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PRODUCTIVITY SOLUTIONS FOR DISTRIBUTION, WAREHOUSING AND MANUFACTURING

mmh.com

® February 2008

IKEA thinks global, acts local page 22

SPECIAL REPORT Jim Leddy (left), IKEA’s expansion manager, and Ed Morris, facility manager in Savannah.

Conveyor update 33 EQUIPMENT BUYING GUIDE

RFID basics 38

INFORMATION MANAGEMENT

Secure your DC 41


In the material handling business, uptime is everything. That’s why Toyota lift trucks are built to the industry’s highest standards of quality. Yet that’s just one aspect of quality we strive to continually improve upon. We realize the planet has a quality of life too, and we’re taking extraordinary measures to improve it. Consider our efforts to improve water quality at Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing. We’ve eliminated 85% of pollutants from the facility’s processed water, and other pollutants have been substantially reduced. Our zero-landfill manufacturing process has eliminated landfill waste disposal and increased our recycling by 70%. Toyota is also doing our part to improve air quality. At our manufacturing plants, we’ve reduced our CO2 emissions by 120,000 tons—that’s roughly equivalent to planting 45,000 trees. And, with the introduction of the 8-Series, we created the world’s cleanest I.C. lift truck. Minimizing our impact on the planet has been part of Toyota’s corporate policy for more than four decades, and it’s taking us to places where no lift truck manufacturer has been before—namely a leadership position in both material handling and environmental stewardship. Number one with people. Number one with the planet. Earth’s #1 lift truck.

IT’S NOT JUST PRODUCTIVITY WE’RE

TAKING TO NEW HEIGHTS.

8 0 0 -2 2 6 - 0 0 0 9 • t o y o t a 8 s e r i e s . c o m

All Toyota 8-Series models count as 0.6 g/bhp-hr (0.8 g/kW-hr) HC+NOx towards California’s end-user fleet average calculation—measures do not apply to diesel configured models. Contact your local dealer for additional information.


Orders by 6:00 PM, Next Day Delivery 28% Productivity Increase Improved Order Accuracy Another logistics result. Nicole Yugovich and the trainers at United Stationers needed higher worker productivity — With over 24,000 SKUs ranging from paper clips to furniture housed at the West Michigan distribution center, the company needed a picking solution that combined the right technologies, level of automation, and the right integrator. The company got all three from Dematic. Their distribution center combines voice pick technology, picking optimization software, and zone routing conveyors. The result is reduced order turnaround time and a higher level of order accuracy. Order accuracy so high, in fact, that Quality Control stations could be eliminated. That’s what we call a logistics result. Visit www.dematic.us/unitedstationers for a system overview.

USinfo@dematic.com www.dematic.com 1-877-725-7500

Continuing the

Tradition

Nicole Yugovich Training Supervisor United Stationers Walker, Michigan


BREAKING NEWS YOU SHOULD KNOW

Crown to distribute Komatsu’s IC lift trucks ELECTRIC LIFT TRUCK MANUFACTURER Crown Equipment Corp. (www.crown. com) recently signed a branding agreement with Komatsu Forklift U.S.A. (www. komatsuforkliftusa.com) to distribute internal combustion (IC) lift trucks. The new brand of IC trucks will be marketed under the name Hamech (pronounced Hay-meck). The products will be based upon Komatsu’s current model range. The move will allow Crown-owned dealers to offer a single brand of IC lift trucks and a consistent level of aftermarket support. All parts orders, service support and warranty for Hamech will be managed by the Crown distribution network, just as they are now for Crown-manufactured products.

Don’t store it; donate it

Go green at NA

IF YOU HAVE SLOW MOVERS gathering dust in your warehouse, consider donating that stagnant inventory to charity. You’ll free up valuable space and earn a tax deduction. The following organizations can help you navigate the donation process: • The National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources (www.naeir.org) • Gifts in Kind International (www.giftsinkind.org) • Educational Assistance Ltd. (www.ealwork.org) • Waste to Charity (www.wastetocharity.org)

SPEAKERS AND EXHIBITORS at NA2008 (www.nashow.com)—the materials handling conference and trade show opening April 21 in Cleveland—are emphasizing the importance of being good to the environment. Here are some of the ways you can “go green” at the show: • Listen to keynote speaker Andrew Winston describe how smart companies turn green into gold • Attend seminars on green topics presented by Manhattan Associates, CHEP, Norseman Plastics, the U.S. Postal Service and others • Visit the Zap booth and check out the company’s electric truck

Excel acquires Prest Rack EXCEL STORAGE PRODUCTS (www.usprack.com), the manufacturer of United Steel Products (USP) brand pallet rack, has acquired rack manufacturer Prest Rack. The acquisition expands Excel’s product line to include cantilever rack and mezzanine systems. It also gives the company a wider geographic reach. Pennsylvaniabased Excel has been primarily an Eastern company; adding South Dakota-based Prest Rack will expand Excel’s business in the Midwest and Great Plains regions. Consolidation appears to be a trend in the rack industry: Unarco Materials Handling acquired competitor Kingway last spring, Mecalux has announced plans to buy Interlake Material Handling, and a spokesperson says Excel is likely to make further acquisitions. mmh.com

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WA R E H O U S E

C O N T R O L

S Y S T E M S

FKI Logistex Warehouse Software Suite. - Flexible Process Management - Scalable Software - Improved Accuracy and Performance - ERP and WMS Augmentation

The Choice is Clear. FKI Logistex redefines material and information management with the versatile, new Warehouse Software Suite. Incorporating proven material handling, order management, order fulfillment, and operational visibility solutions, our Warehouse Software Suite improves warehouse and distribution center accuracy and performance. The Warehouse Software Suite is flexible — integrate it as a complete warehouse execution system, or choose individual modules to meet your unique needs. To learn more about the Warehouse Software Suite, call 877-935-4564 or visit www.fkilogistex.com/WSS today! ©2008 FKI Logistex. All rights reserved.

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VOL. 63, NO. 2

®

PRODUCTIVITY SOLUTIONS FOR DISTRIBUTION, WAREHOUSING AND MANUFACTURING

Ed Morris (left), facility manager in Savannah, and Jim Leddy, IKEA’s expansion manager

COVER STORY SYSTEM REPORT

22 IKEA thinks global, acts local IKEA’s new DC employs a global warehouse design and best practices to serve a growing regional market.

Modern Thinking by Curtis McConnell, p. 54

DEPARTMENTS & COLUMNS

29 IKEA’s new style: automation The home furnishing giant reduced the turnaround to stores from 72 hours to 24 hours while taking nearly 700 miles out of the process.

5/ Upfront 9/ Andel on Handling 19/ From the Advisory Board

FEATURES

21/ Lift Truck Tips: Man-up order pickers

SPECIAL REPORT

33 Conveyors: Getting better all the time A few of the country’s leading conveyor suppliers discuss recent innovations that differentiate their conveyor and sortation offerings. EQUIPMENT BUYING GUIDE

54/ Modern Thinking

NEWS 11/ Looking for a few good workers

38 RFID basics

12/ Manufacturing sector reeling, but not out

An introduction to the tags, readers and software that make up an RFID system.

14/ Caption contest: Imperfectly Frank

INFORMATION MANAGEMENT

41 10 steps to a more secure DC With security high on priority lists, here are 10 ways information technology and materials handling can help you create a more secure DC. BEST PRACTICES

44 Keeping hard-earned hires Hiring the right materials handlers is hard enough. Keeping them is the bigger challenge. Keep them on your management track instead. PRODUCTIVITY SOLUTION

47 Bi-Rite raises voice By adopting voice picking, this foodservice distributor improved order accuracy more than 90%, increased productivity and reduced costs. mmh.com

Modern Materials Handling® (ISSN 0026-8038, (GST # 123397457), is published monthly, except October when published semi-monthly by Reed Business Information, 8878 Barrons Blvd., Highlands Ranch, CO 80129-2345. Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier, is located at 360 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10014. Tad Smith, CEO. Circulation records are maintained at Reed Business Information, 8878 Barrons Blvd., Highlands Ranch, CO 80129-2345. Phone (303) 470-4445. Periodicals Postage Paid at Littleton, CO 80126 and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Modern Materials Handling, P.O. Box 7500, Highlands Ranch, CO 80163-7500. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40685520. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: RCS International, Box 697 STN A, Windsor Ontario N9A 6N4. E-mail: Subsmail@ReedBusiness.com. Please address all subscription mail to Modern Materials Handling, 8878 Barrons Blvd., Highlands Ranch, CO 80129-2345. Rates for non-qualified subscriptions:US $110/yr. Printed in U.S.A. Modern Materials Handling® is a registered trademark of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc. used under license.

