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Are We Automating Jobs Away?

October 3, 2014

A Variety of robots

In the last 200 years 70% of jobs done by American workers have been replaced by automation – and during the next century we will see another automation revolution that replaces 70% of American jobs, again.

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Pick Light vs. Voice-Directed vs. RF Picking Systems

October 1, 2014

light directed picking

These systems are at their best for open case picking systems. When you’re picking full pallets and cases, they’re less useful, although that depends on the situation. You can mix these systems in a single facility of pick pod area for maximum effect with inventory slotted to match the necessary profile. Each has a role, depending on what you’re picking, how your facility is set up, and the nature of your picking methodology. What might be best for a given situation?

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CE Marking for AGV’s: What is it; Why it’s Important

August 11, 2014

Seegrd AGV

Manufacturers of automated equipment such as robots and AGVs, have an ethical and legal responsibility to produce the safest products possible. Worldwide, there are standards relating to the safe design and operation of equipment. These standards are generally developed using procedures administered by a number of recognized standards organizations. Inputs are received from users, designers, manufacturers, governmental bodies, etc. and then formed into a standards document by volunteers (the names you see as “committee members”.)

Seegrid’s Chief Technology Officer, Mitchell Weiss, helps us run down the differences. Read the rest of this entry »

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Order Picking that Doesn’t Pull any Punches

July 11, 2014

I just got done adding some mobile automated pick dispensers to our website and got thinking about how a fulfillment manager can know when they need to add pick dispensers. So I went out on the internet and found some great info at the website hosted by MHI, an industry organization for material handlers.

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The Wonder of Robotic Palletizing

June 6, 2014

Robotic Palletizing

I recently attended an ESOP event at a specialty paints and stains company. During the tour of their plant, I got to see a robotic palletizing system in operation. I was impressed. Standing about 6 to 8 feet away from the action, I watched as it placed 5-gallon cans of paint in rows of 3 stacked 3 high. Each row was offset from the previous one, so that optimum pallet space was used. As the robot picked up cans off the conveyor belt using a vacuum end effector, it placed them precisely on the pallet. Then, it slightly dropped down and “bumped” them to make sure they seated onto the row below. That action made me chuckle as I considered what a profoundly human act that was – a little hip action to make sure the cans seated correctly.

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2014 Manufacturing Trends: Cisco-Eagle Interviews with Leading Manufacturers

May 5, 2014

As we’ve written about previously, Cisco-Eagle took part in last month’s supply chain expo Modex, held in Atlanta, GA.  When we weren’t demonstrating our automated forklift safety system and talking to customers, we snuck away from our booth to connect with some of the industry’s leading innovators.

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Automation for Everyone: Cisco-Eagle Q&A with Seegrid

April 14, 2014

Last month, Cisco-Eagle traveled to Atlanta, GA to take part in the supply chain expo, Modex.  We were there every day of the show, demonstrating innovations in forklift and industrial safety as well as focusing on other material handling innovations. It was a great opportunity for us to take in the innovations, see customers, and learn about new ways to solve problems.

Amanda MerrellWhen time allowed (it was a jam-packed 4 days!) we toured the floor to discover the latest manufacturing, distribution, and supply chain solutions from the industry’s leading innovators.  We’re grateful we had the opportunity to sit down with Amanda Merrell, Marketing Director for one of our partner companies, Seegrid, a manufacturer of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) for the material handling industry. 

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WCS vs. WMS: Complementary Warehouse Software

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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5 Common Flaws of Manufacturing Automation and How to Fix Them

October 21, 2013

Manufacturing Automation has taken huge steps forward in recent years, helping companies become safer and more efficient. Technology such as robotics for picking, packing, or welding is constantly advancing, making systems better, and smarter, each year. Vision systems alone are undergoing a revolution in terms of effectiveness. This type of automation is also more affordable every year, while the cost of just about everything else – labor, energy, raw materials, and insurance – is rising.

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Industrial Automation and The Flexibility Problem

August 22, 2013

as-rs-system

Earlier this year, Food Logistics published a provocative article, “Automate or Die”.  Do you have to automate? Of course not. But it brings to mind a good question: where is the point of acceptable ROI for automation projects? When does it make sense? What aspects are potential pitfalls?

We’re  inside warehouses, distribution centers, commercial operations, and manufacturing facilities every day. We don’t see full scale automation in all — or even most — of these operations. We’ve even seen some companies who have automated go back to picking with carts. We’ve seen others thrive due to their automated projects. The point is, you certainly won’t “die” if you don’t automate. But that doesn’t mean that you should not automate some or all aspects of your operation.

In some cases, we try to make the case that automation isn’t needed. In others, we try to help these companies understand when a capital investment in automation equipment and/or software will save money, increase productivity, reduce problems, and improve their business. It’s not  something that you can do from a distance.  It requires a command of the facts on the ground, in the servers, and throughout the supply chain.

So, the question is, why automate? 

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