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Robotics and End of the Line Packaging

November 18, 2011

End of line case packing robot with conveyor

The end of a manufacturing or distribution line is where the rubber meets the road for many operations. It’s potentially the last place where you have direct control of your product before it ships to retailers or direct customers. It’s where you can add a lot of value…or spoil a lot of value. The end of the line in many ways is more important to your company’s image as all its public relations, its websites, its brochures. It is often where your reputation can be made.

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Posted in Automation, Docks & Shipping, Manufacturing, Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Palletizers, Robotics, Safety & Ergonomics, Supply Chain| No Comments »

Small Manufacturers’ Coalition: Keys to Success

October 26, 2011

Manufacturing - motors at an automotive plant

The American Small Manufacturers Coalition (ASMC) released their Next Generation Manufacturing Study in 2011, identifying key trends affecting the industry and steps U.S. manufacturers can take now to be successful in the next generation. Some of the findings are fairly predictable, while others may surprise you. In particular, you have to consider people at all levels. Are your key players likely to retire or take other positions over the next decade or so? How can you prevent that? What can you do to further develop them?

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Posted in Manufacturing, News, Supply Chain, Sustainability| No Comments »

Hand Carts vs. Pallets for Retail Distribution

September 19, 2011

Pallet and order picking carts for retail distribution
Retail distribution facilities have multiple options for shipping product to store locations. They can send full pallets which must be unwrapped, unloaded, and stocked at the store location. They can send packed carts that can easily be rolled onto store floors and stocked at the point of sale. What method works best?
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Posted in Cross Docking, Docks & Shipping, Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Supply Chain, Warehousing| No Comments »

Smart Labor Management Helps Cut Warehouse Costs

May 22, 2011

packing operations

Especially as the economic recovery continues, it’s important to control costs in your operation. What are some warehousing cost-cutting methods you can employ that don’t require extensive investment or re-tooling? Most of the costs of warehousing operations fall into the following categories:

  • People
  • Real Estate, Utilities & other Fixed Costs
  • Inventory
  • Technology

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Posted in Lifts, Manufacturing, Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Safety & Ergonomics, Supply Chain, Warehousing| No Comments »

Mixed-Load Robotic Palletizing Application Video

May 10, 2011

In this video, a Fanuc robot is executing mixed-load palletizing of beer cases at a distribution center.

In this operation, differently-sized beer cases are conveyed to the robot to fulfill a specific order. Since the cases vary by width, length, and height, their dimensional information is sent to the robot by the WMS (warehouse management system). The robot utilizes mixed-load palletizing software to determine the best pattern to build a pallet with the available products, achieving high density and stack stability with rapid speed.

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Posted in Automation, Conveyor, Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Palletizers, Robotics, Supply Chain, Warehousing| No Comments »

13 Best Practices for Warehouse Productivity

March 17, 2011

Improving a warehousing operation is a complex endeavor that can be approached from any number of angles.  Here are 13 common actions you can consider in any warehouse improvement effort:

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Posted in Automation, Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, ROI, Supply Chain, Warehousing| 10 Comments »

What’s it Cost to Run a Warehouse in Your City?

January 19, 2011

warehousing operationsThe Boyd Company has released a useful document on the comparative costs of operating a warehouse or distribution center around the United States, “Comparative Distribution Warehousing Industry Operating Costs”. It takes multiple factors into account and provides an annual operating cost for many cities and regions. The report bases these costs on a hypothetical 175,000 square foot facility with 75 nonexempt workers. This warehouse would ship over-the-road to a national U.S. market.

The factors taken into consideration include:

  • Total annual labor costs
  • Electric power costs
  • Natural gas power costs
  • Amortization costs
  • Property and sales taxes
  • Shipping costs

Some markets of interest and their annual operating costs:

  • San Jose, CA (most expensive): $12,064,961
  • Sioux Falls, SD (least expensive): $7,417,487
  • Chicago, IL $10,351,816
  • St. Louis, MO: $8,808,609
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX $8,430,605
  • Oklahoma City, OK $8,119,512
  • Tulsa, OK $8,089,925

Obviously these numbers won’t be an exact fit for every operation, but they can give you a good idea of costs in a given city or state.

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Manufacturing & Distribution Professionals Pressured to “Deliver More Value”

November 8, 2010

distribution center conveyor system

The Integrated Systems and Controls (ISC) Council of Material Handling Industry of America has released a new report titled An Evaluation of Operational Performance in Warehousing, Distribution and Manufacturing., and it has some interesting information for those who operate warehouses, distribution centers, manufacturing, and commercial operations.

The key thing? You’re still being asked to squeeze more value from your operation – and you need to be able to do it with fewer resources.

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Posted in Automation, Conveyor, Manufacturing, Material Handling, News, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Supply Chain, Sustainability, Warehousing| No Comments »

Lean Logistics Summit Kicks Off in June

June 2, 2010

The Lean Logistics Summit kicks of on June 22 in Cincinnati. The Summit will gather the world’s leading authorities on the subject of lean logistics. Authors, researchers, and company representatives actually on their own lean logistics journey will share their insights. Learn from them and learn from your peers as you network with like-minded professionals. Sessions of interest to warehousing and distribution professionals might include “A Case Study in Lean Distribution,” by Sarah Giffin, Sr. Operations Improvement Manager of CEVA Logistics on 6/22. Also, check out “Implementing Lean Inside the Logistics Facility” later that day. The summit costs $995, but use the code “leannation” for a 25% discount.

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Posted in Automation, Material Handling, News, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Supply Chain, Warehousing| No Comments »

Did Wood Pallets Cause the Tylenol Recall?

February 11, 2010

wood pallets

According to DC Velocity, the answer may be yes.

The maker of several over-the-counter drugs, including Tylenol, Motrin and Benadryl, announced a broad-based recall of these and other drugs after receiving complaints of an “unusual moldy, musty or mildew-like” odor. Johnson & Johnson received what the company described as a “small” number of complaints of issues including nausea, stomach pain, vomiting or diarrhea.

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Posted in Manufacturing, Material Handling, News, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Pallet Rack, Safety & Ergonomics, Supply Chain, Warehousing| No Comments »