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Performance.

Reliability.

Durability.

Raymond performance. Depend on it.

Always.

You can pick more orders faster with the AC-powered 5000 Series orderpickers, part of the full line of reliable Raymond trucks that are helping our customers make their ®

operations more productive than ever. 5000 Series orderpickers come equipped with our exclusive ACR System . The ACR System is one more reason why thousands of lift truck ™

users are getting more uptime and lower costs with productive Raymond equipment. Put Raymond performance to work for you. Contact your Raymond dealer today. Visit www.raymondcorp.com or call 1-800-235-7200. ©2007 The Raymond Corporation, Greene, NY.


A NDE L on H a ndl ing ®

TOM ANDEL,

EDITORIAL OFFICES 225 WYMAN STREET Waltham, MA 02451 (781) 734-8000 Tom Andel Editor in Chief tom.andel@reedbusiness.com Noël P. Bodenburg Managing Editor noel.bodenburg@reedbusiness.com Corinne Kator Associate Editor corinne.kator@reedbusiness.com Bob Trebilcock Editor at Large robert.trebilcock@verizon.net Sara Pearson Specter Editor at Large sara@moxiemarketingllc.com Roberto Michel Editor at Large robertomichel@charter.net Robert Eckhardt Senior Art Director Daniel Guidera Senior Art Director/ Illustration Norman Graf Director of Creative Services

Kevin McPherson Group Publisher Michael Levans Group Editorial Director EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Ron Giuntini OEM Product-Services Institute John Hill eSync Susan Rider Rider & Assoc. Ken Ruehrdanz Dematic Dr. John Usher University of Louisville Col. Alan B. Will 2d Marine Logistics Group Brett Wood Toyota Material Handling USA

BOSTON DIVISION Mark Finkelstein President REED BUSINESS INFORMATION Tad Smith Chief Executive Officer John Poulin Chief Financial Officer & Executive Vice President MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS FREE magazine subscriptions available at: www.getFREEmag.com/MMH Send magazine subscription inquiries to: 8878 Barrons Blvd Highlands Ranch, CO 80129-2345 Phone: 303-470-4445 Fax: 303-470-4280 E-mail: subsmail@reedbusiness.com SUBSCRIPTIONS Keep up with the latest industry news and resources—sign-up for our FREE eNewsletters at: www.mmh.com/subscribe.asp

EDITOR IN CHIEF

The challenge isn’t the fish. It’s the bait. While I was interviewing people for this month’s feature on hiring, a common theme emerged: It’s hard to find and keep people who want to work in a warehouse—especially young people. The stereotype is that warehouse jobs are for box-kickers. Dead-enders. Name one person who got anywhere worthwhile through a warehouse. You’re looking at one. Warehousing and shipping jobs gave me my start in the working world. I learned MH-101 in the shipping room of the William Tricker Co., a tropical fish and plant supplier in my hometown of Independence, Ohio. Even in the 70s this company had a healthy mail order business. It was my job to prepare koi and giant goldfish for their adventures aboard a big brown truck. That meant netting them out of a tank, pouring them into a plastic bag, oxygenating them, sealing the bag, boxing the bag, sealing, labeling and weighing it, and applying the appropriate postage. Humble beginnings for me, and I hope not an ending for those exotic creatures. It wasn’t all about shipping fish. I was lucky enough to serve Tricker customers who visited the store. Meeting customers helped me do a better job for our mail order customers. It helped me make the transition from box filler to service provider. That lesson has stayed with me to this day. Now I’m not only writing about the kind of people who work for companies like Tricker’s, but I’m writing for them. We’re netting our stories, giving them air, wrapping them for delivery, and hoping the package that ends up on your desk contains viable product. Just as materials handling taught me to associate a customer with each name on the boxes in a shipping room, I now think about the person receiving our editorial package. I hope the people on Modern’s receiving end are doing the same for their customers—and for the people they’re trying to hire. What image comes to mind when you’re writing a want ad to fill a slot in your warehouse or DC? Many employers looking for materials handlers don’t know how to attract the kind of young talent they’re crying for. Just as materials handling is an art, so is describing what a materials handler does. The Warehousing Education and Research Council (www.WERC.org) just came out with “A Guide for Establishing Warehouse Job Descriptions.” Under Appendix C, WERC offers some phrases that will help draw the kind of person you have in mind. Do the following phrases match what you have to offer? • Keeps updated on new products and processes; • Quickly learns to operate new equipment and computer systems; • Crosstrains in functions other than one’s primary role; • Keeps up with industry trends and updates knowledge appropriately (e.g., export knowledge, use of automated equipment, advances in technology, e-commerce, etc.) These are the opportunities that draw talented people. Do they match what you offer? If not, you can either re-write your want ad or rethink what’s wanted. The second option will probably yield a better catch.

ENEWSLETTER

Member

mmh.com

Official Publication of

Member of

Winner Jesse H. Neal Certificates of Merit for Journalistic Excellence

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mmh.com work jobsinlogistics.com jobsinmanufacturing.com cscmp.org/career/resources.asp logipros.com play funny-games.biz/forklift-frenzy.html jvdbconsulting.com/warehousinggame.htm

RECRUITMENT

Looking for a few good workers FORMER MARINES HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO BE EXCELLENT MATERIALS HANDLING EMPLOYEES, AND A NEW NONPROFIT GROUP IS TEAMING UP WITH MHIA TO HELP YOU RECRUIT THEM. BY CORINNE KATOR, ASSOCIATE EDITOR

I

F YOU’RE LOOKING for employees for your materials handling operations, you may want to consider hiring former Marines—and the Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA, www.mhia.org) can help you find them. MHIA has invited the Marine Civilian Development Program (MCDP, www.marinecdp.com) to make a presentation during its upcoming trade show, NA 2008 (www.nashow. com). The goal is to get trade show exhibitors and attendees to enroll their companies as MCDP corporate partners so they can more easily find and hire former Marines. The MCDP is a nonprofit group that helps Marines transition to civilian life. The heart of the program is a series of classes that offer tools and techniques for making a successful transition to the private sector. After the courses, MCDP staff members make connections between specific Marines and corporate partners who may want to hire them. The link between MHIA and the MCDP is Allan Howie, a member of MHIA’s staff who teaches a semi-annual “Fundamentals of Warehousing” class for the Marine Corps. Howie knows good materials handling employees are getting hard to find,

mmh.com

and he believes former Marines are excellent job candidates. “If all Marines are typical of the young people I taught in the class, then they would make outstanding employees,” says Howie. “They have an excellent work ethic. They’re disciplined and attentive, as well as being quite personable. I’ve never enjoyed anything as much as I enjoyed working with them.” Marine Col. Alan Will, a member of Modern’s advisory board, says the Marine Corps trains warehouse and

logistics personnel at all levels. Those who enter the Marines right from high school often work on the warehouse floor, processing inbound and outbound freight. Those who join the Marines with a college degree can become warehouse managers. Marines stationed at modern facilities, says Will, gain valuable experience with technologies such as conveyors, carousels, warehouse management systems, bar codes and RFID tags. If you are interested in recruiting former Marines with logistics or other

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Perfect Containers to fit your needs

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Please call Flexcon for help in selecting the perfect containers and/or pallets to help make your material handling system 100% efficient! Ask for our New Free Guide To Material Handling Containers & Pallets.

