A neatly stacked pallet positioned on a Lineage Eye conveyor system in a clean, well-organized, automated cold storage warehouse, with safety guardrails and scanning stations in the vicinity.

How Lineage Eye is Building the Modern Cold Storage Warehouse

Reimagining Our Cold Chain Journey

April 30, 2024

Cold storage warehouses are modern marvels, making it possible to move food from around the world to the people who need it, as quickly and safely as possible. Each pallet of food arrives by truck, boat or rail. Frontline warehouse team members manually receive the pallets and identify the contents, ownership and relevant date codes. Next, they break down and scan the food products into the system and place them in the facility. This first step into the warehouse is marred by a lack of label standardization, resulting in a vast assortment of unique barcodes, text and even selection bubbles reminiscent of school exams. For some, the lack of standardization presents a formidable problem. For Lineage, however, this presents an opportunity to bring the cold storage warehouse of the past into the modern world.

Lineage, along with our team of data scientists, recognized this opportunity and got to work. The answer was Lineage Eye: a proprietary piece of engineering that brings together pallet scanning hardware and computer vision software to streamline the receiving process. This new technology completely transforms warehouse operations while providing new circumstances for team members to expand and evolve their expertise.

Warehouse Innovation Born of Necessity

The journey to Lineage Eye didn’t begin with a request, but with necessity—the necessity to evolve an aging, time-consuming system. Daniel Wintz, Director of Warehouse Algorithms, recalls that initial push for automation. "When building our facility in Sunnyvale, Texas, we sought a robotics company capable of automating receiving, but found none. So, we tackled the problem ourselves," he explains. The solution was a custom-built system reminiscent of a photo booth, equipped with four cameras and a turntable to capture every angle of incoming pallets. These images are then processed through Lineage’s cutting-edge computer vision algorithms to ensure the accuracy of inventory against customer lists and help identify the best spot to place the products in the facility. The result is what we believe will be a new standard in warehouse receiving efficiency.

Transforming Operations from the Ground Up

A neatly stacked pallet positioned on a Lineage Eye conveyor system in a clean, well-organized, automated cold storage warehouse, with safety guardrails and scanning stations in the vicinity.The real test was to put this new piece of warehouse technology to work; and there was no better place than at one of Lineage’s state-of-the-art, automated facilities. Automated facilities at Lineage are built with the future, and Lineage Eye, in mind. The new, high-tech system was seamlessly integrated into the daily operations, where it made its mark from day 1, and has been evolving ever since.

From the start, Lineage Eye included features like real-time barcode scanning to identify the different products on each pallet. It would scan and photograph each pallet, storing these images in the cloud where they are entered into the LinOS, our Warehouse Management System (WMS). Warehouse TMs check these images in the Unidentified Frozen Object (UFO) app. This app and the integration of Lineage Eye images make it easier to check any pallet inconsistencies as they arise against the images in the system. This was especially helpful in an automated facility because the dock is typically smaller than at a conventional warehouse, so streamlining the receiving process to reduce the amount of time TMs needed to spend time stopping and checking each barcode on each pallet. With Lineage Eye, pallets move directly from the truck, to the conveyor and finally into storage, reducing the amount of space needed on the dock in these specific buildings.

From there, things snowballed. Taking direct feedback from operations managers and team members on the floor, the Data Science team worked on adding more functionality to Lineage Eye, making it more helpful than ever before. Features were introduced like real-time scanning and collecting barcodes for easier input into the system, identifying product weight and even identifying and rejecting mixed batches on the same pallet. All of these features added up to a receiving process that’s quicker and more precise. The best part is we aren’t done yet; we believe Lineage Eye is continuing to get better with time.

Becoming a Hub for Automated Warehouse Expertise

Automated cold storage warehouse team member in a reflective orange vest and cap operates a computer terminal, managing logistics operations with Lineage Eye.The impact of Lineage Eye stretches beyond warehouse receiving efficiency and accuracy, we believe it also helps boost morale at the facility as it provides even more opportunities for the team members who work with it. Team members, previously tethered to repetitive, manual tasks now work with sophisticated technology that assists and even amplifies their skills.

Accurately receiving products from the beginning means fewer problems that need to be fixed down the line. Freeing up time that would otherwise be spent fixing errors, allows for team members to be cross-trained in different jobs and skills at the facility, giving team members a chance to reimagine their own journeys within Lineage and achieve greater heights in their careers. Many of the leadership roles in the Lineage Eye facility were promoted from within. Not only that, but many of the leaders and team members who have grown from within the facility are able to transfer to new automated facilities, where they can put their expertise to use helping other teams get up to speed and decreasing that initial learning curve that comes with starting new processes. Working with this technology has turned our automated facilities into incubators for high-tech, automated talent in the cold chain.

Embracing the Future of Cold Chain Logistics

The implementation of Lineage Eye has helped set new benchmarks for efficiency and accuracy in the cold storage warehouse, helping us see what is truly possible in our space. Serving as a model for other facilities around the world, Lineage Eye showcases what can be done when we lean into iterative improvements with technology; not just in improving operations, but in improving culture and opportunities for the teams that work with it.

As Lineage continues to expand its technological horizons, the automated facility's journey with Lineage Eye illustrates what can be done when we lead with innovation and technology in the cold chain. This journey not only highlights the operational benefits tied to technological advancements but also the dynamic evolution of roles and opportunities within our essential industry.

To learn more about Lineage Eye, catch up with our free PDF.