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FMCG companies makes some of the best customers; their high churn accounts increase the potential profitability, but with better returns come complex demands, particularly where the food sector is concerned. Predictable forecasting patterns also makes this sector desirable with the retroactive trends making for close to accurate racking availability reporting and demand planning.
With shelf life being a key driver for perishable goods, efficiency is essential, making rack positioning for optimal picking crucial. Layout should be designed and configured with this in mind, which will not only save vital time but also wasted minutes financially. Efficiency should be considered from a labour perspective; having smart systems in place to monitor the utilisation of employee time and productivity trackers is fundamental. Location is valuable too; placing high demand/churn items close to bay doors can speed the efficiency process.
Selection of Warehouse Management Software is imperative from a traceability as well as employee utilisation perspective. End to end visibility can diffuse customer tensions, allowing them to remotely manage the storage and distribution of their goods from anywhere worldwide, and run tailored reports to govern stock. Real time view allows faster responses to increased demand, ensuring a timely, streamlined process.
Having a keen eye for quality, performing rigorous checks and conscientious testing above and beyond the usual routine is required. Bespoke perquisites such as batch sampling of herb and spices, and tailored customer process development is all part and parcel of managing this complex industry and having the capability to uphold such attention to detail during rapid fluctuations in demand.
‘At AKW, we pay meticulous attention to the storage conditions of food product. All of the Warehousing bays are temperature controlled, HEPA filtered for air purity and products are sampled exactly to customer specification where required. Daily bay checks are conducted to ensure we retain our BRC Food Grade standard ‘A’. Our quality management measures are second to none’ reflects Dave Nettleton, Warehouse Manager.
Being a comprehensive 3PL encompassing not only Warehousing, but Contract Packing and Transport is a massive USP for this industry. Communication can often be lost in translation through each link, however having synergised systems under one roof for each part of the process negates this confusion, thus making it extremely desirable. Contingencies can be more cohesive and the flow of information instantaneous as opposed to if your chain was segmented.
With time of the essence, having a team of experienced Maintenance Engineers to react in a crisis is advantageous, particularly with the retention challenges of this career, due to the inflation of salaries caused by the lack of experienced engineers in the market. We’re fortunate at AKW to have an accomplished team on hand to tackle issues immediately if they arise, resulting in massively decreased disruption and downtime.
Last but not least, building sound relationships is indispensable with this type of customer; providing transparency and visibility of the robust processes and management of their goods pays dividends in terms of peace of mind. Complying and reflecting CSR and ethical considerations is a major factor in relationship retention, with droves of the top FMCG companies putting sustainability compatibility at the top of it’s criteria for a ‘perfect fit’. Third party supply chain solutions can really be an invaluable strategic asset for FMCG food companies if the right selection is made.
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