One of the major trends impacting modern distribution centers (DCs) today is the rapid transition from manual to automated processes. While the desire to improve operational efficiencies, accuracy and throughput are ever-present, there are also other key drivers. First, there's the challenge of adapting to an e-commerce business model and the unique order profile demands this places on DCs. Then, there's the high cost of labor and difficulty finding and retaining qualified personnel among a declining workforce. In our next On The Move webinar, Chris Lingamfelter, vice president of integrated systems, will discuss the expanding role of shuttle systems and robotic picking technologies in the evolution of DC automation.
The webinar, titled "Shuttles: The new faces of the DC workforce," will take place on Thursday, May 19 at 2 p.m. EST and is the fourth installment in our new On The Move webinar series. As Intelligrated's resident expert in shuttle systems, Chris will lend his perspectives on the following topics:
- How to evaluate the potential viability of shuttle and robotic systems in your DC
- The evolution of item picking, from conventional operator-to-goods to goods-to-robot methodologies
- How shuttles can be integrated into order fulfillment and inventory management applications
- How to maximize AS/RS storage investments with shuttle systems
- How to reduce storage and labor costs through shuttle efficiencies
If you're new to shuttle systems, then this webinar will help introduce you to this emerging topic. If you're making the evolution to a more automated DC, then you'll learn more about how shuttles can play a key role in this transition.
Shuttle technology is ideal for e-commerce order profiles and handling high volumes of smaller, lighter loads in cartons, trays, totes or bins. Due to their potential storage volume, speed and scalable layout configurations, shuttle systems have emerged as the next generation of AS/RS technology, offering 5-10 times greater throughput than traditional AS/RS technology.
With current increases in the minimum wage and an aging, dwindling industrial workforce, automated shuttle systems offer a viable alternative for managing increasing order volumes. Shuttles can also be utilized to relieve labor resources from performing undesirable or potentially dangerous tasks, while increasing accuracy and throughput capacity.
The economic footprint of shuttle systems is designed to maximize the vertical space available in the DC, essentially giving operators the option to grow up rather than out. Often this can offset the need for costly capital investments and facility expansions. The added storage capacity can be used to faciliate stocked item count growth - aloowing expansion into new categories, deeper SKU selection and better representation across nodes in the network. Ultimately, this improves an organization's service level capability while reducing freight costs.
While these are just a few of the justifications for investments in shuttle technology, the webinar will outline the important factors for companies to consider when evaluating and adopting shuttle technology in today's market.
Register here to join Chris Lingamfelter on Thursday, May 19 at 2 p.m. EST for our next On The Move webinar.
Rising operating costs and omnichannel requirements are changing the retail store landscape. To improve profitability, retailers are seeking to improve the accuracy of inventory visibility, employ more agile order-building processes and drive labor cost savings across the store network through better planning and execution monitoring. Many business leaders are discovering that the same processes used to control labor costs in warehouse and DCs are as effective in store back rooms and other order fulfillment scenarios. And many of these processes are made possible by Intelligrated's proven labor management software (LMS).
The sheer volume of retail outlets presents a tremendous opportunity for savings. The more stores in your network, the bigger the opportunity. Even a moderate performance improvement or staff reduction can potentially produce significant savings to the labor expense bottom line. For example, reducing a single resource across a network of 60 stores can amount to measurable capital saved.
Intelligrated LMS helps retailers control the store costs related to everyday labor tasks, such as: receiving, staging, put-away, replenishment and order picking. Our LMS gives leadership the tools to measure, manage and motivate labor to ensure alignment with the company's goals. This allows stores to become more like DCs with predictable throughput and the data-driven intelligence to accurately match staffing with the amount of work required.
Retailers can leverage Intelligrated LMS in their outlets for the following financial benefits:
- Reduce operational costs
- Improve service cycle times
- Meet customer service objectives
- Increase operational efficiencies
- Reduce employee turnover
One of the true benefits of the Intelligrated LMS system is its ability to motivate the retail store workforce. LMS optimizes labor execution by setting goals for overachievement and creating a culture of excellence, not just an atmosphere of "business as usual." When everyone understands how they contribute directly to the organization's higher profitability goals, employee engagement levels dramatically improve. Maintaining transparency about the achievement of goals helps drive this engagement even further, creating a healthy spirit of competition throughout the organization that ultimately drives throughput.
