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Loffredo Fresh Produce Solves Growth Challenges with AFS Food Distribution Software & Expertise

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Business opportunity

Established in 1892, Loffredo Fresh Produce has successfully grown over the years and once again recently found themselves staring at a significant growth opportunity.

In the late 1800s, the company began a grow and sell operation. As you might imagine there wasn’t an interstate system or a logistics network available so the company grew fruits and tobacco because that’s what grew well in the Midwest and sold locally.

Over the past 20 years, Loffredo expanded its geographical footprint along with inventory types. According to the company’s CFO Brian Loffredo, its warehouse capacity expanded across additional markets and same-day service within the expanded coverage base was added.

“Our company is currently owned by the fourth generation and we have multiple members of the fifth generation, my generation, working in the business,” Loffredo says.

In addition to fruits and vegetables, the food distributor provides specialty items, and non-produce items like liquid and solid dairy, spices, pasta, other dry goods, and a frozen hors d’oeuvre line, however, produce remains its “bread and butter.”

This significant growth opportunity in front of the distributor carried a number of challenges including issues related to nightly order selection, inventory accuracy, and increased pick errors.

To drive business growth, Loffredo reached out to AFS for its award-winning food distribution software and food distribution expertise to solve the company’s growth challenges through the AFS WMS purpose-built software solution.

Solution

Loffredo Produce needed a Tier 1 WMS food distribution software from a provider that understood food, food distribution, and the special requirements related to handling produce. Core to selecting the right software was the ability of the automated solution to eliminate inefficiency and pick errors due to inventory discrepancies and spoilage. The primary improvement focus was picking efficiency.

“AFS WMS offers so much more control for our office staff. In addition to enhanced visibility to pick assignments and pallet selection, we can also ensure the trucks are getting picked in the right order,” Loffredo notes.

Benefits 

Loffredo Produce now enjoys a whopping 31 percent night shift throughput improvement since implementing AFS WMS.

“We’re not sending selectors to slots that don’t have inventory anymore. Many times, we’re waiting on products to come in that night even though picking has already started. Those items are getting sent directly into a pending task to select once the inventory arrives. We’re not only seeing picking speed improve, but also picking accuracy. We’re seeing that our fulfiller rates have gone up and our shorts and mis-picks are way down,” Loffredo adds.

With AFS WMS, Loffredo Produce reduced pick errors by 250 percent, from one in every 750 cases to one in 2,000 cases, with operational improvements in the works to improve further processes. Loffredo also reports a significant improvement in inventory accuracy based on the overall automation of their inventory management processes which also results in a significant reduction in daily labor hours.

“We’re worrying less about inventory and inventory accuracy, so that’s a huge value to us. We are no longer seeing as many picking errors. Visibility of inventory close to expiring and executing rotation based on receipt and expiration dates has significantly improved the quality of our inventory,” Loffredo adds.

Loffredo cites a significant 15 percent reduction in inventory spoilage as a key benefit of the AFS food distribution software.

“The receiving accuracy and increased speed of the AFS WMS solution was a welcome change as compared to the painstaking process that was in place,” he says.

AFS WMS food distribution software adds instant verification of counts and puts a license plate on a pallet right when it walks in our building so that we’re able to track inventory from any computer. Loffredo is taking advantage of the AFS WMS directed put-away capability and reporting in order to maximize warehouse space and slotting.

“Now with AFS WMS, the system gets us close to the pick slot, making sure the slot can handle it size-wise,” he shares.

WMS automates a process that in the past created operator inefficiency while they searched for open locations using tribal knowledge.  The solution also greatly improves replenishments, with AFS WMS reducing the travel time to fill the slot and directing to the next oldest pallet based on rotation.

“We’ve merged visibility and automated decision making with our manual processes allowing us to focus on efficiency, which removes the burden of having to overthink dates, saving time and preventing the wrong product to be placed in the slot,” Loffredo shares. “Food safety is job one and AFS WMS is core to that process given the solution is flagging us and saying you have to check to make sure that the inbound trailer temperature was correct, product temperature was in range, the wheels were chalked, and there were no odors in the trailer. AFS WMS provides the capability to answer all the various questions that are required as part of food safety and receive that truck into the system, complying with all food safety guidelines to stay food safety compliant.”

“Before AFS WMS we were counting each of our warehouses in full, multiple times a week. Today we’re counting 20 percent of our slots daily. Within a week we’re hitting each of our slots, but it’s more of a controlled task-driven process,” Loffredo concludes.

The other major gain of the food distribution software is the ability to focus on counting slots where inventory discrepancies typically occur. Loffredo shares that new features like “picker count back” which allow staff to have order selectors count as they go and reduce the amount of time spent on inventory management is exciting.