The performance of a shipping dock can be a great indicator of the overall health of a company’s logistics operation.
The BevOpsFleet Summit 2022 – Technology In the Beverage Supply Chain
The 15th BevOpsSummit was recently held in Las Vegas, bringing together supply chain professionals from the beverage industry to talk about the current state of the market and where it’s heading.
What I Learned by Nate Allan, Sr. Director of Digital Sales, LoadSmart
The 15th BevOpsSummit was recently held in Las Vegas, bringing together supply chain professionals from the beverage industry to talk about the current state of the market and where it’s heading. The beverage space is dealing with many of the same market challenges as other industries, plus plenty that are unique. There were many great educational sessions and discussions, and here are some of the key learnings I took away.
Shipping Is Challenging Right Now
It’s not anyone’s imagination; supply chain market conditions are tough right now. Volatile fuel prices and the labor shortage, not surprisingly, are two challenges for the industry that were mentioned often during the event.
Other common themes that came up more specific to the beverage industry included:
- A dynamic shift toward the buyer and the current emphasis by companies to position themselves more to individuals
- Discussions on how to create supply chain efficiency while dealing with products having so many different shelf-life lengths
- Alternate vehicle types and fuels for more sustainability
- And, my favorite, lots of talk about technology
So, How Is Technology Impacting the Industry?
Inside the warehouse, optimization through technology is seeing broader adoption (e.g., warehouse management systems, automated pick-lists), yet some companies have been slower in adopting outward-facing technology (e.g., dock scheduling and TMS).
Most companies acknowledge that these external solutions work and are needed, but struggle with change management and hesitation to implement something new. Concerns over potential upfront costs and system maintenance were also cited as reasons for not having added more technology.
Improvements Through Technology and The Cost of Inaction
From my perspective as a technology advocate, it was reassuring to hear that companies are aware of the need for and benefits of technology. I also appreciate how hard change management is when it comes to adding new technology.
Here are some perspectives I heard over the course of several conversations that speak to why there needs to be an urgency to take action with technology (and specifically dock scheduling).
- The longer companies wait to add the proper technology, the bigger the hole they’re digging. No one expects technology to become less vital, and companies with a technology edge will only increase their advantage.
- Most lagging companies recognize they’re stuck in an outdated way of doing things. This includes the customers’ experience working with them. Technology can not only be used to help warehouse employees and drivers be more productive, but it will also improve the experience of carrier partners and customers.
- After a costly WMS implementation, companies are hesitant to take an honest look at what it’s lacking (which is often a well-designed dock scheduling solution). The ROI of a tool like Opendock is quick and independent of any WMS.
- If a company feels it’s not getting the most from technology, it’s not alone. But the good news is the available logistics technology has never been more plentiful, cost-effective, and easy to implement.
The Beverage Industry Is an Exciting Place to Be:
So much science is entering the industry. It’s not just slinging beverages left and right, and many smart, data-driven people are driving efficiencies all around. This new energy and forward-thinking, matched with the tremendous existing industry expertise, was great to experience at the event.
From my perspective, it feels like the industry is working hard to honor its legacy but pairing it with modern thinking to create a more optimized supply chain and customer experience. I look forward to helping companies feeling hesitant about adding technology see the immediate and long-term value of doing so to their shipping operations and the level of service they provide.