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December Roundup: Manufacturing Digital Technology

Digital transformation, record industrial output, warehouse space optimization, safety and more

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Welcome to our December roundup of articles, videos and news for busy industrial operations professionals. The focus in 2023 seems to be the threat of both labor shortages and a potential recession, both of which offer challenges to warehousing, distribution and manufacturing operations.

Manufacturers and technological deployment

American manufacturers are running ahead of the game in terms of technology according to a recent Manufacturing Leadership Council survey. As re-shoring continues to gain steam while labor shortages continue, this commitment to innovation is excellent news.

“Manufacturers are finding more use cases and business benefits for increasing their use of digital technology, and the pace of adoption is accelerating,” said MLC co-founder and vice president and executive director David R. Brousell.


Warehouse optimization on a budget

overhead view of a picking area in a warehouse with workers in an aisle.
Our friends at Unex have a great piece on optimizing your warehouse in economical ways. It’s always been true that you can “buy” quite a lot of productivity with automation, expensive process revisions, equipment upgrades and more specialized employees and leadership. The piece details ways you can increase space optimization and increase efficiency without writing checks.

Key takeaways

  • Clean the warehouse up. It’s always been good advice to keep any productive area clean, but clutter is both dangerous and space-consuming. Space used on trash is space not used for productivity. You can engage in the 5S process to truly organize production space, but you can do quite a lot with an organized cleaning process that ensures that people have clean, well-organized work areas. Read more: 6 Ideas for a Cleaner Warehouse.
  • Constantly scrutinize, reduce and revise your SKUs. Obsolete inventory eats space and reduces efficiency. When you are dealing with slow movers or dead inventory, it’s time to look at the space it takes and the value of that space. Where are these SKUs located? Are there ways to eliminate them? You should also analyze throughput. SKU location optimization can dramatically improve throughput by placing the right items in the right places.
  • Check all your resources. Unex offers a range of free downloads (linked in the article) on these topics. You can also check Cisco-Eagle’s Guide to Space Optimization. (PDF, opens in a new window)

You don’t have to make a huge investment to begin optimizing your warehouse space. It can start with a few organizational tools and procedures to enhance your operation, shaping it into a thriving space that maximizes time and resources.


Video: 5 Tips for Warehouse Safety from the Texas Department of Insurance


This is a pretty strong overview of warehouse safety from the Texas Department of Insurance. They add more details on their website.


American Industrial production in the United States hits all-time highs in 2022.

In its November 16 report, the Federal Reserve tells us that industrial production increased about 0.1% in October, and about the same in September. Manufacturing output was also up, by 0.1%. Year over year, October was 3.3% up, and up by almost 105% vs. 2017 in a long-term analysis.


Three quick hits

  1. Hänel Storage Systems, which manufactures high-speed vertical carousels and other vertical storage systems, is sponsoring Portillo, a Labrador puppy for Leader Dogs for the Blind, a charity that helps provide guide dogs for blind and visually impaired people. Check out Leader Dogs here.
  2. It’s the same story everywhere: manufacturing workers are tough to hire, hard to keep and it’s not getting better. Manufacturing Dive looks at the ways manufacturers are working to fill over 800,000 openings.
  3. WERC offers a ton of educational resources. Check out everything from their benchmarking & best practices guide to their invaluable DC Measures Study. Plenty of excellent data and advice for companies that want to improve their operations.

 


Scott Stone is Cisco-Eagle's Vice President of Marketing with more than thirty years of experience in material handling, warehousing and industrial operations. His work is published in multiple industry journals an websites on a variety of warehousing topics. He writes about automation, warehousing, safety, manufacturing and other areas of concern for industrial operations and those who operate them.

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