When you entrust your food and confectionery products to a food warehousing provider, you’re relying on that company to be much more than a provider of space. You’re really relying on them to be a partner that will work to protect the integrity of your products through every step of the supply chain. And, while every 3PL warehousing company will promise to be just that, you must find one that truly “walks the walk.” In this article, we identify 5 things that you should look for in a warehousing provider before entrusting them with your food or confectionery products.
5 Characteristics of Effective Food Warehousing Partners1. Your partner’s space must meet the temperature requirements of your products. Depending on your product offerings, you may require ambient, air-conditioned, refrigerated, or frozen warehousing space – or a combination of all types. The challenge is to find a provider with the appropriate warehouse temperature zones. If you have multiple products that require different temperatures, finding one provider that can handle every temperature range will save you both time and money. For example, when your goods move to your distribution warehouses, it is much more cost- and time-effective to have your carrier make just one stop at one warehouse to load your products instead of visiting multiple locations.
And, while a multi-temperature environment is a plus, it is even more important that your partner can manage and monitor temperatures to ensure that they stay in range. When vetting a prospective provider, you will want to:
- Tour the warehouse to see that temperature monitors are in place
- Ask to see how temperature monitoring is performed
- Understand what the provider’s backup plan is if a cooling or heating system goes down
You will want to see the results of these audits, and your prospective partner should share these with you. You will also want to tour the warehouse to see the 3PL’s operations in action. In fact, many companies will visit their prospective 3PL’s facilities on multiple occasions to see that their processes are consistently performed to a high standard.3. Your partner has a robust WMS. A full-featured warehouse management system (WMS) is the cornerstone of any modern food warehousing operation. In addition to managing inventory, pick and pack, vendor compliance and a host of other key functions, your 3PL’s WMS will provide traceability of your products – in real time – throughout the supply chain.
In the event of a recall, this traceability is paramount as the WMS can identify products by batch or lot number no matter where they are (e.g., inbound, outbound, or in the warehouse) and then help to secure and quarantine them while notifying the manufacturer. And, speaking of recalls, the best 3PLs use their WMS systems to conduct mock recalls a few times a year to prepare in case a real recall should occur.
One last important WMS note for food manufacturers: you will want to ensure that your 3PL’s WMS can manage and trace products after they’ve been reworked. For instance, many food and candy products are packaged together in grocery and retail displays – ostensibly creating new (combined) products from previously separate ones. Should a recall occur with any of those component products, the WMS will need to be able to identify it just as easily as though it were still an individual product.
4. Your partner can integrate warehousing with transportation services. Many 3PLs that handle warehousing of food products can also perform transportation services for these same products, including temperature-controlled trucking. By integrating warehousing and transportation services, companies can save time and money by removing the need to coordinate among multiple providers. 3PLs that perform pool distribution can further reduce costs by combining your freight with that of other companies heading to the same grocery and mass merchant DCs.
5. Your partner’s commitment to food integrity is ingrained in its culture. When it comes to food and confectionery warehousing, it is imperative that your provider’s commitment to quality and safety is reflected in its culture. What does this mean?
It means that all employees at all levels act in concert to protect the quality and safety of all products at every stage of operations. It means that your partner’s logistics operations can be individualized to your products’ unique requirements. And, it means that your partner holds itself accountable for product safety and quality by welcoming regular audits from external, unbiased agencies in addition to its own internal audits (which should also occur regularly).
Turn to Weber Logistics for food warehousing excellence
Weber’s rigorous quality control operations within the food and beverage supply chain begin with a dedicated audit/QC team that works closely with AIB auditors and regulatory compliance agents. Though employed by Weber, this team functions independently of all other Weber operational teams and is singularly focused on ensuring that all Weber processes meet or exceed manufacturer requirements, industry best practices and government regulations.
This independent team is just one example of the great lengths we go to preserve and protect your products in the warehouse and over the road. To learn how Weber’s cultural commitment to quality can improve the integrity of your supply chain, contact us today.