Logistics Provider of the Year badge

Over the last two decades, Longbow Advantage, R&FF’s 2023 Logistics Provider of the Year, has assisted F&B leaders including General Mills, PepsiCo and Driscoll’s with their warehouse operations.

The end-to-end warehousing strategy company leverages real-time data to manage people, processes and warehouses through its proprietary Rebus extended warehouse platform and WMS consulting services.

The company last year celebrated its 20th anniversary. Founded in Quebec, Canada, with U.S. offices in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Longbow Advantage is coming off of its most successful fiscal year in company history.

“The recognition means a lot to us. We have been around for 21 years now – Longbow Advantage started out as a warehouse management system (WMS) consulting and implementation organization and we’ve grown now to well over 100 people. More than half of our employees all started out working in operations in warehouses. Most people started out with warehouse knowledge and we’ve taught them the technical and software knowledge,” said Mike Babiak, director of supply chain technology at Longbow Advantage. “That 20 years’ experience of different implementations, as well as upgrades of WMS, have led a lot of different innovations for us, because as we started out, every time we did an implementation or launched a new system, there was always a lot of ‘asks’ after the fact.”

Those asks led to the development of the company’s Rebus extended warehouse platform, which works across industries and is platform agnostic, meaning it can be incorporated into any WMS. It helps companies consolidate and harmonize a single point of visibility, aiding everything from root cause analysis and real-time metrics.

Warehouse, real time data
Longbow Advantage is an end-to-end warehousing strategy company leverages real-time data to manage people, processes and warehouses through its proprietary Rebus Platform and WMS consulting services. Getty Images.

“There’s a lot of great places for automation but at the end of the day you’re still going to need a good labor management system to make sure that the team is performing as expected but also you’re providing the insights you need for your leadership to be effective. We’re providing not only a good labor management system but we’re also making sure to be a good partner through implementation and that’s where I think Longbow Advantage has been very effective in helping our customers,” Babiak said.

With insights into the supply chain operations of so many food manufacturers, Longbow Advantage serves as a key advisor in the industry, partnering with warehouse and logistics leaders to give them access to meaningful operational insights that help them not only win the day, but also help them benchmark and track progress against their transformation goals.

Longbow Advantage works with CPG companies, healthcare, retail and 3PLs, in addition to F&B manufacturers. Examples of food and beverage clients Longbow Advantage has worked with include:

  • Kraft Heinz identified additional warehouse opportunities beyond measurements against engineered standards.
  • Schreiber Foods used workflow data to provide targeted training and development opportunities for its employees.

In 2022, as Rebus became the warehouse visibility platform of record for many food organizations, including one of the largest bottled water companies in North America, they continued to add to its suite of capabilities. The company last year introduced 3PL Billing, eBOL, and Labor Planning as new offerings.

Employees working in warehouse
More than half of Longbow Advantage’s employees started out working in warehouse operations. Getty Images.

“We’ll see typically a 5-10% bump in productivity” when companies implement labor planning systems, Babiak said. “When you can show employees in real time, throughout their shift how they’re doing, we see that performance lift, just through a matter of pacing, visibility and good communication. We’ve had customers see as much as a 17% bump in the first month of rollout.”

After user acceptance testing, Longbow works with clients to help them understand good change management practices.

Longbow Advantage expects to see continued growth the in the cold and frozen food supply chain, along with a growing need for companies of all sizes to streamline operations and a greater use of things like predictive analysis. Automating tasks that are not value-added – like consolidating reports into Excel spreadsheets – can allow companies of all sizes to realize cost and time savings.

The pandemic exposed many of the weak points in the supply chain “but industry is responding and also making things more robust in the areas we need to be because expectations are not getting any lower,” Babiak said. “I expect to see more solutions that are fast, flexible and scalable. We want to free up leaders to be able to lead on the ground make good decisions and less time fighting with their technology.”