PathGuide is an Award Recipient of Food Logistics’ 2021 Top Software & Technology Providers

PathGuide receives award recognition from Food Logistics for doing its part to ensure a safe, efficient and reliable global food and beverage supply chain.

PathGuide is first and foremost, a partner to its customers. It’s an honor to be on the list of providers recognized for this award and will continue to encourage innovation to help companies understand and embrace new technologies.

Read how, Plymouth, a third generation, privately owned wholesale distributor of chicken, turkey, pork, beef, seafood and other foods for retail, worked with PathGuide to create and customize a program called “Fresh to Frozen”.

It isn’t easy to manage the unique shipping requirements of each perishable product line. For one, there are unique requirements and restrictions when storing and distributing products with an expiration date. Plus, as cold storage companies grow, they can find themselves bogged down when processing orders – and need a way to streamline their inventory and procedures as a result. This is especially true when it comes to food traceability processes, which is still largely done on paper in the cold food and beverage industry.

Before looking to technology to improve its business, PathGuide customer Plymouth used only pen and paper to log daily inventory and pick orders. They also had no way to locate inventory besides relying on employees’ tribal knowledge of the warehouse layout. Plymouth cited the following as some of the major (and common industry-wide) issues and warning signs that indicated it was time to hit the brakes on pen and paper in their warehouse for good.

Every time an order came in, the picker would have to find the item by memory because there was no system to track item location. The weight of each item or case picked had to then be manually written down. Once each item in the order was picked, the piece of paper with the handwritten weights of each item (which were written down quickly in below freezing temperatures) was then taken to the dispatch department. The information was deciphered and 10-keyed into a terminal that would print the invoice. This frequently happened while the driver was waiting to leave. Each order’s weight numbers had to be triple- and sometimes quadruple-checked for human error; the amount of labor and time wasted for each step was astronomical. After watching the warehouse teams do this and how painful the process was, Plymouth surmised there had to be a better way.

Seasonal surges also present significant challenges for cold food and beverage distributors, especially when it involves natural, local or perishable goods. But even during periods of routine demand, specialty items make managing inventory inherently more complex due to there being more SKUs and an array of unique storage, tracking, and last-mile delivery requirements that come with certain goods like organic foods. Factor in a rush during the peak holiday season, and any cold food and beverage warehouse can quickly become swamped by the spike in inventory (not to mention all the data that goes with it).

Plymouth is just one example of distributors that have turned to PathGuide’s Latitude Warehouse Management System (WMS) for a solution that addresses their unique challenges and needs. Founded in 1983 and headquartered in Seattle, Plymouth is trusted by thousands of companies in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska to provide and deliver quality bulk meats. The management at Plymouth has always been quick to differentiate the business by adopting advanced technology and equipment to ensure the highest quality and freshest products available. As an example of this, every product at the company’s Seattle headquarters is kept in a refrigerated and strictly temperature-controlled environment from the moment of receipt until the time it reaches customers across the region. One of Plymouth’s strengths is its sophisticated freight handling system, which has enabled the company to distribute its products across a wide region on a weekly or even a daily basis depending on demand. This state-of-the-art fleet gives Plymouth the flexibility to handle the needs of small and large clients, with capacity to easily manage multiple product lines.

Plymouth adopted Latitude WMS several years ago, but has more recently untaken a major overhaul of its system to leverage Lot Tracking and Velocity Pick & Put Away of products. With PathGuide’s help, the company has also revamped its receiving and shipping processes to incorporate various other best practices that help make shipments fast, accurate and safe. In addition, Plymouth has implemented systems that allow it to capture digital signatures, have drivers scan product at the time of delivery, and schedule inbound appointments.

The Plymouth cold storage facility has a number of refrigeration and freezer areas ranging from 38 degrees Fahrenheit down to sub-zero. Working in these unique cold conditions is never easy, so Plymouth’s goal is to streamline every other aspect of the inventory and the order processes as much as possible. PathGuide worked with Plymouth to create and customize a program called “Fresh to Frozen.” Products that do not sell by Friday need to be frozen and processed as a frozen item before Saturday. PathGuide’s program allows Plymouth workers to take a fresh item, scan one of its cases and the program will automatically convert the fresh item number to the frozen equivalent. It also adds the correct frozen weight and prints the labels needed. The program has saved time and money by reducing confusion and inventory errors. What used to be an almost all-day event has been narrowed down to a few hours each Friday. It has also dramatically increased Plymouth’s inventory accuracy.

Each fall, as the holiday turkey season approaches, Plymouth begins to prepare for its busiest time of year. During the year it averages about 1,200 to 1,500 cases of turkeys shipped per week. However, that number can spike up to almost 35,000 cases a week prior to Thanksgiving. To adjust to the massive increase in turkey orders and inventory, the company dedicates a specific room entirely to turkeys, stacked floor to ceiling. Employee overtime peaks, which means more employees in the warehouse at all times. PathGuide’s Latitude WMS integrates with ERP business systems and uses RF or bar code scanning to catalog and communicate data about each SKU, including catch weights. It automates nearly every step of inventory management, from receiving to order-picking to the creation of a shipment manifest. Pickers use their RF terminals to send and receive messages or instructions electronically instead of from a manually managed queue. The system can verify whether the picker is at the right location in the warehouse and filling orders with the right items. What’s more, the software scales well so it doesn’t matter if there is one worker scanning products or 30, everything gets scanned. For customers like Plymouth, not getting that instant item data from Latitude would mean a severe slowdown in productivity during the most hectic time of year. In other words, the Latitude WMS and RF scanning streamline processes that would otherwise be labor-intensive and time-consuming.

Quality has always been Plymouth’s top priority. Management has been able to differentiate the company from its competitors by adopting advanced technology like Latitude. This ensures its customers receive the highest quality and freshest products available.

PathGuide has established itself as a trusted resource in the warehousing and distribution space and is proud to be among the award winners of this year’s Top Software & Technology Providers by developing a solution that keeps supply chains moving safely and efficiently, regardless of the disruption.

This award announcement was first published in Food Logistics on December 20, 2021. The digital issue can be found here.