Archives for May 2018

Preventing Recalls with a Warehouse Execution System

By Contributing Author | 05/29/2018 | 6:00 AM

By Dave Williams, Westfalia Technologies

According to a study by Consumer Reports, the Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted 295 recalls involving approximately 32 million units of goods in 2017 alone. Over the past five years, however, the CPSC has conducted 300 to 400 recalls annually.

How can recalls be avoided?  By connecting a warehouse execution system (WES) to external systems both upstream and downstream in the supply chain. This communication allows companies to respond to problems within the manufacturing process faster, often preventing contaminated or malfunctioning products from ever leaving the facility. 

Finding the Root Cause

By providing a high-degree of product traceability, an integrated WES can help manufacturers discover and act upon issues that have caused the malfunction or contamination sooner. Earlier detection often allows manufacturers to better understand what product is to be recalled, thus possibly reducing the scope of the recall effort and targeting the affected inventory. 

Identifying Recalled Products

By utilizing a WES that is tightly integrated with other supply chain systems, manufacturers are able to more quickly and easily identify products that are part of a recall. Further, companies can utilize the information from the WES to provide their customers with all of the necessary information needed to identify and return the recalled product efficiently, saving both the company and its customers time and money.

Handling Returned Items

A well-managed recall process is a must to process recalled product accurately and efficiently. There are many different recall scenarios that a manufacturer must be prepared to handle. Should the products be discarded? Is special handling required? Do the products need to be quarantined for further inspection? Are there specific reporting requirements that need to be completed? Many of these processes can be automated within a WES to guide individuals through the process, thus ensuring a complete, well-organized, well-documented, efficient handling of the affected product.

Avoiding Future Recalls

A WES that is integrated with manufacturing processes can also be used to recognize issues and provide automatic alerts to the warehouse when products are contaminated to keep the product in-house, thus eliminating the recall process. This allows the manufacturer to more easily identify and locate affected products before they leave the warehouse, which also saves time and money.

It is common sense that contaminated or malfunctioning products are potentially hazardous to the end customer. However, these products can also be extremely detrimental to a company’s financial health. The implementation of a tightly integrated WES into the supply chain process allows manufacturers to quickly identify, track and efficiently recall contaminated or malfunctioning products, which saves time, money and ultimately their reputation.


Dave_Williams_headshot 2017Dave Williams, vice president of software, spearheads Westfalia Technologies’ software and solutions delivery operations. In his role, Williams provides leadership and guidance for the design and implementation of solutions that contribute to strategic business goals while aligning with the overall information systems architecture.

In his tenth year with Westfalia, Williams has extensive experience in software, logistics and management, all which have provided him a comprehensive foundation for this important position.  Prior to Westfalia, he worked in a variety of leadership positions with leading organizations such as Proctor & Gamble, United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company (USF&G), Rite Aid, Nationwide Insurance and Donegal Insurance.

Williams received his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with a minor in Business Administration from the University of Scranton.

A ‘6-Pack’ of Tips on How to Make Your Warehouse Beer Friendly

By Contributing Author | 05/24/2018 | 7:51 AM

By Mike Williams, Twinlode Corporation

One of the highest growth markets in recent years can be seen in food and beverage warehousing. According to a leading research firm, Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence, the market is expected to expand by more than 10 percent annually by 2022 to $191 billion from $117.6 billion today. 

Several factors are attributed to this growth, including the increasing demand for speed and accuracy as warehouses strive to protect their perishable items with the latest equipment, increased automation, keen management and higher productivity while maintaining maximum cost control.

For material handling executives and warehouse managers alike, the need to meet these demands is especially important for companies that store and distribute high volumes of beverages, including beer.

All of these firms, from the newest craft beer to big brand brews, share basic similarities in their operations – they store products on short lead times, deliver a large volume of SKUs to the market, they are dynamic and growing, and each has a warehouse situation that is very unique.  There is nothing cookie-cutter about solutions but all are built on ingenuity, productivity and cost-effectiveness. 

If you are considering transforming or expanding your warehouse facilities to include beverage and beer products, here are six basic tips to keep in mind:

  1. Learn everything there is to know about your firm or customer’s operations. You need to visit their sites, walk their warehouse floors and take part in their meetings.  Whether you are working for the distributorship or a contract consultant, your goals should be to become entrenched in their operations and earn their trust before developing solutions. You need to test the boundaries of everything they currently have that is a constraint.
  2. Determine the unique storage requirements for each SKU. You will find that the differences between beverage and beer warehousing are minimal, except for temperature or environmental factors.  Storage temperatures are lower for some beer SKUs.  Some craft and specialty beers need to be kept around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, while kegs are stored in “draught coolers” at about 40 degrees.  Carbonated beverages have similar storage requirements.
  3. Conduct a thorough inspection of your current physical plant to determine any challenges that need to be overcome. For instance:
    1. Facilities may be individually or family-owned with legacy warehouses that are second or third-generation buildings. Some are small and antiquated where owners face constant pressure to expand or to make the most of the existing space where the ceilings are low and square-footage is landlocked with no room for horizontal expansion.  
    2. On the other hand, there are updated or new buildings, with 35-foot ceilings and state-of-the-art everything.
    3. You also may find that your warehouse indoor floor space is limited and getting close to outside storage. There is no room to store incremental products or more line extensions of core brands.  Storing products in forklift and pedestrian aisles becomes a safety hazard and new solutions are needed immediately.
  4. As part of your analysis of each situation, you need to determine the warehouse storage volume levels and how many SKUs are being handled at any one time.Various options are available that can maximize storage space, meet forklift capabilities and satisfy safety requirements.
  5. In most cases where space is at a premium, you want to recommend the most vertical racking solutions possible. Today’s wide range of highly advanced rack systems are ideally suited for the unique requirements of the beverage industry, including a case/carton flow system designed for a large number of low-volume SKUs in a small area, or a craft barrel rack system which offers the same solution for the keg barrel portfolio.
  6. Your study of each warehouse also should include an analysis of inventories and velocity of each SKU. This helps in the design of rack systems that match inventory movement patterns. 

Although each warehouse has different needs that are designed for beer and beverage storage and distribution, the goals are the same:  to get products off the floor, help organize the floor, reduce congestion on the pick path, and keep pedestrian walkways clear.

Whether it is for beer, beverages, food and other types of inventory, be sure your warehouse design plans incorporate all possible logistical and cost efficiencies, including overall safety procedures, forklift access, equipment requirements and technology, employee training, and compliance with all local, state and seismic code regulations.  

Mike Williams pix

Mike Williams is national sales manager for Twinlode Corporation, which has provided storage solutions for warehouse management within the food and beverage industry for more than two decades.

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.

About One-Off Sound-Off

Welcome to "One-Off Sound-Off," a blog page devoted to guest commentary on all things supply chain. This is a space where industry leaders can share their opinions and expertise with the logistics and supply chain community. If you have an article or commentary you'd like to share, please consider sending a guest blog proposal to feedback@dcvelocity.com.


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