As reported on foodlogistics.com, written by John McCurry
Logistics providers are stepping up their game to offer enhanced products and services aimed at meeting increasingly complex global food supply chain requirements. This includes measures directed at increasing speed, security, safety and transparency. Many of these efforts include technologies designed to make better use of data and data collecting.
Following is a look at the strategies several supply chain specialists serving the food sector are using to enhance their offerings and meet customer demand.
Responding to the Amazon Effect
Rob Kriewaldt, senior vice president at Milwaukee-headquartered 3PL Phoenix Logistics, says although the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is old news, companies are still grappling with it in terms of traceability requirements.
“We’ve seen a lot of customers coming to us to see if we have those traceability capabilities,” Kriewaldt says.
Phoenix is deploying the latest technologies to address traceability and improve facility security. About 90 percent of Phoenix’s business involves food or food packaging. Kriewaldt says the main concerns of customers involve security, traceability, cleanliness and damage prevention.
“Security is right up there as a concern, and a lot of that comes from the potential for contamination or the potential for tampering,” he says.
Kriewaldt says there is definitely growing pressure to increase delivery speed. Some of this can be attributed to the growing popularity of food delivery services.
“I have been in this industry for about 25 years now,” he says. “Twenty-five years ago, you would get an order on Monday and it would have to ship out on Wednesday. Fast forward to 2019, and we are now in the world of two-hour lead times. That’s the norm and that’s the expectation. That’s what Amazon has done to consumer expectations.”
Phoenix operates three facilities and also has significant leased space. Altogether, the company has more than 25 million square feet of space around the Eastern U.S.
Adjusting to the needs of individual customers can be an ongoing challenge, Kriewaldt says. One example is a firm in the Upper Midwest that is relatively new to outsourcing warehouse and distribution functions.
“We’ve had to change our methodology, anticipating what they are going to do before they do it, learning their habits. We have to plan ahead.”
So, what is on the horizon in terms of technology? Kriewaldt acknowledges it is trendy to talk about blockchain and its potential effects on supply chain, but he says the impact will be huge.
“As consumers demand more traceability at every step of the process, it’s just a matter of time before blockchain is used to track every ingredient every step of the way, just like in the pharmaceutical industry.”
Kriewaldt is among those in the industry who view attracting and retaining qualified people—both at the corporate level and on the warehouse floor—as one of the biggest challenges.