Coors Distributing Company makes logistical enhancements to its warehouse operations to keep up with a growing demand.
By Kat Zeman, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media
In order to accommodate its fast-growing business, Coors Distributing Company is making logistical enhancements to its warehouse operations. “Our portfolio has grown significantly over the last eight years and continues to expand,” says Steve Rose, operations director. “In order to meet this demand we need to innovate and invest in new processes and technology.”
Founded in 1971, the Denver-based company started as the distributor for the Coors Banquet brand in the Denver metro area. It started with roughly 50 employees distributing 16 SKUs via 14 trucks. Today, Coors Distributing Company has grown to nearly 400 employees and expanded its beer portfolio to more than 31 breweries, roughly 100 different brands and more than a thousand SKUs.
Rose, who joined the company earlier this year, and his team have been working on various operational enhancements to ensure the company can smoothly handle the increasing volume of products it distributes.
This includes implementing a new HSPA (High Speed Picking Area) system and working with the company’s sales team to change ordering patterns for better efficiency. These moves are designed to complement Coors Distributing Company’s Vertique warehouse automation system, an automated warehouse picking system that the company implemented in 2010.
The changes are necessary because Vertique alone is not designed to handle the growing volume. “The whole idea is to make sure that we don’t exceed Vertique’s production quota,” Rose says. “When we implemented HSPA, we took 15 to 20 percent of the volume from the robots.”
For the first few months of implementation, Rose and his team picked products by hand in order to test the system. After that, they contacted their forklift provider and purchased a mechanical claw to do the work.
“Now we’re converting another part of the warehouse to a HSPA area,” Rose adds. “The goal is to have between 25 to 30 percent of our volume go through this area.”
As would be expected from a beer distributor, Coors Distributing Company’s busiest season is summer. In fact, the company doubles its production during that time and its drivers have roughly 90 routes to tackle.
Since implementing HSPA, all of its trucks were loaded and ready to leave at the company’s published start of 7 a.m. “The majority were out of here between 6 and 7 a.m.,” Rose says. “Our drivers didn’t have to wait on a single case. In years past, we had trucks waiting on product at 5 p.m. on the day of delivery.”
This year, Labor Day was a record-breaking day for Coors Distributing Company. “We delivered more beer than we had ever delivered and we did it all on time,” he adds. “It’s a result of all the improvements we’ve made and the new HSPA area.”
Another part of these improvements is Coors Distributing Company changing how its sales team orders product. “We worked with sales to change ordering patterns,” Rose says. “We educated them on how to order in layers. Not all beers are alike. They have different size cases that don’t always fit the same on a pallet.”
Coors Distributing Company is an Operating Division of MillerCoors, but operates independently within the organization. The company builds strategies and makes decisions locally. Operating within the Denver metro area, Coors Distributing Company believes that this structure gives it a competitive advantage because it allows for insight into how local breweries operate while also affording it valuable tools and resources.
Coors Distributing Company owns a large fleet of delivery trucks, sales vans, an in-house print shop and state-of-the-art tools and technologies. But Rose credits a great deal of the company’s success to its people. “We have the best brands in the business, but what really sets us apart is our people,” he says. “I’m impressed with our people. This is not an easy business. But everyone pulled their sleeves up and worked together as a team. Our culture is what makes us successful.”