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2 0 0 8 / MO D E RN MATE R IALS HA NDL ING

experience, you can attend the MCDP information session at 8:30 a.m. on Wed., April 23, at the NA 2008 show in Cleveland. Howie encourages you to bring a member of your company’s human resources staff with you. ECONOMICS

Manufacturing sector reeling, but not out AFTER 10 CONSECUTIVE MONTHS of expansion, economic activity in the manufacturing sector hit the ceiling in December, according to the latest Manufacturing ISM Report on Business (www.ism.ws). The report, issued by Norbert J. Ore, C.P.M., chair of the Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, also indicates the overall economy grew for the 74th consecutive month. Add to that his projection that GDP will grow in the coming months, and there’s reason to be cautiously optimistic. There’s enough of a downside for pessimists to appreciate as well. “We’ll probably get a GDP in the 2% to 2.5% growth rate in 2008,” he says. “The problem from a manufacturing standpoint is at 2% in overall GDP growth, manufacturing is pretty much stagnant. Growth has to be above 2% for manufacturing to grow.” Seven industries did report growth in December: apparel, leather and allied products; petroleum and coal products; food, beverage and tobacco products; computer and electronic products; machinery; primary metals; and miscellaneous manufacturing. One respondent’s comments summarized the core problem: “Business is good, but higher raw material prices are squeezing margins,” this manager from the primary metals market says. The big question is: What will happen to inventories? Ore notes that in October the Federal Reserve said the customer inventories index was starting to show signs of too much inventory in the supply chains, and it was one of the reasons for an interest rate cut. “Inventory managers have to decide if their sales forecast is realistic for the inventory levels they’re trying to maintain,” Ore says. “I always look at the short supply list. If there’s nothing on it, you have no reason to run a large inventory. You have to balance availability against the probability for the economy for 2008.” Is the economy near a recession? Ore says no, noting that although the December purchasing manager’s index (PMI) registered 48.4% (a decrease of 1.6 points when compared to November’s 50.0%), ISM’s data would have to be below 50 for six consecutive months to qualify as a manufacturing recession. “Global demand will keep us from an overall recession,” he concludes. “We have Fed rate cuts coming in the spring, and when the Fed cuts rates, it takes about six to nine months to get through the economy. We still have a weak dollar which is in favor of U.S. manufacturers.”— Tom Andel mmh.com


How square tube technology can reduce operating costs and increase profit. It’s all about delivering more useable power. Like 15% more. So your trucks run faster, lift quicker and run longer.

The Ironclad Effect It’s the unique, square tubular design that maintains higher voltages longer than conventional flat plate or round tube batteries. The result: more work gets done.

1.800.EnerSys | www.enersysmp.com

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UPDATE

January issue update • IN JANUARY’S COVER STORY on AmerisourceBergen, a company was inadvertently left out of our list of suppliers. Morrison Co. (www.mor-

risoncompany.com) was the integrator involved in the original system design. Morrison selected the materials handling vendors (Interlake, Wildeck, Creative Storage Solutions, Western Pacific Deluxe Shelving) and ordered and installed the storage systems for

Leverage Our Strength In Numbers to Improve Yours…

the original six DCs. We regret the company’s exclusion. • The Modern Thinking column in last month’s issue was based on an exclusive interview with Andrew Winston, author of “Green to Gold.” He’ll be the keynote speaker at NA 2008 in Cleveland on April 22. Modern will also be offering a series of Webcasts on various aspects of environmental sustainability in coming months. Stay tuned.

Imperfectly Frank

CARTOON BY JERRY KING

Greater Selection. Uncompromising Quality. Superior Customer Care. Want more ways to strengthen your material handling performance and lower costs? Look no further than the industry-leading line of reusable Collapsible Bulk Containers from Buckhorn, which now includes the XT Series, formerly Xytec, and IBC products acquired from Schoeller Arca. Attention to design and quality ensures flexibility for any application, saving you both time and money. And if we don’t have the exact container your program requires, our unrivaled custom design and manufacturing resources can respond with innovations that will surprise you! Boost your material handling performance and the numbers on your bottom line by taking advantage of Buckhorn’s strength. To find out more. . .

Call 1-800-543-4454 or visit www.buckhorninc.com/strength

© 2007 Buckhorn/Myers Industries #07078

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WELCOME TO “Imperfectly Frank,” Modern’s new interactive cartoon series where our readers are the writers. Although there’s a writers’ strike in Hollywood, we know there are plenty of frustrated gag writers (and just plain wiseguys and gals) in our readership who’ve seen their share of occupational bloopers. Now’s your chance to exercise (or exorcise) the satirist within you. Every month we’ll publish a new “Imperfectly Frank” cartoon at www.mmh.com/cartoon. All you have to do is think up a caption and enter it in our contest. We’ll select the best caption and publish it in a future issue of Modern Materials Handling. Visit www.mmh.com/cartoon before the end of February and tell us what’s so funny. mmh.com


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Spiralveyor

®

“Ambaflex leads the way up or down with innovative spiral elevator solutions.”

people to know

Matt Wicks

Michael Bell

Kim Baudry joined AL Systems as director of client development…Automatic Systems appointed Michael Hoehn president and COO…Joseph DeLuca joined the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals as director of marketing…FKI Logistex named Matt Wicks vice president of systems engineering for the company’s Manufacturing Systems group and Michael Bell manager of customer service for FKI Logistex Canada…HK Systems appointed John Hines president of its new division, HK Production Logistics…Linde Material Handling appointed Theodor Maurer to its management board…Raymond Corp. named David Furman vice president of marketing…Ed Jones joined consulting firm TranSystems | ESYNC…White Systems named Peter Youngs vice president of sales and marketing and Jack Kuppersmith director of business development.

company news

David Furman

Jungheinrich is constructing a new plant in Landsberg, Germany…Metrologic Instruments joined AIM Global… Ridg-U-Rak received two patents on its base isolation system used with storage racks in seismic applications… Vocollect announced its voice-based applications are now compatible with devices from LXE and Psion Teklogix.

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FROM THE

ADVISORYBOARD A treasure of talent

Susan Rider Rider & Associates

The strongest prospects for DC positions are often buried in plain sight. ne of the topics covered in this edition of Modern is near and dear to my heart: hiring the best talent to staff a distribution network. This has become a problem for managers in many industries, and is exacerbated by employers that don’t take pains to vet their prospects. For example, many retailers hire from a kiosk without relevant interpersonal interaction. This makes it harder and harder to recruit and retain workers in the distribution center. To deepen the talent pool, many companies are turning to state-funded training programs for help in training non-qualified workers. Many states offer training grants to corporate employers in order to make chronically unemployed individuals viable candidates. Even at the federal level, through the U.S. Department of Labor you can take advantage of a “One-Stop Career Center,” which offers access to qualified workers as well as to federal, state and local resources. There are more than 3,200 centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico (visit www.servicelocator.org or call 877-US2-JOBS). You may have been overlooking qualified workers who are readily available in your region. For instance, stay-at-home moms are a great untapped resource. Many employers are flexing their hours to allow mothers to come to work after dropping the kids off at school— and to leave in time to pick them up. These creative solutions open DCs up to a quality work force they never realized was available. Another alternative is senior workers or retired personnel. Students also represent fresh talent, but require flexibility to work around school hours. If you are in or around educational facilities, participate in or create your own job fairs. Many companies have set up booths at malls to attract people they otherwise would not have reached. Of course hiring is just the first hurdle. The next one is retaining that talent. Tom Andel’s article on page 44 addresses that challenge. I know that because I know one of the people interviewed for it: Anthony Roden, vice president of distribution at Dollar General. He has developed employees all the way from order filling through general management. Anthony is convinced that

