So You’ve Decided To Automate Your Facility. What Next?

February 22, 2018

automated conveyor

With the rapid increase of the pace of manufacturing and distribution, facilities that automate manual processes will increase their ROI and grow their bottom line. Customer demand is ever increasing, right along with the costs to service that demand. You want your warehouse to deliver faster and more efficient results without sacrificing production. You’re looking at automating components within your facility to produce this change. But how can you really get started?

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To Move Your 3PL Forward, Harness the Power of Data

January 11, 2018

warehouse manager in a pallet rack aisle

3PLs frequently serve as the central communication conduit between shippers, carriers, regulatory agencies and other supply chain participants as cargo moves in-bond and from port-to-port. As a result of this pivotal role in the marketplace, they are uniquely positioned to view scenarios that address the best methods to move goods as well as data. Innovative 3PLs are demonstrating that moving information better—re-purposing data, improving accessibility, enhancing visibility and supporting the latest data standards—helps move freight better.

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How your 3PL Can Meet Customer Demands

May 12, 2017

conveyor order picking line

It’s a good time to be in the third party logistics business. 3PLs are in demand with no end in sight as the warehousing industry copes with higher volumes, increasing e-commerce demands and challenging customer expectations.

This gives 3PL operators with a unique opportunity to build lasting relationships with key customers, suppliers, and retailers of their choice. However, this can also lead to an increased demand for quality service from warehouses and fulfillment centers. In order for 3PLs to succeed in this new environment, they must be ready to face increasing levels of customer and prospect expectations.

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Posted in Order Picking & Fulfillment, Supply Chain, Third Party Logistics, Warehousing| 2 Comments »

A Vinyl Strip Door Configuration Guide

December 3, 2008

strip door mount

At this time of the year, many companies find the need to maintain open access to dock doors and warehouses without letting heat and other environmental controls escape into the cold. The obvious solution has been to install vinyl strip doors, which allow easy access to foot and lift truck traffic while they also keep climate-controlled air in – and cold air out.

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Comparing Gravity Flow Rack Types

June 15, 2008

Carton flow rack system for order picking

Walk into any order fulfillment operation, and you will see gravity flow rack.

The reason is obvious–it’s one of the best ways to pick orders utilizing first-in, first-out principles. It used to be that there was one kind of the stuff, the plastic-wheel tracks, but these days the choices are more diverse than ever. For the most part, these flow rack types act the same; they decline toward the picker and boxes or totes or even larger components flow toward him. They’re restocked from the rear and picked from the front onto a takeaway conveyor line, a cart, workstation, or another step in the process.

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Cross Docking: Retailer Improves its Supply Chain

March 14, 2008

cross docking illustration with functions and large text CROSS DOCKING.

This is the fourth in a series of briefs on cross docking

A recent project for a large retailer in the Southwest provided a good example of how an element of cross-docking might be deployed to reduce the footprint of distribution space required, reduce order fulfillment touchpoints, and shorten the logical pathway for fulfilling orders. Read the rest of this entry »


This article is part of a series of articles on Cross Docking. Click on a link below to view one of the other articles.
  1. Cross Docking: Is it Right For Me?
  2. Am I Wasting Time: is Cross-Docking a Viable Consideration for my Company?
  3. Cross-Docking: What are the facility layout considerations?
  4. Cross Docking: Retailer Improves its Supply Chain

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Cross-Docking: What are the facility layout considerations?

January 25, 2008

This is the third in a series of articles on cross-docking

Cross dock facility rendering

If you started from scratch, many might simply build a cross-dock facility with a much shallower depth than most warehouses. A depth of a hundred feet or so, with incoming product on one side that can be easily moved a short distance and loaded on the other side to an outbound truck. Most of us must deal with an existing facility, many times a large square box which is not generally the preferred layout. However, as long as the existing facility has a sufficient quantity of dock doors, yard space, and an adequate footprint, you may be fine.

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This article is part of a series of articles on Cross Docking. Click on a link below to view one of the other articles.
  1. Cross Docking: Is it Right For Me?
  2. Am I Wasting Time: is Cross-Docking a Viable Consideration for my Company?
  3. Cross-Docking: What are the facility layout considerations?
  4. Cross Docking: Retailer Improves its Supply Chain

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Am I Wasting Time: is Cross-Docking a Viable Consideration for my Company?

December 19, 2007

cross docking conveyor system

This article is the second in a series of articles on cross docking

In concept and on paper cross docking looks great, but, what about actual implementation? What kind of return do we get on this investment? The short answer is the implementation can be challenging. However, with planning, a committed team of upstream and downstream participants, and possibly even a pilot program, it can pay significant benefits.

Cross docking does not have to be complicated. Some, even today, execute cross-docking using human-readable paper documentation as the driver. As mentioned in the original brief, cross docking can cover a wide range of distribution activities. In one door and directly out the other is one approach. Many cross dockers also add value in the brief (hopefully) interval between receiving and shipping. Others send product to a temporary buffer in the interval, in many of these cases an automated system (mini-load, AS/RS, etc.) serves as the buffer.

Read the rest of this entry »


This article is part of a series of articles on Cross Docking. Click on a link below to view one of the other articles.
  1. Cross Docking: Is it Right For Me?
  2. Am I Wasting Time: is Cross-Docking a Viable Consideration for my Company?
  3. Cross-Docking: What are the facility layout considerations?
  4. Cross Docking: Retailer Improves its Supply Chain

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Posted in Cross Docking, Material Handling, Supply Chain| No Comments »

Along with the cost of a gallon of gas, your transportation costs are rising (but fuel isn’t the only reason)

November 14, 2007

It’s more immediate of course, when the cost at the pump jumps, but rising fuel costs are a reality in your shipping operations whether you are pushing product to customers or bringing it into your facility. We’ve all seen the fuel surcharges and continually-rising freight rates.

According to Operations & Fulfillment, labor developments may have just as much impact over the next few years. Over the next 5 years, the latest UPS contract amounts to a $9 per hour labor cost increase, which will certainly make its way downstream to shipping charges. Developments in other companies such as FedEx and labor negotiations across the shipping and freight world mean that even if fuel prices stabilize, it’ll cost you more to ship and receive products.

Curt Barry’s article at Operations & Fulfillment recommends some of the steps you can take:

  1. Look at transportation in the context of the total supply chain efficiency. (see Curt’s article for tips).
  2. Institute vendor compliance policies, include routing guides for inbound carriers. Do not permit vendor-controlled freight.
  3. For high returns businesses, use return services.
  4. Join an inbound freight consortium with contracted carriers and negotiated best rates.
  5. Do your homework. You have to understand your volume and shipping characteristics, etc.
  6. Consider a freight consultant, which can reduce costs 15% to 25%.

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