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Video blog: March Executive InSight

In his latest video blog, Intelligrated CEO Chris Cole discusses supply chain workforce challenges and the role of labor and technology in fulfillment operations.

Don't miss Intelligrated ProMat seminars

Intelligrated representatives look forward to participating in several educational seminars at this year’s ProMat show in Chicago, March 23-26. These seminars offer valuable insight and tips for material handling systems in distribution operations.

Be sure to stop by and learn how to get the most out of your warehouse operations.

E-commerce is entering a new dimension. Are your conveyors and sorters ready for the challenge?
Monday, March 23 at 12:45 p.m. in ProMat theater D

With several national shipping companies embracing dimensional weight pricing, material handling systems must optimize performance standards to accommodate different packaging types. Learn how to ensure your system can handle the challenge.

WMS + WCS = warehouse execution system
Monday, March 23 at 3:45 p.m. in ProMat theater J

Warehouse execution systems combine software systems with material handling automation for real-time responsiveness, and increased fulfillment accuracy and efficiency. Learn what defines a WMS and WCS versus a warehouse execution system and the top KPIs measured by fulfillment operations.

Using software to maximize your order fulfillment performance
Tuesday, March 24 at 3:45 p.m. in ProMat theater H

Software is becoming an increasingly critical component of order fulfillment success. Learn the various execution software systems and how to combine them to create the best operational solution and increase labor efficiency, productivity and overall throughput.

10 steps to improve operational efficiency
Wednesday, March 25 at 11:15 a.m. in ProMat theater J

Distribution and fulfillment operations experience ongoing business changes that impact customers and the financial bottom line. The challenge lies in identifying and addressing change indicators before operations reach a critical mass of inefficiency. Learn ten important steps to identify change indicators and ensure operational efficiency.

In-booth presentations
Intelligrated Customer Service and Support representatives will host in-booth presentations throughout the day.  These presentations will address best-practices to optimize maintenance and parts programs.

Five building blocks to a successful maintenance program
Monday, March 23 – Wednesday, March 25 at 11 a.m. in booth #2903

All successful maintenance programs are built on solid practices that lead to maximum uptime.  Join Corey Calla, material handling expert, as he shares the five critical building blocks for a successful maintenance program.

The right part at the right time – how to avoid downtime due to part shortage
Monday, March 23 – Wednesday, March 25 at 1 p.m. in booth #2903

Best practices in maintenance can minimize risk and prevent unnecessary downtime.  Join Matt McDermott as he discusses the tools and techniques used in a successful parts program.

Assessing your system – Five signs that your system needs maintenance
Monday, March 23 – Wednesday, March 25 at 2 p.m. in booth #2903

Join Bryan Arnold as he walks through the five leading indicators that a material handling system needs maintenance.

To attend a Customer Service and Support presentation, click here to reserve your seat.

If you still need to register for ProMat and Automate, click here to sign up for your free attendee badge. To arrange a meeting at ProMat or Automate, email info@intelligrated.com.

We hope to see you in Chicago at ProMat booth #2903 and Automate booth #414!

Follow Intelligrated on Twitter and Facebook to stay up-to-date on booth and seminar information during the show.

Join Intelligrated at ProMat and Automate 2015

Only two weeks remain before the 2015 ProMat and Automate shows March 23-26 in the south hall of Chicago’s McCormick Place. Intelligrated looks forward to the nation’s largest materials handling show, where organizers welcome several impressive keynotes to create the best, most productive show yet.

Keynote speakers including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Google for Work director Renee Niemi, will address the future of technology and business operations, while comedian Frank Caliendo is set to entertain for MHI’s 70th anniversary.

Intelligrated’s ProMat booth #2903 will focus on innovative, flexible solutions that provide the accuracy, efficiency and speed required in today’s e-commerce and omnichannel fulfillment operations. Designed as a conceptual distribution center, the booth gives visitors a detailed look at how Intelligrated software, shuttle and conveyor solutions enable efficient operations.

Software solutions

Intelligrated’s warehouse execution systems (WES) and labor management software (LMS) increase accuracy in e-commerce and multichannel operations by managing labor, processes and inventory through real-time reporting and analytics. Picking and voice technologies are on display through mobile cart demonstrations, an integrated put wall and voice kiosks.

Shuttle solutions

The Intelligrated OLS (one-level shuttle) system is a highly efficient AS/RS solution that handles a wide variety of product types and carton sizes for goods-to-operator order fulfillment, just-in-time inventory management, and product sequencing and buffering applications. Capable of storing and retrieving items from single and double-deep storage, the OLS is ideal for operations with a limited available footprint. An in-booth demonstration features several item retrieval sequences. 

Conveyor and sortation systems

Intelligrated’s high-throughput conveyor and fast, accurate sortation systems handle a wide variety of product types including totes and polybags, enabling optimum efficiency in distribution and fulfillment operations. In addition to IntelliSort® cross-belt and sliding shoe sorters, visitors can view demonstrations featuring IntelliQ® accumulation conveyor powered by the innovative Zoneflex Advanced control solution.

Lifecycle services

Intelligrated’s Customer Service and Support (CSS) provides the services, parts and support needed to keep systems running at peak efficiency. 24X7 technical support connects customers to Intelligrated’s expert field service engineers for proven support, while OnTimeParts, the industry’s most comprehensive material handling parts website, makes ordering spare parts easy and efficient.  At the show, representatives from CSS will be on hand to discuss modifications and upgrades to existing systems, maintenance programs and the newly-redesigned OnTimeParts.com.

With their show badge, ProMat attendees can also enter the neighboring Automate show in McCormick Place North. Intelligrated will exhibit at Automate in booth #414 – be sure to visit Intelligrated in both locations. 

