Food Logistics January/February 2021

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WAREHOUSE AUTOMATION: THE KEY TO CONSISTENCY Mitigating risk and supply chain disruption is necessary in today’s unpredictable world.

Issue No. 223 January/February 2021

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January/February 2021 ISSUE NO. 223 COLUMNS FOR STARTERS


2021 is the Year of Mended Supply Chains

Editor-in-chief Marina Mayer explains why our nation’s supply chains are resilient.


Warehouse Automation: The Key to Consistency

Mitigating risk and supply chain disruption is necessary in today’s unpredictable world.





Best Practices in Fleet Management Lead with People First


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Field to Fork Food on the Move Ad Index


Technology Transforms Cold Warehouse Lift Trucks


5 Ways AGVs Help Food Supply Chains Today and in 2021

Here’s how many of today’s 3PLs are putting employees first.

Lift truck technology helps battery power, adds comfort in the cold and bridges the labor gap.

Discover how AGVs can solve challenges for both today and 2021.




Supply Chain Software

Foodservice Packaging

To Plan for Pandemic is to

34 Solutions in the Cold

38 Relies on Safety

42 Be Prepared

Learn how the continuing rise of e-commerce presents major opportunities.

The pandemic and sustainability issues have shaped the foodservice packaging industry.

Protecting workforce and prioritizing food safety through the pandemic starts with a robust plan.

Food Chain

WEB EXCLUSIVES Supply Chain Network


Virtual Summit

The L.I.N.K. to Global Supply Food Editors Stream Live on Social Media Chain Intelligence

Published and copyrighted 2021 by AC Business Media. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Food Logistics (USPS 015-667; ISSN 1094-7450 print; ISSN 1930-7527 online) is published 10 times per year in January/February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October and November/December by AC Business Media, 201 N. Main Street, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538. Periodicals postage paid at Fort Atkinson, WI 53538 and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Food Logistics, P.O. Box 3605, Northbrook, IL 60065-3605. Subscriptions: U.S., one year, $45; two years, $85; Canada & Mexico, one year, $65; two years, $120; international, one year, $95; two years, $180. All subscriptions must be paid in U.S. funds, drawn from a U.S. bank. Printed in the USA.



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L E A R N M O R E AT: B A S T I A N S O L U T I O N S . C O M / F O O D A N D B E V


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Marina Mayer Editor-in-Chief

hen I joined Food Logistics Jan. 6, 2020, little did I know that over one year later, the supply chain industry would still be challenged with the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, trying to mend upended supply chains, pivot into new channels and implement automation, almost overnight. Who would’ve thought that MODEX 2020 would be my last in-person tradeshow of the year. Never in a million years would’ve seen restaurants close indoor dining, schools move to remote learning and consumers stockpile goods as though the world were

driverless, virtual and same-day are the answer to all of e-commerce needs. While 2020 was the Year of Upended Supply Chains, 2021 will be the Year of Mended Supply Chains. If 2020 has proven anything, it’s that our nation’s supply chains are resilient, and the people and technologies behind them are just as strong and flexible, if not more. The pandemic forced all companies revamp processes, embrace challenges and better protect the employees responsible for making magic happen along the chain. It forced all of us to

Published by AC BUSINESS MEDIA 201 N. Main Street, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538 (800) 538-5544 •


Print and Digital Staff Group Publisher Jason DeSarle Sales Associate Brian Hines Account Executive Mike Coon Editor-in-Chief Marina Mayer

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Senior Production Manager Cindy Rusch

Art Director Willard Kill Audience Development Manager Angela Franks ADVERTISING SALES (800) 538-5544 Group Publisher Jason DeSarle (440) 476-9526,

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ending. Again, if you told me on my first day that this is how the year would pan out, I don’t think I would’ve believed you. But, here we are, and we’re not finished. Even though, as of press time, the COVID-19 vaccine is in the distribution channels, all facets of the supply chain—from agriculture and packaging to food processing, distribution and warehousing, and more—are still reconfiguring how to work smarter in 2021. Automation, robotics and other emerging technologies continue to move goods along the chain. Consumers are browsing more online than they are in grocery store aisles. And, contactless,



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reevaluate and question why we do things the way they’re being done. This pandemic was the most challenging annual review any employee could undergo. I’m not sure things will ever go back to normal. But, what is normal anyways? Going back to the way things were pre-COVID-19 means we’ve learned nothing. Let’s continue to work together to mend these supply chains, work smarter in 2021 and appreciate and acknowledge the hard work this industry puts forth, day in and day out to keep people fed. So, with that, be kind, thank an essential worker and hope to actually see you in person some time soon.

List Rental Bart Piccirillo, Sr. Account Manager Data Axle Phone: (518) 339 4511, E-mail:

Reprint Services Brian Hines (647) 296-5014

AC Business Media Chief Executive Officer Barry Lovette Chief Financial Officer JoAnn Breuchel Chief Digital Officer Kris Heineman Chief Revenue Officer Amy Schwandt VP Audience Development Ronda Hughes Director of Digital Operations & IT Nick Raether Director of Digital Strategy Joel Franke Group Content Director Jon Minnick Published and copyrighted 2021 by AC Business Media. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher.

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IFDA Stresses Importance of Vaccine for Foodservice Distribution Workers Mark S. Allen, president and CEO of the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), sent a letter to governors and public health officials in each state requesting that IFDA members be considered for the first round of COVID-19 vaccines. He wrote: “IFDA represents foodservice distributors who deliver food and other products to facilities, including restaurants, hospitals, long-term care facilities, schools and other operations that provide food away from home. Distributors have worked tirelessly throughout this crisis to ensure the customers that depend on them have the products they need. As food demand has grown, the industry has also worked closely with food banks and other non-profits to provide food aid for hungry Americans.” “Ensuring the continuing supply of food to foodservice customers is a critical government responsibility, and state vaccination plans must ensure that foodservice distributors are a priority industry. It is critical that the men and women who work in the warehouses and drive the trucks to deliver these products can safely continue to fulfill their vital mission.” Go to to read more.

Foodservice Industry Anticipates Rise in Contactless Dining Rising cases of COVID-19 worldwide, increasing adoption of contactless dining by restaurants/hotels, advanced technology of contactless payments and increasing government initiatives for contactless dining are driving market growth in foodservice, according to a report published by Brandessence Market Research. Contactless dining restaurants offer menu items with pictures on their mobile phones for customers to scan the QR code provided at restaurants. Benefits of this QR menu are contactless ordering, visuals, competitive advantage, reduction in operational costs, menu management and social media promotions. Also, customers can browse through the menu, re-order, place an order, make payment and leave without touching anything. Online food ordering services provided by the companies from various apps, software and websites via smartphones is also driving the contactless dining market growth. For instance, according to Upserve, about 60% of U.S. consumers order delivery or takeout once a week and about 45% of consumers say that offering mobile ordering or loyalty programs would encourage them to use online ordering services more often. Furthermore, increasing government initiatives regarding contactless dining and technological advancements in the contactless dining space are expected to boost market growth in forecast period. However, the cost of supply chain and logistics may hamper the market growth. Go to to read more.



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Kroger Shares Top 7 Food Trend Predictions for 2021 The Kroger Co. unveiled its food trend predictions for 2021. “The most popular foods and beverages of 2020 underscore how our customers not only adapted to the challenges of this unique year, but [also] embraced cooking and eating at home as part of their new routine,” says Stuart Aitken, Kroger’s chief merchant. “As many of our customers transitioned to working from home and virtual schoolrooms this year, coffee, fresh deli meat and artisan bread emerged as go-to staples for elevated breakfast and lunch routines, while zero-calorie soft drinks, unique potato chip flavors, wine and chocolate stood out as comfort food favorites. Fresh ground beef, premium buns and shredded cheese also rose in popularity as our customers recreated their favorite restaurant-style burgers at home.” Go to to read more.

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Bell and Howell Introduces Versatile Grocery Locker






Better eating habits is always one of the most common New Year’s resolutions, which is why Applegate surveyed more than 1,000 adults to gain insight into their New Year’s resolution plans related to better eating in 2021. As many Americans are into Week 1 of a new eating regimen, Applegate found that 72% of those surveyed believe meat should be part of a healthy diet and that 55% are resolving to cut back on sugar. Despite the rising popularity of plant-based trends and lab-created “meat” substitutes, the survey found 58% of adults have no plans to consume less meat in 2021 and illustrated how consumers are seeking natural and organic meat products with clean ingredients and meat that is humanely raised. Some of the key survey takeaways about plans for better eating in 2021 include: Meat will be a key ingredient. 72% of U.S. adults believe meat should be a part of a healthy diet, and 58% of U.S. adults said they have no plans to eat less meat in 2021. Hold the sugar. 55% of all U.S. adults stated that in 2021 they want to cut down on sugar. More veggies please. Nearly half (48%) of Americans do not believe they are eating enough vegetables every day. Kitchen fatigue is real. About one in three (37%) U.S. adults admitted they have experienced some level of kitchen fatigue and have started to cook more frozen foods. This includes nearly one in four (23%) U.S. adults who would be willing to cook with more frozen foods if there were more nutritious options. Go to to read more.

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Bell and Howell


Meat Will Be Key Ingredient for Americans Resolving to Eat Better in 2021, Survey Says

Bell and Howell introduced the QuickCollect GL, a modular, temperatureregulated smart locker solution designed for both indoor and outdoor environments. QuickCollect GL is ideal for grocers looking to implement a scalable grocery pickup program, automate manual pickup programs like curbside pickup or extend their pickup service as a remote pickup point. The QuickCollect GL system enables grocers to remotely adjust the locker temperature setting on a “per-column” basis to meet any usage needs. Go to to read more.

PLM Expands Zero Emissions for Transport Refrigerated Unit PLM Fleet LLC (dba PLM Trailer Leasing) now offers a net-zero emission refrigerated trailer as an alternative energy fleet solution. Through a partnership with Advanced Energy Machines, the zero-emission AEM Solar Tech Transportation Refrigeration Unit is a complete all-electric solution with an industry standard operating range. The Solar Tech electric TRU offers best-in-class design and operation, including single and multi-temperature options, full-range temperature control and performance, 30-plus hours of continuous use between charges, fully charged in 8 hours, weight-neutral compared to traditional diesel TRU and safe, 40-volt DC nonarc charging. Go to to read more.



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Report Finds Global Cold Chain Monitoring Market to Reach $11.94B by 2027

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The “Cold Chain Monitoring - Global Market Outlook (2019-2027)” report from Research and Markets finds that the global cold chain monitoring market accounted for $4.01 billion in 2019, and is expected to reach $11.94 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 14.6% during the forecast period. Some of the key factors propelling the market growth include increasing global demand for temperature-sensitive drugs, surging demand for better food quality, intensifying need to reduce food wastage and surging demand for generic drugs owing to higher accessibility. However, high cost of implementation is likely to hamper the market. By logistics, the storage segment is expected to grow at the significant rate during the forecast period. Growing consumer inclination toward packaged food, changing lifestyles and dietary patterns and the intensifying need to protect pharmaceutical products from unsuitable climatic conditions are the prime factors favoring the deployment of storage solutions at production sites, distribution centers and final delivery points. Go to to read more.

