Current Issues

Regular Industry Development Updates, Opinions and Talking Points relating to Manufacturing, the Supply Chain and Logistics.

Integrating Man And Machine: A Fresh Approach For Modern Grocery Warehouses

12-Dec-2018
Integrating Man And Machine: A Fresh Approach For Modern Grocery Warehouses
As one of the most repeatable, well-understood, and mature supply chains across all industries, the grocery supply chain has mastered predictable processes around every conceivable aspect of warehouse operations as grocers operate around unusually razor-thin profit margins. Not surprisingly, grocery DCs have increasingly embraced automation to help reduce labour-intensive manual work and increase overall efficiency so that fresh goods get delivered to shelves as fast as possible.

In 2017 alone the UK population spent £219bn on food, drink and catering.This consumer demand places even more pressure on grocery DCs to deliver fresh food fast, transparently, and with the highest quality. And when grocery DCs also accommodate and experiment with ecommerce, the supply chain must literally run like a machine—with very little margin for error.

And in order to run like a well-oiled machine, you need machines, so it’s no surprise that grocery DCs have recently increased their investments in automation to assist with food quality control, compliance, and specialised needs such as facilitating product flow through temperature-controlled environments. However, grocery DCs can face limitations when multiple types of automation are used and mixed together. Sortation equipment, ASRS, conveyors, and robotics can conflict with each other—and with warehouse employees.

The result? Wasted technology investments, inefficient use of labour, and increased time to market for your fresh goods. Inefficient use of automation also hurts grocery DCs as they are challenged more than ever to ship a broader array of products to fulfill customer demands in-store and online.

And when you include ecommerce, the need for integrated systems becomes even more important as grocers must continuously evaluate order priority to ensure streamlined fulfilment processes that meet or exceed consumer expectations and SLAs around fresh items and individual orders.

Order streaming allows grocery DCs to meet ecommerce demands
Leveraging the strengths of batch efficiency, wave picking is often used with traditional grocery store replenishment with pallets and cases shipped to stores. However, inefficiencies arise when orders need last-minute adjustments or labour is wasted between waves. Waveless picking works well with ecommerce order prioritisation by focusing on single, time-sensitive orders that often need same-day order fulfillment. The sophistication required can challenge traditional grocery DCs, especially with fresh and perishable items.

By leveraging wave and waveless approaches simultaneously with order streaming, a grocery DC can efficiently handle store replenishment and direct to consumer orders in a single platform. To ensure orders are fulfilled as efficiently as possible, an embedded Warehouse Execution System (WES) within the WMS gives the grocery DC real-time awareness about the capacity of both man and machines to perform work at a given time across wave and waveless order fulfillment. This allows the grocery DC to blend time-tested traditional supply chain processes with modern ecommerce fulfillment processes—both of which effectively integrate man and machine to focus on getting the highest quality fresh goods to consumers as fast as possible.

So while automation helps improve speed, and reduce variable labour costs, you lose valuable efficiencies with a system that lacks a seamless link across your automation tools that connects all order processing workflow steps. For grocery DCs to compete, accommodate customers, and keep costs down, such a system is essential for surviving the intense competition and consumer demands for fresher food that will only continue to grow.

Stephen Cameron
Business Development Director, SWRnewstar
Primark's move to 100 per cent sustainably sourced cotton should be commended
Marc Corriveau
Account Manager, Loftware
Changes in packaging result in ROI for F&B products
John Perry
Managing Director, SCALA
Why an extension is best for British businesses
David Jinks MILT
Head of Consumer Research, ParcelHero
Booking a courier? No printer required, says ParcelCompare
Graham Parker
CEO, Gravity Supply Chain Solutions
Mitigating The Risks Of Trade Wars And Tariffs
Sam Ireland
International Marketing Manager, Loftware
How Brexit Will Impact Supply Chain Labeling?
Sid Holian
Managing Director, Bis Henderson Consulting
Three critical steps to a hi-tech, agile supply chain
Manu Tyagi
Associate Partner, Retail and Consumer Goods, Infosys Consulting
M&S and Ocado have signed a £750 million deal to take M&S groceries into the home delivery market
Olivier Frère
Serialisaton Expert, Zetes
Understanding the Tobacco Products Directive
Paul Heiden
Senior Vice President of Product Management, Ultimaker
6 overlooked benefits of 3D printing for your supply chain
Dave Locke
EMEA Chief Technology Officer, WWT
Merged pharmaceutical firms seek fast-track route to savings
Johannes Panzer
Head of Industry Strategy for Ecommerce, Descartes
How to make international ecommerce transparent, efficient and cost-effective
Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
Putting the WOW in the checkout experience
Richard Parfect
Fund Manager, Seneca Investment Managers
The cessation of Airbus A380 production
John Perry
Managing Director, SCALA
What next for British business?
Chris Jones
EVP Marketing & Services, Descartes
5 Key Logistics Trends and Technology Implications for 2019
Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
What is the Checkout of the Future?
Andres Richter
CEO, Priority Software
UK Manufacturing: The Productivity Conundrum
Martin Meacock
Director, Product Management, Descartes
Brexit: only 10 weeks to implement if changes are ultimately needed
John Perry
Managing Director, SCALA
What does May's defeat mean for the supply chain?
Martin Meacock
Director, Product Management, Descartes
Get Ready for CDS
Don Brenchley
Director Industry Strategy, LLamasoft EMEA
Don't Let Soft Skills Be Forgotten In Your Supply Chain
Robert Broström
Director Of Service And Support, Handheld Group
Handheld Promotes Robert Broström To Director Of Service And Support
Dan Willmer
Professional Services Leader, MercuryGate
MercuryGate Hires Dan Willmer as New Professional Services Leader
Bob Brown
Manufacturing Industry Specialist, Loftware
Ideal Enterprise Labeling Systems Include Support and Service
Jason Chester
Director of Channel Programs, InfinityQS
2019 will see half of manufacturers invest in data collection technologies
Dustin Maxey
Director of Product Marketing, Ping Identity
Security from the web to the loading bay
David Jinks MILT
Head of Consumer Research, Parcelhero
Parcel Senders Must Face Up to Their Christmas Duties
David Jonker
Vice President, Thought Leadership, SAP
Your Customer, the AI
Kelly Feehan
Service Director, CABA
Workplace wellbeing predictions for 2019
Mike Thornton
Head of Manufacturing, RSM
Brexit uncertainty bites for manufacturers
John Perry
Managing Director, SCALA
Stockpiling decision should not be taken lightly
Tony Dobson
Managing Director, Snapfulfil
Brexit Uncertainty Boosts Sales For Synergy
David Feakins
Founder and CEO, Modus Brands
How has technology transformed the distribution industry?
Nicole Hardin
Director of Product Management, Sage
The business case for reducing food waste in the supply chain