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How to simplify cold chain monitoring

Americold

Americold have created inventory management software that simplifies and streamlines supply chain order management for the food and beverage industry.

Picture the situation: It’s Christmas time – your busiest season. You run the logistics team for a national food manufacturer and supply products to dozens of retail chains with resupply shipments scheduled weekly. You get a call from your transportation company to say they have staff issues and they cannot make deliveries to their usual routes across the Melbourne suburbs.  But your retail customers won’t tolerate empty shelves and neither you nor they want to miss out on sales. How do you solve this situation?

It can and does happen. It was regular occurrences of similar situations that led Americold, one of the largest providers of temperature-controlled storage and logistics in the world, to develop an online portal for inventory and supply chain management. It’s called: i-3PL.

Americold

Americold’s i-3PL Supply Chain Control system is a proprietary online tool that connects all Americold’s Warehouse Management systems, the systems used at their cold storage locations, together in a dashboard that provides customers with a complete overview of their inventory, no matter where it is within Americold’s integrated network.

“We see ourselves as the middle part of the supply chain between paddock to plate,” said Andrew Mates, vice president of commercial and business development at Americold.

i-3PL provides access to 40 different performance and inventory level reporting options, supports exception alerts to notify customers of topics that are out of tolerance, includes order management to allow users to place new orders or change existing entries, and offers online appointment scheduling so that customers can book pick-ups and deliveries.

It even includes a national hold functionality should customers need to pull a batch of products from the marketplace.

“It’s not uncommon for cold storage providers to have inventory visibility systems, but we’re integrating ours across our entire international network,” said Mates.

“With a single log-in, our customers get a complete view, and associated reporting and management functionality, for their inventory throughout our global network.”

Indeed, whilst Americold has been growing its network with mergers and acquisitions, one of the first merger tasks undertaken is the integration of systems to bring that inventory visibility to customers.

The common approach to inventory visibility and supply chain management extends further too.

The Americold Operating System (AOS) encompasses the tools and behaviours required for Americold to operate its business and deliver value to its customers.

“With AOS we standardise our operating procedures, drive innovation collaboratively, optimise our value-added products and services, and improve our service to our customers,” said Mates.

Americold

This approach secures an efficient handling of customer products at each Americold location which, in turn, is represented in Americold Perfect Order metrics dashboard within i-3PL.

At a glance, Americold’s customers can review operational performance metrics and compare them against service standards to be assured they’re receiving service levels that complement their highly efficient supply chains. Metrics and service that can be relied upon.

Returning to the nightmare before Christmas scenario where you could be left with a long list of numbers to call to determine where surplus inventory is being held and how much you can pull from each location, or, with Americold’s services you can log on to i-3PL, know you can trust the inventory overview, and be assured that the new trucks you’ve just booked will be serviced and loaded as per the stated KPI, and all in time for Christmas.

This scenario is a good example of how inventory management software can help any producer, even in the worst of unforeseen circumstances.

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