O

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work must be both fulfilling and fun if you want to keep workers working for you. I first met Anthony 15 years ago. He was looking at an order picking solution for his distribution center. They bought a solution that didn’t give them the productivity enhancements they wanted and it wasn’t as intuitive for their associates. I sold them a pick-tolight system. This facility was in a rural area, so the local talent pool was stocked with housewives as well as people without college educations. Anthony wanted to make sure these new hires had the tools to start them on the road to success at Dollar General. It worked. He doubled their productivity with the help of automation and training. Anthony believes I’m convinced technology vendors must also take technology plays responsibility for training their clients’ an important role employees on their in attracting and systems. Training means these people retaining talent in a can correctly execute the operation of the distribution center equipment and software. Working with environment. clients like Anthony helped me develop that philosophy as I evolved my own career from technology implementation to consulting. I’m convinced technology plays an important role in attracting and retaining talent in a distribution center environment. Even when there is staff turnover, properly trained talent will aid in the transition by passing on their domain knowledge to the new hires. Whatever talent you’re seeking, don’t take hiring shortcuts. Every phase of the selection process should have a plan. It begins with sourcing, diligent screening, testing, focused interviews and reference checks. Employers desperate to fill positions often cut these processes short and doom themselves with problem results. Susan Rider can be contacted at susanrider@msn.com

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LIFT TRUCK TIPS High-level order picking Operator-up lift trucks require a skilled touch to ensure safety and productivity. BY TOM ANDEL, EDITOR IN CHIEF

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ith SKUs multiplying and warehouses and distribution centers trying to keep expansion in check, racking is getting higher. Putaway and picking in this environment are jobs for operator-up order pickers. Here’s a Top 10 list to help you maintain peak performance. Ensure proper operator training. That means obeying all warnings, cautions and instructions in the operator manual and on the order picker. Training must be site- and vehicle-specific. Pay special attention to training on the controls. A joystick could have multiple functions. Learning to feather these controls will result in smoother, continuous, more productive movement. A daily checklist should include visual and operational inspection of the battery, wheels and tires, lift-lower system, control handles, steering, horn, deadman pedal and more. You should also establish a pre-operational checklist—completed by every operator who takes charge of the vehicle during the course of a day. Operators should report any malfunction or unsafe condition and not operate the order picker until it is repaired. Guarantee proper fall protection. This is usually a full-body harness with a fixed-length or retractable tether. The harness must be securely fastened to the operator’s torso. For best safety, each operator should have his or her own, to accommodate their frame. The harness must be securely fas-

6. 7.

1.

8. 9.

2.

3. 4.

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cause the load to shift, resulting in a tip-over. Elevate the operator platform for order picking only, watching for overhead obstructions. Avoid making turns while the platform is elevated with a load. Consider installing lights and fans on the order picker. Lighting levels are generally good near the warehouse ceiling, but diminish considerably at the floor. Fans help keep the operator comfortable at higher elevations. Consider wire guidance. It allows higher travel speeds, thus increasing the number of picks per shift. It also enables you to decrease the aisle width to only 10 inches wider than the order picker, thus enabling extra storage capacity. Consider forward and reverse motion alarms for operations with wider aisles where there may also be pedestrian traffic. These would warn people when the vehicle travels. If a pallet is used, make sure the order-picking vehicle’s alligator clamp securely engages the center stringer so the pallet won’t move forward if stepped on. The pallet should be in good repair, double-faced with a center stringer and should not contain undersized stringers or boards.

Putaway and picking on high racking is a job for an operator-up order picker. Operators on these trucks need to take special care to ensure safety and productivity.

tened to the tether and the tether securely fastened to the designated tie-off point on the machine. Also, teach the operator how to fall if they should have an accident. They should never fall away from the unit or they could pull the vehicle over and on top of them. Do not overload the order picker or handle unstable or loosely stacked loads. This may

5.

10.

Information for this column was contributed by Susan Comfort, director of order picker and very narrow aisle products at The Raymond Corporation (www.raymondcorp.com) and Jim Shephard, president of Shephard’s Industrial Training Systems (www. shephardsystems.com).

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IKEA thinks global acts local IKEA’s new DC employs a global warehouse design and best practices to serve a growing regional market. By Bob Trebilcock, Editor at Large

T

hink globally, act locally. That’s how IKEA Wholesale approached its new 750,000 square foot distribution center in Port Wentworth, Ga., located near the port of Savannah. In fact, three principles came into play in the facility design, according to Jim Leddy, IKEA’s expansion manager for North America and Ed Morris, manager of the Georgia DC. 22

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modern SYSTEM REPORT

First: Recognition that IKEA is a global company. “We incorporated a design based on a model used by similar DCs around the globe,” explains Morris. Second: Location. While the DC design is global, the facility’s location allows it to quickly deliver fast-moving products to IKEA stores in local markets in the southeastern United States including North Carolina, Florida and Texas. That proximity not only improves service times, it reduces transportation costs. Third: Automation. While IKEA operates highly automated facilities in other countries, this is the first in North America. In this case, the DC was designed around a 13-crane automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) (viastore, 616-656-8876, www.viastore.com) featuring a 100 foottall high-bay in-house rack system. At full operation, the system can process 600 pallets an hour, or nearly one pallet per minute from each crane. The combination of those factors has reduced the turnaround on orders to the stores from 72 hours to 24 hours while taking nearly 700 miles out of the distance from the DC to the stores and from the port to the DC. “As we increase the number of stores and the volume being handled in that facility, our ROI will improve because of the increased throughput in the system,” says Morris. The location and design will also allow IKEA to double the capacity as the company continues to open stores.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY PAUL NURNBERG

Ed Morris (left), facility manager in Savannah, and Jim Leddy, IKEA’s expansion manager.

Location, location, location The world’s largest home furnishing company, IKEA is known for contemporary designs, affordable prices and loyal customers. Before the new DC was built, IKEA had just two stores along the southeastern seaboard – one in Atlanta and one in Virginia. Those stores were supported by a DC in Perryville, Md. But, IKEA is in growth mode. “We have to have a distribution strategy that can support our growing retail operations,” says Leddy. “We’re


modern SYSTEM REPORT

Velocity is key. Containers are received, unloaded and palletized within 48 hours of arrival at the port.

opening stores in Florida and Charlotte, N.C., plus we have three existing stores in Texas.” Port Wentworth was chosen because of its proximity to Savannah, just four miles from the largest deepwater port on the East Coast with room to grow. “Since the majority of our product is received via ocean freight, we bought on port property,” says Leddy, who oversees site selection and property development for IKEA in North America. The Port Wentworth facility allowed IKEA to create a new distribution strategy. The Perryville facility now handles low-volume products for the entire eastern half of the United States. Meanwhile, regional DCs, like Port Wentworth, can handle the fastestmoving products sold by the stores serviced by those DCs. “We’re putting the higher volume products that much closer to the market, which reduces our transportation time, and reduces the total distance we need to travel to support the stores,” says Leddy. A global design Just as important as the location was the design, which is based on successful implementations at other IKEA distribution centers around the globe, right down to the three pallet designs used 24

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Once palletized, products are conveyed to a putaway aisle in the AS/RS.

for storage on racks and in the AS/RS: • a standard Euro pallet • a half pallet, and • an IKEA pallet, which is an oversized Euro pallet. In part, thinking globally allows IKEA to use standardized packaging for shipping. “We control our product pipeline, so we design our products around

The AS/RS features 13 crane aisles and stores pallets 100 feet high.

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these three standard pallet sizes,” says Leddy. “The idea is that no matter where our product is manufactured, it can be shipped to any of our facilities anywhere in the world.” But, adds Morris, there are other operational benefits to using a global design. “With global DC designs in place, we are designing standard operating procedures within those models,” explains Morris. “When that happens, there will only be one way to work when a new DC opens in the future, with local exceptions, of course.” In addition, standard processes and designs enable IKEA to apply the results of pilot projects across the organization, creating exponential improvements. “When you try something new you can determine if it makes sense to adapt that process in other facilities,” says Morris. Standardization also creates opportunities to benchmark performance across the enterprise. “If one facility is struggling, it’s easier to look at their metrics and pinpoint where a problem might be coming from,” says Morris. “And if one facility is outperforming the others, we can see what they’re doing differently and apply that to other operations.” Finally, as a global company, standard business processes facilitate movement within the organization. “We have people who move from Europe to mmh.com


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modern SYSTEM REPORT

Pallets are transported to and from the AS/RS and rack storage areas by lift truck.

