What happens when a fresh produce business tries to operate with a poorly functioning supply chain? Shipments get delayed. Fruits and vegetables rot. Profits go down.
As an industry professional, you’re likely all too familiar with these pain points. Thankfully, automation can help ensure that your supply chain remains efficient and running smoothly.
What is Warehouse Automation?
If you want the “fresh” in “fresh produce” to truly reflect the condition of your products, you need to make sure they are stored properly and moved quickly. One of the areas in which you’re most able to control those factors is your warehouse.
And automation technologies can be your ally in these efforts. They can be broken down into two categories:
Business Process Automation
No doubt about it—we’re in the midst of a digital transformation. Supervisors on the floor scribbling notes on a clipboard is a thing of the past.
From delivery schedules and produce tracking to inventory management, many of your processes can be more efficiently and accurately carried out by technology. It’s not so simple as installing the software and running a program, though—you need a solution that fits the produce industry and is fully integrated across your business.
A food-specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform fits the bill here perfectly. And through customization options and cross-departmental functionality, you can really make such a system work for you in setting automated processes in motion.
Only the largest of companies can afford to fully adopt robotics in their warehouses, but that doesn’t mean that smaller produce businesses can’t benefit from more limited implementations. Relieving your employees of the responsibility of physically moving pallets is a single application that could pay huge dividends.
Advantages of Warehouse Automation
What are the tangible benefits of automation, and how do they apply to your produce business? You’ll see improvement on these fronts:
Reduced Operating Costs
It’s not hard to see how automation can save on labor and equipment costs—if your employees no longer have to keep records by hand, that’s fewer human hours spent on such a tedious (but necessary) task.
The produce industry is already facing a shortage of workers, which has meant more short-term staff working for overtime pay. If some of the responsibilities that these employees would handle can be automated, your business could be relieved of the additional financial burden.
Increased Speed and Reduced Wastage
We acknowledged before how critical speed and efficiency is for produce businesses—your goods have a limited shelf life, so any extra time they spend stuck at a stop along the supply chain is potential revenue lost for your company.
Automation via both software and physical equipment can greatly accelerate your operations, especially in receiving, processing, storing and dispatching. These technologies can also open up new revenue streams—some produce can be sold at differing levels of freshness, allowing for premium pricing if deliveries are fast enough.
The most obvious way in which automation can increase your capacity is through the use of robots—with their ability to navigate in tighter spaces, they can allow your business to get more use out of your warehouses’ square footage.
But what if robotics are out of your price range—are there still gains that can be achieved? Certainly. The solution here is again ERP software. By tying together all of your data and tracking precise product specifications, your business can identify areas where storage can be managed more efficiently.
Embracing Automation for the Future
What we’ve covered here is only the beginning in terms of the ways automation can serve produce businesses in their missions of achieving greater efficiency and profits.
If you’re ready to find out how a purpose-built, industry-specific ERP solution can boost your company’s bottom line, reach out to us.