There’s a never-ending stream of reasons why the supply chain is being disrupted, from staffing shortages to the Evergreen ship stuck in the Suez Canal. In fact, if there were just three words to sum up the 2020s so far, they would probably be “supply chain issues”.
Businesses are quickly learning the importance of flexibility in difficult times, and many are turning to agile methodologies for guidance. So, where does agile, a practice usually associated with software development, come into warehouse management?
An agile approach to food and drink
Every industry has to deal with changing trends and customer needs, but the food and drink industry sometimes struggles to adapt thanks to a wide range of regulations. Even small changes in processes can mean risking non-compliance. At the same time, customer needs are evolving rapidly, making it very easy to be left behind.
With that in mind, you may wonder how agile strategies can work within this.
Agile manufacturing is a practice that can help keep your business above water in a fast-moving marketplace. It uses carefully created processes, tools and training to emphasise the importance of responding to customer needs in a timely fashion while still maintaining a healthy balance between development costs and product quality.
The benefits of agile warehouse management
Adopting agile practices is a reasonably intensive process that requires everyone to be on the same page. Thankfully, the benefits far outweigh the effort involved in switching to agile.
Quicker time to consumer
Agile practices allow food and beverage warehouses to adapt to surprises like staff shortages and supply chain issues. Businesses can push out deliveries far quicker than previously thought by removing the tedium from the shipping process. This means you can dramatically reduce the time between your customer placing and receiving their order. Faster delivery means happier customers!
Agile is about doing as much as possible with as few resources as possible. The methodology was designed for small teams with few resources and empowers them to make better products with what they have.
Agile warehouse management follows these same ideals. It looks to reduce the needless fluff involved in warehouse management and switches the focus back onto what matters, your customers.
Less wastage of products
With increased efficiency comes better loss prevention. Automated processes help teams work with agile and offer an easy way to keep track of your inventory at every stage of order fulfilment.
It’s almost impossible to predict what will happen in the next few years. The last couple of years have seen a series of curveballs that only ancient Greek philosophers could have predicted. All the craziness of the last few years has sent plenty of businesses scrambling to adapt.
Truthfully, the only thing you can plan for is change itself. Using agile in your warehouse practices can help set you up for future twists and turns.
Incorporating agile warehouse management as a food and drink brand: keys to success
Switching to a new way of doing things is a tough task, but you can incorporate agile warehouse management into your food and drinks company with just a few tweaks (and an inventory management system).
Use the right tools
The first step is to have a fantastic inventory management system, like Workhorse!
For agile practices to work within your food and drink business, you need software that supports you and your team throughout the transformation and beyond. It needs to be efficient and straightforward while still powerful enough to improve your processes and provide meaningful analytics.
The best inventory management software should empower your workers by automating tedious but essential tasks, such as tracking inventory throughout the order fulfilment process.
You also need to make sure your software is flexible. Workhorse is a modular platform that scales alongside your business. You can pick and choose features you need, adding and dropping modules as you go. That way, you never pay for features you aren’t using.
Using tools like business intelligence software, which aggregates data into easy-to-understand visual displays, will provide your operators and warehouse employees with actionable insights to deal with unforeseen disruptions.
Predictive analytics are also vital in adapting to more minor pivots, like unexpected volume, through leveraging data trends to predict future disruptions. This can guide your strategy and create padding around the problem to prevent it from causing major issues. This could be simple, such as allocating more resources to a particular product line or investing in equipment to fill a gap in what your employees need.
Anticipate lead times
Lead times are crucial when planning and maintaining your inventory. Calculating lead times can be a little trickier than you might think.
Say the last three inventory deliveries were 14 days, 16 days, and 12 days — that would leave you with an average lead time of 14 days. However, as we all know, if you start taking averages as gospel, you’ll run into trouble.
Through automatic tracking, software can help give a more accurate picture of your lead times. Not only can analytics show average lead times, but they can also show any extremes like late deliveries and flag any issues that require your intervention.
Have a safety stock on hand to cover errors in forecasting
Just in time management is a great way to manage your food and drink inventory. However, it can occasionally let you down in times of supply chain stress. Keeping a little extra stock on hand can help you adapt to sudden supply chain issues and bridge any gaps left by forecasting errors.
Ready to make the change to an agile approach to inventory management? Book a demo today to see how Workhorse can streamline your processes.