America and America to Europe,” says Morris. “Standard DC designs and processes make it much easier to transfer knowledge within the organization.” Automate for productivity and efficiency Several factors led to IKEA’s decision to open its first highly automated facility in North America. The first was the tightening labor market facing almost every company

In developing a global DC, IKEA uses three standard pallets for storage and shipment worldwide. 26

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Once a pallet is retrieved from the AS/RS it is staged at the shipping area for delivery.

operating a large-scale DC. “We recognize that driving a lift truck up and down storage aisles is a pretty mundane job,” says Leddy. “Automation will allow us to increase our throughput without the need for additional co-workers in a tough labor market.” Likewise, taking advantage of the height of the building enables IKEA to support the growing U.S. operations in the southeast. The fact that more than 90% of the facility’s volume is full-pallet-in/full-pallet-out also led to the choice of an automated storage and retrieval system. That system, as well as conventional receiving and putaway processes, is further optimized through task interleaving. Each time a crane puts away a pallet in a storage location, it simultaneously retrieves a pallet to fill an order. Likewise, the warehouse management system (WMS) directs operators on the floor to the next available task so that a lift truck is never traveling empty: An operator who has just dropped off a pallet for putaway at the AS/RS, or who has put away a pallet in the pallet rack, is directed to the nearest pallet available to fill an order at the receiving dock. Using an automated storage solution has also resulted in more accurate inventory. “Because the system is so automated, you have very tight control

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over your inventory,” says Morris. “It’s the best auditor we could possibly find.” While the AS/RS is the most visible automated system in the facility, IKEA looked for other opportunities to implement automation. One of those was a fast-charging system to replace the traditional battery changing room. “We knew that each worker was losing 20 to 30 minutes a day for battery changes,” says Morris. “You multiply that by lift truck drivers, and we were losing about 45 hours a day plus the cost of a battery maintenance crew and battery charging time.” Morris adds that this was the first 100% fast-charging facility, but that change is expected to deliver savings of $125,000 a year just from lost time changing batteries. As the facility begins its second full year in operation, Morris and Leddy say it has met or exceeded all of the goals IKEA set. In fact, IKEA is so pleased with the results that it’s implementing the same design in Tacoma, Wash., next year with plans to open another at a later date in Joliet, Ill. “We have reduced our lead time to the stores and reduced our transportation costs,” says Morris. “As we take on more volume this year, we expect this to be our highest-performing DC in North America.” mmh.com


89<KK<I@;<8@J?<I<% Steelpac introduces reusable steel pallets that provide greater stability and cargo protection than wood or plastic. The strength of steel means you get reliable performance, turn after turn â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and the longest life cycle of any pallet available. Lightweight, rackable and stackable, Steelpac pallets help reduce operational costs and improve efďŹ ciency throughout the entire shipping process. steelpacpallets.com 717.851.0333


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Bringing the Best Together

©2007 Baldor Electric Company


modern SYSTEM REPORT

IKEA’s new style: automation 1

By Bob Trebilcock, Editor at Large

Receiving/shipping docks

The home furnishing giant reduced the turnaround to stores from 72 hours to 24 hours while taking nearly 700 miles out of the process.

2

3 Floor storage

7

Output conveyors

s retail operations expand in the southeastern United States, IKEA’s Georgia facility is designed around a 13-crane automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) 5 that minimizes the labor required for putaway and picking, and a 100-foot tall racking system that optimizes space and provides room for growth. The majority of the product is received via ocean freight through the port of Savannah, located four miles from the facility. IKEA receives an advanced shipment notification (ASN) once product is on the water and is notified again when containers are available for pick up. The goal is to receive and unload a container within 48 hours of arrival at the port. When containers arrive at the DC, they are processed at the receiving docks 1 according to the requirement for the product and where it’s going to be stored in the facility. Product arrives in the containers on slipsheets or paper shipping pallets. Those are unloaded and strapped for safety purmmh.com

Floor storage

7

6 4

4

6

5

Conventional rack

Conventional rack

AS/RS

6 Conveyor infeed

A

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Receiving/shipping area

Floor storage

1 Receiving/shipping docks

IKEA Wholesale Inc. Port Wentworth, Ga. SIZE: 750,000 square feet PRODUCTS: Home furnishings SKUS: 3,500 THROUGHPUT: 600 pallets per hour at full

capacity SHIFTS: 1 shift, 7 days EMPLOYEES: 140

poses onto one of three standard-sized permanent pallets used for storage in the facility. In the receiving area 2 , an operator verifies that the supplier, product and quantity received are accurate. Once the information is verified, a pallet label is printed and applied. The pallet is

now received in the warehouse management system (WMS) and queued for putaway. A lift truck driver scans the ID label. If a pallet is going to be crossdocked, the driver is directed to a floor storage area 3 near a dock door. The driver deposits the pallet and scans a bar code embedded in the floor. The pallet is now released into that area. If the pallet is stored in the conventional rack area 4 , the driver scans the rack location to confirm the putaway. Meanwhile, product stored in the AS/ RS 5 is delivered to a conveyor infeed station 6 . When the driver scans the bar code at the station, responsibility for the pallet is taken over by the AS/ RS, which manages the pallet putaway. In all three cases, the WMS uses

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modern SYSTEM REPORT System suppliers task interleaving, assigning the driver another task from that area to minimize empty travel time. For example, a driver putting away a pallet to the conventional rack area will pick up a pallet for the shipping area 2 . Storing and picking The vast majority of the outbound orders involve full pallet picks. Stores serviced by the DC order the inventory they need. IKEAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s planners create order batches based on store pick up times, which vary according to the weight and volume of the orders and the trip distance to a store. To pick orders from the conventional rack storage area 4 , a driver is directed to a storage location by the WMS. After picking the pallet, the driver delivers it to a floor storage area 3 , where he scans the pallet ID and a bar code embedded in the floor. The pallet is now available for outbound shipment 1 .

AUTOMATED STORAGE/RETRIEVAL SYSTEM: viastore, 616-656-8876, www. viastore.com BAR CODE SCANNING: Motorola, 866416-8545, www.symbol.com CONVENTIONAL PALLET RACK: UNARCO, 800-862-7261, www.unarcorack.com CONVEYORS: Binder & Company AG, 433112-800-0 (Austria), www.binder-co.at FAST-CHARGING BATTERY SYSTEM: PosiCharge, 866-767-4242, www. posicharge.com HIGH BAY PALLET RACK: Frazier Industrial, 800-614-4162, www.frazier.com LIFT TRUCKS: Yale Materials Handling, 800-233-9253, www.yale.com SYSTEM INTEGRATOR: WEI West, 909902-9880, www.weinet.com/WEi-West.asp WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM: Consafe Logistics, 44-1952-602752 (UK), www.consafelogistics.com

Meanwhile, each crane in the AS/RS is simultaneously storing and picking pallets. Outbound pallets are delivered 5

to one of two output conveyors 7 at each crane; each output station can hold four pallets. At the output conveyor, the driver scans a pallet ID and is directed to a floor storage area 3 at the dock 1 . The facility ships a limited number of mixed pallet orders. Those are picked from pallets stored on the floor in a special area 3 designated for carton picking. As cartons are picked to a pallet, the lift truck driver prints and applies an order label. When the pallet is complete, it is delivered to a floor area 3 near a dock 1 . To load a trailer, a lift truck driver scans a pallet in the floor area 3 near a dock door 1 and loads it in a trailer. Each time a pallet ID is scanned, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s removed from the list of pallets for that order until the trailer is full. At that point, a supervisor verifies that the order is complete and releases it in the system for delivery to a store.

