Material Handling Experts


Information on the products and techniques to better store, handle, and move products in your facility.

Records Storage Warehouses: Questions to Ask

December 11, 2014

records storage facility

The year is coming to an end, and many operations need to address records storage. We see an influx of companies coming to work with us on their records storage and archive storage areas from October through April. With new healthcare and other regulations, companies must store an increasing amount of paper records. If you have enough of a records storage load, and lack either the space or the time to manage your archives, you may opt to use a third party records storage facility.

When you are specifying a vendor, here are some questions you should ask.

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Now is the Time to Make Tax Deductible Purchases

December 9, 2014

ASRS System

End of the year purchases are often put on hold for next year’s budget, but if your tax picture looks like you need to trim some adjusted gross income from your corporate tax responsibilities, you should consider tax-deductible property that will help your business move ahead now and in the future.

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How Distribution Centers are Working to Reduce Costs

November 25, 2014

picking area at a distribution center

This year’s Logistics Management magazine distribution center operations survey has an excellent analysis of recent warehousing trends at a national level. One of the more intriguing (and perhaps helpful) questions, was on the actions DC operators are taking to lower operating costs.

When it comes to those costs, the pressure is always on. Particularly in those unfortunate companies where the distribution center is considered just a cost, not a chance to add value. Even if you are hitting cost targets, you are probably interested in reducing operational costs without reducing effectiveness.

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Order Picking Error Rates: What’s Acceptable?

November 5, 2014

order picking at a conveyor line

It’s easy to say that you’re striving for 100% accurate pick rates, but how realistic is that goal? And should it be the actual number you shoot for? Mis-picked orders, any number of them, are expensive. Incorrect orders are expensive to re-pick. They’re expensive to return and restock. Shipping dollars are lost both directions. Most importantly, mistakes are expensive because they can cost you customers.

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Conveyor Costs: The Information You’re Overlooking

September 30, 2014

conveyor and labeling system

A conveyor system is an investment that you don’t take lightly—you want the best equipment you can buy for your money. The most obvious cost of that equipment will be the dollar number on the initial invoice, but there’s more to consider when purchasing a conveyor. That’s why you should consider the Total Cost of Ownership for your system, and what you can do to decrease it in the long-term.

This article covers the Total Cost of Ownership—why it’s important, how to calculate it, and what you can do to improve it. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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Industrial Automation and The Flexibility Problem

August 22, 2013


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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Top 12 Distribution Center Metrics

June 29, 2013

Busy distribution operationAs it has every year for the last decade, DCVelocity Magazine has surveyed its readers and members of WERC to  find what industry professionals believe are the top metrics for a successful operation. This is instructive for most operations, and worth taking a look.  The full survey can be found here.

The top 12 metrics, and (category)

  1. On time shipments (to customers)
  2. Internal order cycle time (customer)
  3. Dock-to-stock cycle time, in hours (inbound operation)
  4. Total cycle time (customer)
  5. Order picking accuracy (quality)
  6. Lines picked and shipped per hour (outbound operations)
  7. Lines received and put away per hour (inbound operations)
  8. Percentage of supplier orders received damage free (inbound operations)
  9. Average warehouse capacity used (capacity)
  10. Order fill rate (outbound operations)
  11. Percentage of supplier orders received with correct documentation (inbound operations)
  12. Peak warehouse capacity used (Capacity)

Not everything on this list necessarily applies to every operation, but they are all worth some reflection. It’s worthwhile to have the questions posed, as we all fall victim to the “forest and trees” syndrome. 

Related: How to benchmark your warehouse operation

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Bridging the Gap Between Warehouse and Office

February 13, 2013

The Gap Between Warehouse and Office

The warehouse. The office.

Sometimes it’s as if one doesn’t exist to the other. As one customer told us, “it’s like we have two companies here, and one doesn’t know what the other is up to.”

But when you’re trying to improve your operation, or even to operate well, it’s impossible to separate the two functions. Decisions can be made in one area that can impact the other severely, so communication and cooperation are vital. Too bad it doesn’t always work that way. How can you improve it?

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Section 179 Depreciation Extended for 2013

February 6, 2013

money for bonus deductionsSection 179 has been extended for 2012 and 2013 tax years, meaning that you can retroactively file for 2012 for qualifying capital equipment purchases and receive higher deduction limits. Certain types of equipment qualify for a 5-year depreciation period, while others may not.  If equipment isn’t considered “real property” (a permanent part of the structure), it can be classified as “tangible property” and depreciated under 179 for a five year period under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS).

Also, the following advantages extend to qualifying new 2013 equipment purchases: $500,000 deduction limit. $2,000,000 limit on capital purchases, and bonus depreciation of 50%. This means you can in essence deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment during this tax year.

Essentially, Section 179 tax code allows businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying  products purchased during the tax year from your gross income. See or the Govtrack.US web page for more information.

As always, your accountants and finance professionals should be involved in any decision regarding these issues.

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