Dole Packaged Foods to Open New Georgia Frozen Food Production Complex

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Dole Packaged Foods will open a new state-of-the-art frozen fruit facility in McDonough, Ga. The project is expected to create 100 new jobs. The new facility is approximately 63,000 square feet, fully automated and will have four manufacturing lines, which when at capacity, can produce 60 million pounds of fruit annually. The operations will package frozen fruit for Dole’s retail, foodservice and private label customers on the East Coast. According to the Henry County Development Authority, production will begin in a phased approach and should be fully operational by September 2021. This will be Dole’s third frozen fruit facility, complimenting the existing operations in Atwater, Calif., and Decatur, Mich. Go to to read more.

Geotab Introduces GO9+ Telematics Solution Geotab introduced its new GO9+ telematics solution. The new GO9+ is built upon Geotab’s GO9 device, designed to help businesses better manage their fleets through improved acceleration tracking, a more accurate GPS and better support for vehicle-generated data and for new vehicle types. The newly added connectivity of GO9+ will allow businesses full visibility of their vehicles in real-time, as well as offering Wi-Fi connectivity for up to four hours with the ignition off, thereby eliminating wasted fuel and greenhouse gas generated when idling for WiFi access. “The GO9+ opens up internet access to more people, allowing managers to stay connected to their teams, enhancing the ability of businesses to operate with employees away from an office or logistics warehouse,” says Colin Sutherland, executive VP of sales and marketing for Geotab. “The adoption of efficiency tools for employees has accelerated and as we end an unpredictable and unprecedented year, one thing we can place firmly in the silver linings column for 2020 is that many industries have pivoted to permanently optimizing their everyday business practices for an increasingly connected world.”

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St. Louis Regional Freightway Releases 2020 Highlights

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The St. Louis Regional Freightway helped to advance the bi-state St. Louis region as a world-class freight hub in 2020 and showcased the region’s resilience and continued importance in the global supply chain as the COVID-19 pandemic raged on. Growth at the region’s various ports is significantly influenced by the collaboration between them and other Midwest ports as they work together to get more barge loads on the Mississippi River and keep freight rates competitive. After welcoming the launch of containeron-barge services in the St. Louis region in 2020, that collaboration is also paving the way for the debut of innovative container-on-vessel (COV) service on the Mississippi River and adjacent inland rivers. The COV service is part of a plan calling for patented new waterway vessels that will move large volumes of goods and commodities along the inland waterways, serving key consolidation ports in St. Louis, Mo., and Memphis, Tenn., and several other feeder ports. The new service will effectively create an all-water North-South trade lane connecting the Midwest to the lower Mississippi River and on to worldwide destinations. Based on milestones reached in the latter part of 2020, service on the new route could be available to shippers by the first quarter of 2023. enanuchit -

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South Carolina Ports

SC Ports’ Leatherman Terminal Welcomes 15 Hybrid Cranes

Evans Transportation Announces 2.0 Logistics Management Platform

Evans Transportation launched the Evans 2.0 logistics management platform. Evans 2.0 represents an overhaul on the logistics industry South Carolina Ports welcomed 15 hybrid rubber-tired that leverages modern technology to streamline processes, increases gantry (RTG) cranes to the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal. speed and accuracy and provide real-time visibility and transparency “It is always an exciting day when new cranes come on costs. through Charleston Harbor,” says SC Ports CEO Jim “In an era where most logistics businesses operate with off-the-shelf Newsome. “The Leatherman Terminal’s impressive new platforms and applications, we decided to leverage the latest protocols equipment will provide reliable service to our customers and technologies to build out our own core internal and external and environmental benefits to the region.” systems,” says Ryan Keepman, president of Evans Transportation. The 15 hybrid RTG cranes arrived in North Charleston, “Evans 2.0 was designed from the ground up to provide a new level of S.C. on the Zhen Hua 15. Go to value, transparency and usability, propelling the logistics industry into to learn more. the new decade—for both vendors and customers.” Evans Integration Hub enables seamless integration between Evans customers, carriers and partner vendors, streamlining the process for our clients and increasing automation for all parties. Evans Rating Engine is a proprietary parcel, LTL and truckload rating engine that leverages technology to propel speed and accuracy while providing the most reliable information in the logistics industry. Evans 2.0 Freight Pay & Audit Platform is where proactive “push” notifications provide a new level of invoicing transparency and accuracy. In a dynamic environment of changing fuel schedules, accessorial service add-ons and paperwork modifications, Evans proprietary Freight Pay & Audit Platform is designed to provide an informed customer experience.

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Daily Updates at

States Join Plan to Cut Pollution, Modernize Transportation






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the grand opening of one of the largest frozen storage facilities of its kind. This impressive project includes a high bay warehouse with 90,000 pallet positions supplied by SSI SCHAEFER.

Lineage Logistics to Acquire Cryo-Trans Lineage Logistics, LLC announced plans to acquire Cryo-Trans. This industryfirst partnership creates a uniquely comprehensive and seamlessly integrated supply chain solution for food and beverage customers. “Lineage’s acquisition of Cryo-Trans signals our commitment to knowing no bounds when it comes to investing in creative and truly end-to-end solutions for our customers,” says Kevin Marchetti, co-founder of Lineage and Bay Grove. “We are proud to continuously lead innovation in our industry, and we look forward to uncovering new opportunities to further streamline our customers’ supply chains.”

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Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia, are the first to sign an agreement to participate in the Transportation & Climate Initiative Program (TCI), a cap-and-invest plan that will modernize transportation in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. The TCI program will significantly reduce carbon pollution from the transportation sector as well as provide critical funding for 21st Century transportation solutions in urban, suburban and rural areas alike, improving neighborhoods, public health, air quality and commutes. States will also prioritize communities who have borne the brunt of transportation-related pollution through investments in public transit, electric school and transit buses and multi-modal transportation options. In addition, the TCI program is expected to save states billions of dollars in transportation pollution related health costs over the course of the program’s implementation. States such as New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Delaware, Maine, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, have all agreed to remain engaged and continue with the negotiation toward joining the program.

The demand for deep-freeze products continues to grow. As volumes increase, requirements placed upon deep-freeze logistics are getting more complex. SSI SCHAEFER offers flexible, modular, and scalable solutions that optimize storage, picking processes, and profitability within cold storage facilities.

Go to to learn more.

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J.B. Hunt, University of Arkansas Tackle Inclusivity, Sustainability in Supply Chains

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J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. and the University of Arkansas announced a new $2.25 million collaboration with the Sam M. Walton College of Business that will increase awareness of inclusion and diversity in transportation and logistics and explore new, sustainable solutions to address current and potential industry challenges. “The transportation industry has changed so much in the last decade that fresh, innovative thinking is necessary for developing modern solutions,” says John Roberts, president and CEO of J.B. Hunt. “Through this collaboration, we will help educate and promote the value of an inclusive workplace, one that respects the individual and creates a welcoming environment for all ideas, values and beliefs. It will also ensure that we remain steadfast in our efforts to reduce carbon emissions, ensure the safety of all employees, and better the communities we serve.” To support the new collaboration, J.B. Hunt will provide an incremental gift of $1.5 million to the University of Arkansas and reallocate $750,000 from the J.B. Hunt Innovation Center of Excellence, an ongoing effort between the two to improve supply chain management efficiency through technology. Two funds benefitting the Department of Supply Chain Management in the Walton College have been established that outline the direction for each initiative: Inclusion Education and Thought Leadership Fund, a $1.25 million contribution, will promote a diverse educational environment by supporting the needs of students, faculty and external partners in addressing the challenges faced by individuals from historically underrepresented backgrounds in supply chain management. It will assist the college’s staffing and collaboration efforts that advocate for the diversity, equity and inclusion in the industry. Sustainable Supply Chain Management Research, Innovation, and Education Fund, a $1 million contribution, will support educational pursuits that pertain to sustainable business practices and encourage engagement among industry experts to address environmental, social and corporate governance issues. Go to to learn more.


Maven Machines Announces New Driver and Fleet Workflow Solution

JZ Expedited Companies

Maven Machines’ latest software platform, Maven Workflow, allows users to create flexible custom forms and stop-based, location-based workflows. The new solution reportedly focuses on the flexibility of fleet and driver workflows. Maven Workflow provides a step-by-step workflow guide at each stop a driver makes, showing necessary information and forms configured for that specific stop type, location and customer need. Maven Workflow also eliminates outdated mail and email-based communication methods with real-time, streamlined messaging and workflow processes.

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JZ Expedited Companies’ Expansion Supports Inland Marine Terminal Business

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The JZ Expedited Companies announced plans of developing 45 additional acres of yard space along with increasing its warehouse footprint to 500,000-1 million square feet. With this plan, the JZ Expedited Companies further stamps its commitment to being a national leader in the ForeignTrade Zone (FTZ), U.S Customs Bonded, Domestic cargo arena. The JZ Expedited Companies can expand its global service center and build-to-suit for long-term contracts. Go to

to learn more.



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Smart Fleet Management Market to Reach $98.65B by 2027

4SIGHT Connect Digital Gate Improves Driver SchedulinG

The global smart fleet management market generated $38.24 billion in 2019, and is predicted to reach $98.65 billion by 2027, according to a report by Allied Market Research. The market will grow at a CAGR of 15.8% over the next seven years. This growth is due to the integration of real-time fleet monitoring systems in vehicles, increase in utilization of cloud-based technology for smart fleet management solutions and improved vehicle monitoring and furl management. The roadways segment dominated the market with highest market share in 2019, accounting for nearly three-fifths of the global market, and is anticipated to lead the trail throughout the forecast period. And, the Asia-Pacific market accounted for the highest revenue in 2019, with nearly two-fifths of the total revenue share.

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4SIGHT Connect Digital Gate from 4SIGHT Logistics Solution is designed to vastly improve driver 4SIGHT scheduling and communications, including • Proactively schedule docks for loading/unloading. • Send drivers to the right location, based on availability, and upon arrival. • Monitor drivers’ check-in/check-out status and capture metrics on how long drivers spend at facilities. • Provide authority to turn drivers away if needed. • Simplify communication between drivers and facilities via text messaging and voice calls. • Ensure real-time carrier notifications. • Provide reports and documentation needed to refute any detention charges.

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TO MAINTAINING CONSISTENCY IN UNPREDICTABLE ENVIRONMENT The widespread adoption of automation and robotics helps companies continue moving cold food and beverage through the supply chain.


hen the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) hit the United States, it displaced employees, upended supply chains and fast-tracked deployment of emerging technologies. It disrupted the way companies do business, forcing them to work smarter, safer and more efficiently. What’s more is, consumer shopping behavior changed almost overnight, setting the stage for what has become a more e-commerce-driven way of purchasing groceries. “The urgent needs of the pandemic forced wider and more immediate adoption of intelligent automation if for no other reason than to keep goods moving when limiting human

contact became a matter of public safety and business survival,” says Reggie Twigg, director of product marketing for ABBYY, a Digital Intelligence company. COVID-19 forever changed the landscape of the cold food supply chain. However, the pandemic also welcomed the widespread adoption of automation and robotics to help companies continue moving cold food and beverage through the supply chain. Here’s why warehouse automation is key to maintaining a consistent supply chain in an unpredictable world.

