Cancel OK

Applied Technology: Ramping up supply chain efficiency

In perishables, getting from point A to point B without interruption is paramount. Throw in all manner of complications—from loading delays and hours of service to rising rates and a capacity crunch—and supply chain efficiency can grind to a halt, which is catastrophic for both suppliers and retailers.

So it’s no surprise there are dozens of programs and apps devoted to streamlining the process to keep perishables moving.

Numerous warehouse management systems exist, many connected to various enterprise resource planning or ERP platforms. Each can effectively manage the receiving, storage, selection, and shipping processes, customized to meet specific needs. In trucks themselves, temperature recorders continue to evolve as well. Early recorders were bulky and mechanical, mostly for inbound use, but today’s models are small, lightweight, digital, and ever present.

“Many distributors are now employing temperature monitoring solutions such as Samsara on their outbound loads as well,” says Steve Grinstead, founder and CEO of The Grinstead Group near Dallas, TX.

Samsara captures data from sensors and links it to a host of fleet management services. And because more retailers are requiring continuous temperature monitoring, Grinstead predicts the next phase will involve temperature-checking technologies merged right into onboard electronic logging devices.

Whether you’re seeking increased efficiency in the warehouse, at the loading or receiving dock, or keeping proper temperatures in reefers, all contribute to fresher product. And though fresher product is good for everyone, and keeps retail customers happy, the reasoning behind streamlining processes achieves another goal too, affecting your bottom line.

“We must become more efficient,” contends Grinstead, “to offset the rising costs of distribution.”

This is the third in a series of six stories on Applied Technology. To read the whole series, click here.

Heather Larson, a writer in Tacoma, WA, frequently delves into business issues affecting food-related companies.