Chilled out warehousing
12 December 2012
Swisslog outlines the challenges involved in cracking cold chain logistics The global size of the processed chilled and frozen foods industry has an estimated retail market value of $318bn and is expected to reach grow
The global size of the processed chilled and frozen foods industry has an estimated retail market value of $318bn and is expected to reach growth rates as high as 8% within the next few years, correlating an increasing popularity of convenience foods and a keen interest in reducing food waste.
This increased demand for temperature-controlled food has had a profound effect on the logistics industry, particularly relating to requirements for appropriate warehousing and distribution solutions.
The food manufacturing industry ? especially within the cold chain ? is one with extremely high levels of required customer service. Deliveries must be on time, orders need to be correct and loads need to be cubed out correctly to comply with endcustomer sequencing.
These challenges, combined with high shelf space costs and changing consumer demands, have led to ever shorter order lead times which have bolstered the requirement for highly agile and responsive order fulfillment systems.
Labour challenges But the challenges don't stop there. On top of ensuring high quality fulfillment, maximum volume utilisation and optimum cost efficiency, supply chain professionals also face heightened labour concerns.
Manual material handling solutions within temperaturecontrolled environments involve high labour costs as stringent legislation is enforced to protect employees who work within such harsh environments. This limits the hours that they can operate, resulting in high hourly costs. These concerns have encouraged more facilities to opt for fully automated picking, requiring a minimal number of operators.
As with many food manufacturers, temperature-controlled facilities also have to cope with an increasing SKU range and stock turnover. Due to the high operating costs involved in maintaining the required climate, high density storage facilities are popular and can also offer improved energy efficiency and a smaller building footprint.
Innovations in warehouse solutions could not come at a better time for the cold chain, and the technology of automated solutions has stepped up considerably over recent years. For example, automated warehouses are now much more flexible.
Seasonal fluctuations They can allow different chambers to have varying temperatures that can each be adjusted in line with business needs, such as seasonal fluctuations or the introduction of new product lines.
Swisslog counts itself as a leading provider of climatecontrolled warehouse solutions.We understand the needs of climate-controlled logistics and have the experience and knowhow to provide optimal solutions. Our specialist solution designers work closely with customers and consider a host of approaches to ensure both energy and design savings (and so cost savings) for material handling systems.
Rollin Ford, vice president of logistics at Wal-Mart, USA endorsed the Swisslog offering saying: "Swisslog has proven to be the right solution provider for Wal-Mart for our grocery distribution. Decisive factors in choosing Swisslog as our partner were its experience in the sector, leadership, creativity and methodological approach. An outstanding, global team has developed convincing solutions for our specific requirements in the distribution of chilled food."