Brewing up Solutions

For many beer lovers out there, the last few years have been amazing. The beer industry has seen a real boom in craft beers and microbreweries. While that’s phenomenal news for consumers, it has provided some logistical challenges for beer distributors.

Last week, UNEX Executive Vice President Mark Neuwirth gave a presentation titled “Managing Craft Beer and the Impacts on Warehouse Operations.” In it, he outlined some of the logistical obstacles that the rise in craft beers have provided and what warehouses can do to overcome these issues.

One of the major issues that has arisen is SKU proliferation. Whereas historically the beer industry focused on a limited number of major brands, leading to low SKUs in high volume, now there are exponentially more brands SKUs to accommodate and a much lower volume.

This very issue arose for Maletis Beverage, a beer distributor in Portland, Oregon.

“We have 400 different types of beer in these kegs because there are so many micro breweries in the area,” said Jason Lucas, Facility Warehouse Manager at Maletis. “In the past few years, we’ve picked up a couple of thousand SKUs, and our building isn’t getting any bigger. Our space was almost maxed out and it was tough to find and retrieve the kegs on the pallets because they weren’t organized. It was a time-consuming mess.”

UNEX pickologists worked with Jason to set up a new system that would free up floor space and create a more efficient pick. To do that, we looked at a few different aspects before determining a solution.

  1. First, we analyzed the SKUs and looked at the company’s throughput to determine, based on their sales volume, what the best way to store product was and how much product did they need on hand? The goal of this analysis was to identify the slow moving products and get it off the floor. Having slow moving product on the floor is a waste of space.
  2. Once we determined which product could be moved off the floor, we consolidated it into a Span-Track system. Not only did this free up necessary floor-space for high volume SKUs, it significantly reduced pick time by consolidating low volume SKUs in an organized system that cuts down search and travel time.

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One thing that the beer industry is beginning to learn with this craft beer trend is that they may have to rethink their traditional storage model. They need to be open to new things. That’s why UNEX’s pickologists are at the ready to develop and produce a custom solution that can streamline craft beer storage and make SKU proliferation a manageable occurrence.

To learn more about these solutions, you can give us a ring at 1-800-334-UNEX, or contact us via e-mail here. Or, if you’re a hands-on type and just happen to be perusing the aisles of MODEX in Atlanta, be sure to stop by booth 8727 and see our keg storage solutions first hand!