Technology moves fast in today’s food industry, and snack and bakery companies that can leverage the right warehouse management software (WMS) and other cutting-edge technological applications can find opportunities for growth.
“In a fast-paced and technologically advanced world, it is important to streamline as much of your bakery as possible to keep up with supply and demand, and stay ahead of the competition,” says Erica Visser, implementation specialist, FlexiBake, Vancouver, British Columbia.
Technological progress is ongoing in every aspect of snack and bakery operations management. Nate Brown, CEO, EVS, Westminster, CO, notes WMS providers are starting to adopt and integrate new technologies to streamline and improve operations.
One new technology that’s finding integrated application is Apple’s indoor positioning technology, which passively uses existing Wi-Fi infrastructure to achieve GPS-level accuracy in indoor spaces by using the radio frequency (RF) patterns of Wi-Fi access points.
Brown notes that some hypothetical questions that the new mobe3 Warehouse Live solution from EVS can answer include:
- Who is available at the shipping dock right now?
- Where is “John Doe”?
- What are our productive hours for the receiving team?
- Where are the warehouse hot spots where congestion is causing inefficiency?
- Are we making the most use of our premium warehouse space?
- Who was in the manufacturing area at 3 pm yesterday?
Derek Curtis, vice president of sales, software, notes Kӧrber Business Area Supply Chain is taking a broad look at technological integration. “The concept of best-of-breed technology is far from new. Identifying a marketplace need, specializing in a functional area or niche, and delivering market-leading features for that area has been a formula for success. Körber’s approach to the snack and bakery industry has been to expand best-of-breed into multiple functional areas—both inside the four walls of the traditional warehousing, and outside to support the mobile workforce so vital to players in this vertical.”
The global COVID-19 pandemic has opened new opportunities to tighten efficiency across all operations. “In the past year, COVID-19 has driven this industry to minimize time spent in the trade, both for provider and consumer safety and comfort,” says Curtis. “Along these lines, several technologies that have been in place for many years garnered new attention. Specifically, Scan Based Trading and DEX are two areas where our mobile applications have grown. Both of these are designed to reduce time spent in the trade while increasing field efficiency.”
Technology Snapshot: Nate Brown, CEO, EVS, Westminster, CO, notes that mobe3 Warehouse Live, which is currently in beta testing and expected to release in the third quarter of 2021, is new mobe3 WMS functionality that uses Apple Indoor positioning—a cost-effective and accurate technology, he suggests—for locating people and assets indoors. “By enabling indoor positioning, Warehouse Live removes the preverbal blinders, and allows food companies to solve operational problems by showing them where people and assets are inside their warehouse- right now and in the past. This allows them to avoid wasted time looking for things and people and making sure that people are where they need to be.
Additional technology highlights:
- View user movements and positions on facility map with interactive zoom and scrolling
- Locate users instantly and communicate with them via audio and video
- See the movement history of a user or group of users over time
- See heat maps of user locations over time
- See aggregate time spent in a certain area
- Find out who was in a specific area in a time window
Company: FlexiBake Ltd.
Technology Snapshot: “FlexiBake was built to make bakery businesses run the best they can,” says Erica Visser, implementation specialist. Every instance of inefficiency in a bakery is an opportunity to improve—and gain an edge on the competition. “With FlexiBake, the possibilities for improvement and efficiency are endless,” she says. “Some prime focus areas of the software are: raw material/recipe/product movement and lot tracking, warehouse tracking, detailed shipping, and integrating with accounting software.”
With FlexiBake, bakeries can track raw materials coming in, and every step of the way thereafter, says Visser. “Simple tools help assign lot numbers, move ingredients into recipes, move recipes into products, and track products all the way to shipment.” She notes customers can choose how much detail they need. “Do you want to hand-pick your lot numbers, or do you rely on FIFO? Choose one or the other, or use a mix of both methods,” she says. “With FlexiBake’s detailed shipping option, bakeries get to choose which workflow works best for their unique business. Do you manage your own trucks, or use third-party? You can do both!”
Additional technology highlights:
- Perform a recall in under 30 seconds
- Set up a virtual warehouse to track storage and movement of finished goods
- See in real time where each lot number ends up, even if not in the building
- Search inventory quickly online
- Integrate FlexiBake with many accounting software systems to export invoices, credit notes, payment records, etc.
- External app for an Online Ordering Portal where the bakery’s customers can submit orders, customizable based on cutoff times, lead times, and more
- External app, Metrix DSD, where drivers can submit delivery data in real time
Company: Kӧrber Business Area Supply Chain
Technology Snapshot: Derek Curtis, vice president of sales, Kӧrber Business Area Supply Chain, notes that an example of product freshness is a great example of how expanding best-of-breed technology into multiple functional areas of a snack or bakery operation. “Traditional code/lot/expiration information has long been a driver of FIFO/FEFO logic, necessary for any perishable, but particularly sensitive here,” he says. “Körber’s tier 1 solution, K.Motion.Warehouse Advantage, addresses all permutations of stock rotation and inventory management techniques to ensure the freshest product possible.”
This is only the first half the product journey to the consumer, though, notes Curtis. “Managing inventory in the trade is equally—if not more—important to get fresh product into the consumers’ hands. With Körber’s Retail Execution solution, K.Motion.OmniTech, field users extend those same types of business requirements to manage code dates, product expiration, or lot numbers outside of the four walls and into the trade on an easy-to-use, device-agnostic mobile application.
Additional technology highlights:
- Consistently apply operational requirements across different users for quality control
- Avoid costly and complicated system integrations across platforms
- New solution called Contact Tracer to help manage the physical interactions throughout the operation
- Drive additional capacity with limited interaction
- Continued enhancements in the use of AMR technologies