For store managers, Intelligrated LMS enables improved resource management and control through:
- Enhancing resource planning via more accurate labor estimates
- Analyzing performance relationships among individuals, operations and facility output
- Simplifying communication of strategic goals and scenario planning
- Providing well-documented and communicated process for facility improvement
To learn more about how Intelligrated LMS can drive down in-store labor costs across the network, please visit http://www.intelligrated.com/software/store-solutions.
In the first Executive InSight video blog of 2016, Kevin Roach, executive vice president and general manager, Intelligrated Software, discusses Intelligrated’s vision for warehouse execution systems (WES).
Next week, Intelligrated heads to Atlanta, Georgia for MODEX 2016. Attendees will find Intelligrated solutions to maximize throughput, accuracy and ROI in booths #2747 and #2737 at "the greatest supply chain show on earth", April 4-7 at the Georgia World Congress Center.
Intelligrated will feature several new technologies delivering speed, accuracy and product-handling flexibility, including patented dynamic discharge compensation (DDC) technology for IntelliSort® cross-belt sorters that ensures precise diverts and minimizes jams, recirculations and manual touches. DDC is recognized as a finalist in the 2016 MHI Innovation Award competition for "best innovation of an existing product." Featured IntelliSort sliding shoe sortation includes "soft touch" divert technology that provides high-speed carton control and accuracy, enabling the widest range of conveyables and highest capacity throughput.
The Intelligrated booth will also have demos showcasing advanced robotic and shuttle solutions for the endless aisle challenges that retail operations currently face. In the fully automated picking demonstration, Intelligrated's automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) integrates with a robotic arm to illustrate advancements in each picking technology.
The Intelligrated Software booth will showcase a robust suite of fulfillment technologies. Learn about our current warehouse execution system (WES) that provides the necessary components to enable accurate, high-velocity fulfillment processes throughout the DC.
Visitors will learn how Intelligrated Voice™ provides hands-free picking and putting to drastically increase order fulfillment productivity. Also on display, Intelligrated's GoalPost® Labor Management Software (LMS) demonstrates on-demand intelligence used to measure, manage and plan warehouse labor for increased efficiency and facility performance. The interactive light-directed fulfillment technology demos illustrate improvements in operator accuracy and picking and putting efficiencies for a wide range of operations. Additionally, visitors will learn how Intelligrated Store Solutions combines the accuracy of Voice technology and the insight of LMS to capture transactional data bringing DC-like accuracy, efficiency and predictability to in-store processes.
Finally, Intelligrated's Lifecycle Support Services (LSS) will introduce the Intelligrated Reliability Intelligence Solution™ (IRIS), a computerized maintenance management software program designed to manage everything from work orders to inventory to budgeting. LSS representatives will be available to discuss proactive lifecycle management and solutions to assist with regulatory compliance.
Intelligrated will be doing several short in-booth thought leadership presentations, along with two educational seminars:
10 steps to improve operational efficiency
Tuesday, April 5 at noon in MODEX Theater E
Robotics in the warehouse
Wednesday, April 6 at 10:30 a.m. in MODEX Theater A
If you have not yet registered for the show, click here to sign up for a free attendee badge.
We are excited to showcase a wide range of automated solutions at MODEX 2016 and look forward to seeing you at one of the largest material handling shows this year.
That's a wrap! Stack and wrap robotic palletizing cell for end-of-line distribution and fulfillment processes
As robotic technology evolves to operate in unstructured environments and handle variability in packaging and products, it can offer an efficient solution for an increasing number of end-of-line processes. Case packing, palletizing and stretch wrapping in particular are prime candidates for the superior repeatability, precision and throughput of robotic process automation.
The unique design of the stack and wrap robotic palletizing cell helps customers address challenges like unstable or difficult-to-handle products, workplace safety and limited floor space. As it builds the pallet load, the stack and wrap solution incrementally stretch wraps the load in one of several customizable configurations for increased stability and higher sustained throughput. Intelligrated partners with a wide range of wrapper suppliers to ensure seamless integration into your facility.
The highly configurable system also integrates the palletizing cell and turntable stretch wrapper onto a single control system, permitting a single operator to monitor multiple functions. This combined functionality reduces operator training and allows a single employee to supervise both operations, enabling continuous production and execution.
For more information on robotic applications, including a complete list of robotic alternatives to well-known manual processes, download the Intelligrated white paper, "The robots are coming: robotic material handling applications in distribution and fulfillment centers."