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October, 2021

The Adventures of a Coffee Bean

From a humble seed to a refreshing cuppa joe, the coffee bean goes through an interesting journey worth knowing – Let’s find out!

Early Age – Plantation, Growth and Picking

Coffee dates back to the early 9th century AD and perhaps earlier according to legends about its first use. The Oromo people in Ethiopia are known to have cultivated the coffee plant based on the accounts of  travellers to the region. Although large-scale cultivation and export is known to have begun in the 16th century when coffee was imported by Yemen from Ethiopia. Gradually, the coffee cultivation spread to various tropical regions around the world. The coffee bean in reality is a seed that when planted grows into a coffee tree, averaging between 5 to 10 ft in height. One of the most valuable cash crops in the world, it requires ample of water to grow coffee. A primary reason why the wet season is an ideal time for plantation since the moist soil helps the roots to establish a firm hold.

Being a coffee producer takes a long-term commitment given how the coffee plant requires 4-5 years to reach full productivity and bear fruit, which is called as a ‘coffee cherry’. Once they are bright and red, the cherries are ready for harvesting. Picking coffee is a labour-intensive activity, although in select countries where the coffee fields are relatively flat as compared to the usual hill slopes, a mechanised picking process is also employed. Either way, two methods are applied for picking – cherries are strip picked off the branch or selectively picked by choosing only the completely ripe ones. A skilled picker picks 100 to 200 pounds of cherries per day, which can approximately produce 20 to 40 pounds of coffee beans.

Getting Ready – Dry and Wet Processing

The harvest is transported to processing plants on an everyday basis – merely the first leg of the bean’s long journey ahead! This logistical movement from the field to the processing facility needs to be quick in order to avoid fruit spoilage and eventual wastage. The cherries are then processed using either one of the two methods – Dry or Wet. In dry processing, they are allowed to dry in the sun to a point where their moisture content reads 11%. Whereas in the more elaborate wet method, the pulp is removed from the cherry leaving only the bean in its parchment envelope with the skin attached. Further rested in water-filled fermentation tanks from 12 to 48 hours so that naturally occurring enzymes can help dissolve the attached layer of skin. The wet beans are then spread out to dry in the sun until their moisture level drops to 11%. Parchment coffee is then milled through hulling machinery to remove the parchment layer, followed by an optional process of polishing. After a series of grading, sorting, and quality assurance procedures, only the finest milled beans are allotted a seat on the next leg of their journey – export.

Around the World – Export, Distribution, and Roasting

Carefully packaging the milled beans is a vital task during exportation. Now called ‘green coffee’ the beans are stored in jute or sisal bags to ensure that their temperature remains constant, and their moisture levels are not affected. Based on demand, these bags are then loaded onto ships and transported by sea to their destination country, ideally inside plastic-lined containers. The consignments are required to undergo standard import procedures as defined by the law of the country before being transported to roasters.

Performing the process of roasting green coffee in the importing country is considered a best practice to enable the availability of freshly roasted beans in the market. Roasting machines capable of providing temperatures around 450 degrees Fahrenheits are employed for the purpose, as beans continue to move during the entire process to avoid burning. On reaching an internal temperature of ~400 degrees, green coffee beans begin to turn brown in colour while liberating a fragrant oil called ‘caffeol’ that is primarily responsible for giving the peculiar flavour and aroma to the coffee we consume.

When it comes to Qatar GWC is a major logistics solutions provider expertly handling food imports at various stages of their journey – freight movement, customs clearance, testing & inspection, and transportation to temperature and humidity-controlled warehousing facilities. From where goods are distributed to multiple locations with a hassle-free process managed through GWC’s advanced warehouse management system.

In what can be called the penultimate leg of their journey, the roasted coffee beans are packaged and transported to the market – retailers, restaurants, cafes, etc. With the largest fleet of specialized vehicles in Qatar, GWC plays a major role in managing Qatar’s food supply chains from our evolved logistical facilities that are strategically located in close proximity of major markets.

Brewing – The Good Old Cuppa Joe

Eventually, coffee makers grind the beans under high pressure to extract all that flavour when brewing you a decent cup of coffee. So the next time you are at your favourite café, remember the journey of your coffee from bean to cup and the complex logistics behind making it possible. The cup of coffee in your hand is a result of the collective efforts of producers, processors, exporters, distributors, logistics providers, roasters, and finally master brewers!