Drivers of warehouse automation The global warehouse automation market is projected to grow to $27 billion by 2025, according to Research and Markets. This growth is attributed to the influx in grocery retail e-commerce, emerging distribution channels, increased adoption of microfulfillment centers, heightened use of autonomous mobile robots and the everincreasing need for same-day delivery. Labor shortages are also driving this change, according to Mike Barker, VP of consumer goods for Swisslog. “The impacts of COVID-19 on worker availability is obvious. Less obvious is



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 Swisslog is currently working with H-E-B to deploy multiple automated micro-fulfillment centers at more than 40 stores in the San Antonio, Calif., area.

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Generix Group

Leveraging automated solutions helps reduce risks associated with human dependence within a warehouse.

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that with Baby Boomer workers retiring, there are fewer workers willing to work in warehouses and the associated labor rates is increasing. This is making the return on investment for automation more compelling,” he adds. Warehouse automation also allows for flexibility and the ability to adjust accordingly as demands shift. “Manual operations are highly susceptible to global disruptions such as the COVID-19 virus and natural disasters, such as hurricanes and wildfires,” says Sudhakar Janakiraman, senior VP of Americas region sales for Dematic. “Automation can help companies remove some of those dependencies and move them toward developing a more comprehensive [plan]. Automation can be the centerpiece of [the] supply chain that is prepared to shift quickly to accommodate fluctuations in demand. Automation can help make employee safety a priority by promoting social distancing and allowing companies to reallocate staff to valueadded tasks to better manage their supply chain.” With this flexibility comes the need for consistency and predictability. “Automation by definition is consistent machine precision. Robots are literally programmed to perform the same rote task over and over again without mistakes or distractions,” says Lior Elazary, cofounder and CEO of inVia Robotics. “So, when unforeseen circumstances arise, particularly ones that disrupt labor markets like the ones we’ve seen in 2020, robots can be depended on to continue working and completing the tasks that have been assigned to them. It’s a welcome layer of stability during a time of disruption. And, when companies are scenario planning to build out their supply chains, the portion of their operations that is automated can be

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a constant factor. It mitigates their risk by eliminating a variable.” The push to automate warehouses was in full force before COVID-19, but megatrends like aging population, globalization, health and safety, mobility, green logistics, autonomous world, urbanization, individualization and digitization fasttracked implementation and deployment of warehouse automation, says Avi Gupta, principal analyst for LogisticsIQ. In fact, a LogisticsIQ study reveals e-grocery is the highest growing application with a market opportunity of $4.8 billion by 2026. “Such automation will help companies fulfill the same-day deliveries needed to meet customers’ expectations,” Gupta says. Furthermore, automation takes people out of harm’s way and allows them to work in a safer environment while maintaining the same, if not increased, service levels, says Matt Rivenbark, director of sales food and beverage, SSI Schaefer Systems International Inc. “Automation accomplishes this by limiting travel and interaction between warehouse staff,” he adds. “Also, it’s a wellknown fact that automation can’t contract COVID-19.”

Risk mitigation amid supply chain disruptions 2020 was full of supply chain disruptions, i.e., natural disasters, civil unrest and the ever-present COVID-19. Yet, automation can very easily be the backbone of a resilient supply chain, according to David Stuver, executive VP of supply chain solutions for Americold. “Automation is one of the best solutions for the lack of

inVia Robotics


a skilled and available workforce,” Stuver says. “When done correctly, warehouse automation can load and unload trailers and fulfill orders faster, reduce wait times and add hundreds of more available hours of service as opposed to physically waiting at warehouses to move freight. Futureforward food logistics professionals will continue to embrace the reality that their business cannot live without automation. Their supply chains certainly will not survive without it.” And, to keep up, more companies anticipate increasing their investment in automation of fulfillment and other processes, according to a Honeywell Intelligrated study. “Grocery, food and beverage have been some of the fastest growing industries in 2020. Cold chain management is critical to delivering products quickly and safely to stores and consumers. Within the warehouse, automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) can be designed with integrated temperature-controlled sections and WES modules to provide accurate sequencing and quick access to cases or pallets in a secured, dense and efficient storage system at the appropriate temperature until shipment,” says Christine Feuell, chief marketing officer for Honeywell Intelligrated. “Machine learning algorithms, advanced data-driven optimization techniques and artificial intelligence (AI) are the data science. When combined with sophisticated warehouse execution system (WES) software, they create decision intelligence. With it, distribution center operators can

Robotics offers a layer of stability during a time of disruption.



2/5/21 1:48 PM

COVER STORY continued

6 River Systems

Chuck is a collaborative mobile robot that adds efficiency and accuracy to the picking process.

contact, automation can be leveraged to move goods and reduce the proximity of workers with one another. Crane-based AS/RS systems maximize the throughput of cold storage facilities when used in conjunction with conveyor systems and automated guided vehicles. The cold goods maintain temperature and move through a facility without labor dependency, thus increasing throughput, accuracy and speed.


Leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) sensing devices to track the constant temperature of goods provides the necessary visibility and traceability of cold goods during transportation.”

Solutions turn challenges into opportunities In order to help warehouses and fulfillment centers meet the influx of demand, 6 River Systems developed a collaborative mobile robot named Chuck to add efficiency and accuracy to the picking process. Chuck features large, easy-to-clean action and pause buttons and lights, thus reducing human interaction with the touchscreens. Chuck’s touchscreens are also compatible with styluses and with a wide variety of gloves., and enables a baselevel of social distancing by automating long walks between induct, active picking and takeoff areas, reducing crowding on the warehouse floor and more. “Automation such as Chuck adds greater efficiency to warehouses as they are adjusting to the influx of e-commerce and buy-online-pickup-in-store/buy-onlinepickup-curbside (BOPIS) demand and provide additional support,” says Fergal Glynn, VP of marketing for 6 River Systems. “Collaborative robots support associates, as many warehouses are experiencing high demand and labor shortages, helping them work more efficiently by optimizing pick routes, reducing the physical strain and increasing picking accuracy. For example, if a dark grocery store is fulfilling non-perishable online grocery orders for delivery and employs a Chuck, employees are able to reduce long walks and inaisle activity. Additionally, Chuck helps associates speed up tasks by automatically guiding them to the exact location they need to go through the use of machine learning and the company’s cloud-based software. Chuck also ensures the most efficient path through the aisles, so productivity can be boosted 2-3 times.” 6 River Systems also developed The Bridge, an overarching tool that connects data from what’s happening on the ground in a physical warehouse operation to an intuitive cloud-based control center. “This tool gives our customers the ability to fine tune and control each aspect of their


FLOG0121_16-23_CoverStory.indd 18

operation and optimize their warehouse to meet the unique needs of the business by leveraging service-level agreement management, embedded operational dashboards and exception management,” adds Glynn. SSI Schaefer developed the WAMAS Lighthouse, which allows real-time gathering of key performance indicators from various warehouse operations, such as the automation system itself or information from third-party equipment for temperature settings, etc. The data releases indicators on preventive maintenance issues or even bottlenecks within a process. “An intelligent WMS is the central intelligence hub that runs the warehouse; it can learn and react to things in real time to make life easier,” Rivenbark says. “If a product is depleted from a pick face, you won’t have to wait until the next picker comes to realize this mistake. The system will know this in real time and create a replenishment task to refill inventory before anyone even notices that it wasn’t there. It also keeps historical information that can help with forecasting and maintain traceability.” For its part, SnapFulfil launched a remote implementation (RI) program that can be onboarded from anywhere in the world within a matter of weeks. This program provides tailored virtual support, including

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streamline operations and improve their bottom line.” Leveraging automated solutions can also help reduce the risks associated with human dependence within a warehouse, says Doug Mefford, product marketing manager for Generix Group. “This reduced dependence allows goods to move when disruptions happen [that] impact labor availability,” he adds. “Specifically, with COVID-19, the need for social distancing and reduced close

2/5/21 1:48 PM



; e





of transportation and logistics workers experienced challenges that involved collaborating with colleagues remotely, adhering to strict processes and motivation to work. Meanwhile, 64% said their companies introduced new smart technologies to help them work from home during the pandemic, including AI, intelligent document processing, chatbots,  Dematic’s Matflo WMS is an end-to-end fulfillment solution for digital assistants, task automated and manual material flow. monitoring software and communication and collaboration “I think the key word there is visibility,” tools. Yet, 47% said business processes says Janakiraman. “Automation has made their job more challenging, 33% said become a matter of survival. Automation processes wasted their time and 26% were reduces both fulfillment cost and speedso frustrated that bad processes made of-order fulfillment. Systems can operate them want to leave their job. in the backroom of retail stores or in That’s why it’s important for logistics dark stores as the hub in a hub-andleaders to fully understand how their spoke operation. Expect to see more business processes work before solutions that span across the supply introducing new technology, Twigg adds. chain ecosystem, connecting supply, “Dealing with disruption is par for the demand, inventory optimization, fulfillment course in the supply chain business,” he optimization and so on.” adds. “It could be traffic-related, weatherAnother automated solution being related or geopolitical trade issues that deployed is goods-to-person (GTP) systems make getting products to their destination that deliver totes of product to stationary challenging. Now with stay-at-home and operators who pick items from the tote and social distancing mandates, the supply then return to the tote to storage. chain is getting more demand and record “GTP systems greatly improve storage volumes across every sector. It has density and picking efficiency of slowdefinitely impacted process capabilities moving items, which are typically the and illustrated the importance of most challenging for storage and picking warehouse automation.” efficiency,” says Luke Nuber, account “For warehouse automation to be truly executive, Fortna Inc. “While these successful, it needs to be able to have systems are not new, the business case access to a mosaic of data from various for application of them is expanding stakeholders in the supply chain and exponentially, driven by decreases in the merged with processes in real-time, so price of the technology, increases in SKU decisions on product availability, shipping, assortments and the costs of labor and real invoicing and delivery can be made at a estate. These systems are also finding new moment’s notice,” says Twigg. use cases, particularly for highly efficient Dematic’s Matflo WMS is an end-tomicro-fulfillment strategies being deployed end fulfillment solution for automated in dark stores and store back rooms to and manual material flow. Matflo WMS position products closer to customers integrates planning, operations, people (hyper-local fulfillment), allowing rapid and equipment to provide high levels delivery and customer pickup.” of flexibility, labor efficiency, fulfillment Plus, WMS come in all sizes and flavors accuracy and traceability. supporting various levels of functionality,


for ses

regular online training and status meetings, to ensure new teams are able to access and test the system, meeting critical go-live deadlines. SnapFulfil also released SnapBuddy, an AI-style training tool and fully integrated digital adoption platform that enables customers to self-configure their warehouse management system (WMS). “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we do business forever and demonstrated the need for businesses to react quickly and adapt to sudden market changes with cost control key,” says Don White, CEO of SnapFulfil North America. “Delivering remotely like this, without any physical interaction or movement of people, overcomes social distancing and global travel restrictions.” ABBYY debuted the ABBYY Timeline solution, a process intelligence platform featuring advanced task and process mining technology. ABBYY Timeline allows businesses to utilize AI innovation to build an interactive digital twin of their processes, analyze them in real-time to identify bottlenecks and predict future outcomes to facilitate decision-making of technology investments, says Twigg. An ABBYY survey asking workers how their company’s business processes and availability of technology impacted their work revealed that nearly 76%

 SnapFulfil released SnapBuddy, an AI-style training tool and fully integrated digital adoption platform that enables customers to self-configure their warehouse management system.