7Â&#x2026;>Ă&#x152;iĂ&#x203A;iĂ&#x20AC;Ă&#x160;Ă&#x17E;Â&#x153;Ă&#x2022;Ă&#x20AC;Ă&#x160;Ă&#x192;Ă&#x2022;ÂŤÂŤÂ?Ă&#x17E;Ă&#x160;VÂ&#x2026;>Â&#x2C6;Â&#x2DC;Ă&#x160;Â&#x201C;Â&#x153;Ă&#x203A;iĂ&#x192;]Ă&#x160; Â&#x201C;Â&#x153;Ă&#x203A;iĂ&#x160;Â&#x2C6;Ă&#x152;Ă&#x160;Â&#x153;Â&#x2DC;Ă&#x160;>Ă&#x160; >Â&#x2DC;Â&#x2DC;Â&#x153;Â&#x2DC; >Ă&#x20AC;Ă&#x152; /



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modern SPECIAL REPORT

Conveyors

Getting better all the time Modern checked in with engineers at a few of the country’s leading conveyor suppliers to discuss recent innovations that enhance and differentiate their conveyor and sortation offerings. By Corinne Kator, Associate Editor

C

onveyor systems have been around so long that it’s easy to think of them as a commodity and assume all systems are alike. But after decades of use, conveyors are still not an entirely mature technology. The engineers who design today’s conveyor and sortation systems are constantly dreaming up new ways to make their company’s products more durable, faster, simpler to install and easier to maintain. Modern spoke to engineers at eight of the country’s leading conveyor suppliers and asked them to discuss specific engineering details that enhance their company’s technology and make it a standout solution for their customers. Durability Many conveyor systems run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This constant operation puts belts,

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motors and other system components under considerable stress. But conveyor suppliers know their customers can’t tolerate the unexpected downtime required to fix a broken system, so they do all they can to improve product durability. Hytrol (870-935-3700, www.hytrol.com), for example, recently introduced 24-volt DC roller technology designed specifically with durability in mind. “The industry is moving more and more toward 24-volt,” says Boyce Bonham, manager of quality assurance for Hytrol, “but the life expectancy hasn’t been as good as we’d like in motorized roller.” Traditional 24-volt conveyor has a DC motor and a set of gearing built inside a conveyor roller. When Hytrol engineers designed the company’s new E24 system, they took the 24-volt motors out of the rollers and placed them on the side frame of the conveyor. Bringing the motors outside the rollers, says

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modern SPECIAL REPORT

By not welding electrical switches in place, HK Systems makes it easy to adjust the location of divert spurs.

FKI Logistex has developed a library of algorithms to smooth transitions from one conveyor line to another.

TGW-Ermanco’s WAVE diverter uses simple pop-up wheels to sort at speeds comparable to sliding shoes.

Bonham, allows for much better heat dissipation, extending motor life. The unique design of Daifuku’s (800253-1003, www.daifukuamerica.com) chain-driven accumulation conveyor also results in a longer lasting system. This package conveyor is designed like heavyduty pallet conveyor—with a sprocket connecting each roller to a drive chain. The standard way to drive a package accumulator, says Daifuku’s engineering manager Randy Fox, is to place a flat belt under the rollers. But Daifuku’s design is more durable, he says, because a drive chain lasts longer than a drive belt. Accumulating with a chain is possible because Daifuku uses a patented “indirect drive” system. In this system,

a sprocket doesn’t directly connect a roller to the drive chain. Instead, an indirect drive unit sits between the roller and the chain, and the roller only moves when the pneumatically controlled drive unit engages it. This design allows each roller to be controlled independently, making the system flexible as well as durable. “When you push a belt up against rollers, you use standard components, so you have standard sized zones,” says Fox. “With this design, you can control the zone size.” Throughput Distribution center managers are always looking for ways to get more products through their facilities in less time.

Schaefer Systems International (704944-4500, www.ssi-schaefer.us) tries to achieve that goal by making more intelligent conveyor, says Ross Halket, Schaefer’s director of automated systems. Most North American manufacturers use PLCs (programmable logic controllers) to control their conveyors. Halket says Schaefer’s FT+ conveyor line is controlled by industrial PCs, which are more common in Europe and have more memory and processing power than typical PLCs. When a decision needs to be made at a transfer point, says Halket, a PCbased control doesn’t have to ask the host what to do. In a PLC-based system, he says, “you could have 4,000

Hytrol’s E24 conveyor has 24-volt DC motors mounted on the conveyor frame rather than inside the rollers.

The “parallel divert” system designed for Dematic’s S-L300 shoe sorter diverts cartons without rotating them.

Intelligrated’s shoe sorter rotates cartons gradually as it diverts them, allowing for smaller carton gapping.

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FOR OVER 10 YEARS, YALE HAS BEEN THE UNDISPUTED LEADER IN FLEET MANAGEMENT. Why do some of the world’s largest and most complex manufacturing, distribution and logistics companies outsource their fleet management to Yale? Because we’re the best. End of story. With over 15,000 customers and more than 100,000 pieces of equipment under contract, Yale Fleet Management, with the Yale Dealer Network, is North America’s leading materials handling fleet management provider. In fact, we’re so confident, we guarantee a 15% cost savings the very first year Yale runs your fleet operation or the Fleet Management Analysis is free. To learn more, call or click today. www.yale.com or call 800.233.YALE ©2008 Yale Materials Handling Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

® Fleet Management


modern SPECIAL REPORT scanners all asking the host questions at the same time.” But in Schaefer’s FT+ system, those 4,000 scanners take care of themselves, allowing for faster decision-making and higher throughput. Speeding up the system isn’t the only way to get higher throughput. The S-L300 sliding shoe sorter by Dematic (877-725-

7500, www.dematic.us) achieves throughput rates of more than 300 cartons per minute without running at breakneck speeds that can wear out equipment prematurely. Gregg Vandenbosch, manager of product management, says the key to high throughput is not to move cartons faster,

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©2008 Akro-Mils/Myers Industries, Inc. Form No. 07184

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but to minimize the gaps between them. A traditional shoe sorter diverts a carton at an angle. “The shoes rotate the carton, which effectively makes it longer,” he says. The gaps between cartons then have to be large enough to accommodate the rotation. The S-L300 uses a unique “parallel divert” system that doesn’t rotate cartons at all, allowing for very narrow gapping and, therefore, higher throughput. The Intellisort shoe sorter from Intelligrated (513-701-7300, www.intelligrated.com) also achieves rates of 300 cartons per minute by reducing gapping. Intelligrated’s approach, says Justin Zimmer, lead engineer for sortation products, is to turn cartons gradually. A typical shoe sorter, says Zimmer, turns a carton from 0 to 20 degrees almost instantaneously. “We spread the physics of those forces over a longer period of time,” he says. The gradual turn lets a carton move away from its surrounding cartons before reaching its full 20-degree angle, allowing for gaps as small as 2 inches between cartons. Turning cartons more gradually also makes them easier to control, says Zimmer, so they’re less prone to spin and topple as they’re diverted. Easy installation In addition to improving the operation of their systems, conveyor suppliers also look for ways to improve installation. “Part of our job is to anticipate problems before they happen,” says Greg Hilycord, vice president of system sales at HK Systems (800-457-9783, www. hksystems.com). And a common problem when installing a new conveying and sortation system is that columns, sprinkler systems and other obstacles in a building are not always where the drawings said they’d be. The flexible design of HK Systems’ Whispersort sliding shoe sorter makes it easy to accommodate these “gotchas” in the field, Hilycord says. The sorter’s electric divert switches—the mechanisms in charge of diverting cartons at the right spur— aren’t welded in place as in a traditional mmh.com


