Food importer Avilton Foods supplies an extensive range covering chilled, ambient and frozen products from the standard to the niche or bespoke, to meet the requirements of customers from the retail, industrial and food-service sectors.
Imported products were arriving at Avilton in many different case sizes and dimensions and pallets were being manually packed and loaded. This resulted in up to 35-40 per cent of wasted space in each pallet loaded.
Director of logistics Gary Hill says: “I knew we were wasting so much space particularly because we were trying to limit any damage caused by stacking. Once I knew that, I wanted to acquire some specialist software to address this issue, I approached the key suppliers and selected the Tops Pro software from AutoLogic Systems. The system was very easy to use, had all of the features we required and was also very cost competitive.”
The Tops Pro pakage is design and pallet optimisation software which enables Avilton Foods to input the dimensions, typical load and weight of each case.
The software will then provide instructions on how to load each pallet ensuring maximum capacity and minimal waste. Because the software takes into account the load type, case strength and weight, the interlinking of cases can be calculated precisely and therefore the risk of damage is also minimal.
Hill says: “We have increased our capacity in each load by 10-15 per cent. Such savings meant that our investment in the software was paid back within 3-4 months of using the new system. We have also taken things one step further as each time a new product is introduced we can use the software to plan ahead and work with the supplier to meet our optimum packaging requirements.
“Previously this would be very supplier led but any suggested improvements/changes can be clearly demonstrated up front with the software. In fact, many of our suppliers are actually using similar software now after seeing the improvements and savings we have made.
“There are many additional features we benefit from such as more accurate planning with the differentiating import and export case per pallet quantities. We can also prove to our customers that we are being proactive when it comes to reducing the amount of packaging and transport we use and investing in the latest technology.
“This is a key attribute which makes us a preferred choice over many of our competitors. Ultimately, we would like to work even more closely with our customers to enable them to accept more units per pallet to improve their picking rate, transport costs and carbon footprint also,” says Hill.