Archives for November 2017

Making Supply Chains More Efficient: What We are Learning in the Three-Tier Beverage Alcohol Industry

By Contributing Author | 11/27/2017 | 8:32 AM

By Peter Lijewski, Vice President, Supply Chain Management, Breakthru Beverage Group

In many companies, “Supply” is viewed as a department. However, I believe it should be viewed much more broadly because the supply chain is the core that underpins everything a company does. It’s so central to the success of a business that the efficiency and management of the supply chain can serve as predictors of a company’s success.  Supply chains that benefit from effective management, the right investment, and are enabled by a supportive culture where collaboration is fostered from end to end will thrive.  Supply chains missing these key elements are likely to become fragmented and increasingly inefficient

In the beverage alcohol industry, in which the supply chain is divided across the three-tier structure implemented after Prohibition, collaboration has long been a challenge. However, a combination of necessity due to the evolving tastes and demands of consumers and advancements in technology are making beverage alcohol industry supply chains smarter and more collaborative and, therefore, more efficient.

For example, demand sensing applications and predictive analytics can be integrated into part of supply chain management with incredible results. Depending on your perspective, the application of these types of tools may be enablers or disrupters.  We see them as enablers that allow us to become smarter, nimbler, faster and more precise. And in the beverage alcohol industry, this has become increasingly important.

While the marketing department may use social networks to promote brands, their supply colleagues can also monitor the comments and feedback to determine consumers’ future purchase activity. This allows us to adjust our plans much earlier than waiting for a retail signal to flow through traditional demand monitoring systems. This falls under the category of “demand sensing” where practitioners are using social media filters and other indirect causal factors (weather predictions, brand sponsorship, brand appearance in hit movies or songs) to predict a rise or fall in sales.

However, technology is not the only solution to creating a more efficient supply chain. Companies also need to collaborate effectively internally and with their customers and suppliers. Technology alone can’t create a more efficient supply chain.  It is predicated on a culture of mutual respect and reliance between supply and demand, and an understanding of the importance of unhampered information flow.  Effective companies are using cutting edge tools to enhance their culture and capabilities and are enabling the fulfillment of more products more quickly than their competition. And those that enable the right culture and relationships will ensure that these technologies are being leveraged to their fullest.

This requires investment in smart growth, great talent and an innovative outlook to everything a company does—particularly its supply operations.  We are on this journey within the alcohol beverage industry—reaching across the three tiers to become more responsive to consumers by being at the intersection of technology, its application, our business and our stakeholders.

Peter Lijewski headshot

Peter Lijewski has nearly 20 years of expertise in the Wine, Spirits and Beer industry. Peter has worked in a variety of areas including vineyard operations, bottling lines, customer service, demand and supply planning and more. Along with his extensive industry background, he’s held titles such as the Vice President of Supply and East Coast Operations, Vice President of Global Procurement, and Vice President of Supply Management for Constellation Brands.  His leadership capabilities were instrumental with the transition of Constellation’s acquired businesses and its distributor consolidation. Peter oversees the development and implementation of strategies for the integrated supply chain management at Breakthru Beverage.

4 Options to Consider When Relabeling Warehouse Racks

By Contributing Author | 11/15/2017 | 10:01 AM

By Neal Lulofs, Chief Marketing Officer, ID Label Inc.

Is it time to replace your barcode location labels?

Whether you work in a warehouse, distribution center, manufacturing site or third-party logistics (3PL) facility, it's not uncommon for warehouse racks to require relabeling from time to time. A number of events can trigger this:

  • You’re reconfiguring your rack set-up and flow to accommodate seasonal inventory changes or facility expansion
  • Your beams require a refresh after several years of wear and tear
  • Your existing barcode location labels are damaged, missing or peeling
  • You’re upgrading your warehouse management system or inventory control software
  • You’re converting some bulk storage areas to picking bays
  • New tenants are moving into a section of your 3PL facility

What Are Your Best Relabeling Options?

There are several viable options. The right choice for you depends on your specific needs and environment. Let’s look at four solutions worth considering.

  1. Beam Cover-Up Strip

Are your beams scratched, rusted or dingy? Are your existing barcode labels damaged, missing or peeling? Would you like to avoid the laborious task of scraping off old barcode labels before relabeling?

If any of these apply, then a base cover-up strip with an easy-release top lamination may be an ideal solution.

Look for a manufactured cover-up product with a durable, opaque construction that can be applied directly over old warehouse beams and barcode labels without any show-through.

A cover-up solution will help you avoid the time and expense of cleaning, scraping or painting older beams. Products like these can typically be manufactured in a color to match your existing racking, so it really makes your beams look like they’ve been newly restored.

ID Label Cover Up

  1. Magnetic Warehouse Location Labels

Barcode labels adhered to magnets are another viable option to consider, especially for warehouse facilities that reconfigure their rack locations or inventory with regularity. They’re also a good choice for freezer storage environments.

