July 01 2021

Craft beer

As the temperatures continue to rise and outdoor cookouts become more common, more people are reaching for a cold beverage or craft beer to quench their thirst and cool them down!

Although some might argue that a cold beer can be enjoyed year-round, research published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol found that the summer months (June – September) were the most popular time to “crack open cold one.” This influx of demand can put a lot of added stress on warehouse operations, forcing companies in this space to come up with creative solutions to keep up.

The summer presents a unique obstacle for craft breweries; the spike in the different variety of beers during the warmer months adds additional strain on their warehouses. In anticipation of summer demand, craft breweries will often stockpile their seasonal beers, overloading their warehouse with minimal open space. Due to the large uptick in inventory, additional labor is typically needed and the increased product also raises the risk of human error.

An automated storage/retrieval system (AS/RS) could be the key to optimizing every square footage of a warehouse and minimizing human error during the busy months.

Optimization of Space

When a brewery is required to stock up on fast-moving seasonal inventory, in addition to their standard selection of beers, space becomes very limited. One of the benefits of incorporating an AS/RS into the warehouse is that you can build vertically rather than storing product on the floor and needing to add additional square footage to your building footprint.

A typical pallet is on average 48” x 40” which equates to a little over 13 square feet. A conventional warehouse without an AS/RS may only go 3-4 layers high in order to retrieve them safely with a forklift, limiting the number of pallets that could be stored in an area.

Implementing an AS/RS allows you to store pallets up to 10-15 levels high and multiple-deep which can effectively add storage density without increasing your building footprint. You can triple the number of pallets within the same warehouse space, providing flexibility during months leading up to the seasonal spike where many companies tend to stockpile their inventory.

Minimizing Risk & Human Error

Fulfillment satisfied by a computer drastically minimizes the risk of inventory which is typically done by a manager or foreman. Automatic tracking of pallets and different SKUs helps keep track of who receives what; this is helpful during recalls or for data analysis like determining your customer’s order pattern. A conventional system might produce inaccurate data when it comes to traceability, often relying on a paper trail, while an AS/RS can provide quick, accurate, and reliable data automatically.

The goal of an AS/RS is to only touch the pallets twice: once when you receive the product and store it in the system and then again when it is retrieved to be shipped. This greatly minimizes any risk that comes with some conventional warehouses that rotate their inventory; there is no need to search where the product is as it can be brought right to you.

When asked about the benefit of an AS/RS, Ryan Smith, Westfalia’s VP of automation, stated “If a product is limited on the supply end, an AS/RS can provide a buffer during seasonal spikes and limit your exposure to the risk of the supply chain.”

The next time you’re reaching for a cold beverage during a summer cookout, think about all the different factors that helped it get into your hands. An AS/RS can help solve multiple challenges that are tied to seasonality spikes, such as lack of space and minimizing human risk and human error. An AS/RS may be the optimal choice to help solve these challenges in the warehouse and ensures that everyone is able to enjoy their favorite beer on a warm summer day.

See how we helped Breakthru Beverage improve their inventory control during high peak times.