Recent data provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for November 2016 has shown the quantity of goods bought (volume) has increased by 5.9% compared with November 2015, with 40 pence in every pound spent in food stores.
With the rise in demand from large supermarkets and powerful retailers, food processors and manufacturers across the country are under increasing pressure to keep costs down whilst continuing to deliver top quality products.
David Heath, distribution director at Clugston Distribution discusses how companies can use best practice and the latest technology in logistics to ensure standards and volume demands are met by logistics suppliers.
Food product ingredients only
When handling items such as flour, maize, oats, barley, gluten and rusk there is a requirement to keep all transportation vehicles up to date with the latest technology to meet the stringent hygiene and quality requirements within the industry.
Some logistics companies run tankers that switch between carrying non-food and food products, using approved wash stations in-between deliveries. However, to prevent product spoilage and cross contamination, it is essential dedicated food products only tankers are used, especially in regards to manufacturing processes for baked goods including, biscuits, cakes, crackers and cereals.
What’s more, food fleet vehicles should also be systemically washed out, in line with an agreed hygiene regime at approved wash stations. The wash out regime should not only include hoses and fittings, but the internal tank area as well. As part of a routine, a more stringent hygiene check should be carried out at a designated workshop twice a year, with any issues found addressed proactively with the driver and the operations team.
Many customers in the gluten supply chain insist on all vehicles being washed to a customer specified standard prior to each outbound load.
It is highly recommended that all food manufacturers and processors check the food hygiene policies of their logistics providers both prior to working with a partner and during the contract period.
Within the fleet of most food logistics companies there will be a host of traditional tipping tankers. However, even though these vehicles offer a satisfactory performance, more innovative non-tipping tankers are now available within some specialist fleets. The technology works by discharging air from both the tractor and customers’ air connections, making for a more efficient service.
Using the system, the bulk food product is filtrated and directed through a controllable air-operated valve system, which both prevents goods holding up inside the tank and acts as an aid for cleaning. As the non-tipping tanker does not move during the discharge process, the vehicle is much safer at sites that have a camber or limited access.
In addition, many food production sites across the country are now operating with the latest Vendor Management Inventory (VMI), which monitor the bulk food levels at sites, using real time stock control levels and tank usage information.
For a number of years, logistics companies have been combining vehicle satellite tracking technology to the information provided by customer’s VMI systems, maximising ‘just in time’ deliveries, with reduced inventory stock and costs throughout the year.
Integrating satellite tracking with VMI technology is particularly important to the bakery industry, as demands may fluctuate due to seasonal influences. In this particular sector, it requires the miller, logistics partner and the planning team at the production site to work closely together.
Managing the logistics of food manufacturing and production requires a specialist distribution provider that understands the needs of the industry and the nature of the bulk products involved. By harnessing industry knowledge, best practice and the latest technology, logistics providers can offer a solution which greatly reduces costs whilst maintaining a high level of service for customers.