August, 2021

Benefits of Voice Picking

Logistics is ever evolving. One of the key drivers of change within the logistics industry is voice-driven technology, and one of the areas where this new technology is advancing is that of warehousing and distribution.

In the last decade, the increasing popularity of voice solutions within a range of industries has become a testament to the many ways in which this technology enhances business functions. Voice command technology is proven to improve warehouse productivity and worker safety, all the while reducing the rate at which errors occur. The future implications for voice-assisted technology are vast. Further integration with robotics applications as well as augmented reality will likely see the adoption of this technology soar, and fast.

The basics of voice picking

Put simply, voice picking creates a direct dialogue between critical systems and the team members that use them in order to do their jobs. It does this via plain spoken language. It is a method that removes the requirement for workers to use physically-held items such as scanners or even paper. The worker needs only a headset and their voice. This allows free movement through the warehouse with hands and eyes unencumbered, and therefore dramatically increases productivity, safety, and accuracy. Pickers are directed to specific locations in order to relay a set of check digits. These digits confirm the aisle and bin locations are correct. The picker is then provided with quantity, which is confirmed once picked, and then they are given the next picking task. The pick path is optimized as the process continues and allows pickers to maximize efficiency as they progress through the warehouse.

The benefits

Improvement in accuracy

By eliminating distractions that can be caused by carrying tools in hands, reading too much of information at one time, voice picking allows pickers to focus fully on their task. This reduces the chances of “mispicking” and can increase accuracy up to 85%. One of the main causes of mispicking is that of workers looking away or looking at the wrong line item and effectively losing their place. Voice picking removes the need to look away to check papers, or scanners.

Increased productivity

Voice-direction technology essentially simplifies existing functions and allows for the streamlining of processes in removing several stages. This results in what can be up to a 35% increase in productivity.

Improvement in safety

Safety is the number one priority when it comes to our staff at GWC, and it is one of many areas that voice picking technology improves. Being “hands free” removes the need to carry devices or paperwork. Distraction-free, our staff are then able to place more focus on the physical actions required in warehouses, such as using tools to open boxes or lifting heavy objects.

Reduction in training time

Voice-driven actions remove the need for exhaustive training on printouts, labels, physical system-data entry. A simple voice template and training on verbal commands results in faster adoption of a more efficient and accurate system.

Better employee satisfaction

Second only to improvement in employee safety, is improvement in employee satisfaction. Voice picking removes a degree of the previously necessary tedium and replaces it with a simpler, faster, more accurate and ultimately more satisfying way to work.

Multilingual applications

With so many expat workers in the State of Qatar, and the many languages spoken here as a result, the applications for voice picking become even more significant.  This revolutionary technology has the capacity to detect the language being spoken, while responding in another. What this means is that a worker that needs to convey instructions in English, does not necessarily need to have proficiency in the language. This multilingual aspect further expands the applications of voice-driven solutions.

The value that voice-picking technology brings to the logistics industry is immeasurable. It is why innovation features as part of the GWC business development ecosystem in such a substantial manner and will continue to do so.

May, 2021

Farm to Kitchen Logistics: World Class Food Safety from Origin to Destination

Cold Chain Solutions by GWC Employ Infrastructure, Technology, Process, and People to deliver near perfect accuracy.

Cold chain logistics is the lifeline of food supplies for every country, facilitating multiple logistical cycles of everyday food products, including but not limited to chilled and frozen products like fruits and vegetables, meats and dairy, condiments, etc. Correlating with the lives of millions in Qatar, cold chain solutions are necessary for safely importing and transporting various food items around the year. The greatest challenge, though, is controlling food waste at all stages of the supply chain and ensuring food security, which speaks volumes about the cold chain’s merits.

