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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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Warehousing Key Performance Indicators

April 5, 2014

order picking cartons at a distribution center

Key performance indicators – KPI’s – are frequently used in general business to evaluate the success of everything from a specific department to an entire enterprise. They focus on strengths and weaknesses. Many warehousing KPI’s tend to be focused on external performance, such as on-time shipments that directly impact customers. This is a good measure, but the need to go deeper and measure the factors that drive those success rates is critical. What are some KPI’s for warehousing operations?

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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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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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Quick Guide to Order Picking Methods & Productivity

February 12, 2014

Order picking from rack

When you are working on an order picking strategy, knowing the metrics for picking rates may be helpful. Labor productivity is the key to any warehousing or order picking operation, since labor tends to be the largest single cost factor in these operations. It’s critical to understand production rates for processes that absorb labor hours, energy, money, and time.

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2014 Educational Opportunities for Manufacturing & Distribution Professionals

January 15, 2014

Are you interested in networking, education, and exposure to new ideas for this year? There are a number of excellent shows available, and more coming. These events always tend to offer a bit of self promotion, but a lot of solid information. In particular if you’re undertaking a major expansion or project in the next year or two, it’s always a good idea to take some time to learn, grow, and expand your horizons.

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Tactics to Reduce Small Parts Picking Errors

December 3, 2013

small parts picking line with Unex carton flow racking

Small parts are more difficult to count, measure and handle. They tend to cause more errors than case picking or larger component orders. If you are having errors, you should try to define the causes — and the suspects abound. Can you find out what’s causing the errors? Once you do, what happens next? Here are some common causes and solutions to this issue.

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Spreadsheets vs. Software for Product Slotting

October 15, 2013

spreadsheet for inventory slotting analysis

Product slotting is something that you must do as your inventory profile, customer requirements, and other factors evolve. Sometimes, it’s a simple job; people have been known to do it in their heads. Others utilize spreadsheets of various complexity. Beyond that, you can get into dedicated slotting software, consultants, or comprehensive WMS/WCS.

What are the considerations when it comes to deciding what method you’ll use to slot your warehouse or forward picking area?

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For Warehousing & Distribution, It’s a Battle for Time

September 21, 2013

stopwatch for work operations

One of America’s groundbreaking marketers, John Wanamaker, once famously said “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Those who run warehouses, factories and other industrial facilities are hopefully not quite as in the dark about our expenses as Wanamaker was when it came to his ad budget, but there is definitely room for improvement when it comes to understanding hidden costs and fruitful expenditures.

For most of us, the coin of the warehouse is time and how it is expended.

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Excess Walking Makes “Zombies” of Order Pickers

July 10, 2013

zombie order picker

Studies indicate that order pickers spend too much time walking – according to many studies, distribution center employees routinely spend more than  half their day walking, not picking orders, packing orders, or replenishing stock. They’re going from point to point, burning man hours getting where they need to be, not working. And that’s the average — for really poorly designed operations, it’s worse.

As they tire, workers pick slower, pick less accurately, and work more dangerously — almost a zombie like situation! Every bad thing that can happen in a warehouse operation is amplified, the more time employees spend walking.  

Check out our most recent Info-graphic, “Walking is the Walking Death of Order Picking Productivity”  for more information on ways you can combat this issue. 

More information:

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