Advice on handling a harsh winter
A series of tips for food and drink manufacturers that might be unprepared for a long hard winter, have been put together by a materials handling expert.
Performing maintenance on equipment susceptible to the cold – such as truck tyres, hydraulic systems and hoses – and buying a back-up generator in case of electricity and/or heating shortages were necessary steps for any business with a warehouse, suggested Paul Casebourne, managing director at Engineered Solutions.
In addition, Casebourne advised that food firms should check windows and gates to ensure they were firmly sealed, so that water couldn’t get in, and keep an eye on roofs to prevent potential damage caused by gathering snow.
Lastly, businesses should take care to grit, salt and even snowplough potential black spots that become slippery.
“For many organisations with warehouses this is one of the busiest times of year, so the last thing anyone needs is for problems to arise,” said Casebourne, who also runs information sharing website the Material Handling Hub.
“A lot of these ideas may seem obvious, but when people are busy doing their day-to-day tasks, they often don’t have time to plan ahead. It’s vital to do that so you’re prepared for whatever the weather may throw at us.”
Facial tech to clock on
A facial recognition system that removes the need for seasonal packhouse staff to clock in and out has been developed for fruit and vegetable producers by software firm Consus Fresh Solutions.
Using machine-learning, the system can identify staff and permit access to different areas of a business, improving allocation of tasks and accountability, Consus claimed.
“The system works with the procedures a packhouse will already have in place, but instead of RFID tags, it uses a camera to identify the staff,” said Consus co-founder Derek Thompson. “Details are recorded electronically and amendments made remotely.”
The system compares the photograph kept on the database with the face of the person trying to enter the packhouse. If recognised, they are allowed access and can be given a task, which is then logged on the system.
Dr Matthew Smith, director of business development at Microsoft Research, added: “Consus is meeting a growing need by organisations to harness technologies in order to improve supply chain efficiencies, response times, waste reduction and branding.”