FLOG0121_16-23_CoverStory.indd 19



2/5/21 1:48 PM

COVER STORY continued adds Chris Bratten, manager of software sales for Bastian Solutions. “Depending on the scope of the WMS, it can provide storage efficiencies through slotting optimization, where fastermoving products are promoted to primary picking locations and slower-moving products are relegated to secondary or reserve locations,” Bratten adds. “With detailed location-level inventory visibility, supervisors can also optimize the position of a product within the storage location to minimize operator movements to prevent repetitive stress injuries and minimize walk time to maximize productivity. Most WMS provide detailed reports and dashboards, which, along with a robust integration to the host ERP system, provides additional detail on inventory movements to impact the forecasting, re-ordering and planning within the purchasing department. This helps reduce the necessary safety stock required, and therefore, the carrying costs and physical storage space associated with that excess inventory.”

were previously reluctant to implement automation before the pandemic will now embrace flexible automation solutions to keep up with competitors, meet the increased demand and to provide a positive customer experience. As more companies realize the affordability and ease of implementation of flexible automation systems, it will become necessary to adopt these systems in order for a fulfillment

SSI Schaefer Systems International, Inc.

business justification around those technologies, the immense capital required to invest in these systems and the corresponding volume requirements to shorten the payback window. There is little doubt however that enabling technologies like robotics, grippers, vision systems, machine learning and AI will continue to increase in capability and decrease in price, eventually replacing human operators altogether.” According to a Honeywell Intelligrated study, warehouse execution system (48%), order picking technology (46%) and robotic solutions (44%)—currently three of the most widely implemented solutions—are most expected to receive further investment soon. Consumers opting to for BOPIS are expected to increase by more than 60%. “We’re seeing an even more aggressive growth trajectory in warehouse automation,” says Feuell. “Companies are all in different phases of their automation journey. But, all are looking for scalable automation solutions that can adapt and expand as their business requirements New automation for evolve. Some companies the New Normal are seeking to upgrade to higher speed and more While physical in-store advanced material handling shopping will never disappear and integrated software completely, the reduction of systems, others are investing foot traffic in stores brought in Industrial Internet of Things on by the pandemic will put a  SSI Schaefer developed the WAMAS Lighthouse, which allows technologies to achieve a true larger emphasis on e-commerce real-time gathering of key performance indicators from various ‘connected distribution center’ and alternative in-store fulfillment warehouse operations. that integrates equipment and systems to business to remain competitive in the methods in the “New Normal,” Glynn says. increase reliability, improve utilization and industry. What was once a method that “As consumers embrace more and more scalability and maximize productivity of some stores and retailers were slow to online shopping, warehousing operations assets, processes and people at the facility adopt will likely be here to stay.” will face more challenges with returns, and across the extended supply chain. Plus, technology is in a constant state of increasing the demand for efficient and Keeping pace with perpetually increasing evolution. affordable reverse logistics,” says Glynn. retail store and e-commerce fulfillment “The ‘New Normal’ is still evolving, “In order to adjust to these new focuses, demands is more challenging than ever.” but clearly the endgame is full ‘lights retailers will need to be strategic on how In terms of what the future looks like for out’ automation,” says Nuber. “Minimal they utilize their physical store spaces. For warehouse automation in a post-pandemic human interaction will be required for example, many retailers are leveraging world, warehouses are projected to feature most functions other than maintenance storefronts to support BOPIS and BOPAC automated systems that operate largely of equipment. The only things preventing inventory as opposed to dark stores or autonomously. 100% warehouse automation are the warehouses. Additionally, warehouses that



FLOG0121_16-23_CoverStory.indd 20

2/5/21 1:48 PM


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• Refrigeration unit selection

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16.1M in 2019 to 37.5M in 2020


The number of online grocery delivery & pickup numbers has increased from

16.1M in 2019 to 59.5M in 2020


1. Vehicle size. Determine weight and volume of products, number of deliveries per day, and ease of parking or maneuvering during delivery. 2. Insulation. Type and thickness should be based on the products being hauled. 3. Shelving. When upfitting your vehicle, consider the importance of storing products properly and ease of loading and unloading.



The number of active home delivery customers has grown from

Vehicle Selection, Insulation, and Shelving These selections are vital to your business.

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Refrigeration Unit Selection Not every refrigeration unit will work well for every application. Having the unit with the right capabilities on your delivery vehicle will ensure safe, on-time delivery.

Food Safety Best Practices When it comes to home delivery, the safe transportation of refrigerated foods is of the highest priority. Here are some areas where best practices should be followed: • Packaging and staging

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2/5/21 1:48 PM

COVER STORY continued

Pugun & Photo

Technology is in a constant state of evolution, and warehouse automation is no exception.

to maximize space, performance and flexibility to respond to changing market requirements,” says Barker. “It’s important that companies and supply chain managers get comfortable with uncertainty, and not let it paralyze operations or initiatives. The challenge organizations face when planning material handling automation that will carry their business into the future is that the ‘cone of uncertainty’ no longer really narrows. A year later, it’s just as difficult to

“The industry is seeing an accelerated deployment of solutions such as automated picking, packing and shipping as well as automated mobile robots with plug-and-play commissioning capabilities. This will cause the warehouse worker to become technicians of sorts, with a focus on keeping these technologies in run mode when inevitable issues arise,” says Ahmed Arif, director of sales for Bastian Solutions. “For many years, the ‘holy grail’ of a dark warehouse was the desired end state, however we will more than likely see a concert of technical warehouse operators with highly automated solutions for the foreseeable future. There are also many advancements in robotic bin picking among other solutions that will still require pickers and packers. The added benefit of ergonomics and safety should make those positions more attractive and easier to fill.” Furthermore, large cold storage third-party logistics (3PL) providers are seeing a surge in demand, thus making room for more automated ways of moving product from Point A to Point B. “These 3PLs are increasingly deploying AS/RS systems to effectively and efficiently store, retrieve and load vehicles. These fully automated systems, which are ideal for pallets and smaller goods such as cartons or bins, can boost warehouse quality and efficiency, while enabling companies

The e-commerce boom will put a larger emphasis on alternative in-store fulfillment methods.



FLOG0121_16-23_CoverStory.indd 22

project where the business will be in five years. The need for automation technology will continue to grow as the technology evolves and capabilities increase.” What’s more is, automation is more than just introducing robots into a warehouse. “It is applying intelligence to rethink the way goods are moved from Point A to Point B, and then Points C, D and E,” says Elazary. “The robots are simply the tool to execute a smarter, more efficient movement of goods across the warehouse. It really requires looking at processes and people with fresh eyes and holistically taking into account all of their interdependencies.” And, there are ways to get into automation without going over budget, says Janakiraman. “Retailers need not be paralyzed with fear because their competition is automating. A seasoned material handling company can provide a path to addressing operations with automation that leads to future growth,” adds Janakiraman. Automation in itself is not a silver bullet, says Mefford, but when leveraged with advanced WMS, MES, transportation management system and other solutions, the benefits can be vast.

2/5/21 1:48 PM

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Creating an efficient fleet is important for managers.


anaging a fleet in the cold chain can be a daunting task. Managing a fleet in the cold chain during a global pandemic and additional civil unrest is even more difficult. There are many best practices for fleet management to follow, but as with every aspect of a job, they evolve over time. This past year saw rapid and extreme changes to these factors. Putting the human experience and people first in an organization is always a rule of thumb for most organizations, according to experts on the subject, especially for third-party logistics (3PLs) companies whose operations depend on drivers. “Best practices for fleet management are centered around driver training


and retention, leadership development and optimization,” says Chris Valante, director of supply chain solutions at A. Duie Pyle. “This is particularly critical in the Northeast, arguably the toughest market in the country to attract and retain qualified drivers. People are the most critical component of a successful fleet. “Companies have been increasing their investments and focus on training and career pathing through leadership development programs and CDL A driving academies. It’s important to note that investing in people is only a part of the equation. Maintaining a strong valuesbased culture is a best practice that may be considered as a prerequisite for operating a successful fleet,” adds Valante. In addition to upskilling and training, the quality of life for a driver must be an important thought, making scheduling a top priority for managers. A recent expert column on from Kory Harb, product manager for haul at Optym, stresses the need to create optimized and enticing schedules to increase driver retention and help 3PLs’ bottom lines.


FLOG0121_24-27_3PL-ColdChain.indd 24

Since e-commerce exploded in the last year, managers need to tap into machine learning to create optimized schedules in an effort to reduce dispatchers having to make numerous last-minute changes and drivers having to deal with canceled or changed schedules and empty runs. According to a report from the American Trucking Associations, the driver shortage remains a problem even throughout the pandemic and subsequent recession. This makes employee onboarding and retention even more important. “Investments in driver hiring and retention continue to increase in an effort to combat the nationwide driver shortage,” says Mike Medeiros, VP of DCC South operations, Penske Logistics. “We have placed a large emphasis here. Our recently launched Driver Hiring Center is a great example of this.”

