February 18 2015

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By Morgan Williams, Marketing/Graphic Design Assistant

SKU proliferation is the largest change the beverage industry has seen within the last decade. While beverage growth only averages one percent per year, the number of SKUs has increased 100 percent and continues to grow. This has caused the footprint of a warehouse to expand and become more complex, in turn, increasing tasks for warehouse workforce and customer order complexity.

Over the past several years, the food and beverage industry has become more aware of the abilities and advantages of automation in reducing its environmental footprint. Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS) are perfectly suited for the food and beverage industry due to their ability to minimize overhead and take operational complexity out of the hands of operators. The AS/RS industry is mature with proven technology across industries.

Before deciding to expand their warehouse footprint through facility expansion, food and beverage companies should first evaluate an AS/RS solution. According to Aaron Corcoran, account executive for Westfalia, “When investing in a storage system, the most important thing food and beverage companies should consider is choosing an automation partner that will take the time to understand their business and develop the right level of automation for their company’s specific needs. Too many times the automation supplier’s focus is on being able to fit their system into a customer’s facility and the end result is a system the customer is not fully satisfied with.” Automation can accomplish many tasks but will only be successful through the collaboration of its creators on both ends. This is where Westfalia’s storage systems differ from their competition.

Westfalia takes the time to provide uniquely tailored automation solutions to each company they work with. Westfalia’s Satellite® technology has the ability to store up to 18 pallets deep in one lane of storage, dramatically reducing the space needed to store the same number of pallets when compared to a conventional warehouse. This feature, along with a tandem Storage and Retrieval Machine (S/RM), provides customers with the ability to cover multiple levels of a storage system with one piece of equipment. As automation becomes more widespread, it brings the natural progression of applying a Warehouse Execution System (WES) with it. Westfalia’s Savanna.NET® WES is a tightly integrated Warehouse Management System (WMS) and Warehouse Control System (WCS) software that conforms to a companies business processes. The Savanna.NET® solution optimizes, manages, and controls a storage facility, allowing a business to save time and money while also providing the flexibility to select the necessary functions to meet specific business needs. “Savanna.NET® WES’s ability to interface with current customer systems and the ability to integrate business practices has made the switch to automation far easier than one would expect,” says Corcoran.

With industry-specific knowledge, a long list of diverse references, and many years of automation experience, Westfalia has strategically positioned itself within the food and beverage industry and is excited about the new opportunities this industry will offer in the future.