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

How to Properly Evaluate Your Warehouse Management System (WMS)

October 15, 2015

warehouse-management-system

What Does a Warehouse Management System Do?

A medium-sized chain of convenience stores once asked me to take a look at their Warehouse Management System (WMS) to see if it was time for an upgrade. After documenting all the functions it performed, we discovered that none of them could be described as serving warehouse activities. The system had lots of good purchasing functions—but offered nothing to support the actual warehouse.

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The Ultimate Guide to Conveyor Systems

November 25, 2013

Conveyor System

Conveyors are an optimal way to enhance warehouse productivity, but, in order to maximize their benefit, it’s important to specify the right conveyor system to your application.  In an effort to assist our clients with material transport operations in distribution, warehousing, military logistics, and manufacturing, we’ve created this collection of Cisco-Eagle’s best conveyor system resources.

The following guide to conveyor systems is intended to help you determine how you can increase your operation’s efficiency, boost its productivity, reduce errors, and increase throughput – all while you reduce costs and overhead burden.

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5 Common Flaws of Manufacturing Automation and How to Fix Them

October 21, 2013

Manufacturing Automation has taken huge steps forward in recent years, helping companies become safer and more efficient. Technology such as robotics for picking, packing, or welding is constantly advancing, making systems better, and smarter, each year. Vision systems alone are undergoing a revolution in terms of effectiveness. This type of automation is also more affordable every year, while the cost of just about everything else – labor, energy, raw materials, and insurance – is rising.

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Automation More Important Than Ever

February 3, 2012

Manufacturing - motors at an automotive plantPresident Obama’s State of the Union address focused on manufacturing in the United States – which everyone, no matter their political persuasion, can agree is a vital part of our economy. Countries that don’t make things aren’t world powers, period.

And the numbers, on the surface, can look dire. According to Forbes Magazine,  22 million manufacturing jobs were lost globally between 1995 and 2002. The U.S. lost hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs in that timeframe.

The common belief is that these jobs were palletized and shipped east to China or south to Mexico. While that has happened – we’ve seen it in our client base more than once – it’s only part of the story. The reality is more complicated, and may help us to understand why manufacturing output has increased in the U.S. while jobs have been reduced. Manufacturing output didn’t just grow; it rocketed 30% since 1995. China – the supposed vampire of manufacturing employment – has lost a whopping 16 million manufacturing jobs.

In a word, the “culprit” (if you want to call it that) is automation. Robotics is less expensive and significantly more capable – and continues to improve. The same goes for other automation of other kinds.

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A Different Sort of Sorter

December 2, 2011

Sortation systems in distribution is application driven – typically we are talking about order fulfillment (retail, wave pre-sorting, inbound putaway sorts), shipping (end of line carrier sortation, ship to stores), and returns. Traditional sweep sorters, cross-belt, narrow slat & shoe, or belt sorters are often thought of as “for the big guys” in large operations. SpanTech’s new TranSorter is  different, and it’s rolling out at Modex 2012. A sneak peek video below:

The TranSorter is built for hard to sort items, such as fragile items that require different handling. It’s good for ultra-lightweight items, poly bags, etc.  It’s scalable, flexible, and affordable due to truly modular design, a world of layout possibilities, and competitive pricing. It can also deploy quickly, with 6-8 week delivery times and a couple days installation time. If you’re planning to attend Modex, check it out.

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Ten Reasons to Automate your Operation

June 10, 2011

automated robotic palletizer

In the not-too-distant past, most companies that weren’t running immense distribution operations, who didn’t have multiple facilities, who didn’t run 24-hour shifts, didn’t even consider automation. Too expensive, they’d say. Too much risk. Too little upside if things go wrong.  All valid in context, if we were in 1998. But the reality is this: While most costs—personnel, land, energy— have increased, automation costs have remained steady or declined across the board. The reality today is that the four guys stacking pallets at the end of a line, even for a single shift, even at low wages, are more expensive than a well configured palletizing system.