Technology investment Along with consumer retention comes investment in technology to make the job safer and more convenient for employees. “Investments in emerging fleet

2/5/21 1:47 PM

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had to consider these safety measures, such as temperature checks, social distancing and heightened sanitization, and provided critical personal protective equipment throughout our facility to continue to safely export during the pandemic. “This also impacts our inventory, purchasing and shipping planning significantly. Because we export food products around the globe, my team must be compliance experts,” she adds. “Continuous compliance such as monitoring and logging temperature for every cold shipment as it moves through its export journey and be providing documentation as required is protocol. This is why a long-standing and trustworthy relationship with our fleet management companies is crucial to what we do.” There are many ways cold chain fleets keep compliant in safety measures throughout the pandemic. “For us, it all came down to figuring out how to continue to operate for our The COVID-19 effect customers, while keeping our associates, Fleet managers must focus on keeping their drivers safe throughout the continued customers and communities safe,” says Medeiros. “We have done this by spread of the Coronavirus disease instituting policy changes and procedures (COVID-19) or risk losing part of their based on CDC guidelines [such as] workforce and falling behind. No company leveraged technology to reduce in person ever wants to see their employees interactions (EPOD, etc.), inspected what experience a health crisis, but during a we expect in a COVID world, increased time when online ordering is at its height, responsibilities for fleet managers around there is no room for missing drivers. Best verifying protocols are in place and being practices in fleet management today are adhered to. focused on health and safety precautions. “While supply chains were “From our perspective, certainly stretched (I enhanced operational saw this in grocery safety measures and convenience), because of the there was never global COVID-19 a complete pandemic is breakdown,” probably the adds Deverso. top trend “We have related certainly felt to fleet supply chains management get flexed best throughout practices,” says the pandemic. Janet Deverso, We had operations customers close manager, their doors overnight TradeTrans. “We’ve Penske Logistics due to uncertainty,  Quality fleet management and then we had customers relies on people. the truck itself more efficient. And, this will only continue throughout the next few years, Bozec says. Investment in technology like this and driver retention is always extremely important, but during a modern pandemic, focusing on employees becomes a steadfast rule. To remain competitive in the industry, it is vital to adopt technology not just on the ground but in management operation as well. For instance, a report from Allied Market Research shows that the smart fleet management industry is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 15.8% from now until 2027. In 2019, the market was valued at $38.24 billion, and is expected to garner $98.65 billion by 2027. This smart technology taps real-time data and mobile apps for a range of managerial tasks such as maintenance and fuel, drivery safety, telematics, tracking and smart surveillance.

technology continue to gain traction,” Medeiros says. “For example, safety specscollision avoidance/adaptive cruise, fuel economy enhancements, along with cold chain compliance/temperature monitoring technology continue to become more prominent in the industry. “Sustainability became popular with compressed natural gas several years ago, and today we see electrification evolving in an effort to further reduce emissions. There are certain applications that lend themselves to more immediate adoption of electric, like shorter return to base routes. These fleets are taking a serious look at deploying electric vehicles into their fleets, however concerns with charging infrastructure and battery performance remain in the forefront,” he adds. John Bozec, senior VP and general manager of van truckload and dedicated at Schneider Logistics, seconds the notion that fleets are interested in investment in emerging technologies to improve the driver experience. In fact, Schneider has invested in numerous areas on the truck to improve a driver’s work life as well as make

FLOG0121_24-27_3PL-ColdChain.indd 25



2/5/21 1:47 PM

3PL / COLD CHAIN continued

Evolution in management

A. Duie Pyle

Trucks fitted with technology improves the truck driving job.

whose demand doubled. One thing we were able to do very quickly was leverage driver capacity. We were able to repurpose drivers from certain locations with less work and move them to customers with surges. We learned a lot about driver sharing and how to do it effectively and efficiently using data and technology. “Many of these added sanitation guidelines that have been put in place will remain. We have learned a lot over the past several months.


Sustaining our efforts around good hygiene and routine sanitization will enable us to continue to prioritize and protect the safety of our people, our customers and the communities that we serve regardless of the environment we are operating in.” Many significant changes came from COVID-19, forcing management to better future-proof their operations. “In addition to various changes, which have been widely reported, COVID has exposed providers [that] lacked quality leadership, processes and healthy driver pools,” Valante says. “Moving forward, companies will look to form partnerships with those providers that demonstrated resilience and agility during the most challenging business environment of our times.”


FLOG0121_24-27_3PL-ColdChain.indd 26

But, it isn’t just COVID-19 and the past year that changed cold chain fleet management. “I see fleets turning over their equipment with more frequency,” Bozec says. “Some of that is due to changing requirements, others because the technology and comfort factors have evolved. Of course, what that means is a fleet has to have ideally great mechanics that are contemporary with this technology and have a strong relationship with the OEMs they choose to work with. I am fortunate to say at Schneider, we have both. We never want a truck to be down, but when it is, getting it back up and running quickly and safely is paramount.” Medeiros also sees a shift from procuring the lowest cost asset to achieving the lowest operating cost. “This shift in mindset comes from fleet owners now understanding lowest cost, which includes not just fuel economy, but also investments in safety to reduce collision and liability costs, as well as investments in technology to ensure cold chain compliance and product integrity,” says Madeiros. “With technology comes data and the ability to make fact-based decisions. “Cold chain monitoring technology used to be an added luxury; now it is the expectation. The ability to provide our customers with end-to-end real-time visibility to their product is becoming commonplace in the industry.” The technologies that fleet managers

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invest in today drastically compare to technology investment of the past, even more recently. The evolution of values also impacts evolution in technology adoption and vice versa. “The latest technology trends for operating fleets are centered around reporting, optimization and shipment visibility,” says Valante. “Pyle clients in the food industry require real-time visibility and customized KPIs, which we provide via proprietary software or via third-party integration if required. We are seeing increased collaboration with our food and grocery partners, which results in deployment of dispatch, routing and GPS platforms to accomplish their goals and growth strategies. Many times, these involve technologies like ‘geo-fencing,’ real-time shipment and trailer tracking and temperature monitoring. Tools to aid in controlling cost are increasingly deployed, including dynamic routing and automated backhaul scheduling to reduce empty miles.” Schneider also invests in engine, power train, emerging alternative fuel sources such as electricity and hydrogen and

technology inside the cab to make the driving experience better for the driver and heighten rest quality during breaks Medeiros says that common recurring themes in leveraging technology focus on enhancing the customer experience, cost control and reduction and drive strategic improvements. He emphasizes the need for centralized routing, and that much of the work that would occur in the field can now be done within one centralized platform. This is in addition to real-time visibility for routes, smart estimated time of arrival and temperature monitoring in addition to asset tracking, utilization and monitoring and the need for a comprehensive suite of operating metrics. “Technology has allowed us to schedule, track and analyze in real-time with our fleet partners, which makes us more efficient across all categories,” says Deverso. Unfortunately, the growing number of technology platforms causes added headaches for fleet managers who have to deal with each partner’s differing technology. But, where pain points arise, so

The latest technology “ trends for operating fleets

are centered around reporting, optimization and shipment visibility.

FLOG0121_24-27_3PL-ColdChain.indd 27

do solutions, and this problem could look different in the future as organizations start to come together for a clear set of technology standards and as many platforms evolve to cohesively interact with each other. Fleet operation will continue to evolve along with the technology that powers it. It is likely in the future that most technology platforms will interact seemlessly, eliminating the headache of having to train employees on innumerable platforms. According to a study from Global Market Insights, the fleet management market is set to grow from its current market value of more than $15 billion to over $55 billion by 2026, growing significantly in just six years. This makes the technology and various factors pressuing fleet management even more of an issue. COVID-19 and changing trends throughout the cold chain continue to shape fleet management and how its done. Today’s best practices may look extremely different to next year’s best practices. It is an evolving concept, but putting employees and human beings first will always be an important step. As the industry shows its worth as an essential business, more individuals will flock to the industry in hopes of job security. And, the more the industry advances, the more attractive the industry becomes. Fleets are becoming more diverse, safer and technologically advanced. A strong surge in drivers with a strong set of best practices could mean a bright future for the trucking industry, especially as e-commerce continues to sky rocket.



2/5/21 1:47 PM







n 1917, the beginnings of the forklift started when the Clark Company first released its tructractor, which was known as the first internal combustionpowered industrial truck. From there, the Yale Materials Handling Corporation created the first battery powered highlift platform truck, leading to the modern forklift.

Yale Material Handling Corp

Lift trucks of today look very different from their predecessors, but complete the same task. One of the more noticeable differences is the advancement of robotics, pushed by not only the advancement of technology, but also a lack of workforce; unfavorable working conditions for humans in cold warehousing where temperatures are extremely uncomfortable; and as of late, the need for social distancing. The food, beverage and consumer packaged goods sectors see the most use of robotic lift trucks, according to Kevin Paramore, emerging technology commercialization manager at Yale Materials Handling Corporation. “Getting to that stage of actually transferring to robotic lift trucks requires a true picture of forklift operations,” he says. “While it sounds simple, this accurate baseline isn’t something most facilities have—they have gaps in the understanding of exactly what forklift operators do. For example, while obvious jobs like unloading pallets may be accounted for, tasks like labeling pallets or latching trailers may not be recorded. “As more types of lift trucks are available as robotic solutions, that opens up greater opportunity for lift truck fleets to be automated. For

Cold warehousing becomes more efficient with technology-enabled lift trucks.



FLOG0121_28-31_[SR]Warehousing.indd 28

example, Yale offers four types of robotic lift trucks—an end rider, tow tractor, counterbalanced stacker and robotic reach truck. The robotic reach truck is the newest option and breaks new ground for a robotic lift truck solution. Rather than just handling floor-level load transportation tasks, the robotic reach truck is capable of autonomously depositing and retrieving loads from locations as high as 30 feet and reaching into double-deep storage.” The ability for a robotic arm to lift as high as 30 feet paves the way for a wider range of sophisticated tasks, which maximizes use of these solutions and achieves a faster return on investment.

Bridging the labor gap Partners now look for faster and faster lead times, making the need for automation exceedingly necessary for cold warehousing partners that want to deliver high-quality customer service. Because the job is sometimes so physically demanding and working temperatures are so cold, new technology is necessary to not only fill the labor gap, but also create an enjoyable work environment for employees. “Difficulty finding and retaining labor is a common challenge in the supply chain,” Paramore says. “Annual turnover in the warehousing sector in 2019 was 46.1%. Working in the warehouse can be a challenge–operators take thousands of

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For cold operations in “particular, selecting the proper lift truck power source requires special consideration of operating temperature, as different power sources perform better than others in extreme temperatures.

steps and move tons of weight shift after shift. But, businesses also face extreme cost pressures and razor thin margins, with consumers demanding lower prices, faster service and high-quality products. “Success requires setting up operators for success, equipping them with the right tools (lift truck solutions) and putting them to work in the proper workflows. For cold applications in particular, operator comfort is an important consideration, and there are options available to create a good work environment and help operators cope with cold temperatures. For example, heated grab handles, floors and cabins, along with controls designed for use with gloves can help increase employee comfort, productivity and retention.”


Cold warehouses can buy packages for lift trucks geared specifically to the cold chain, equipping vehicles with technology to help employees keep warm. For instance, Yale offers a sub-zero freezer package for areas where temperatures can reach -40°F that includes low viscosity hydraulic fluid, sealants, heater on steer feedback potentiometer and heated multifunction display.

