Modern DC operators face a common dilemma: the space they need to meet omnichannel demands is running out. As direct-to-consumer order fulfillment requirements continue to push the limits of service level expectations, the physical constraints of their warehouses have them feeling boxed in. Typical options to solve this problem - such as expansion, new facility construction or outsourcing - are often impractical and require significant capital expenditures. But there is another direction operators often overlook to maximize the use of their existing operations; upward!
Our next On The Move webinar will explore the vertical conveyor solutions available to solve the challenge of diminishing space in the DC. This complimentary webinar is titled, "Vertical solutions: elevating your products to the next level," and will take place on Thursday, March 23, 2 p.m. EDT / 11 a.m. PDT. Presented by Joe Joice, vice president of business development for USS, an Intelligrated company, this informative session will answer many questions about the trend of going vertical, including:
- Why is the option to expand vertically becoming more commonplace?
- How are commerical logistics models evolving from traditional "push" to consumer-driven "pull"?
- What are the pros and cons of today's wide variety of vertical lift and conveyance technologies?
- Which applications are currently benefiting from these vertical conveyor solutions?
- Where is this technology applicable to manufacturing and assembly environments?
Attendees will learn how modern vertical conveyor solutions enable a wide range of input and discharge height customizations for maximum application flexibility. Joice will demonstrate how these systems can expand to heights up to 30 feet and utilize C-shape, Z-shape and T-shape workflow configurations.
Aside from the obvious advantage of maximizing space utilization, attendees will also learn the many ancillary benefits of vertical sortation solutions, including: enhanced safety, increased efficiencies, higher throughput and decongestion.
So if you're ready to evaluate the viability of vertical solutions to alleviate your DC space constraints, you won't want to miss this important webinar. Register now to join Joe Joice on Thursday, March 23 at 2 p.m. EDT / 11 a.m. PDT.
When it comes to running successful distribution center (DC) operations and manufacturing facilities, sometimes it's the things that we don't always pay attention to that can make the greatest impacts on productivity. The critical spare parts needed to keep DCs and manufacturing facilities running at peak performance are a perfect example. To prevent unexpected downtime and disruptions for your customers, these parts need to be on-site and quickly accessible in the event of an emergency. Simply put: it's a matter of having the right part at the right time. Unfortunately, this is an area where many operations stumble, and the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality can often lead to costly downtime.
In Intelligrated's latest On The Move webinar, titled "7 parts best practices you can start using today," I explained how maintenance teams can establish effective spare parts management programs.
1. The first step is to utilize computerized maintenance management systems / enterprise asset management systems (CMMS / EAMS) to manage parts inventories and provisioning. For those who do not have one of these systems in place, a simple Excel spreadsheet may be used, but requires diligence to implement parts check-in and check-out processes.
2. Recommended spare parts lists (RSPLs) from the manufacturer of the material handling equipment (MHE) provide a comprehensive list of all the parts you need on-site to support your systems. It's equally as important to periodically compare inventory on hand to the RSPL to identify any parts missing from your inventory.
3. Next, I talked about the necessity for realistic budgeting, especially as systems age and spare parts expenses increase. To help with this effort, Intelligrated recommends an annual assessment of your MHE to determine if maintenance is required, what parts are needed and if upgrades are available.
4. Keeping well-organized spare parts cages - that are secure, clean, organized and labeled with location IDs and part numbers corresponding to the inventory management system - is critical to finding the product when you need it most.
5. Having processes in place that lead to inventory accuracy is another key to a successful spare parts management program. Maintenance teams should perform annual physical inventory or institute periodic cycle counts to make sure critical parts are on-site.
6. Work with value-added vendors (not just vendors offering the lowest cost) to cover any possible contingency. Vendors should provide access to multiple channels for ordering and help with planning for emergencies, budgeting or obsolescence. If operations are down in the middle of the night, you want a vendor that can ship parts same-day and offer 24X7 availability. Convenient purchasing arrangements - such as PunchOut integration - also save time and money.
7. Last, I talked about the importance of proper training for maintenance staff to document procedures and reinforce best practices. Capturing staff feedback and gaining their buy-in are critical to establish an environment where everyone is working together toward downtime prevention. And, as I always say, "Don't forget the donuts."
With an estimated 50 percent of MRO budgets spent on spare parts, it's ironic that many DCs and manufacturing facilities either don't have the correct spare parts on-site or are unable to find these parts when they're needed most. Following these simple best practices can help expedite planned maintenance and prevent prolonged, unexpected outages that can derail DC and manufacturing productivity.
To view this webinar in its entirety, please visit our On The Move webinar library.
In Q4 of 2015, Intelligrated debuted a webinar series designed to offer material handling industry insights about trends, technologies and best practices impacting distribution and fulfillment operations. Since then, we've conducted 11 webinars in the series, each focused on a different topic and presented by Intelligrated's top subject matter experts. If you were unable to attend the live sessions, we encourage you to peruse the webinar library on our website and review any topic on demand.
No doubt, On The Move has already imparted a wealth of information, addressed some of the industry's biggest concerns and answered many lingering questions. While it would be impossible to list all those insights in one blog, here are the top 10 takeaways from a year's worth of webinars.
10. Labor management software (LMS) is an effective way to address spiraling workforce and service level challenges by incentivizing performance and establishing process predictability.