Those costs aren’t going to do anything but escalate, either. Listed are ten ways automation has become more relevant, even to mid-size operations:

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Conveyor Education: A Basic Maintenance Checklist

July 1, 2009

service and maintenance

We’re compiling a great deal of conveyor-related information, tips and articles into a series of downloadable conveyor white papers.  The first focuses on the basics of conveyor maintenance – what to do, when to do it, and how, in general terms. As the paper says, most conveyors ship with detailed maintenance manuals that will help your staff keep them running at top efficiency. The good news is that conveyors are very tough, reliable machinery. They require maintenance, but for the hours of service and stress put on them, they are remarkably reliable.

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Palletizer Perspectives: Is Palletizing Suitable for My Operation?

August 4, 2008

Palletizer - palletized cans

With the growing popularity of automating the palletizing function, we arranged an interview with vonGAL, a leading manufacturer who has the largest installed base of palletizers in the country. Bobby Edmond is vonGAL’s Director of Applications, and has been in the business for 25 years. He has seen applications in a wide range of industries, and in companies large and small. I asked him if he would take time to share his thoughts, and answer a few questions of interest to those that might be considering palletizing for the first time.

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This article is part of a series of articles on Palletizers. Click on a link below to view one of the other articles.
  1. Palletizers: ergonomics and justification issues
  2. Palletizer Perspectives: Is Palletizing Suitable for My Operation?

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Palletizers: ergonomics and justification issues

June 30, 2008

lifting from the “golden zone”As interest continues to grow in automated palletizing, let’s take a brief look at a few of the issues surrounding these applications.

Over the next couple of months, I’ll be providing a handful of blog postings relative to palletizers. We will begin with what is driving the growth in the use of these products, then a look at basic systems, cost estimates, what you can expect from a properly applied palletizer system, and then share specifics from a couple of actual implementations in distribution centers.If you are experienced in palletizer systems, you will likely be familiar with much of what is covered here. If you are new to palletizing, or considering your first system, hopefully this information will help you understand what the issues are and how you can navigate them.

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This article is part of a series of articles on Palletizers. Click on a link below to view one of the other articles.
  1. Palletizers: ergonomics and justification issues
  2. Palletizer Perspectives: Is Palletizing Suitable for My Operation?

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Posted in Automation, Material Handling, Palletizers, Safety & Ergonomics, Space Saving, Supply Chain, Warehousing| No Comments »

WMS on demand – is it for you?

October 29, 2007

You’re probably familiar with the software on demand movement. Hosted, web-driven software has been deployed to good success, particularly in fields like customer relationship management (CRM), with SalesForce.com being the most famous. It’s good because smaller companies can utilize software that might have been out of reach in the past. You can quickly get a handful of seats and cut the service off, if it isn’t to your liking. It doesn’t require a large IT staff, doesn’t require hardware, or much in-house expertise to use these packages.

The last few years, WMS (warehouse management) software has started to trickle down from gigantic enterprises to mid-size and even small companies because the standard products have gotten better, requiring less customization and less (or easier) integration with back office, inventory, or enterprise systems. Now, it’s taken the next step — toward WMS on Demand. WMS software provider SmartTurn has introduced an on-demand product in the WMS space.

The company’s website claims that its package, which is hosted on SmartTurn’s servers, can handle purchasing, receiving/putaway, inventory control, order fulfillment, shipping, and mobile computing. SmartTurn offers demo versions and a free trial. Since its launch, SmartTurn has garnered more than 50 customer sites, spanning multiple industries including Warehousing, Beverage Distribution, Manufacturing, Retail, Medical Supplies & Devices, and Importers. The appeal is easy to understand: WMS without many of the things people hate about WMS — the increased IT load, the management of technical issues, the servers. In essence, all you have to have is a web browser.

The basic thing to remember when you automate is that automation isn’t really a solution. It’s a way to express processes in a systematic manner.

“By putting in an automated system, you become accurate,” said David Marshall, President and Chief Operating Officer of RobRoy, Inc. His company has implemented WMS, and stuck as closely as it could to standardized software rather than customization. “But you just get bad information faster if bad information is what you already have. An automated system won’t solve that problem. You have to solve a problem, then automate the solution.”

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