Battery life In addition to comfort, the lift trucks themselves need to operate in such cold conditions, making power source an important part. “For cold operations in particular, selecting the proper lift truck power source requires special consideration of operating temperature, as different power sources perform better than others in extreme temperatures,” continues Paramore. “For example, lithium-ion batteries are a strong choice for cold temperature food handling operations. As an electric source, they avoid the emissions of internal combustion engines, but unlike other electrification options, they can operate in a broad temperature range, from -40°F to 113°F.” The Raymond Corporation recently launched a new generation of lithium-ion batteries for its lift trucks for faster


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 New additions to lift trucks make cold warehouse operations more comfortable for workers.

charger power solutions and allows for greater insight to battery life and health. “Energy Essentials distributed by Raymond enables complete and unique integration between the truck and battery, giving full visibility to operational data elements that include state-of-charge and fault codes,” says Jennifer de Souza, senior director of energy solutions, procurement and leasing, The Raymond Corporation. “Engineered to excel in the toughest material handling

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to serve demand, operations can endure significant costs such as delayed shipments and lost revenue, placing a premium on preventive maintenance and fault code monitoring. Properly utilized telemetry analytics can help refine preventive maintenance schedules to ensure sufficient support while avoiding overspending.” The lift truck of today is able to last for

applications, these lithium-ion solutions provide our customers with significant productivity enhancements, including increased uptime and reduced electricity costs.” Similarly, GNB Industrial Power released a new lithium-ion battery that allows for greater insights, wall charging and better efficiency.



Maintenance insights These batteries don’t have the stronghold on maintenance and health insights. This type of data is now available from the lift trucks themselves as well. “Lift truck telemetry is another opportunity to monitor fleet size and structure and help optimize maintenance– especially important for assets working in tough environments like refrigerated and frozen food facilities,” says Paramore. “With the ability to evaluate utilization and maintenance information alongside expected demand and specific truck applications, fleet managers can make quick and informed decisions about fleet size and composition. This helps them continuously improve operations and maintain a right-sized fleet composed of equipment tailored to meet their specific operational challenges. With telemetry system data, operations can right-size fleets to eliminate the cost of running excess trucks. “While a lean truck fleet eliminates idle time and reduces cost, it leaves businesses with a low tolerance for downtime,” he says. “With insufficient fleet availability

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quite longer, complete more complicated tasks as well as a wider range and even operate itself. As technology grows, the lift truck will only grow with it. Right now, this material handling equipment will help to fill in the gaps where COVID-19 and other factors leave holes, and will likely remain long after the pandemic is over.”

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ou might already have an idea of what an autonomous guided vehicle (AGV) is and what it can do. However, honestly, it’s probably outdated. Just as cars, phones, computers and other technologies have evolved rapidly over the last several years, so too have robotics software and hardware. When most people think of an AGV, they envision costly custom-made robots that follow pre-set workflows, usually guided by a magnetic tape or a wire in the floor, to perform individualized tasks. Current AGV technology has made robots more flexible in terms of the functions they can perform, the time it takes to integrate them and companies’ overall cost. All of which has shifted the value of AGVs and other food supply chain automation from niceto-haves for efficiency to must-haves for resiliency. Resiliency is a unique and necessary trait to succeed within the current unpredictable marketplace. The impact the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has had on volume and volatility in food demand and supply can hardly be overstated. Just last year, the biggest concern for disruption might have been a weather event that would require a short-term delay at a manufacturing facility or in transportation. Today, an entire plant can be shut down for a week due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Additionally, demand can change suddenly based on stay-at-home mandates or changes to local ordinances. The ability to adapt to such challenges without facing catastrophic reductions in revenue, throughput or efficiency is resilience. And, AGVs can be critical to achieving it. Here’s five ways AGVs can help food supply chains.


More efficient labor. Introducing automation doesn’t always equate to replacing human labor; it can be used to help workers do their jobs more effectively. Take case picking as an example, which requires a lot of labor. Over time, it evolved from a picker walking around with a piece of paper, selecting and checking off items, to directing the picker with a headset. Now, automation is at a point where AGVs with pallets can accompany the worker through a pick zone, allowing them to pick to multiple store pallets in a zone fashion, reducing travel time and enabling the fulfillment of many more cases per hour.

Touchless movement and storage. Robotics is a reliable and safe way to limit potential exposure. For example, AGVs can manage pallet movement throughout a facility for replenishment, put-away and storage. Sensors and navigational improvements now make it possible for AGVs to quickly and accurately roll into any trailer, secure and remove a pallet autonomously, stage it to a dock for receipt and then place it in the proper storage location until it’s requires picking.

Stable loading. Navigational sensors have also improved to the point that they can detect a load’s stability based upon pallet quality and shifting product. That is valuable because the AGV can then validate whether a load is stable at put-away every time. Historically this has been a complex challenge that very few could solve.

Fast implementation. Adding robotics used to require custom solutions that could take 12-18 months to implement. Integration and deployment involved tailored workflows and custom code. Now, companies offer robots-as-a-service (RaaS),


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allowing any supplier to purchase or lease pre-built robots. Advancements have made it possible to have automated solutions implemented and deployed in as little as 4-6 weeks.

High return on investment. The movement away from fully customized automation has made the overall cost of robotics integration more feasible. Additionally, with an integration software, drag-and-drop reconfigurations can be deployed immediately to easily alter any robot’s workflow. That means robots are now more flexible than ever and can be used for multiple tasks within the same facility or easily redeployed to another facility if something unexpected requires immediate assistance. Additionally, when considering employees’ health vulnerabilities during black swan events such as a pandemic, supplementing your workforce with robotics ensures your supply chain can survive and thrive during times of uncertainty. Ultimately, the robotics industry will continue to evolve rapidly. However, that doesn’t mean companies should wait to integrate AGVs or upgrade the robotics in their current supply chains. Automation companies provide manufacturers and suppliers with highly adaptable solutions designed to adjust along with the everchanging demands of the food industry. Once adopted and integrated, AGVs can be deployed, redeployed and enhanced quickly at a controllable cost.


• ABOUT THE AUTHOR T.J. FANNING V-P, growth and success, SVT Robotics

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• Digital editions of the magazine • Content channels specific to software & technology, sustainability, safety & security, risk/compliance and more • Upcoming Supply Chain Network webcasts

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Data and insights have not been daptation and resiliency are critical components of the food and bever- consistently available across organizations, partners and customers, further age supply chain, and supply chain creating disruption for those who rely on software solutions are key to the future of institutional knowledge. Limited personany company’s success in 2021. to-person engagement will also speed up Total global cold chain tracking and digitization for shipping and warehousing, monitoring telematics revenue for fresh from delivery confirmations to picking and and processed food is expected to grow loading. from $62.7 billion in 2020 to $136.4 The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) billion in 2025, according to ABI Research. pandemic has accelerated early-stage Hardware consumes the largest portion robotics from fulfillment centers to of revenues, with software growing the delivery bots. Governments have granted fastest at a 14% compound annual growth exemptions for road-based autonomous rate (CAGR) from 2020-2025. This market delivery, and growing numbers of will continue to grow through a variety of fulfillment centers have needed additional drivers, including regulation, increasing ondemand home delivery, growing complexity support to address sheer volume, safety spacing and employee shortages. of temperature zones and consumer desire The pandemic has also laid bare gaps for reduced waste, greater convenience in documentation and and transparency tenuous contingency Enabling plans from finished technologies Limited person-togoods to raw materials. include person engagement Collaboration across integrated will also speed up the value chain is telematics, digitization for shipping needed, and a siloed real-time and warehousing, from group of legacy sensing, delivery confirmations to solutions (home-grown transportation picking and loading. and enterprise) no management longer make sense. solutions (TMS) Cooperation and and blockchain. integration can reduce costs, errors and The role, time. footprint and Examples of this include systems relationship between brick-and-mortar integration across telematics systems, stores, fulfillment centers and delivery TMS, supply chain management (SCM) options continue to evolve, with no one systems, warehouse management systems solution.



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(WMS), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and emerging technologies like blockchain and supply chain mapping software that enables the tracing of products to their source materials, thus supporting transparency and resiliency. Compliance to the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rule on the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food lends itself to robust temperature control operations. The FDA, CDC and OSHA have also published guidance for COVID-19, including for distribution operations. EU regulation includes regulation-compliant temperature recorders with EN12830 and EN13486 for recorders and monitoring.

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Challenges of a technology-driven supply chain One challenge is the fragmented telematics landscape. Numerous fleets have not yet integrated their cabinstalled core telematics units with their cold chain solutions. Fleets have also demonstrated subscription fatigue from multiple

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software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers, along with their individual dashboards, requiring additional actions from both drivers and operators. Integration through open application programming interface (API) portals and software development kits (SDKs), along with strategic partnerships to create a unified user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) as well as backend systems is needed. Some cargo and conditions require more frequent updates for any out-of-spec cargo. This can include frozen foods and high-temperature weather. A combination of technologies on the horizon will provide greater speed, bandwidth and new use cases. The Internet of Things (IoT), RFID and 5G will evolve current capabilities into more intelligent, integrated and value-add solutions.

Benefits of emerging technologies Cloud-native TMS offer faster onboarding and lower cost to implement. These solutions run across the supply chain from dock to dock or dock to door, with a focus on reliable execution, enabled from big data, smart algorithms, machine learning, automation and real-time visibility and decisionmaking.

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Risk vs. reward of Adoption is driven from ever-compressing software solutions delivery expectations from exponentially growing e-commerce. TMS also supports One potential risk factor throughout 2021 flexibility to and into 2022 is a address supply/demand unplanned mismatch Synergistic technologies like changes between cold predictive analytics, automation, like surge chain transport real-time tracking, machine demand, needs for learning, artificial intelligence weather vaccines and and blockchain will continue to or closures those needed for evolve for even greater flexibility, that allow food distribution. changes There is already improved customer support and in mode, a growing driver enhanced forecasting. size of shortage, leading shipments to idled trucks. and end points. With an estimated Proven ROI is the main argument for 3.3 billion doses of TMS adoption. Other adoption triggers vaccines expected in include capacity constraints, which are 2021, requiring growing ever tighter (including driver over 857 trucks per month for outbound shortages back to 2018 levels) and pushing only, the questions are where, how many up costs toward the double-digits. Beyond and for how long will drivers and cold chain the fact that consumers and businesses transport be impacted. continue to push for more granularity in In conclusion, adaptation and resiliency answering “where’s my stuff?” with a realare critical components of the food time response. Synergistic technologies and beverage supply chain. This can be such as predictive analytics, automation, strengthened from solutions offering real-time tracking, machine learning, end-to-end visibility to optimization of artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain raw materials, SKUs, inventory, routing will continue to evolve for even greater and asset performance and health. In flexibility, improved customer support and addition to visibility, greater flexibility is enhanced forecasting capabilities. needed through new supply sources and Blockchain is completely decentralized, partners such as operations, fulfillment and leveraging digital signatures, cryptographic transportation. Reliability is the foundation hashing and consensus mechanism of the supply chain and the result of methods to enable parties to transact visibility and flexibility vs. traditional justdirectly in a secure and trusted manner. in-time and lean strategies. The continuing Transportation, shipping, distribution rise of e-commerce presents major and storage are key verticals for opportunities for firms to adapt the way blockchain, which can provide they source, transport, manage and sell improved transparency and their products. Companies can proactively scalability, reduce risks and harness consumer demand, reduce promote innovation. production lead times and delivery cycles, Within SCM, there are key reduce risk, remove friction between opportunities in logistics, stakeholders, mitigate labor and staffing location, tracking and asset pressures and more. and inventory management. The food and beverage ABOUT THE AUTHOR sector represents a $587 million revenue by 2025, SUSAN BEARDSLEE growing at an estimated 46% principal analyst, CAGR between 2020-2025. ABI Research The industry has also seen material growth in cold chain investments. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | FOOD LOGISTICS


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he United States continues to hit records for daily deaths related to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Over 4,300 people have died due to the virus in just 24 hours. And, according to the New York Times, “it took more than nine months for the world to pass 1 million deaths in late September. In just a little over three months, the virus has claimed another 1 million lives.” Even though the vaccine is trickling across the country, many industry sectors continue to be affected by the virus’ rapid spread. From healthcare to manufacturing to food and beverage sectors, every industry is feeling the effects of the virus, most notably in getting products to where they need to go. Transportation is the glue that brings these products to distribution centers, stores, warehouses and consumers’ doorsteps. Without trucks, grocery stores wouldn’t have food on shelves. Retail outlets wouldn’t have the supplies needed to sustain and move product. Pharmacies and healthcare centers wouldn’t have critical medication. And, construction sites wouldn’t have the supplies necessary to build new and/or expand existing structures.


