5 benefits of Co-op Food’s logistics upgrade

Co-op Food solutions specialist Barry Morgan is looking to add more agility and flexibility to the grocer’s logistics operation. He provided details of the upgrading process during a presentation at RBTE.

UK supermarket chain Co-op Food is nearing the end of a major logistics project, which the retailer says will add agility to its warehouse-to-store logistics operations.

Barry Morgan, solutions specialist at the grocer, told delegates at RBTE on 3 May about the current warehouse management system (WMS) implementation and what the business aims to gain from the move.

The new system in the process of being implemented across each of Co-op Food’s 12 depots is Manhattan Associates’ Platform 2015 solution. One depot was upgraded in 2016, six were completed in 2017, and there are two sites left out of the five earmarked for change in 2018.

Retail Connections has picked out five key potential benefits of the project based on Morgan’s presentation.

One Co-op team

Morgan said one success of the project was in bringing together different departments at the retailer.

Supply chain, operations and the depots themselves are all working on the project to ensure smooth delivery of the new functions.

“If we hadn’t done that I’m sure we wouldn’t be in the position we are today,” explained Morgan, who added that the new technology has guarded the organisation against outages and unscheduled downtime.

Consistency

After deciding on Manhattan Associates’ software ahead of other options from JDA and Oracle, Co-op also took the opportunity align all of its warehouse processes across the multiple sites.

Morgan said this makes it easier for depot workers to move across sites. He said the data generated is trusted, and people across the organisation “believe in the system”.

Agility

The newer software that has been implemented in the ten depots to date is reportedly more flexible. The Co-op logistics team’s strategy when choosing technology or software is to opt for “current version minus one”, so it’s not the latest version available but contains many of the most modern features.

“[As a result] we’re able to make small changes quickly from a WMS perspective,” Morgan noted, in reference to the new software.

Accuracy

New data management systems are being incorporated as part of the logistics upgrade process to enable staff working on the sites to access real-time information about deliveries, performance and picking.

“This will mean depot colleagues can have much more meaningful discussions day to day,” Morgan said.

Later down the line the logistics team will be introducing labour management systems which take into account the items being picked by staff. Morgan said this will avoid situations where the staff’s work rate is questioned because the system will take into account weight and dimensions of the items being picked.

Reliability

Yard management systems which are expected to improve utilisation of Co-op’s fleet of 1,000 own vehicles and better plan distribution to stores are in the pipeline for investment.

Reliability is hugely important for a logistics organisation which Morgan revealed delivers 550 million cases annually.

Although the wider upgrade project is coming to an end, it is never truly completed, acknowledged Morgan.

“It’s like painting the Forth Bridge – we’re already starting to look at when we start the next upgrade.”

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