modern SPECIAL REPORT sorter, he says. Instead, they’re “virtual switches” that can be easily moved, giving installers the flexibility to quickly deal with inaccuracies in drawings. “It’s a subtle thing,” Hilycord says, “but it’s also critical in that projects have a momentum, and you have to maintain that momentum to get installations done on time and within budget.” Another way to smooth the installation process is to make it as predictable as possible by avoiding custom engineering and programming. In a highly automated facility, the job of conveyor is often to receive goods from one piece of automated equipment and deliver them to another. Creating smooth transitions at these interface points is critical and can prove challenging to inexperienced installation teams trying to engineer those interfaces on the fly, says Tim Kraus, conveyor products manager for FKI Logistex (877-935-4564, www.fkilogistex.com). Over the years, says Kraus, the engineers at FKI have developed a range of algorithms for delivering products to different processes in different ways. The library of algorithms, he says, helps FKI avoid custom engineering. “We’ve built those building blocks, so we’re solving problems the same way every time,” he says, “so it’s repeatable and easy to troubleshoot.” FKI has almost completed the next addition to the library: a control system that connects pneumatically actuated accumulation conveyor and motorized roller conveyor. “It will be seamless,” Kraus says. “No extra devices or programming.” Easy maintenance As conveyor systems get more sophisticated, they often get more difficult to maintain. One way to ease the burden on maintenance personnel is to coax high performance out of simple technologies. For example, TGW Ermanco’s (231798-4547, www.tgw-ermanco.com) WAVE diverter is an enhanced version of a standard wheel diverter, a sortation technology that typically handles about 100 cartons per minute. “We took that old technology, and by mmh.com

rearranging it and enhancing it, were able to get 200 cartons per minute,” says Dale Deur, TGW’s product engineering manager. Achieving such rates would usually require a more expensive and complex sliding shoe sorter, he says, “but now a familiar technology can do things that only a very complex

technology could do before.” TGW’s CRUZbelt conveyor is another example of an old technology made new. The CRUZbelt is like conventional belt conveyor, says Deur, but its streamlined design reduces cost, installation time and the need to tension belts and perform other maintenance.

AnthroCart®

Trolley

Fit System® Power Supply Cart

Carts sturdy enough to shoulder some serious responsibility. Throughout your workspace, you want carts and work tables that are rock solid and built to last. That’s why Anthro develops furniture that is tough but also modular enough to fit all the applications you have. With the myriad of choices we offer, you’ll be able to configure solutions for any layout. So call our friendly and knowledgeable folks at 800.325.3841 or visit anthro.com/materials. Fit System®, AnthroCart®, and Technology Furniture® are registered trademarks of Anthro Corporation.

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modern EQUIPMENT BUYING GUIDE

RFID basics Here’s an introduction to the tags, readers and software that make up an RFID system, as well as common materials handling applications of the technology. By Corinne Kator, Associate Editor

R

adio frequency identification, or RFID, is a form of automatic identification technology that—much like bar codes and magnetic stripes—can be used to carry data about an object and transfer it to a computer, reducing the time and labor needed for manual data entry. While most automatic identification technologies require at least some labor (scanning, swiping, etc.), an RFID system can be truly automatic. A basic RFID system includes an RFID tag, an RFID reader and a host computer. When a reader energizes a tag, the data stored in the tag’s memory is transmitted to the reader via radio waves. The reader then communicates the necessary data to the host computer so the computer’s software can act on the data. This entire process can be completed with no human intervention. Common uses of RFID include card keys that control access to buildings, E-ZPass transponders that automatically pay roadway tolls and ID tags for pets and livestock. RFID technology also has many industrial uses, including several materials handling applications.

RFID tags

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Illustrations by Steve Hussey

Most RFID tags have at least two parts: 1. A silicon chip for storing information 2. An antenna for receiving and transmitting a signal Tags come in various shapes and sizes, depending on the application. The RFID tags typically used in shipping labels combine a tiny square chip (smaller than the head of a pin) with a 3- to 4-inch-wide antenna. Two of the most common antenna shapes for shipping labels are squiggle and double cross (see illustration).

RFID tags can be active, passive or semi-passive. Active tags include a battery and use the power from the battery to transmit their signal. The battery gives this style of tag an especially long read range. It also increases the price of the tag. Passive tags have no batteries and instead use energy from an RFID reader to power their transmissions. Passive tags are less expensive than active tags, but they have a limited read range. Semi-passive tags, also called battery-assisted tags, use a battery to boost the response of a passive tag. RFID tags can be designed to transmit at one of several frequencies. Generally, higher frequency tags transfer data more quickly but are less able to penetrate water, grease and other obstructions. Two of the most common frequencies are 13.56 mHz and 860-920 mHz: • 13.56 mHz tags, also known as high frequency (HF) tags, are popular for ID badges, library books and anti-counterfeiting applications • 860-920 mHz tags, also known as ultra high frequency (UHF) tags, are the most common choice for case, pallet and shipping container tracking The memory in an RFID tag can be configured in a variety of ways. For example, the data on a reprogrammable tag can be written and rewritten again and again, while a WORM (write once, ready many) tag is programmed at the factory and cannot be written to again. Information is written to an RFID tag by a device called an encoder. RFID encoders are usually integrated with RFID readers because the two devices use many of the same components. Encoders are also commonly integrated with label printers.

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Antennas and readers An RFID reader, sometimes also called an interrogator, reads the data stored on an RFID tag and passes it to a host computer for processing. A reader is essentially a small box of electronic components connected to one or more antennas. The antennas emit radio signals to activate RFID tags and to read and write data. RFID readers range from large tunnel structures to devices small enough to fit inside a cell phone. The major difference is the antenna. The size and shape of an antenna varies by application, frequency and the required read range—the larger the antenna, the Dist anc longer the range. e SEQ Fixed location readUEN CAGE CO CE DE ers are mounted in one place—near a conveyor line, for example, or surrounding a dock door—while portable readers can be mounted on lift trucks or designed as handheld devices. Handheld readers typically have a short read range because their antennas are small. Most RFID antennas and readers are not yet “plug-and-play” devices, says Bert Moore, director of communications for AIM Global (724-934-4470, www.aimglobal.org), a trade association representing makers of automatic identification equipment. The radio waves emitted by large antennas, he says, travel in all directions and can bounce off surrounding objects. End users usually work closely with a supplier, he says, to choose and position an appropriate antenna and to install barriers if necessary.

Software For the data collected from RFID tags to be useful, it usually must be filtered and interpreted by multiple layers of software. RFID readers usually gather much more data than necessary, explains Moore. They read the same tag multiple times or read all the data stored on a tag when only portions are needed for the application. For this reason, says Moore, most RFID systems require filtering software—often called edgeware or middleware—that recognizes the significant data and filters out the rest. (Bar code readers also require similar filtering software.) Edgeware can also translate tag data into a format mmh.com

that can be used in other systems. This filtering and translating software can reside on the RFID reader or host computer. Once the information has been filtered and translated into a usable format, it must be interpreted and applied to business processes. Different uses of RFID require different application software. Using RFID tags to track inventory in a warehouse, for example, requires an RFIDenabled warehouse management system that can identify

RFID tags

RFID tag antennas come in a variety of shapes. Two common shapes for passive tags are the squiggle (left) and double cross (right).

and track individual cases using the electronic product codes (EPCs) stored on the tags.

