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Doing more with less: the core mission of material handling

April 27, 2009

Cisco-Eagle CEO Warren Gandall discusses ways to do more with less in a struggling economy

order picking at a warehouseAchieving more with less is a core goal of most businesses. In the warehousing and industrial world, that means building more, shipping more, doing more – controlling more – with fewer resources. The typical issue is labor in many of these operations. It takes people to run a shipping operation, and plenty of them.

“In economically challenging times like now, you’re being asked to produce more per person than ever,” said Cisco-Eagle’s CEO, Warren Gandall. “You’ve probably had to let people go. You may have shut down some areas, cancel contracts, cut a shift, and take the steps necessary to emerge from this downturn. But the big question is, how do you emerge stronger?”

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The Top 10 Distribution Center Locations for 2009

March 22, 2009

sortaation system at a distribution warehouse

Operations & Fulfillment (an excellent publication you should be reading if you aren’t already) has published a list of the top locations for warehouses and DC’s in 2009, in this article “Where to Warehouse: The Top 10 for 2009.”

The winner this year was Henderson, Kentucky, assuming a single warehouse. Dallas, Texas finished among the best locations in a 5-warehouse network.

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A quick guide to sortation conveyors & systems

September 21, 2008

Sortation conveyor system

Sortation Conveyors divert a product from one conveyor line to another. By using controls and multiple sortation conveyors, product can be sorted by diverting the product only to the appropriate conveyor. From basic pushers to sophisticated cross-belt sorters, distribution centers and warehousing operators have more options today than ever when it comes to automated product sortation.

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The Forest for the Trees – Does Your Operation Need a Review?

July 23, 2008

 

order fulfillment operation

Warehousing is tough. Manufacturing is tough. Order fulfillment is tougher; the longer the operation runs the more difficult it can get.

You deal with constant disruptions , and the system you carefully designed a few years ago may not be working as well today, after changes in your business climate, personnel changes, SKU alterations, new lines, changing storage requirements, corporate policy changes, or issues with key suppliers or customers. These things happen, and at some point, all or most of them will occur in every operation. If a series of small changes have added up to big headaches, what can you do?

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Cross Docking: A retailer improves supply chain

March 14, 2008

This is the fourth in a series of briefs on cross docking

A recent project for a large retailer in the Southwest provided a good example of how an element of cross-docking might be deployed to reduce the footprint of distribution space required, reduce order fulfillment touchpoints, and shorten the logical pathway for fulfilling orders.

Incoming shipments are anticipated through the use of advanced shipping notices (ASN’s). Stretch-wrapped pallet loads arrive via truck throughout the day. They arrive at doors designated for cross-docking. These doors were selected based upon proximity to the material handling system which takes advantage of the facility layout. Pallets are unloaded by fork truck, the stretch wrap removed, and cases manually inducted into one of several conveyor staging lanes. Each lane represents a “wave” of orders which will be processed either that day, or a specific day later in the week. When a wave is released, it moves downstream, and the individual cases are sorted to a specific shipping lane whose products are destined for a particular store. Other products from static storage positions and non-conveyables destined for the same store are consolidated at this point. Read the rest of this entry »


This article is part of a series of articles on Cross Docking. Click on a link below to view one of the other articles.
  1. Cross Docking: Is it Right For Me?
  2. Am I Wasting Time: is Cross-Docking a Viable Consideration for my Company?
  3. Cross Docking: What are the facility layout considerations?
  4. Cross Docking: A retailer improves supply chain

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Posted in Automation, Conveyor, Cross Docking, Material Handling, Supply Chain| No Comments »

Cross Docking: What are the facility layout considerations?

January 25, 2008

This is the third in a series of articles on cross docking

Cross dock facility rendering

If you started from scratch, many might simply build a cross dock facility with a much shallower depth than most warehouses. A depth of a hundred feet or so, with incoming product on one side that can be easily moved a short distance and loaded on the other side to an outbound truck. Most of us however, must deal with an existing facility, many times a large square box which is not generally the preferred layout. However, as long as the existing facility has a sufficient quantity of dock doors, yard space, and an adequate footprint, you may be fine.

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This article is part of a series of articles on Cross Docking. Click on a link below to view one of the other articles.
  1. Cross Docking: Is it Right For Me?
  2. Am I Wasting Time: is Cross-Docking a Viable Consideration for my Company?
  3. Cross Docking: What are the facility layout considerations?
  4. Cross Docking: A retailer improves supply chain

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Posted in Automation, Conveyor, Cross Docking, Material Handling, Supply Chain, Warehousing| No Comments »

Am I Wasting Time: is Cross-Docking a Viable Consideration for my Company?

December 19, 2007

cross docking conveyor system

This article is the second in a series of articles on cross docking

In concept and on paper cross docking looks great, but, what about actual implementation? What kind of return do we get on this investment? The short answer is the implementation can be challenging. However, with planning, a committed team of upstream and downstream participants, and possibly even a pilot program, it can pay significant benefits.

Cross docking does not have to be complicated. Some, even today, execute cross-docking using human-readable paper documentation as the driver. As mentioned in the original brief, cross docking can cover a wide range of distribution activities. In one door and directly out the other is one approach. Many cross dockers also add value in the brief (hopefully) interval between receiving and shipping. Others send product to a temporary buffer in the interval, in many of these cases an automated system (mini-load, AS/RS, etc.) serves as the buffer.

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This article is part of a series of articles on Cross Docking. Click on a link below to view one of the other articles.
  1. Cross Docking: Is it Right For Me?
  2. Am I Wasting Time: is Cross-Docking a Viable Consideration for my Company?
  3. Cross Docking: What are the facility layout considerations?
  4. Cross Docking: A retailer improves supply chain

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Posted in Cross Docking, Material Handling, Supply Chain| No Comments »

Cross Docking: Is it Right For Me?

December 5, 2007

This article is the first in a series of articles on the subject of cross docking.

Basic cross docking illustrationJudging by the number of inquiries we receive relative to inventory management in distribution, a look at cross docking practices seems to make sense. This will be the first of a series of briefs on cross docking, how and where it works, and a look at some best practice ideas that might be useful to those of you in the distribution business (of all sizes). I’ll also be providing you links to some excellent online references for more information.

Most everyone is familiar with how those like Wal-Mart took the cross docking model, and essentially redefined supply chain efficiency. The results achieved are well-documented. For those of us involved with mid-size organizations, a compelling case can be made for considering cross dock principles in our distribution centers. If you are able to move material from receiving dock to shipping dock, and bypass storage, consider what you gain. Costs associated with holding inventory, protecting it, insuring it, picking it, counting it, and so forth.

Although the “cross docking” term is well ingrained in our supply chain lingo, it is important to understand the concept also applies elsewhere in our distribution centers (more on that later), notwithstanding what you call it. Let’s begin.

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This article is part of a series of articles on Cross Docking. Click on a link below to view one of the other articles.
  1. Cross Docking: Is it Right For Me?
  2. Am I Wasting Time: is Cross-Docking a Viable Consideration for my Company?
  3. Cross Docking: What are the facility layout considerations?
  4. Cross Docking: A retailer improves supply chain

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Automation, Cross Docking, Supply Chain, Warehousing| No Comments »