Coca-Cola has always been in pursuit of the best quality throughout its illustrious history of over 100 years. Its bottling partner in Taiwan, Swire Coca-Cola has adopted the latest warehouse management system that facilities real-time inventory data management using the latest technology, enabling the Company to manage its warehousing operations in a more efficient method.
By Hsiao-jing Yu and Pictures from Taiwan Swire Coca-Cola Interview with Hong-yi Zhong, Logistics Director of Swire Coca-Cola Taiwan
Since its humble beginnings more than 100 years ago when it sold only nine glasses of drinks daily, to achieving outstanding sales performances today that averages daily sales of 1.9 billion glasses, Coca-Cola has expanded its marketing coverage from the United States to more than two hundred countries around the world in order to provide local consumers with the most refreshing beverage. In order to ensure timely distribution of various beverage products, Coca-Cola’s bottling partner, Swire Coca-Cola Taiwan, has production plants in both northern and southern Taiwan, as well as warehouses in Taoyuan, Wang Tian and Kaohsiung that serve as supply centers. Presently, the Company sells different types of beverage products, including soda (i.e.“Coca-Cola”, “Fanta”, “Sprite”etc.), fruit juices, tea drinks and sports drinks (i.e. “Minute Maid”, “Sokenbicha”, “Original Essence”, “AQUARIUS”, etc).
How is it possible to manage warehousing and logistics adequately for processing so many different kinds of beverage products? How do you achieve timely delivery with accuracy? It is a tough challenge and a mission that has to be accomplished. “The food industry is sensitive to production dates: products that are produced first should be shipped first in order to provide customers with fresh products. As production volume increases, warehousing management becomes more challenging; moreover, demands for “packaging for designated channels” in recent years have been rising, for example: Coca-Cola has launched yearly signature bottles, whereby year 2015 bottles will only be sold in 7-11. That means that products of the same brand and capacity specifications but with different packaging should be identified accurately in the warehouse for sales in different channels”. - Hong-yi Zhong, Logistics Director ofSwireCoca-Cola Taiwan. Such reasons have prompted Swire Coca-Cola Taiwan to replace the previous manual operation and paperworkwith the Warehouse Management System (WMS), and in doing so achieve timely management of warehousing operations.
Adequate tools are prerequisites to successful job execution
The effectiveness of the WMS relies on appropriate software and hardware equipment used in the warehouse. Hong-yi Zhong mentioned, “The on-site staff must keep records of the inflows and outflows of the stocks to control their latest status. Initially, our WMS worked with common commercial tablet PCs. We started using WMS in February, which was cold, rainy and humid, causing our PCs to be frequently unstable due to the weather. Therefore, we decided to change the tablet PCs in March, to industrial-grade tablet-PCs inorder to resolve the problem”.
According to Li- jian Yu, Advantech’s sales engineer who was responsible for this project, in addition to withstanding the challenging operation environment due to temperature and humidity of the warehouse, the PCs used by Swire Coca-Cola Taiwan have to be installed on holders right in front of the forklifts. This means that the PCs mounted on the cars must be able to withstand the vibration constantly generated by the moving forklifts or the shaking produced during loading and unloading of stocks; in addition, the PCs have to be charged on the forklifts and stay in operation for 24 hours. Moreover, each PC should be able to connect to the ERP system within the Company regardless of its location. Such requirements are not attainable with common tablet PCs used mainly for personal entertainment or commercial purposes, which was the main reason behind Swire’s selection of Advantech industrial-grade reinforced tablet PCs.
On top of that,Advantech’s positive service attitude was also one of the main reasons why Swire Coca-Cola Taiwan chose to work with the company. Jin-hui Lin, System Analyst of Swire Coca-Cola Taiwan suggested, “When conducting assessments of various industrial computer products, Advantech was the most responsive vendor. Not only were they the fastest to respond to our requests, they even provided us with two computers for testing. After conducting tests for one and a half months and confident about the products’ stability, we decided to use Advantech industrial tablet PC for our operations”.
Swire Coca-Cola Taiwan has chosen PWS-770 amongst a variety of product lines of Advantech. The product is designed specifically for harsh environments, and is equipped with excellent drop and shock resistance capabilities, as well as anti-vibration, waterproof, dustproof features. It comes with high-capacity lithium battery and a function that allows battery change without powering off. In addition, it features a variety of wireless communication functions which enable excellent data transmission quality. More importantly, besides working with its exclusive in-car holder on forklifts to lift stocks accurately, PWS-770 can also be used independently on tablet mode. Therefore, it also features mobile portability, allowing on-site staffs more flexibility and mobility when checking inventory. Currently, Swire Coca-Cola Taiwan has installed several devices of PWS-770 on forklifts in its Taoyuan, Kaohsiung, and Wang Tian warehouses. There has not been any reports of system instability of the products installed up until now.
Quality assurance to ensure the best is provided
Hong-Yi Zhong mentioned, “Effectiveness and efficiency is highly important in warehousing and logisticsmanagement. Therefore,besides introducing WMS to each of our warehouses in Taiwan, we will also consider integrating appropriate technological products into our transportation/distribution systems or asset management system that manages items such as pallets and carbon dioxide cylinders in the future. The ultimate objective is to provide customers with the best service quality, and ensuring that consumers enjoy the best beverages”.
Visitors at the headquarters of Swire Coca-Cola Taiwan is welcomed and served with a bottle of chilled Coca-Cola, giving them the best possible taste at the optimal temperature. This shows the company’s commitment to quality, which is a major reason why the brand has lasted and flourished for over a century.