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."
It's fairly commonplace for retailers to invest in multi-million dollar material handling systems that serve as the backbone of their distribution operations. What's not as common is the practice of effective lifecycle management to maximize the uptime of these systems by preparing and planning for the unexpected. When you stop and think about it, the reason for this oversight may be somewhat obvious. When systems are new and running at peak performance, it's easy to become complacent and think that things will always run this smoothly. But over time, maintenance is required, controls become obsolete and inevitable situations arise that threaten to halt productivity for hours, days or even weeks. I recently discussed how to avoid this occurrence in our latest On The Move webinar titled," Maximize your material handling system's ROI with lifecycle management."
I was joined on the third installment of our new webinar series by two experts from Intelligrated's lifecycle support services division: Dave Trice, CSCP and senior director of business development, customer service and support; and Corey Calla, senior director of lifecycle sales.
I kicked off the presentation with a definition of lifecycle management and an explanation of why it's critical to managing system assets. Then I explained to those present that lifecycle management programs help managers answer these important questions:
- How will we maintain our system, through reactive and preventive measures?
- What training and support will be required (both internal and external)?
- How will we adapt the system to industry trends and business process changes?
- How can we optimize the system as it matures to maintain peak performance and prevent obsolescence?
To reiterate some valuable points I made in the webinar, the key results of successful lifecycle management planning are ROI, uptime, planned support, low total cost of ownership and continuous system improvement. These all lead to increased system safety, efficiency and dependability.
Dave Trice followed me with a detailed look at what makes up an effective lifecycle management plan. Whether the system is new or mature, he explained that an initial assessment is critical in developing a road map for success. Assessment provides the following lifecycle framework:
- Baseline of system performance and benchmark of OEM specs standards
- Scope of assets, software / hardware platforms, maintenance requirements and spare parts
- Results driven by reporting to establish basis for financial and resource planning
Dave demonstrated how computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software is important in maintaining visibility to system assets throughout the lifecycle. The webinar's live polling question confirmed his point that most CMMS installations aren't used to their full capacity, a problem he attributed to poor implementation of the software. Used to its full extent, CMMS can improve labor productivity and asset performance through accurate planning and inventory management.
Finally, Corey Calla discussed the importance of partnering with an experienced lifecycle management OEM. He said this gives the DC managers a distinct advantage throughout the system lifecycle by gaining access to a full support network of experts and services, including: system engineers, Web tools, data collection and reporting through the CMMS. An OEM that has intimate knowledge of a material handling system and its lifecycle can not only provide quick resolution of issues but also have the historical data to understand root causes and respond expeditiously.
To view this presentation in its entirety, please visit the archives section of our website.
As omnichannel fulfillment requirements become increasingly complex, it's fairly commonplace for retailers to invest in multi-million dollar material handling systems for their distribution operations. All too often, we hear industry stories about companies that make these significant system investments without knowing how to maximize their ROI or planning for its operation, maintenance or evolution throughout the lifecycle. We see material handling systems that may have been engineered for retail store distribution that are now operating primarily as e-commerce facilities. One significant consequence of such an unplanned transition is added expense due to various system adjustements needed to achieve performance goals.
With a proper lifecycle management plan, companies can avoid material handling system missteps and maximize ROI without sacrificing customer service levels. On February 23 at 2 p.m. EST, we will address this topic in our next On The Move webinar, titled "Maximize your material handling system's ROI with lifecycle management." The webinar will explain how successful companies can create a lifecycle management plan for their material handling system and support staff. Intelligrated lifecycle support services experts John Sorensen, Dave Trice and Corey Calla will co-present this informative webinar and cover five key points:
1. Why lifecycle management is critical to maximizing ROI and maintaining profitability - When considering a new material handling system investment, companies should have a clear lifecycle plan from the outset, not only for the system itself, but for the staff and training required to operate it. This is also a good time to evaluate market trends to see what needs may arise within the next five years.
2. How effective lifecycle planning leads to better budget and resource planning - To maximize system ROI, companies benefit from careful planning of capital expenditures, especially the potential to defer these costs across mulitple years. This way, they're over-investing in a first year upgrade when a planned multiple-year expansion could meet the same objectives while offering better long- and short-term operational advantages.