A unified company-wide approach to ensure food safety and quality is paramount to GWC’s priorities. We follow best practices in food safety systems to offer the highest level of quality services to our clients, contributing to Qatar’s extensive efforts ensuring sustainable flow of foodstuffs. Over the years, we have supported the global initiatives of the World Health Organization (WHO) in pursuing food safety in favour of public health by upholding quality, health, safety, security, and environment as our biggest priorities when dealing with food storage and supplies. GWC actively participated in the 2020 edition of World Food Safety Day, which was observed under the theme “Food safety, everyone’s business” and we are committed to driving cold chain solutions to a pedestal capable of taking action to help detect, prevent and manage foodborne risks.

GWC works round-the-clock to ensure the continued and timely supply of Qatar’s F&B needs during Ramadan, cultural festivities, and other events, with a focus on minimal food waste. From April 2020 to March 2021, GWC has successfully handled total food transaction volumes of 509,042 CBM, including inbound and outbound consignments, through our distribution centres. Our robust project management process warrants such seamless solutions for the food industry, on the back of our state-of-the-art infrastructure, innovative approach, and proven 3PL expertise.

State-of-the-art Infrastructure: Supporting Food Logistics

We are the first logistics provider in Qatar to get certified for the ISO 22000 for Food Safety Management System. At all our distribution centres and logistics hubs, we ensure full compliance to all inspection criteria relating to container sealing, packaging, cleanliness and hygiene, shelf-life tracking, inventory management, etc. Cold chamber warehouses enable us to store all types of products ranging from -25°C to +25°C. This storage infrastructure allows food to be stored as frozen, chilled, ambient, and dry, keeping it fresh and clean for transportation to end-use destinations. With real-time temperature and humidity monitoring systems, we record and monitor storage temperatures at all times to retain optimum food quality.

Technology at Work: Increasing Operational Efficiencies

Innovation and new-age technology are at the heart of our world-class cold chain infrastructure. Using advanced systems for forwarding, trucking, warehousing, and distribution has enabled GWC to streamline its cold chain operations in line with global industry standards while raising the bar for regional standards given the harsh environments where we operate. Staying ahead of the curve, we identified automation as a critical cog in delivering reliable cold chain solutions and minimizing food waste by streamlining storage and dispatch. GWC’s customized warehouse management system facilitates safe food handling at all stages of the cold chain, thus ensuring control, precision, and accountability. Automated reports through this system communicate product expiry dates to our customers and help realize slow- and fast-moving stocks, a critical input in future demand planning and real time replenishments. GWC also employs 24/7 security management with access controls to the warehouses, CCTV surveillance, amongst other measures, to help us identify any lapses in food handling and address them in real-time.

Testing and Assurance Process: Prioritizing Food Safety and Quality

Our evolved supply chain, driven by benchmark processes, ensures that all consignments receive an inspection by qualified and HACCP certified food handlers and security professionals to test food on several parameters relating to quality, quantity, safety, and security. All food imports to Qatar are required to undergo sampling and inspection by the Port Health and Food Control section; GWC Transport is involved in transporting these food samples from port to the Central Food Laboratory for inspection. In rare cases where the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) requires further testing, GWC provides an add-on service on customer request, placing the shipment on ‘Inspection Hold’ at the time of receipt so that items are not released for delivery. These are released only post retesting by MoPH and customer confirmation about product approval. Concerned importers are informed if their consignments fail to meet inspection criteria, while their products are differentiated from saleable goods and moved to isolated locations on account of non-conformance to food safety and quality standards.

The People Factor: Driving the Cold Chain Lifecycle

At the helm of our cold chain operations, we have highly experienced professionals driving various processes critical for the fulfilment of our service and quality promise. Specialized on-ground teams are involved at each of the specific stages of the supply chain cycle – from freight forwarding, inspection, customs clearance, transportation, warehousing, and distribution (to end-use destination). Equipped with subject matter expertise in the field and state-of the-art-technology; GWC’s trained and qualified food handlers are keen to arrest food waste at various points of transit.

Operating since 2004, GWC has closely worked towards understanding the requirements of Qatar to introduce timely logistics solutions that can bridge identified gaps. Our integrated cold chain solutions are a result of a concentrated thought process that involved addressing challenges faced by importers, suppliers, distributors, and retailers associated with the food industry in Qatar.

Speak to our experts to explore how our cold chain expertise can help you safely move food consignments. Visit https://gwclogistics.com/reach-us

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