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Despite a trend toward consolidation among alcoholic beverage giants, eliminating overlap is hampered by myriad laws, such as the requirement to maintain a physical presence in states where a company sells."When it comes to regulations, other types of beverages hold an advantage over wine, beer, and liquor," says John Spain, senior vice president, global supply chain services for Tompkins Associates. In addition to customs clearance, "anti-terrorism and theft regulations concerning alcohol abound, and more are on the way," he says.
"Beverage companies need to re-profile their warehouses," says Tom Kozenski, vice president product strategy for Red Prairie, a logistics IT solutions provider headquartered in Waukesha, Wisc. Additional SKUs throw another variable into an industry that is just absorbing the debut of born-on, or freshness, dating."The wider variety of SKUs chews up precious real estate on the floor of the distribution center. Such challenges are boosting beverage companies' interest in automation along the entire supply chain, from forecasting through transportation and warehousing to last-mile delivery.Breaking down cases is more costly, involves extra labor, carries a risk of breakage, and requires the replenishment of pick faces." Facilities set up to serve last-mile route deliveries already struggle to balance competing forces: warehouse vs. Beverage companies are increasing their use of forecasting tools to set production schedules more efficiently and, in some cases, move from a build-to-order to a build-to-forecast strategy."Paper-based systems provide total inventory numbers, but can't track the products to individual locations," he notes."WMS can tell users exactly where their product is," boosting productivity by as much as 15 percent.