7 Temperature-Controlled Warehousing Problems and Solutions
All products require a supply chain, and one link is a warehouse.
When people think of warehouses, they often think of vast rectangular buildings that house nothing but open, empty space. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Warehouses, whether for ecommerce fulfillment or distribution, don’t operate like farm sheds, pole barns, or storage units. You can’t just open the door and toss the product in.
Warehousing, when successful, is complex. If the planning process for building a house and all that goes into it is complicated, you should see the planning of a warehouse, not to mention its daily operation. It is more than a cold box or that vast white building you pass when driving down I95. It is a building comprised of large amounts of technology, teams of people, potentially dangerous machinery, products with very specific requirements, and a large amount of truck traffic coming in and out. All of that must coincide like a perfectly choreographed ballet.
The complexity of this ballet doubles, if not triples or quadruples, if you are involved in the warehousing of any food product, and even more if it is in the perishable or frozen food sector. Why? Simply the perishable and safety element. You need to ensure the item is stored and shipped in a way that won’t hurt the consumer or your business’s reputation.
If you embark on a warehouse storage and fulfillment journey, here are seven challenges you will likely encounter and how to solve them.
7 Temperature-Controlled Warehousing Problems and Solutions:
- Maintaining the Temperature in Temperature-Controlled Warehousing
- Food Safety in Warehouse Storage and Fulfillment
- Determine the Locations of Warehouse and Fulfillment Distribution Centers
- Freight Management for Warehouse Storage and Fulfillment
- The Technology Behind Warehouse Storage and Fulfillment
- A Dedicated Team at a Warehouse for Ecommerce That Is Not Your Own
- Inventory Management for Ecommerce Fulfillment
1. Maintaining the Temperature in Temperature-Controlled Warehousing
One of the biggest challenges is maintaining a constant temperature in the temperature-controlled warehouse. You can’t rely on an air conditioner and heater if you are dealing with frozen fulfillment or perishable fulfillment. Even the refrigeration system is much more complex than the refrigerator you have at your house. Therefore, when considering how you will handle cold storage, you need to know what the product is and what temperature it requires.
Most products have an ideal temperature and need to stay within a few degrees of that to preserve quality. First, know what that temperature is and what the system you are using requires to maintain that. Then, set up system checks to ensure the temperature stays consistent. Even in frozen fulfillment, there are degrees of variation, literally. For example, ice cream needs to stay at -20 degrees. Therefore, if you walk into one of our storage facilities that specialize in ice cream, like our McDonough location, it will feel significantly cooler than some of our other locations that specialize in products that need 0 degrees, even though they are both frozen fulfillment centers.
Installing a cooling system is a significant expense, not only to install but also to maintain. It requires an engineer with unique experience on-site to ensure everything runs smoothly and an IT Team to keep the technology up to par. It is imperative that the system does not fail, and you need to have a plan in place for when something goes wrong. A failed system means spoiled food and a lot of money, literally in the trash. Because of the specialty niche in equipment and expertise, the simplest solution is often to use a 3PL specializing in temperature-controlled warehousing, like Burris Logistics. At Burris, we have 98 years of experience honing our skills in cold storage warehousing, and we know how to get it right. We have the technology, the system and process, and the Team to handle frozen and perishable food storage, fulfillment, and distribution.
2. Food Safety in Warehouse Storage and Fulfillment
While maintaining temperature is a huge part of food safety, there is a lot more to it than just that. Positioning products in relationship to others is also a substantial piece of the puzzle. For example, particular protein and dairy products can’t be racked with other products or can only be positioned above certain products but not below. Therefore, when storing multiple products, it is vital to be aware of these regulations to prevent the spread of bacteria and reduce the risk of disease.
There are copious amounts of food safety regulations, especially pertaining to perishable and frozen food fulfillment. Therefore, being familiar with these regulations and executing them properly is essential.
This is another reason many companies Partner with a 3PL like Burris Logistics. At Burris Logistics, we have an entire safety Team whose job is to stay up-to-date with the latest safety standards and regulations and ensure we adhere to them at all times.