Magnetic labels are easy to move, don’t require scraping, don’t leave behind adhesive residue and they keep your warehouse racks looking neat, orderly and clean. They can be manufactured in a wide variety of colors and sizes for use on horizontal beams or as vertical totem labels.

On the other hand, magnetic labels can occasionally be knocked askew or to the ground – or can even accidentally adhere to metal lift trucks – during the picking and placement of pallets and cases.

One final point: magnetic labels are typically more expensive to manufacture than other barcode labeling options, but they have a long useful life that offers a good return on investment.

  1. Removable Warehouse Labels

If your beams are in good shape, consider using a preprinted, removable barcode label. Like the other options above, a removable label makes it easy to relabel rack locations. They are simple to install and offer location flexibility, without any need for scraping or cleaning to remove them.

Look for a removable label with an advanced adhesive that adheres tightly to different surfaces, but is easily removable without adhesive residue left behind.

It’s a good idea to test these labels for a length of time to be certain they are the right choice for your environment.

  1. Ultra-Durable Barcode Labels

Are your current rack labels easily damaged by daily encounters with lift trucks and warehouse traffic? Will your labels be exposed to direct sunlight or heat, or come in contact with harsh cleaning solutions or chemicals? Perhaps you’d simply like to move from low-quality, print-your-own labels to a longer-lasting, more durable solution.

Label durability is probably the most important requirement our customers have. Why? Because it’s critical that barcode location labels scan accurately every time. Errors can lead to manufacturing issues, shipping mistakes, product returns and other costly missteps.

There are many factors in the label-manufacturing process that affect durability, from the base stock to the top coating to the printing technology used. Be sure to work with an experienced label manufacturer that can deliver a proven solution to match your operational requirements.

Know Your Relabeling Options

Warehouse rack relabeling is an increasingly common occurrence in today’s rapidly changing, e-commerce-driven market.

When it comes to finding the right relabeling solution, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. “Cheap” solutions may turn out to be the costliest ones if the labels easily damage, fade or peel off.

Asking the right questions and understanding and testing your options in advance will help ensure you find the best product for your requirements.

Neal Lulofs 2

Neal Lulofs is chief marketing officer at ID Label Inc., one of the nation’s leading providers of preprinted pallet and rack labels, warehouse signs and installation services.

6 Reasons to Track Your Truck Fleet

By Contributing Author | 11/08/2017 | 6:16 AM

By Sam Sims, APR,  US Fleet Tracking 

Automation is one of the defining factors of our day and age. We rely on machines in the modern day, and GPS is one of the systems we’ve come to depend upon most frequently. GPS devices have come a long way and can tell us more about a vehicle than just its location. We can learn all the information we’d want to know about a car, truck, or other vehicle with GPS systems, including where it is, where it should be, and how long it’ll take to finish a route.  


Optimize Routes

Use the GPS data from your fleet to make your routes more efficient. You’ll also be able to find areas that are troublesome and fix those problems through close analysis. Additionally, you can discover the shortest routes for your trucks by finding areas to improve fuel efficiency and work on reducing the amount of time your vehicles are idle. All this important and helpful information is only available when you have your fleet equipped with the proper GPS systems – and using this data will allow you to reduce each truck’s travel time, getting your goods from point A to point B faster, and using less fuel in the process.

Reduce Operation Expenses

GPS systems do more than just track your fleet’s location; these systems provide you with raw data on how efficiently each truck driver operates their vehicle. They monitor the engine status of each truck, tire pressure, and other necessary details. You can also keep track of the maintenance each truck needs before it turns into an issue, which can prevent a frustrating, time-consuming, expensive breakdown from happening. Overall, GPS systems can reduce downtime, which (you guessed it) will save you money.

Reduce Insurance Bills

Insurance companies like vehicles with GPS devices on them. The more protection you give your fleet, the less your insurance company is going to worry about your vehicles. You can even receive discounts on your premiums, simply by using GPS systems in your fleet.

Micromanage Your Fleet’s Resources in Real Time

You may not be able to drive every truck yourself…but you will have a wealth of data in your hands to make sure things run smoothly. You can use the data to plan where your resources are needed and when they’ll arrive. Truck GPS systems also deter vehicle theft. Knowing where the thief is trying to go can increase the chances that he/she will get caught and better ensure recovery of your assets.

A Happy Customer Is a Returning Customer

The world runs on a clock. Everyone expects business partners to hold up their end of the bargain in a timely fashion. Being able to answer your customers’ questions with accuracy and certainty is a sign of stability, control, and dependability. You may not be able to make your truck get there faster, but you can absolutely keep your customer in the loop.

Reduction in Paperwork

Having less paperwork to keep track of and fill out will improve efficiency in every way. There’s less chance of clerical errors appearing and less time spent digging around for the data you need. Automatically tracking your fleet with GPS systems gives you more time to solve the important problems and reduces the amount of time spent sorting through file cabinets.