Businesses need transportation management systems (TMS) to help address challenges caused by the pandemic, from tight capacity and driver shortage to lack of visibility, lack of automation and lack of data. Many companies still rely on spreadsheets, but these businesses are missing out on the many benefits TMS offer. Automating transport processes not only saves time and money, but also fills in the gaps where human employees leave open when things like lockdowns and stay-athome orders are in place. Let’s take a look at the various industry issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and how a TMS can address—and even solve—some of these issues.

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Tight trucking capacity Tight trucking capacity slows the distribution of vaccines and other essential supplies because there is no space in a truck for these items. States across the country are affected by the virus at different rates, leading to unseasonal peaks and valleys in demand.


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An increase in online shopping is forcing shippers and carriers alike to change their business models and adapt. Shippers are making their freight more attractive to carriers by offering flexible pick-up and drop-off times, giving advance notice of a load, and trying to fill trucks as much as possible. An optimized TMS—one that not only presents load options, but also calculates the true profitability of each load—helps carriers ensure they’re taking the loads that can make them the most money and reduce deadhead miles.

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Volatile market Operating a truckload carrier operation during a pandemic can mean a volatile market in volume and load price. Improving operations by automating manual processes using a TMS can lower costs and help carriers reduce operational costs, deadhead miles and scheduling inefficiencies.

Access to pertinent information Within many businesses, the information needed to make day-to-day decisions resides in multiple disconnected systems, including load data on load boards, ELD devices for driver locations and Hours of Service, maps for mileage, asset and driver information on spreadsheets and pricing tools. A TMS that connects to load boards allows carriers to post their truck availability, helping carriers to get more business. Trucks with ELDs and GPS/ telematics devices connect to the TMS, allowing carriers to track trucks and drivers in real-time. A TMS that integrates with this pertinent information will enable carriers to make more informed decisions, such as which loads are the most profitable and which drivers have better on-time arrival rates.

Lack of visibility Without a TMS, communications for the estimated arrival time and load tracking are missing.

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Health centers, doctors’ offices, pharmacies and hospitals are tasked with administering the COVID-19 vaccine. Right now, many facilities have ordered the vaccine, but they don’t know when it will arrive. Or, they have dispensed their first shipment of vaccines and are waiting for more. These facilities need to know when the product will arrive, so they are adequately staffed and able to administer the vaccine to patients as soon as it arrives.

Lack of automation Manual back-office functions result in high operational costs for carriers. Keeping transport plans, managing assets and drivers, invoicing and managing settlements using spreadsheets can result in operational errors and inefficiencies. Promptly paying drivers will also improve your relationship with them; the next time you need a driver, they will be happy to comply. By modernizing back-office systems and automating processes, carriers can speed payments to drivers.

Truck driver shortage The truck driver shortage is real. In fact, the American Trucking Associations estimates the industry will need to hire nearly 900,000 additional drivers within the next decade to meet the market’s demands. Many truck drivers approaching retirement age adds to the capacity issue. Many of these older drivers are not being replaced by young people because Millennials often choose to pursue other careers. Shipping demands are rising in tandem with driver vacancies, which means, many trucks sit idle waiting on a driver to take the load. Plus, truckers often will jump from one carrier to the next in search of better pay and benefits. That’s why carriers need to develop programs for re

cruiting and retaining top driver talent. Carriers need to build loyalty with their current drivers by improving working conditions, such as making sure they return home at night after a day on the road or increasing their pay and benefits. Some trucking firms dole out bonuses through competitive campaigns, like sponsoring a competition that rewards those drivers that drive the most miles in a week. A TMS that factors in driver preference and available Hours of Service helps carriers create schedules that increase driver satisfaction and retention. The COVID-19 pandemic has left many businesses questioning whether they should deploy a TMS right now, especially with employees working remotely. The best choice is a cloud-based TMS system that speeds deployment, allows users to use the system from any location, eliminates the need for extra hardware or IT support and is either free to use or lower cost than an on-site system.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR RYAN CAMACHO director of product management, Axele



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ackaging is an important part of any goods transaction, especially when dealing with food. Packaging protects food during the logistics process, directly impacting the health and safety of the transported food. In the foodservice industry, these products are directly consumed, which adds another level to the importance of food packaging. In the current climate throughout a prominent pandemic, packaging’s ability to protect against tampering as well as outside pathogens or germs rises to the top of concerns, but changing consumer values in the last few years have also made ethical and sustainable packaging another significant trend. Packaging companies are now faced with the task of keeping food exceptionally safe while maintaining sustainable practices and reducing pollution. “Consumers want ethical and environmental initiatives to be at the forefront of foodservice strategies, with sustainably minded consumers saying that such issues significantly [impact] choice of location,” says Mike Hughes, head of research and insight at FMCG Gurus. “In recent years, much attention has been given to the role of packaging within the foodservice channel, with consumers often having negative attitudes to the use of certain materials and also the volume of packaging. As such, there is


a major focus on reducing the amount of packaging used and switching to more environmentally friendly materials such as paper. “Food safety is a massive concern to consumers and something that has been heightened by the COVID-19 crisis,” he adds. “Consumers are now more conscious about the country of origin of products, how products have been handled, distributed and stored along the supply chain and the quality of packaging used. As such, consumers want more information than ever, meaning that foodservice outlets should have dedicated forms of media to offer assurance about the safety of products. Moreover, brands should look to eliminate the length of supply chains where possible, use local manufacturers and reaffirm the role that packaging plays from a safety perspective.”

Sustainable packaging Focusing on sustainability alone is arduous, as there are many factors to consider such as food waste and the waste of the packaging itself in addition to regulations requirements. “The highest and most sustainable use for any type of packaging is to protect the product,” says Ashley Elzinga, director of sustainability and outreach at Foodservice


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Packaging Institute (FPI). “Foodservice packaging can help keep items fresher, longer creating less food waste. Many foodservice items can be recycled or composted where facilities exist. FPI has been hard at work for almost 10 years to get foodservice packaging recovered.” When it comes to compliance, sustainability regulations vary from region to region throughout the United States. “For example, California passed Proposition 65 and has different requirements on their packaging and labels,” says Kevin Williamson, RJW Logistics Group CEO. “Suppliers for the most part understand those requirements, but you should consider the importance of packaging durability through the supply chain. While you can take components out of your packaging to be more sustainable, you need to ensure the product can ride safely through the supply chain, meet the retailers’ specifications and be able to hold up on the shelf. It’s up to those that fulfill the retail orders like a 3PL to understand how to manage those goods as well.” Hughes says that while legislation can vary on a country-by-country basis, the focus from an industry perspective is whether a proactive or reactive approach is adopted.

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The COVID-19 effect The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic greatly impacted the packaging industry in foodservice beyond the need to make a show of safety, but also the need to cater to the immediate shift to take-out servicing instead of dine-in. “Like many things, this year’s trends revolved around COVID,” says Elzinga. “Seeking safe and sanitary solutions in the face of infectious disease are the exact reason why foodservice packaging was created in the first place–to reduce touchpoints and keep our edible items secure. This was heightened by lockdowns and executive orders where restaurants had to move to take-out only. As we see more customers opt for drive-thru, curbside pick-up or third-party delivery, we will continue to see innovation around ‘tamper-evident’ or ‘tamper-resistant’ foodservice packaging. “We’ve seen a slowdown of breakfast and daypart sectors due to offices being closed or limited,” she says. “No more breakfast stops during commutes or afternoon coffee runs.” Additional, more cut and dry issues also plague the foodservice packaging industry such as the need for quality packaging. “In the retail space, retailers like Walmart want better packaging with accurate information,” says Williamson. “Many retailers spend a lot of time and resources to ensure goods flow through their network. When there is poor packaging, for example with unreadable UPCs or

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damages, it costs time and resources to resolve a supplier’s packaging short comings.”

Future of packaging These trends in the packaging sector for foodservice will continue to shape the Food service packaging directly relates to consumer’s health. industry, even after COVID-19 has COVID-19’s effect is so vast that it ended. impacts the future of packaging. But, “Innovation will continue to be around consumer values continue to add to the safety and sustainability perspectives,” sector in addition to needs from partners says Hughes. “From a safety perspective, and foodservice providers. New materials, foodservice outlets can use safety shapes and other trends will make a reassurances along the supply chain difference in packaging moving forward. to promote quality. Meanwhile, from a sustainability perspective, the focus will be on reducing packaging levels and switching to the most SHIPPING SUPPLY SPECIALISTS environmentally friendly designs and CHAMPION materials. Crucially, it SELECTION is vital that these two needs are not seen to compromise on each other.” Williamson adds that the pandemic’s impact will remain on not just safety for the future, but also how foodservice providers handle inventory. “As restaurants try to survive the pandemic, they may ORDER BY 6 PM FOR look to buy smaller SAME DAY SHIPPING quantities and not be tied to the larger sizes offered by COMPLETE CATALOG foodservice today,” 1-800-295-5510 he says.



“For instance, many brands opting to eliminate the use of plastic has been driven by consumer concern about packaging waste,” he continues. “As such, it is crucial that foodservice outlets are seen to be proactive and innovative toward sustainability, constantly looking for ways to help address the planet through supply chain management. Indeed, in recent years, many emerging foodservice outlets have appealed to an audience, especially younger adults, because corporate and social responsibility is at the forefront of strategy. Ultimately, foodservice operators should be looking to raise awareness of environmental issues, as opposed to responding to them.”