3. Determining the Locations of Warehouse and Distribution Centers
Whether you are looking for a warehouse for ecommerce or storage and fulfillment, location matters. A warehouse for ecommerce needs to be within a two-day reach of your customers, which also requires multiple warehouse and fulfillment locations throughout the country.
If you are more on the fulfillment and distribution side, you need locations that can service your storefront effectively and are accessible and straightforward regarding trucking routes. This will also likely result in the need for multiple warehouses, storage, and fulfillment centers nationwide.
Working with a 3PL like Burris Logistics allows you to have more locations spread out strategically without having the operational costs of running them. At Burris Logistics, we have eight warehouses conveniently located across the US that are strategically located in different parts of the US near major roads and hubs, making us a convenient choice for your warehouse storage and fulfillment needs.
4. Freight Management for Warehouse Storage and Fulfillment
In addition to getting your ecommerce product shipped and into the hands of consumers or from the distribution center to your location, you also need to get the product to the warehouse. That’s where our sister company, Trinity Logistics, can help. Trinity Logistics is a 3PL specializing in freight brokerage. They can coordinate easily with our warehouses to ensure freight deliveries are the correct quantity at the right time.
5. The technology behind warehouse storage and fulfillment
Warehousing runs off of technology. The warehouse technology must integrate with the ordering system to ensure orders are picked and packed. Technology helps ensure ecommerce orders are filled correctly and offers checks and balances. Technology is used to ensure warehouse temperature is maintained. Technology is used to place orders and coordinate routes. Everything in a warehouse for ecommerce happens because technology directs it. The challenge in that is that technology can be unreliable. Therefore you need an experienced IT Team that maintains the day-to-day operations and is on hand to fix any issues.
The other side of this is cyber security. The system relies on access to orders and customer information to make the ecommerce fulfillment process happen. However, data must be secured. Therefore, you need a robust IT infrastructure to ward off cyber attacks and ensure secure operations.
At Burris Logistics, we have an IT Team of over 60 members and technology Team Members at each location to ensure everything functions properly. They have created countless measures to ensure that all information in our warehouse management system and customer portal is safe and secure.
6. A Dedicated Team at a Warehouse for Ecommerce that is not Your Own
One concern with any business is the reliance on Team Members and the need to hold them accountable. This can be especially tricky when the Team handling your product is not your own. This is often a concern with using a 3PL provider. How do you trust those packing your product understand your business and specifications and are dedicated to a company that doesn’t employ them?
At Burris Logistics, we have a unique setup. Team Members often work on one or two accounts specifically. They also get to know the brand and the specifications to pack the ecommerce box. They understand the product and have more of an attachment to the brand.
7. Inventory Management for Ecommerce Fulfillment
The final challenge we will discuss is inventory management for ecommerce fulfillment. Inventory management has a considerable impact on the profitability of an ecommerce company. If the inventory is insufficient, customers will become frustrated, and sales will be missed. On the other hand, if you overstock, that is money sitting on a shelf. It is a delicate balance that takes practice.
One way Burris Logistics can help is that we have proprietary technology that monitors the inventory in our warehouse and alerts our Partner when it is time to replenish. Our supply chain portal also offers inventory foreshadowing and planning capability and allows our customers to see orders and inventory live in the portal at any time. This makes it easy to predict how much inventory you need and ensure it arrives on time.
Warehousing can be complex. There is so much that happens inside the walls of a warehouse that can’t be seen from the highway. It requires knowledge, technology, equipment, planning, and training. If the complexity of warehousing is not your area of expertise, that’s okay. It’s ours. Working with a 3PL provider like Burris Logistics is a Life Hack for solving the challenges of warehousing for ecommerce or distribution.
About Burris Logistics
Burris Logistics is the operational brand of Burris Logistics offering traditional cold storage, distribution, and direct-to-consumer fulfillment for Ecommerce companies. Since 1925, this family-owned company has expanded its networks of warehouses from Florida to Maine, and now out to the pacific coast of California. For more information about us please visit www.Burrislogistics.com.