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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Posted in Automation, Conveyor, Cross Docking, Docks & Shipping, Material Handling, News, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Pallet and Industrial Racks, Warehousing| No Comments »

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 »

How the Movies Get Material Handling Wrong

November 15, 2011

Mateial handling movies

If you are in the warehousing or material handling industry, you’ll find yourself identifying warehouse and handling equipment in movies or television shows quite often. Many of us have seen, for instance, the NFL graphics of a large distribution system used on Fox network for years. I’ve pointed out Hytrol conveyors in movies to my wife for years, to the point where she says it first when she sees it.

For fun, we have put together a list of the more famous scenes in entertainment history involving material handling equipment, and how it could have been done better.

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Posted in Automation, Conveyor, Industrial Shelving, Lifts, News, Pallet and Industrial Racks, Warehousing| 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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Warehouse Productivity: Prove, Improve it

October 11, 2011

warehouse workers in a rack aisle

In the last two decades, smart companies have identified the warehouse operation as a profit center, not a cost center. This is far from universal, but it inches toward that every day. No longer are warehouse managers considered box-hustlers – at least not in smart companies. Many are utilizing varying levels of automation. WMS is standard for larger operations and is making its way even to single-building, midsize and smaller ones.

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Preventing Energy Leaks at the Dock Door

September 20, 2011

inner dock doors at a warehouse

Any operation with dock doors faces an uphill challenge when it comes to preserving the climate inside. In particular, air-conditioned and heated facilities must face the reality of losing large volumes of treated air when trailers must be loaded or unloaded. Managers will be asked to scrutinize every expense, and the loss of climate controlled air can be a significant expense.

So how can you minimize air and energy loss?

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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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Material Handling Consultants, Integrators, Manufacturers

August 1, 2011

Designing a material handling system

We are often asked who should “run point” when a client determines it is time to upgrade an existing facility or consider a new location to meet their supply chain requirements.  How might they move forward with professionals who will provide a solution without a product bias, or a predetermined template.
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Warehouse & Order Fulfillment: Hiring Good People

July 19, 2011

distribution center at peak season

Finding qualified candidates for warehouse and production work isn’t easy

This is particularly true with supervisors who understand how kitting, ticketing, and storage operations. You want people who know the work, and who can supervise and motivate your employees. Qualified candidates are often the kind of people who aren’t online perusing jobs. They aren’t going to temp agencies. It’s a unique and difficult situation for warehousing operations. Quite often, they must be bilingual to supervise an increasingly Spanish-speaking workforce. Read the rest of this entry »

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Picking to Cartons vs. Picking to Totes

July 14, 2011

distribution center exterior dock area

In a pick-to-tote operation, you have the advantage of a dedicated packing function. Since totes can be “one size (or a range of them) fits all”, your pickers can easily pick and organize totes as they navigate the system, either on conveyor or in carts.  Trained packers at the end of the line “cartonize” the orders, often using state-of-the-art packing stations and consolidated equipment & materials. This means that you’ll have at least two employees touching each order and that the packing group will need more square footage.

What if you decided to pick directly to cartons, eliminating the totes and reducing or eliminating the packing group?

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Posted in Automation, Conveyor, Docks & Shipping, Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Space Optimization & Planning, Warehousing| No Comments »

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