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Fosters rolls out just-in-time supply chain

Global beverage company Foster’s Group has rolled out a new warehouse management system to 14 sites across Australia and the US.

The decision came as the initial implementation of RedPrairie’s system at Foster’s three sites in Victoria in 2000 resulted in lifting operational efficiency and flexibility, as well as supply chain visibility.

Adding Southcorp Wines to its already extensive brand portfolio in 2005, Foster’s started a supply chain transformation project to move from beer-only to multi-beverage and multi-brand distribution facilities under the partnership with the optimisation company.

The beverage company’s product now encompasses beer, wine, spirits, cider and non-alcoholic beverages.

Foster’s chief supply officer Michael Brooks said the company’s successful expansion of its portfolio and global market share was made possible by investing in a scalable production and distribution network.

“In 2003, we found that our current systems and processes did not have the flexibility or capacity to scale to the level they needed to meet the increasing demand for our diverse product lines,” Mr Brooks said.

“We needed to reconfigure and enhance our supply chain network by increasing service levels to our widespread customers.”

RedPrairie implemented the system in the brewer’s 20,000-sqm facility at Yatala, Queensland, which produces more than 25 per cent of the total beer production in Australia with over 20,000 pallet locations and multiple beer kegs.

As the automation process led to a record uptime at the site, Foster’s progressively rolled out the system to its new sties in Australia and California, on time and on budget.

The warehouse management system incorporates technologies such as voice picking and laser-guided forklifts, new ‘human-less’ technology that moves pallets safely through the distribution centre.

Foster’s process manager logistics Garry Smith said stability was one of the key benefits that the system offered.

“Foster’s has a finely-tuned, just-in-time supply chain, so any outages cause hundreds of thousands of dollars per minute in lost man-time, fuel costs, delayed customer orders and overtime costs.

“RedPrairie’s system is bullet-proof and runs on stable platforms designed for tough environments and immediate response times,” Mr Smith said.

RedPrairie Asia Pacific managing director Mark Skipper said multinational businesses like Foster’s would require a strong partnership to ensure smooth implementation.

“The group worked as one and delivered this very large-scale on time and on budget.

“This is quite a fear for a logistics project of this size and global nature,” he said.

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