Invest in a Cold Chain Ready WMS
The need for transparency from supplier to warehouse to seller to consumer has grown rapidly over the last few years, and even tighter traceability is ahead of us. This is a good thing. We need to ensure food quality and mitigate the repercussions of contamination and spoilage. The key is a reliable record of the chain of custody supported by systems that offer information in real time.
A warehouse management system, for example, offers inventory management and visibility tools critical to monitoring material flow in the four walls. From quality inspections, to producing records and documenting cold storage data such as freezer temperatures, a WMS can flag non-compliance issues to mitigate product loss or selling of spoiled goods.
WMS flexibility can be a great asset in cold supply chain management. For example, if changes to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) require changes to processes, reporting, or temperature control in the warehouse, a WMS that can quickly pivot via configuration, not programming helps maintain compliance with minimal disruption to operations.
Embrace Route Optimization and Geofencing Technology
How can businesses ensure shipments make it to their destinations on time? Transportation management solutions including route optimization and geofencing technology help supply chain managers find the fastest possible routes for transporting products. This helps ensure that products don’t lose their freshness on an unnecessarily long trip. The tech also lets supply chain managers see if and when a delivery left its correct route to better identify what exactly caused a delay. The data consumed by the WMS provides visibility for every step in the process for customers.
Choose Technology that Can Withstand Cold Temperatures
Standard retail tracking technology is not designed to be used in cold temperatures like those necessary for cold storage, meaning that it may cease functioning unexpectedly. Mobile computing batteries stop releasing energy, LCD screens freeze up, and barcode readers stop working if condensation or frost covers the scanner. When this happens, workers need to switch to manual data entry to ensure traceability, which can significantly reduce efficiency. To prevent this from happening, supply chain managers need to ensure they are utilizing devices designed specifically to withstand cold temperatures.
Use RFID Tracking Tags to Demonstrate Product Credibility
RFID tags make it easier to trace products through the entire supply chain and demonstrate reliability to consumers. They are also useful for providing data to regulatory authorities who need to ensure that products are adhering to government protocols on food safety. RFID tags make the tracing process easier and more efficient: when a product is scanned, the information is collected and stored in a WMS that tracks its complete journey.
Implement Automated Warehouse Temperature Control Systems
This likely goes without saying: the best way to ensure that food consistently stays fresh while in storage in a temperature-controlled warehouse is to use an automated temperature control system. This system allows supply chain managers to set temperatures within a predetermined range. An automated temperature control system enables workers to monitor temperature fluctuations and get alerts if there is a shift in temperature or if the preset temperature range is exceeded. A warehouse temperature control system can help reduce damages and financial losses associated with problems in the cold chain.
Provide Traceability Information to Customers and Stakeholders
Lastly, don’t forget about providing traceability insights to the customer. If possible, supply chain managers should offer web portals that allow customers to access inventory and track the journeys of their products. With a growing focus on locally-sourced foods, animal welfare, and environmental sustainability, it’s important that supply chain managers are able to prove to consumers that they are purchasing products that meet their standards. That proof comes from “farm to fork” traceability. The entire journey from production, to storage, to transportation, to delivery.
By following these tips, businesses can improve their efficiency and ensure that their products remain of high quality and undamaged at every stage of the supply chain. When it comes to traceability in the cold chain, the right integrated warehouse and transportation management solutions are integral to collecting accurate, up-to-date information and maintaining customer satisfaction.