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How WCS Controls & Synchronizes Automated Equipment & Systems

February 4, 2016

Automated Conveyor System
When you deploy automated equipment and systems like conveyor sortation, picking, packing, and order consolidation, you may think that getting the equipment to do its basic job is the goal. That optimal production and worker performance had been gained. There’s a digital element that you may not have considered, though – a warehouse control system.
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The Future of Robotics: An Interview with FANUC America

October 8, 2015

Fanuc Robotics Family
More and more companies are adding various forms of robotics to their operations as they seek to improve productivity, enhance worker safety, and keep labor costs down. We recently spoke with Wes Garrett, Packaging Account Manager at FANUC America about robotics in the material handling industry. He provided some great information regarding cost of ownership, indicators robotics may benefit an operation, and trends in new technologies.

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15 Experts Weigh in on Manufacturing’s Shifting Workforce Demographics

June 4, 2015

Industrial workers

Manufacturing skills gap. Talent shortage. Shifting workforce demographics. What are the trends?

Call it what you will, but the fact remains that the U.S. manufacturing industry faces a pressing issue in the coming years if current worker retirement rates continue to accelerate and projections for industry expansion prove accurate. Research from the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte indicates there could be as many as 2 million unfilled manufacturing jobs by 2025, up from initial estimates of 600,000. As noted in a Huffington Post article on the research findings, retirement and rapid industry growth are the two driving factors contributing to the skills shortage.

To get a better sense of how the industry is addressing the challenges (and potential opportunities) associated with the increasing skills gap, we recently conferred with industry partners, leaders, and subject matter experts.

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Manufacturing Automation: What Is It? Where Is It Going?

October 15, 2014

Industrial Robotics

Industrial engineers have envisioned fully automated factories since at least the middle of the 20th century. But the real race to automate manufacturing can be said to have begun in the 1980s, when US car manufacturers came up with the vision of “lights-out” manufacturing. The idea was to beat their rivals by automating the factories to such an extent that the entire manufacturing process could be left to robots. To a great extent, it has remained only a vision so far. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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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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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: Complimentary Roles

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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End-of-Line Robotic Palletizing: A Matter of When

July 11, 2013

robotic palletizing white paper

We’ve posted a new white paper in our growing library of free material handling, logistics, safety, and manufacturing information resources.  This paper focuses on the proliferation of end of line robotic palletizing, its growing benefits, methods, and more. If you are palletizing at the end of a production line, this is a must-read.

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Can Warehouse Safety be Automated?

June 28, 2013

warehouse corner

OSHA estimates 85 deaths, 35,000 serious injuries, and another 62,000 non-serious injuries. More than 11% of forklifts are involved in these accidents every year, meaning that the forklift in your warehouse is statistically destined to have an accident before it goes out of service.

The cherry on top of this awful pie? Almost 40% of those accidents, depending on whose numbers you follow, involve a pedestrian. And this doesn’t  take into account the accidents that damage property, but don’t hurt people. Forklift-to-forklift collisions, or forklift colliding with warehouse racks aren’t included in these numbers if people aren’t injured.

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