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Goods-to-Picker Methods and Alternatives

October 29, 2015

as rs system

The long path from person to product

In a distribution or warehousing operation, the most common working concept is “person-to-goods” order picking, which simply means that order pickers move to storage locations, often pushing or pulling carts and reading orders off paper. These pickers spend significant amounts of time walking between storage, and are then expected to decipher an order picking sheet. These operations spend lots of money and time and resources on those steps. Picking paths and storage locations evolve as inventory profiles change — and not always for the better.

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How to Properly Evaluate Your Warehouse Management System (WMS)

October 15, 2015

warehouse-management-system

What Does a Warehouse Management System Do?

A medium-sized chain of convenience stores once asked me to take a look at their Warehouse Management System (WMS) to see if it was time for an upgrade. After documenting all the functions it performed, we discovered that none of them could be described as serving warehouse activities. The system had lots of good purchasing functions—but offered nothing to support the actual warehouse.

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The Future of Robotics: An Interview with FANUC America

October 8, 2015

Fanuc Robotics Family
More and more companies are adding various forms of robotics to their operations as they seek to improve productivity, enhance worker safety, and keep labor costs down. We recently spoke with Wes Garrett, Packaging Account Manager at FANUC America about robotics in the material handling industry. He provided some great information regarding cost of ownership, indicators robotics may benefit an operation, and trends in new technologies.

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How Automation & Material Handling Extends the Careers of Skilled Workers

September 9, 2015

manufacturing workers

We published an article in the third quarter of the MHEDA Journal, Automation and Labor: Can’t They Get Along? The point of that article is that for American labor, robots aren’t currently reducing employment so much as changing it. Automated industries tend to be more profitable and less vulnerable to offshoring and other job-reducing factors.

Our friends at AutoQuip brought up another point—that automated systems and lifts can add valuable years to the working lives of high-skill, aging employees.

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New Videos: Seegrid Vision-Guided Pallet & Tow Trucks

July 9, 2015

Seegrid Vision Guided Towing Tractor

We recently added several new videos. Seegrid manufactures vision-guided vehicles (tow trucks and pallet trucks) that help reduce wasted labor resources (travel time, in particular). These vehicles are reliable, safe and efficient in many kinds of material handling operations. Since they don’t require a driver, they reduce non-value add labor activities in a warehouse or manufacturing facility. Payloads travel from one value-add point (receiving, parts areas) to another (storage, workcells). Check out the videos below for more information.

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Options for Manufacturing Cost Reduction

June 23, 2015

Component assembly in a manufacturing operation

Waste might be the most critical measure for manufacturing operations – waste of labor, materials, time and money. Many companies are faced with nearly constant pressure to cut costs and increase efficiency, even as demand spikes. This means reducing costs without compromising quality or throughput. What are some things you can do to balance these needs?

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What are the Latest Industrial Automation & Robotics Trends?

June 12, 2015

ProMat 2015

According to new research from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), manufacturers will significantly accelerate their use of industrial robots over the next decade. BCG data shows approximately 1.2 advanced robots are expected to be deployed across the U.S. by the year 2025, resulting in 25% of all manufacturing functions becoming fully automated. A USA Today article on the research findings notes that, within two years, the number of advanced robots in the U.S. will begin to grow by 10% a year. “Replacing employees with robots is projected to result in a manufacturing workforce that’s 22% — or a few million workers — smaller by 2025 than it otherwise would have been,” says USA Today.

So what does all of this mean for manufacturing and distribution?

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15 Experts Weigh in on Manufacturing’s Shifting Workforce Demographics

June 4, 2015

Industrial workers

Manufacturing skills gap. Talent shortage. Shifting workforce demographics. What are the trends?

Call it what you will, but the fact remains that the U.S. manufacturing industry faces a pressing issue in the coming years if current worker retirement rates continue to accelerate and projections for industry expansion prove accurate. Research from the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte indicates there could be as many as 2 million unfilled manufacturing jobs by 2025, up from initial estimates of 600,000. As noted in a Huffington Post article on the research findings, retirement and rapid industry growth are the two driving factors contributing to the skills shortage.

To get a better sense of how the industry is addressing the challenges (and potential opportunities) associated with the increasing skills gap, we recently conferred with industry partners, leaders, and subject matter experts.

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What’s Next for Manufacturing Technology?

May 14, 2015

proMat 2015 photo

A record number of manufacturing and supply chain professionals gathered in Chicago at the end of March for ProMat 2015, the largest material handling and logistics trade expo in North America. According to an MHI press release, registration topped 37,000—an 8.8% increase in attendance over the 2013 show.

“ProMat 2015 was the largest in the event’s 30-year history,” said MHI CEO George Prest. “The energy level among visitors and exhibitors was at an all-time high.” So what were attendees buzzing about during the show? Manufacturing technology was one topic discussed at length during the four-day event.

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ProMat Interview Series: SI Systems

April 16, 2015

ProMat Floor 2015

Eight hundred exhibitors from industry, commerce, and government. Three hundred thousand feet of supply chain innovations and solutions. One hundred sessions on manufacturing and supply chain trends, technologies, and innovations. There’s a reason why ProMat is considered the largest expo for manufacturing and supply chain professionals in North America. Attending the show offers access to the latest manufacturing and supply chain solutions as well as the opportunity to engage with industry professionals and build business partnerships.

During the week of March 23 – 26, 2015, we traveled to Chicago to get in on the action at ProMat. When we weren’t touring the show floor or attending breakout sessions, we were connecting with industry partners and customers for their insight on this year’s show, as well as some of the broader trends in manufacturing and the future of the industry.

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