3. The importance of establishing predictable maintenance schedules and procedures - Maintenance is a critically important part of a lifecycle management plan, but it's important to consider its impacts on both uptime and equipment ROI. But the industry's lack of skilled maintenance personnel makes it difficult to find and keep a qualified service team on-site - and makes training what staff you do have even more important. There are many maintenance strategies to address all of these issues.
4. When to replace parts, plan rebuilds, and upgrade software and controls - With the continuous operation of material handling systems, it's inevitable that certain parts will need to be replaced. Having a parts list and even a schedule for planned replacement is critical to maintaining uptime. Technology upgrades, which include software releases and controls components that become obsolete over time, must also be accounted for in a lifecycle management plan.
5. How partnering with an experienced OEM can deliver optimal results - Partnering with an OEM that takes a proactive approach to lifecycle management is perhaps the most important factor to consider when purchasing a material handling system. Very few OEMs have the customer commitment, qualified resources and industry expertise to offer anything other than reactionary programs.
As more leading retailers seek to ensure 99 percent uptime objectives and maximize ROI, effective lifecycle management will become increasingly essential in any material handling system investment. We hope you'll join our webinar to learn how you can implement a true lifecycle management plan. Register here and stay tuned for more relevant topics in our new On The Move webinar series.
Voice technology has come a long way since it was first adopted in warehouse operations in the 1990s. This first generation of Voice technology was characterized by cumbersome speech recognition methods, proprietary device lock-ins and a limited vocabulary capable of supporting only a small range of mobility tasks. Today, speech recognition technology advancements have ushered in a new era of Voice applications in our day-to-day lives — and expanded potential for Voice in the warehouse. In our second On The Move webinar, Doug Brown, product manager of order fulfillment (Voice), Intelligrated Software, and I discussed this potential in detail.
The webinar, titled "Unshackle your DC operations with modern voice recognition technology," demonstrated how the technology used in modern warehouse Voice solutions has leap-frogged legacy Voice systems to deliver positive impacts to businesses. Not only do modern Voice systems deliver 99.99 percent accuracy and up to 45 percent productivity improvements, they also provide key differentiators that allow Voice to be used in a much more meaningful way in the warehouse, including:
- Rapid new user onboarding (no speech training required)
- Unparalleled remote support capabilities
- Powerful coaching options coupled with the ability to listen and replay any end user's audio tag
Modern speech technology changes the game
Doug and I explained that these impacts are made possible by modern advancements in speech recognition technology that are found in our smartphones, smart TVs and other Voice-enabled devices. We demonstrated how these technologies are leveraged to deliver significant improvements in modern warehouse Voice applications. Here are few of the transformative capabilities enabled by the current generation of technology that were discussed:
- Network-based service - Rather than being limited by the computing power of a mobile device, this cutting-edge speech recognition technology leverages powerful servers and advanced algorithms. This eliminates the need for expensive, proprietary devices and opens the door to features not previously available. Now DC operations managers can monitor and support multiple distribution centers from a centralized location in real time, including individual end user interactions with the system.
- Out-of-the box speech recognition - With more than 70 leading languages and dialects built into the system, Voice solutions can be immediately put to use without requiring cumbersome creation of "voice templates" by each individual employee. This enables rapid user acceptance and achievement of corporate productivity goals.
- Advanced warehouse capabilities - Large vocabulary and advanced, configurable software enables the automation of complex mobility tasks. Modern Voice technology also improves warehouse efficiencies through the consolidation of multiple pieces of information into a single spoken response, by interleaving separate work tasks into a common flow. They also allow multiple users to be active on the same task together, to facilitate role-modeling from the best workers, streamlining training initiatives.
What all this means to typical warehouse operations is that modern Voice systems more easily and rapidly achieve success when compared to their predecessors. As a result, DC managers can immediately put Voice to work on a larger selection of critical processes, instead of dealing with the distraction of trying to implement outdated technologies. Finally, because it is scalable and flexible in nature, modern warehouse Voice systems can blend a broad spectrum of different mobile worker technologies, including: pick- and put-to-light; RF scanning; robotics; and location-based services.
With the increasing complexity of omnichannel fulfillment scenarios, DC managers can utilize modern Voice systems to usher in a new era of productivity and efficiency. To learn more about how you can exploit Intelligrated Voice in your DC operations, please visit the archives section on our website to view this webinar in its entirety. While there, be sure to register for our next episode that will explore how to maximize your material handling system’s ROI with effective lifecycle management.