage, ever-changing food quality inspection standards, traceability regulations, and compliance for national and international food transportation purposes. Not to mention, there’s also an incredible food variety for consumers to choose from -- processed, organic, local, gluten-free, natural -- all of which have their own storage and handling requirements.
That’s where a food distribution warehouse management system (WMS) comes in handy. In this article, we’ll discuss how everyone from food distributors, producers, packers, warehouse managers and restaurant owners can benefit from using a WMS in their food and beverage supply chain. We’ll also talk about the WMS solution offered by DATASCOPE and why you might want to consider integrating it with the rest of your operation.
Positive Outcomes You Can Expect with a WMS
In order to manage rising consumer expectations and provide better customer service, implementing a food distribution WMS within your food-specific, direct-to-consumer (D2C) operation is recommended. Here are a few other positive outcomes you can expect while using a food distribution WMS.
- Optimize your inventory and monitor all of your stock data in real-time. Managing your inventory competently is critical for proper execution of picking tasks and facilitating the flow of product through the warehouse. Ultimately, this guarantees you’re delivering only the freshest produce, meat and seafood to the consumer.
- A reputable food supply chain management software can track batch expiration dates and best-before dates so you can ensure that any product nearing its expiration date is marked and sold at a discount before it expires.
- Handle product recalls and damaged goods with an accurate history of every good, product, and material moved, as well as which ingredients were used in creating the final product. This helps you avoid potential legal liability and issues with FDA compliance due to food safety concerns.
- Advanced technologies like voice picking, barcode scanning, RFID, and EDI connectivity allow you to receive goods more quickly, enhance picking tasks, stay updated on orders, reduce shipping errors, and make store deliveries more efficient. Meanwhile, automation technology simplifies catch weights and load and pallet movement.
- A good WMS will support multi-zone warehouse rules for temperature-sensitive or other unique food types (think cold storage and frozen items, dry goods, allergens, etc.). It should also be able to handle different units of measure, which is useful if you’re shipping foods internationally.
DATASCOPE WMS Features and Capabilities
Whether you have a single warehouse or multiple distribution centers, DATASCOPE has experience helping food manufacturers and distributors track and ship products throughout their supply chain through the following software modules.
Lot and Batch Control
Lot and batch control are critical in the food industry, especially for tracking mixed lots. Imagine if a food product needs to be recalled because it has caused an outbreak of food poisoning. The manufacturer needs to be able to quickly pull the records of that batch, see who it was sold to and find out which component batch product numbers were used in order to determine if this product was used in batches of other products as well. DATASCOPE WMS contains a number of useful batch/lot features that make it easy to control the movements of product on the factory floor, including limiting storage of different batches and picking orders from the same batch.
Lot traceability ensures that the oldest lots are picked and distributed first (FIFO).
While lot tractability can sometimes complicate certain warehouse tasks, many companies within the food industry have implemented DATASCOPE WMS for the simple reason that it’s almost impossible to manage lots and batches manually. In addition to transactions supporting SYSPRO-based lot numbers, our software also offers various reports to help you manage lot expiration dates.
Our mass-based picking module is used to control the picking of component stock that needs to be weighed -- a common need in food factories. When SYSPRO jobs are released into picking slips, these slips are split into either full bags (and cartons), or weigh-off products. The weigh-off picking slip travels to the picking area designed for mass-based picking. Weigh stations will have both large, full-bag scales and smaller scales for fine picking. As products are weighed, the scaled mass increases and the value is automatically transferred to the software and the user is notified when to stop loading the product. As long as the quantity weighed is within the picking tolerance, the user can pick the component and the DATASCOPE WMS will post this transaction to the job.
Most food factories would also benefit from an effective quality control system to move inventory on the factory floor. Our Quality Control module can flag stock codes with multiple quality tests, each with their own criteria. The software will automatically place the TrackID’s on hold after receipting for any product that requires a quality check. Barcoded sample labels are printed and the required samples are then sent to the quality lab for analysis. Newly received stock immediately gets put away in the warehouse to clear up space and the system marks these pallets as “On Hold” to prevent picking or stock allocation.
With simple replenishment or directed replenishment systems, as well as replenishment mass check and mass-based inventory adjustments, our Replenishment module enables users to select specific pick-face zones to replenish for easier workload distribution and generate replenishments in the form of a picking slip.
If you’re looking for an all-purpose software solution for your food distribution supply chain, we’re confident DATASCOPE WMS has exactly what you need. Our customizable software was built specifically with the SYSPRO ERP in mind. Integration is seamless and our detailed reports will give you greater insights into your distribution productivity.
To see some of our past work within the food industry, check out the 2 case studies below: