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WCS vs. WMS: Complimentary Roles

March 16, 2014

sortation system

A warehouse control system (WCS) directs “real-time” activities within warehouses and distribution centers. They act as a traffic regulator for warehousing activities, with the mission of running material handling systems (and in some instances, the activities of workers). A good WCS system provides a broad, yet consistent interface for material handling systems like conveyors, carousels, palletizers, sorters, etc. On the other hand, a warehouse management system (WMS) is more focused on broader activities, people, and processes, such as shipments and orders. WMS usually doesn’t reach downstream into the automated equipment itself. A WMS is more about controlling human interactions to fulfill or receive product.

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Posted in Automation, Inventory Management, Order Picking & Fulfillment| No Comments »

Automated Shipping System at Diapers.com

March 12, 2014

How can Diapers.com, which prides itself on fast, often free delivery, keep up with ever-increasing customer demand and still operate profitably?

With a very in-depth product line with thousands of specialized SKUs, the company relies heavily on automation. It’s a rare example of an operation that transitioned from a full manual system to a fully automated one with very little ‘midstream’ semi-automation, utilizing conveyors, robotics, and other technologies to fulfill orders quickly and profitably. The video runs 1:48.

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Posted in Order Picking & Fulfillment, Supply Chain, Warehousing| No Comments »

Configuring a Forklift Warning Light

March 11, 2014

Forklift warning light distance

When it comes to pedestrian safety in warehouses, the problem is often one of attention span. Most experts agree that the key is training for both the pedestrians and forklift drivers, and that’s correct. Others will also point out the need to enhance that training with various facility and equipment upgrades. That’s why many companies have installed forklift warning lights, often called “blue lights”, that project a disc of light that precedes the forklift as it moves. Since the forklift is typically the most dangerous piece of equipment in any facility that uses it, these types of low-cost enhancements are sensible and easy.

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Posted in Safety & Ergonomics, Warehousing| 4 Comments »

25 Informative Manufacturing & Industrial Profiles to Follow on Twitter

March 6, 2014

Twitter Logo2014 is shaping up to be a year of transition for the manufacturing sector, with issues in talent development, an aging work force, the re-shoring of manufacturing in some sectors, and the forward moment of automation taking center stage.

Where can you go for the latest in industrial manufacturing news, trends, research, events, and discussions? Social media is one solution. With roughly one billion registered users, Twitter can be an invaluable resource for discovering what distributors, suppliers, publications, consultants, journalists, bloggers, and industry experts are discussing.

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Posted in Manufacturing| 1 Comment »

The Case for a “Supersized” Receiving Area

March 3, 2014

Dock door in a receiving area

Receiving is an often-overlooked but critical component to warehouse workflow. Receiving  mistakes can flow through every other aspect of your operation.

If you can’t quickly and accurately break down landed shipments and send them to effective putaway, you can sabotage every other aspect of the operation. It has a direct impact on inventory accuracy (and security – in fact receiving is an area of particular vulnerability), throughput, and accurate fulfillment. Too little receiving space tends to become a root cause for many errors and throughput headaches.

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Posted in Docks & Shipping, Space Saving, Warehousing| No Comments »