Automating your data collection is the biggest plus to using GPS systems. With it, you have all the information you need at your fingertips. Use that data to improve the logistical system you oversee and your company’s overall performance.


Sims photo

Sam Sims, APR, has been a member of the US Fleet Tracking team since 2009, stepping into the role as full-time Director of Public Relations and Marketing just one year later. Sims’ primary role focuses on helping US Fleet Tracking achieve their objectives by creating and fostering communication between the brand and its target markets.


Protect Your Supply Chain Like You Protect Your Home: Cold Chain ‘Smoke Alarms’

By Contributing Author | 11/01/2017 | 10:05 AM

By Rob Stevens, Tive

Did you know that smoke alarms have only been in use since the late 1960s? Imagine living in a world where you go to bed every night with no system to alert you to a fire. It may sound crazy, but if you are shipping your temperature-sensitive products using only temperature loggers, you’re still living in the Eisenhower era.

Temperature-Sensitive Shipments Need “Smoke Alarms”

 Many products, like drugs, need to be transported in narrow temperature bands. If the product experiences temperatures outside that band for more than a set period of time, it can lose effectiveness or even become dangerous. Since the early 1990s companies have used simple data loggers to capture temperature data during the journey. At the end of the trip, the logger data is downloaded and examined to determine whether a temperature excursion has occurred. If it has, the manufacturer has to decide what to do with the product, and is often forced to dispose of goods that are no longer safe to sell. 

If a temperature excursion is like a fire, what role does a logger play? The closest analogy would be the insurance adjuster who arrives after the fire has occurred and helps the homeowner understand what is salvageable from the fire. This is a valuable service, but if your house has burned down, you probably wish you had something more. You wish you had a smoke alarm to alert you as soon as something went wrong so you can react before the damage is done.

Real-time trackers can do for supply chains what smoke alarms do for house fires. A cellular-connected tracker that travels with the goods reacts in real time to temperature excursions or other damage. In the past these trackers were too expensive to use widely and their batteries too limited to last the duration of a normal shipment, but falling hardware costs and improved power consumption have enabled a new generation of trackers that can last for months and are economical to attach to shipments. These trackers constantly monitor conditions such as temperature, shock, humidity, and other factors, and generate an immediate alert when a problem occurs.

A Smoke Alarm in Action

Here’s a real-life example of a “smoke alarm” in action: a European pharmaceutical company ships products from production sites in Europe to distribution centers in North America via ocean freight. Shipments require a temperature controlled environment between 15 and 25 degrees C, so the company uses a real-time tracker with each shipment. Earlier this year the customer shipped the first delivery of a new product to North America. Because this was a new product launch, any delay in getting product to market would result in meaningful lost revenue. On the day the product departed, the customer checked the status of the shipment via the tracker’s cloud-hosted software and found that the refrigerated container temperature was set to 6 degrees C, not 20 C. 

The customer immediately called the shipping company and had them set the container to the correct temperature, which they confirmed through their inventory monitoring system. They also ordered replacement product in case the shipment proved to be compromised.

Because of their “smoke alarm,” the pharmaceutical company avoided the cost and delay of retesting six products, as well as the lost revenue and market impact of having two new products late to market (in this case, revenues of up to $1.5 million).

Going Beyond the Smoke Alarm to Fire Prevention 

But let’s stretch this metaphor a bit further -- when it comes to house fires, you don’t just want to know if there’s a fire. What you really want is to prevent fires in the first place. This means understanding and preventing the conditions that are likely to cause a fire. This is the role of the fire inspector, who develops a set of rules that reduce the likelihood of a fire. 

How can shippers “prevent fires”? For one thing, they can use appropriately-certified shippers and containers to reduce the chances of a temperature excursion. But, like a fire inspector, they can go beyond passive measures to use data to identify the conditions that tend to lead to problems. This is where terms like “IoT” (Internet of Things) and “Big Data” come in. Using internet-enabled sensors (IoT) to gather data on temperature excursions for all shipments, it’s possible to build a very large database of shipments, including variables like carrier, mode, time of day, location, humidity, and so on. This “big data” can then be used to detect trends and warning signs that a temperature excursion is imminent. These warning signs can be used to change operations and reduce the risk of a temperature excursion.

Only You Can Prevent Temperature Excursions

This may all sound a little like science fiction, but it’s happening today. Internet-connected sensors are traveling the world by train, ship, plane, and truck, feeding data back to central servers and generating alerts. Companies are beginning to use the resulting data to build predictive models that will enable them to improve operations and reduce damages of all sorts.

More and more companies are sleeping safely at night, knowing that if the worst happens and a “fire” breaks out, they will have the warning they need to respond before it’s too late.

If your company one of them?



Rob Stevens is Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer at
Tive, provider of sensor-driven tracking solutions to deliver full visibility into products as they move through the supply chain.



The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.


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