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Swisslog White Paper examines the challenges facing the F&B industry

Global warehouse and logistics automation leader, Swisslog, is introducing a two-part white paper series on the challenges facing the food and beverage industry, and how automation can help companies remain competitive and adaptable.

The first part, “The ultimate moving feast: serious challenges face the food and beverage industry. Part 1: A changing landscape” is just being released, as the world reaches a full 12 months of the Covid-19 pandemic. Part 2 will be made available progressively in 2021, including to all those that downloaded the first part.

From locations in over 20 countries, Swisslog has implemented more than 2000 automation projects worldwide, including some of the largest players, and household names in the food and beverage industry, such as Coca-Cola Amatil.

The food and beverage industry has one of the trickiest supply chains to manage globally, as it contends with getting fresh food from farms, to distribution centres, to stores, to consumers, while meeting ever-changing consumer demands.

And if that wasn’t already a challenging enough environment, 2020 has seen Covid-19 have widespread impacts on industries across the globe. For food and beverage, it resulted in more packaged products and stricter handling requirements, particularly reducing manual handling where possible, to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.

“Further complicating this delicate supply chain are factors such as volatile commodity pricing; inventory management that accounts for perishability; traceability, quality and safety; frequent new introductions; high demand uncertainty; complex manufacturing constraints; and environmental impacts of climate change,” explains Mr Arijit Biswas, Senior Sales Consultant for the Food and Beverage sector, Swisslog Australia. 

“When you consider that 30%* of all food that is produced globally is never consumed, companies in the industry have to be as intelligent as possible in their approach to storage, warehousing, logistics and distribution in order to stay competitive,” he said. *Source: Deloitte.

Part 1 of Swisslog’s white paper series will explore the changing nature of the food and beverage industry, including the impacts of Covid-19. Part 2 will then go on to explore, through case studies, the notion that for such a challenging and constantly evolving landscape, it is essential to be agile, adaptable and futureproof to survive and flourish. Warehouse automation is one technology that can deliver these qualities, plus add ongoing benefits and value.

Covid-19 impacts

Consumers are changing where they eat, how they eat and what they eat, as a result of lockdowns and other Covid-related precautions and restrictions. As awareness of the contagiousness of Covid-19 rose, so did product packaging, in an attempt to shield goods from potential contamination.

“As companies sought to operate in what Governments liked to call ‘the new normal’, it became apparent that stricter handling requirements would be needed to safeguard consumers against the risk of infection,” said Mr Biswas.

“Companies that had invested in automation technologies were able to assure their customers that there was minimal manual handling of goods, and therefore a far lesser risk of infection.”

The first part of this white paper series, The ultimate moving feast: serious challenges face the food and beverage industry. Part 1: A changing landscape can be downloaded here.