Stronger Together: The Americold Operating System

Consistency. It’s a familiar key deliverable for food producers and food retailers that builds a strong foundation for brand loyalty. In the service industry, executing consistency looks different; drivers like safety and supply chain remain crucial, but elements like innovation and process optimization emerge as important factors.

At Americold, we live and breathe the Americold Operating System (AOS), a business ecosystem that promotes company-wide operational rigor. It is the groundwork that defines how we do what we do, ensuring standard business practices, a defined culture, in-built innovation, and optimum value along the way.

Comprising multiple focus areas and key performance indicators (KPIs), the AOS drives excellence in every area of our operations, our supply chain solutions, and our support systems. KPIs are shaped and continually evaluated based on best practices and customer needs.

“The AOS is a consistent method for executing and tracking KPIs across every facility in Americold’s network of temperature-controlled warehouses,” said Meagan Boson, Director of Continuous Improvement & AOS. “We can choose any Americold location and select a focus area – or set of focus areas – and see how that site is performing for our customers, how that performance compares to other Americold locations, and if need be, steps for improving.”

Leveraging people in the right ways

Empower and enable is the AOS mantra, and an unambiguous approach ensures our tools, behaviors, and beliefs add value to the temperature controlled supply chain. Customers become stakeholders in the AOS system; their desires and needs drive KPI execution. Customers are also closest to industry trends so their insights are valued and leveraged to drive an evolving approach.

Likewise, Americold’s associates play a critical role in the AOS. They define our culture, execute on our promise to deliver with efficiency and simplicity, and commit to ideals in standardization and waste reduction. As our boots on the ground, our associates make valuable contributions to evolve our operating systems and management practices.

“Our associates become very familiar with the AOS and how it drives world-class business practices, Americold’s culture, and customer value,” said Meagan. “In addition, each AOS focus area has oversight from an in-house expert, many of whom have decades of pertinent experience. These experts work with associates, customers, and operations from each Americold location to build and evolve their custom program.”

A partner in innovation

One AOS focus area worth noting is Energy Excellence, which outlines our commitment to environmental stewardship. It’s no secret that operating temperature-controlled warehouses is expensive, but Americold invests in innovative technologies to reduce our carbon footprint.

The Energy Excellence team continuously evaluates facilities and identifies opportunities to reduce energy and water usage while increasing efficiencies. In 2019, Americold completed 61 sustainability projects, including LED lighting audits, installation of energy efficient doors, installation of variable frequency drives (VFDs) on refrigeration system motors to reduce excess energy usage, and installation of thermal energy storage systems. In addition, five Americold sites collect and store rainwater for use in the refrigeration process, thereby reducing municipal water dependence. Energy Excellence is also in-built into facility expansions and new facility design to ensure we’re striving to utilize resources responsibly.

“Americold’s facilities can be more than 90 times more efficient at keeping food products chilled and frozen than your typical home refrigerator but we’re always looking to improve,” said Ted Royals, who oversees Americold’s Energy Excellence AOS focus area. “New facility designs are taller and have a smaller footprint to reduce heat encroachment. With automation we can fit more product than traditional designs allow so we can operate a more efficient building.”

To learn more about the Americold Operating System, click here, and stay tuned for a future blog post detailing AOS’s customer benefits.