If you haven’t already registered for ProMat and Automate, click here to sign up for your free attendee badge.

To arrange a meeting at either show, email info@intelligrated.com.

Stay tuned for a later blog about Intelligrated educational seminars at ProMat. We look forward to seeing you in Chicago!

Three tips to turn a DC into an efficiency center

In the high-stakes distribution and fulfillment landscape, DC operators constantly seek ways to increase operational efficiency while eliminating waste.

Distribution centers continue to face labor challenges, especially retaining quality labor capable of meeting service level requirements for fulfillment accuracy and speed. How can operations overcome a shrinking talent pool and rising labor costs while reducing cost-per-piece in a competitive marketplace?

Don’t forget operational fundamentals

A lack of attention to basic essentials plagues many warehouses. Focusing on operational best practices such as workspace sanitation, slotting upkeep, preventive maintenance and ongoing training builds a foundation for optimized throughput and service quality. The path to correcting fundamentals starts with a daily walk. Observing processes in action and evaluating the how and why of each task highlights opportunities for immediate improvement and can start further investigation into major process enhancements.

Avoid process islands - keep the entire operation in mind

In an effort to satisfy growing demand for a variety of specialized value-added services, today’s DCs host myriad process islands, splintering operations and making it difficult for managers to maintain a comprehensive view of all processes. This causes difficulty in determining staff requirements, measuring productivity and monitoring output to ensure sustained progress from each process that works in harmony with the overall flow path from receiving to shipping. The lesson? Don’t just focus on a single process without considering its effect on the overall operation.

Emphasize workplace relationships as much as the work itself

In addition to basics like safety, lighting, airflow, proper tools and ergonomics, desirable workplaces are built on relationships. The relationship between manager and employee establishes trust and communication vital to operational success. Relationships between associates provide opportunities for mentoring, boosting morale and establishing a culture of success that permeates the operation. Ultimately, empowering staff with the direct, meaningful relationship between their work and the customer’s shopping experience improves job satisfaction and reinforces the importance of performance and quality measures.

For more information on overcoming operational challenges and increasing efficiency in distribution centers, read the Intelligrated Operational efficiency white paper.

Five ways labor management software benefits fulfillment operations during peak season

Take a step back to December 2013. During the last shopping weekend before Christmas, e-commerce sales jumped 37 percent from the year before, challenging retailers and carriers to meet delivery expectations. Fifteen percent of online shoppers who ordered items by retailers’ specified cutoff dates did not receive their packages by Christmas Eve.

To increase capacity during peaks, fulfillment operations commonly employ seasonal labor to cope with increased order volumes. However, determining the right amount of additional labor and getting the most out of staff is challenging. Labor management software (LMS) can forecast workforce requirements, track performance and control labor costs while fostering a culture that incentivizes productivity, self-management and continuous improvement.

See below for five ways LMS benefits operations during peak season:

1. Increase overall productivity and performance

Automated labor tracking frees supervisors to invest time in the workforce and manage for a higher level of productivity. LMS tracking enables operations to evaluate employees and temps in relation to their peers, experience in their current position and other performance benchmarks. Furthermore, labor management systems integrate with mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones to provide actionable tracking information on the floor. This enables supervisors to reconcile on-floor observations with current and historical performance data to address issues in real time.

2. Bolster retention

Driven by LMS, a robust performance management program increases employee retention and job satisfaction. By implementing a structure of accountability that rewards high-performing employees through financial and non-monetary incentives, operations can get more out of their existing skilled workforce and reduce the need for temporary labor.

3. Identify low performing employees earlier

Operations can put new employees on a training curve within the LMS that provides a better understanding of work content and establishes appropriate performance expectations based on time in the facility and projected improvement. Rather than waiting months to determine an employee’s strengths and weaknesses, operations can gauge employee progress and provide coaching, or reassign personnel to alternative functions.

4. Identify training needs

Extensive performance data enables operations to identify high-performing employees and those who require extra attention, leading to process improvements and increased productivity. Supervisors can observe outstanding associates and glean key tactics to implement with the rest of the workforce.

5. Understand staff activity through accurate performance and on-standard percentage data

With fulfillment operations under intense pressure to meet shipping deadlines and satisfy customer expectations, having too little labor is far worse than overstaffing. However, the costs of overstaffing add up over time and discourage maximum productivity from each employee. LMS provides accurate performance and on-standard percentage information that illuminates how staff uses their time. This enables operations to avoid wasted staff with better labor forecasting at a more granular level.

In practice, a fulfillment operation may operate with a permanent staff of 10 employees supplemented by a contract with a temp agency for up to 25 temporary staff members. Using point of sale data, management knows it must complete 15,000 picks the following day. Given the quantity and product mix, LMS forecasting dictates the operation requires 12 pickers and one support employee. The historical tracking and forecasting functionality allows operations to flex workforce based on incoming work, ensuring sufficient staff to meet productivity goals while reducing wasted labor.

Rapid ROI: An LMS pays off

The productivity and efficiency gains from investment in Intelligrated’s GoalPost® LMS can yield positive ROI in the first year of ownership. Factoring in an achievable productivity improvement of six percent for an operation filling an average of 5 million orders per year, GoalPost can save more than 32,600 hours of labor each year. This translates into positive ROI of more than $358,000 in the first year and a cumulative impact of more than $1.2 million over three years.

For more information, read Intelligrated’s white paper, Introducing the Fulfillment Execution System. To learn more about order fulfillment metrics to keep operations up to speed during peaks, read our blog “The holidays are almost here…How is your pick-to-light system doing?

Related media coverage:

When a labor management system makes sense

LMS – No longer just a tool for warehousing

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