9. Voice technology is an efficient means of automating warehouse processes to accomplish more with greater accuracy.
8. Effective lifecycle management is the key to maximizing the return on material handling system investment.
7. Shuttles and robotic picking technologies are more commonly being integrated into order fulfillment and inventory management applications.
6. Polybags are replacing cartons as a preferred packaging method, but DCs must be prepared to handle their inherent challenges.
5. Store networks are utilizing LMS systems to drive labor cost savings and help prepare for in-store fulfillment of online orders.
4. Flexibility in order fulfillment processes is mandatory for survival in today's omnichannel distribution operations.
3. Palletizing automation is helping manufacturers increase production and distribution facilities respond to a myriad of omnichannel challenges.
2. Brick-and-mortar retailers are turning their stores into mini-DCs to enable "buy online, pick up in store" order fulfillment and level the playing field with e-commerce retailers.
1. Sortation automation solutions can be deployed for fulfillment operations of all shapes and sizes to increase throughput and improve order accuracies.
Whether you attended any of these live sessions or reviewed them on-demand at your convenience, we appreciate your participation. One advantage of attending the live event is the Q&A session immediately following the presentation portion of the webinar. Here, attendees can interact with subject matter experts for clarification or get answers to their specific questions.
We look forward to seeing you at the next On The Move webinar on Tuesday, February 21, when Bridget Burkhardt, manager of business development for Intelligrated's Lifecycle Support Services will discuss 7 parts best practices you can start using today. Registration is now open on our website.
Keeping a distribution center running at full capacity requires having access to the right parts at the right time. Even though 50 percent of the average maintenance, repair and operations budget is spent on spare parts, many DCs either don't have the correct spare parts onsite or are unable to find these parts when they're needed most - during planned maintenance, or worse, an unexpected outage that's cutting into DC productivity.
But many best practices, if followed, can help avoid such pitfalls and maintain DC uptime objectives.
In our next On The Move webinar, titled, "7 parts best practices you can start using today," Bridget Burkhardt, Intelligrated's lifecycle support services business development manager for parts, will discuss these best practices in detail. As a full-service equipment manufacturer of automated material handling solutions, Intelligrated has extensive experience helping clients employ effective spare parts management programs.
This informative webinar will take place on Tuesday, February 21 at 2 p.m. EST / 11 a.m. PST. By attending this webinar, attendees will learn about the following topics:
- CMMS / EAMS - Computerized maintenance management systems / enterprise asset management systems are critical to automating maintenance operations and keeping track of spare parts requirements
- Spare parts lists - Recommended spare parts lists from OEMs help DC managers stock the right parts to avoid unplanned downtime and quickly replenish parts after use
- Budgeting - It's important to develop realistic budgeting models based on the age of the equipment in your DC and prioritization of critical parts
- Parts cages - Every spare parts management program must include organization strategies and processes to check parts in and out of inventory
- Inventory processes - Know when it's time to re-order a part and have the safeguards in place to identify when a part is out of stock
- Value-added vendor - There are many advantages to using a value-added vendor, from ease of ordering and same-day shipping to technical support and obsolescence planning
- Training of maintenance staff - Ongoing training is imperative to ensuring adherence to processes and staff participation in improvement of these activities
Register now to join Bridget Burkhardt on Tuesday, February 21 at 2 p.m. EST / 11 a.m. PST for an important discussion on spare parts management.
Warehouse operations depend on varying degrees of automation to maintain process efficiencies. Getting product out the door and into customers' hands requires the predictable execution of repetitive tasks - from picking, putting and sorting to shipping, receiving and storage. Even slight deviations from standard processes can put customer serivce levels at risk. And while many operators know that automation will help them avoid these pitfalls, they are unsure about which automation solution is best suited for their business.
In Intelligrated's recent On The Move webinar, titled "Sort it out! Making smart sortation automation decisions," I discussed the full range of sortation automation solutions available for modern distribution and fulfillment operations. Making the move to automation is a difficult decision, requiring careful evaluation of all variables, including:
- Pick density - how closely things are stored together
- Peak to average order volumes
- Number of SKUs, unit movement, orders across SKUs
- Conveyability of product - liquids, fragile, eaches, full cartons
- Customer service levels and delivery commitments
- Orders per day
- The cost and accessibility of labor
- Product volume
- Expected future growth of the company
- CAPEX budget requirements
- ROI expectations
While these are all important factors, order volume is often the first thing operators consider when selecting a sortation automation solution. Unfortunately, there is no cookie cutter equation to help operators select equipment purely based on order volume. Their expectations, key performance indicators and business requirements - now and in the future - are equally important factors.
It's the marriage of people, processes and equipment/automation that drives the automation decisions and solutions required. The investment in automation should provide long-term capacity, including the scalability to grow and adapt to changing requirements. Only then can operators ensure a return on their automation investment.
To help demonstrate the options available to today's DC operators, the webinar presented automation options from entry-level, manual types to sophisticated sortation and conveyance systems. For e-commerce retailers who must sort 25,000 items per hour to fill up to 150,000 orders per day, a state-of-the-art, tilt-tray conveyor and sortation solution is required. But for mail order or catalog companies, voice, GoKart and pick-to-light picking technologies may be just what they need to increase throughput and reduce errors.
To determine which sortation and automation solution is suitable for your operation, please visit our On The Move webinar archives and view this session in its entirety.