*This post was contributed by Kelly Cardona, Marketing Director, Linea Data Scan, a Zebra Premier Solution partner.
Currently, Colombia has one of the strongest floriculture sectors of any country in the world, as it has over 1,600 flower varieties and natural conditions that allow it to have high-quality and very aesthetic harvests. It is the second largest flower exporter in the world and the main supplier to the United States, with over 93% of U.S. flower imports occurring from Colombia. This market position increases the commercial value of its flowers, which is beneficial to growers. However, having such a global reputation requires that resources remain focused on maintaining the product's category and quality over time.
Of course, any company in this sector must focus its efforts on facing the main challenges posed by market demands, both domestically and internationally. But companies in Colombia must be especially proactive in assessing and, if needed, re-engineering their cold chains if they are to uphold their reputation for the highest quality and highest volume inventory.
One of the main challenges is the transportation and logistics of the flowers, as they are fragile and the quality can easily degrade while in transit if the cold chain is not properly established and maintained. Thus, the logistics chain, particularly "last mile" operations, must be executed with well-established time margins in order to reduce the setbacks that are always present in product deliveries not only in the flower sector, but in all economic sectors.
Another big challenge is that the costs of exporting flowers are currently high due to the fact that electronic goods are in greater demand and ports give priority to goods that generate the most movement. This is especially true in Asian countries where electronics merchandise is predominant in both production and trade.
That said, logistics makes up 50% of the floriculture sector, so companies must establish an effective logistics chain with the purpose of satisfying and promoting the low domestic demand, regardless of the cost. Additionally, they must find ways to manage exports to the main countries that have a high demand for flowers in an agile manner, especially leading up to special dates such as Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day in the U.S. Once these holidays are celebrated, flowers lose their value. Delivering them on time becomes crucial in this sector.
For this reason, technology is actually the main ally of the floricultural sector on two important fronts: production and logistics. Both must be operating on the same technology system since one operation relies on the other. There is no point in having a high-quality production operation if you don't have a way to distribute inventory properly. Likewise, it is useless to have a strong logistical structure but with unaesthetic or low-quality products, which in the end, will not create demand.
In terms of production, technology optimizes production and storage processes while facilitating the roles of workers and achieving greater productivity and efficiency. And logistics is optimized on several fronts:
Tasks such as labeling, inventory control and product dispatch report improvements in accuracy and time optimization when technology is used, in some cases eliminating 99% of human error.
Transportation of products to the final destination, for which technology drives improvements in delivery management, real-time visualization of products and overall fleet management.
If you have access to technological tools that optimize the results of your processes, you will have a significant advantage over companies that do not implement technology to ensure quality, compliance, and profitability.
If you have a company in the floricultural sector, I encourage you to visit our website and check out the technological solutions that we specifically offer for this sector. We can also connect you with other companies in the sector that have used technology to improve outcomes so you can learn from their experiences and replicate their systems if it makes sense for your business.