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s the pandemic continues, sustainable practices must also continue and expand to meet the world’s environmental challenges. Because more people than ever are ordering takeout food, it’s important to understand how sustainable foodservice ware can help “green” your business while creating positive environmental change with to-go offers. There are many reasons to make the switch to compostable containers and create a premium experience that also benefits the planet. Some studies have shown that up to three-quarters of those surveyed are willing to pay more for singleuse items that had environmental materials and end-of-life attributes, including those made with renewable materials (particularly plant-based) and compostable materials. Many consumers today also prefer brands that make sustainable business efforts over those that do not. Expanded polystyrene (often called Styrofoam), has demonstrated a significant negative impact on the planet and wildlife, at both the local and global level. Its composition includes a known carcinogen chemical called styrene, which has the potential to migrate into foods and the environment. Expanded polystyrene is also difficult to recycle due to its high volume and low weight. This lightness frequently causes it to escape waste management and end up as litter. This has propelled many

states, including Maryland, Maine, and New York, to ban from used. Although recycling plastic single-use foodservice ware seems like an option, it is most likely not recyclable if the product is contaminated with food residue. Cutlery presents a unique issue due to the size and variety of plastic materials, while traditional tree-fiber paper cups with plastic linings are not recyclable. Recycling also continues to be a challenge due to China’s ban on subpar materials. Even before that ban, only 9% of the world’s plastic was recycled. These factors are just a part of the difficulty in recycling foodservice products. Despite being generally priced at a premium in comparison to expanded polystyrene, compostable products provide a promising alternative. As the recycling market continues to present challenges and relies on national and global markets, composting presents a localized way to create a circular economy. Commercial composting facilities can sometimes take compostable foodservice ware with food waste. Composting bypasses the need for international shipping of waste products that contribute to the carbon footprint of recycling. Furthermore, food is not a contaminant for compostable products. More food is diverted from the landfill when compostable products are

accepted. When food waste is landfilled, it creates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is as much as 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Traditional tree-fiber products, such as coffee cups and soup containers, are usually lined with a petroleum-based lining, making them non-compostable and challenging to recycle. Compostable alternatives use bioplastic such as PLA as a lining to allow the whole cup or bowl to be composted. These must use bio-based plastic linings to decompose back into carbon dioxide, water and biomass when composted in commercial composting systems. Compostable paper foodservice ware can be made with alternative papers, such as those made from rapidly renewable fibers like bamboo and sugarcane. Sustainably harvested paper with bioplastic linings are also an option (check for Forest Stewardship Council or Sustainable Forestry Initiative logos). Cutlery made from molded fiber and compostable plastics derived from corn, tapioca starches and lactic acid are alternatives to traditional plastic utensils, often unable to be recycled. Fiber cutlery has recently been introduced on the market. Wood utensils are also an option. These compostable products help divert food waste from the landfill thanks to their easy-to-compost features. Consumers can add compostable products, food waste included,

Kabardins photo -

As the recycling market continues to present challenges and relies on national and global markets, composting presents a localized way to create a circular economy.



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to their residential composting pickup (if accepted by the commercial composter) or at the restaurant. Since food waste in the landfill creates methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas, this diversion is essential for climate change. Material science in the compostable product category has advanced considerably since its inception to the mass market in the last two decades. While compostable products disintegrate in commercial composting, they keep food fresh from the restaurant to the home. Innovation in packaging has also driven a new era of durable, soak and leak-proof options designed to keep food intact. Plastic packaging is unable to breathe, trapping steam to cause food to get soggy. Yet, many eco-friendly fibers keep food items crispy and fresh. Small and mid-sized restaurants are widely perceived as more capable of incorporating sustainable disposable products. However, dozens of large foodservice and restaurant companies




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have proven it is possible at scale and across multiple locations. Many sustainable product manufacturers can meet high demand and volume today. Corporate branding and other personalization are also possible as with traditional products. While the price is occasionally a barrier, many operators are willing to pay a modest premium to offer their patrons a more sustainable option, especially if it enables both food and packaging waste to be composted. It is essential to understand that not all “eco-friendly�-looking products are compostable. Composability requires the item to biodegrade and disintegrate according to scientific test standards of ASTM D6400 or D6868, depending on the product. These tests are verified by certification bodies that ensure the product meets standards for composting, and does not use petrochemicals or other toxic chemicals. Copy-cat items include Kraft paper boxes with petroleum plastic linings or cutlery with some bioplastic and

some petroleum plastic. Restaurants and foodservice establishments can also implement other measures to help green their packaging practices. One simple action is to ask customers if they need cutlery, napkins and sauces to avoid extra waste, as well as if they prefer the order be bagged. Some restaurants are experimenting with reusable containers for take-out food that customers can bring back for a deposit. Overall, making an effort to incorporate green practices into the to-go experience shows customers that you care about the environment, yet can still offer a premium take-out dining experience.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR LAUREN OLSON zero waste manager, World Centric

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Bastian Solutions................................................................................................................5

Columbia Machine, Inc......................................................................................................41

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Schaefer Systems , Inc.....................................................................................................13


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ProMat DX.........................................................................................................................29

Thermo King......................................................................................................................21


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To Plan for Pandemic is to



he word “pandemic” crept into our daily vocabulary shortly after the start of 2020. Most companies in the food and beverage supply chain did not see it coming and were not prepared for its impact. Since there was so little information about the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), it was initially difficult for companies to understand the risks and update their plans to include pandemic controls. Since then, best practices have been developed and can be applied to mitigate threats to employees while supporting business continuity.

Pandemic crisis management To successfully navigate this unique crisis, it is essential to establish a crisis management team with the necessary backgrounds to develop comprehensive protocols. They will be responsible for the development of a crisis management plan that includes the risks associated with a pandemic. To understand these risks, the team should conduct


a risk assessment similar to what is done for HACCP. Instead of focusing solely on food safety, this team should identify who and what will be impacted by the pandemic along with the likelihood and severity for each risk. This assessment will determine how each risk will impact the business, products, people, supply chain, operations and customers. For every potential risk, identify the action items needed to mitigate the impact. Examples include how to manage the supply chain, identify and procure personal protective equipment (PPE) for workforce protection, plan how to run and shut down operations during the pandemic and measure what’s needed to protect the workforce through the use of prescriptive practices. This written pandemic plan will need to be flexible, so it can evolve as more information becomes available and as you continue navigating through the crisis. After creating the plan, you will need to prepare


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your team, train workforce and test the plan to make sure it is ready to guide your response.

Supply chain management Never in recent memory has supply chain management been so challenged as it has this past year. As suppliers have been impacted, manufacturers have also been taxed with keeping the supplies coming in and maintaining production. But, what happens when a single-source ingredient is being imported from a country where all industries were suddenly shut down? It’s no surprise that many operations started buying and even stockpiling materials, such as face masks, gloves, sanitizers and cleaning chemicals in quantities previously never seen. This caused basic supply and demand issues like price gouging, materials shortages, sub-standard products like sanitizer containing methanol reaching the market and other headaches brought on by operating in panic mode.

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Intermittent operations planning management To meet increased consumer demand, some facilities have been running at 120% or more, committing everything they can to just getting product out the door. Though that may be the priority, it is still critical that even during extended production runs, adequate downtime must be scheduled so required maintenance and sanitation activities can be completed. Another aspect of intermittent operations is in preparation for the shutdown of a facility. Whether mandated by a government body or to decrease viral transmission among the workforce, you will need to think through key aspects of that process. This includes everything from how to handle raw materials to communicating with employees about what to expect and then actually initiating a shutdown of the facility. Once you are ready to resume operations, you will need to plan for bringing the facility back online. While leadership

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In the future, you will have to anticipate needs and manage the successful procurement of materials to keep operations properly functioning. Supplier approval protocols must be employed to ensure that all materials brought in are safe for use from a food safety or human safety aspect, as applicable. This should also include the maintenance of alternate sources for raw ingredients, PPE and cleaning chemicals. Protecting your workforce and prioritizing food safety through the pandemic starts with the development, implementation and management of a robust plan.

This should include a review of protocols for the effective management and support of food safety and employee health. You will need to identify current or necessary exceptions to routine practices and provide additional measures to prevent transmission of viral disease to the workforce yet still maintain food safety. For instance, new traffic patterns to promote social distancing may allow pathogens to be tracked into production and packaging areas that were previously unaffected. This will necessitate a revision of your environmental monitoring program in those areas to identify and eliminate those risks. Any changes to these and other routine practices will then need to be clearly communicated to all stakeholders. In closing, protecting your workforce and prioritizing food safety through the pandemic starts with the development, implementation and management of a robust plan. It should include best practices for pandemic crisis management, supply chain management, intermittent operations management, health crisis mitigation measures and management and a pre-requisite program review. Such a plan gives you and your management team the opportunity to provide the instructions, assign responsibilities and maintain accountability to mitigate the risks imposed by the current pandemic and future events.

and employee communication continue to be important during this stage, planning a start-up sequence and conducting a documented site inspection should also take place.

Health crisis mitigation measures and management Proactive measures that prioritize employee health and well-being can build confidence in any operation and demonstrate a company’s commitment to safety. Unfortunately, employee complaints to whistleblowers have been on the rise. Maybe those employees were without proper PPE, knew of an employee who was at work while running a fever or believed that worker safety protocols were being compromised due to increased product demand or workforce shortage. Each of those situations resulted in an investigation, placing increased scrutiny and costs on those operations. But, they were unprepared and left themselves and their employees vulnerable. Having a plan in place could have prepared them to identify PPE suppliers and have proper PPE already stocked. They could have had screening measures quickly in place and increased safety protocols to support those workers. Not only is prioritizing health crisis mitigation measures the right thing to do for employees, but it also makes financial sense for your operation.


Pre-requisite program review In order to meet the changing needs of an operation during a pandemic crisis, it is important to assess current procedures to identify any exceptions to routine practices.

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PEG RAY manager, technical services, AIB International



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It takes more than sound technology and know how to plan and realize the best logistics systems.

For every task, the right solution WITRON‘s storage systems offer a cost-efficient and ergonomic solution for every application across all industries regardless of the branch, whether it is handling large-volume or small-volume articles, whether the article range is small, broad, or inhomogeneous, whether maximum dynamics is required, or a continuous work process is needed. It doesn‘t matter if the products are picked into totes or cartons, onto trays, pallets, or roll containers, or other dispatch units. All warehouse solutions – whether highly automated, semi-automated, or manual – are modular and based on standardized system components.



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About WITRON Since 1971, WITRON Integrated Logistics designs, realizes and operates customized logistics and material flow systems that generate sustainable competitive advantages for its clients. WITRON has all the decisive key elements of a successful project under one roof: logistics design, information and control technology, mechanics design and production, as well as functional responsibility as general contractor for logistics. The WITRON Corporate Group has 3,100 employees worldwide. WITRON’s annual revenue in 2017 amounted to 635 million USD. Aside from it’s headquarters in Parkstein, Germany, WITRON has offices in Arlington Heights, Illinois (USA), Toronto (Canada), Venray (The Netherlands), Stoke-on-Trent (UK), Madrid (Spain), Strasbourg (France), and Singapore. WITRON Integrated Logistics, Inc. 3721 Ventura Drive Arlington Heights, IL 60004 Phone: +1 847-385-6000

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Find all facts and features about our logistics systems under

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