Materials handling applications Manufacturers have been finding uses for RFID for decades, and the technology is now making its way into warehouses and distribution centers as a potential replacement for bar codes. The following are some of the most common materials handling applications for RFID. Tracking goods in the supply chain: Thanks to RFID initiatives at Wal-Mart and other major retailers, much attention has been paid in recent years to the use of RFID tags to track goods in the supply chain. These initiatives require suppliers to encode RFID tags with a unique ID number (an electronic product code, or EPC) and place the tags on cases of merchandise before shipping them to the retailer. The passive UHF tags are often embedded in a shipping label. In theory, the RFID tags can track items more precisely MODERN MAT ERIA L S HA NDL ING / F

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modern EQUIPMENT BUYING GUIDE

Readers and antennas

An RFID reader is essentially a small box of electronic components (left) connected to one or more antennas (right).

than traditional bar codes, and they can be read faster with less human intervention, increasing visibility and efficiency in the supply chain. The hardware, software and business practices for these applications of RFID, however, are still

being refined. The organization EPCglobal (www.epcglobalinc.org) has been working to standardize the use of tags, readers and software in supply chain applications. Process tracking: RFID technology can be used to track products throughout the manufacturing process. Automobile manufacturers, for example, often place RFID tags on car bodies and write information to the tags as each task in the manufacturing process is accomplished. Process manufacturers use RFID tags in a similar way to track the ingredients that go into each lot and batch of products. When defective products are discovered, says Moore, the information captured on these RFID tags can help to make product recalls faster and more specific. Asset tracking and locating: RFID tags are used to track and locate a variety of expensive assets, from drill bits to lift trucks to railcars. In some systems, readers are mounted above the entrance to a tool crib, monitoring when tools enter and leave. In others, users walk around with a handheld RFID reader, waiting for it to identify a needed item. In some real-time location systems, special active RFID tags act as beacons, broadcasting a signal identifying their location at regular intervals.

RFID hardware manufacturers Company

Web site

Phone

Accu-Sort Systems

www.accusort.com

800-227-2633

AeroScout

www.aeroscout.com

650-596-2994

Alien Technology

www.alientechnology.com

408-782-3900

AWID

www.awid.com

408-825-1100

Confidex

www.confidex.fi

609-605-0670

Ekahau

www.ekahau.com

866-435-2428

Passive tags

Active tags

Readers ✓

✓ ✓ ✓ ✓

Hi-G-Tek

www.higtek.com

301-279-0022

Identec Solutions

www.identecsolutions.com

866 402 4211

Impinj

www.impinj.com

866-467-4650

InnerWireless

www.innerwireless.com

972-479-9898

Intermec

www.intermec.com

360-695-5766

✓ ✓

✓ ✓

LXE

www.lxe.com

770-447-4224

Metalcraft

www.idplate.com

800-437-5283

Motorola

www.symbol.com

866-416-8545

✓ ✓

✓ ✓

Omron

www.omronrfid.com

888-303-7343

RF Code

www.rfcode.com

877-969-2828

✓ ✓

✓ ✓

Savi Technology

www.savi.com

800-428-0554

Sirit

www.sirit.com

800-498-8760

Psion Teklogix

www.psionteklogix.com

800-322-3437

TAGSYS

www.tagsysrfid.com

877-550-7343

ThingMagic

www.thingmagic.com

866-833-4069

UPM Raflatac

www.upmraflatac.com

828-651-4788

WhereNet

www.wherenet.com

800-490-2261

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✓ ✓

✓ ✓

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modern INFORMATION MANAGEMENT

10 STEPS to a more secure DC With security high on priority lists, here are 10 ways information technology and materials handling can help you create a more secure distribution center.

mmh.com

By Bob Trebilcock, Editor at Large

E

ver since Sept. 11, 2001, security has been higher on the to-do list of most companies. It’s true at the enterprise level, and it’s also true at the factory and warehouse.

“There is certainly more awareness of security today than there was 20 years ago,” says Bryan Jensen, a partner with the St. Onge Company (717-840-8181, www.stonge.com). In part, says Jensen, that’s because the value of some products has gone up dramatically while the cost of technology to segregate it has gotten more justifiable. Security is especially important in industries like pharmaceuticals and retail that distribute high-value products that can easily be pocketed by employees, truckers and delivery personnel. “As a general rule, if a company takes security measures around a product in a store, it’s probably kept in a secure area in the DC,” says Jensen. With that in mind, here are 10 ways companies can use technology and materials handling systems to create a more secure plant or distribution center.

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modern INFORMATION MANAGEMENT “If you integrate a WMS system into a broader security system, you can track who accessed an area, when they were there, and get visibility into the inventory they picked,” says Simmerman.

4.

Automating putaway processes with an AGV and AS/RS secures high-value storage.

1.

TOTES, PACKAGING AND STORAGE One of the simplest ways to secure highvalue products is to create a system for storing and routing those items through the DC, says Jensen. For instance, the highest value products can be stored near the top of a high-bay, narrow-aisle storage area. “If you store product 65 feet up in the air and restrict access to the turret truck to authorized personnel, you limit the opportunities for pilferage,” Jensen says. Some retailers create another layer of security by routing high-value products through the facility, or to a store, in different color totes than regular merchandise and apply a security seal. “If the seal is broken, a DC supervisor or store manager knows to inspect that tote right away,” Jensen says.

grammed to ensure that only trained and authorized drivers get access to a vehicle. In addition, the system allows end users to create a “geofence” that limits access to an area to those operators who are authorized to be there. “If an unauthorized driver tries to enter one of those areas, he will first get an alert on his display that he’s entering an area where he’s not supposed to be,” says Ehrman. “If he ignores the warning, the system will disable the vehicle and send an alert to a supervisor.”

3.

SECURE WMS Warehouse management systems (WMS), like lift truck management systems, are usually used to control inventory and optimize the activities of operators. Those same track and trace capabilities can be tied into other systems to create a more secure DC, says Steve Simmerman, a partner with NextView Software (602-5247662, www.nextviewsoftware.com).

2.

FLEET MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS Fleet management systems are most commonly used to optimize the use of lift trucks and operators. But these systems can also be used to provide a measure of security, says Ken Ehrman, president and chief operating officer of I.D. Systems (201-996-9000, www.id-systems.com). For starters, the systems can be proTamper-resistant stretch wrap developed for the military protects palletized products. 42

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AUTOMATED MATERIALS HANDLING SOLUTIONS “When it comes to high-value items, security is a No. 1 priority,” says Jeff Hedges, director of business development for HK Systems (800-457-978367, www.hksystems.com). “That’s especially true if you have small high-value items that can be easily obtained and confiscated.” Highly automated materials handling systems that eliminate or reduce the human activity in those areas are one way to secure that inventory. In those solutions, raw materials and sensitive products are taken directly from the receiving dock into a secure area for processing. The product is then transported directly to the storage area to avoid staging. Often, that is done without human intervention, using an automatic guided vehicle (AGV) to transport the material and an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) for storage. “The goal is to eliminate as much human handling as possible,” says Hedges.

5.

RFID PORTAL Jewelers and retailers have traditionally created a “cage” area for their high-value products, accessed by lock and key. “That’s an area where we’re seeing the introduction of RFID technology to automate processes and enhance security,” says Jerry McNerney, senior director of transportation, distribution and logistics solutions for Motorola (847-576-5000, www.symbol.com). One approach is to create an RFID portal at the entrance. Access is only granted to authorized people who are identified by an RFID chip in their badge when they pass through the portal. Meanwhile, the portal also reads the RFID tags on the products leaving that area, associating a product with an individual. “That creates a checking process,” says McNerney. “You know when someone is in the area, and you know all the products they pulled out of that area.” mmh.com


circuit is broken. Software can then send an alert that will notify a decision maker that something is amiss. The next step, says Jeff Middlesworth, principal development engineer, for Pliant Corporation, (847-969-3306, www.pliantcorp.com), a manufacturer of stretch film, is to replace the wire with a conductive silver ink that can be printed on the stretch wrap. Electronic seals send an alert when a secure container has been broken into.

6.

REAL-TIME LOCATION SYSTEMS/VIDEO SURVEILLANCE Real-time locating systems (RTLS) use RFID technology to accurately track objects to within a few feet of their actual location. That technology is now being combined with video surveillance technology to initiate camera-recording whenever a tagged product is scanned. “Right now, the technology is being used by logistics companies to record transactions in the warehouse for customer dispute resolution,” says Josh Slobin, director of marketing for AeroScout (650-596-2994, www.aeroscout. com). “That’s why recording starts when an item is scanned. However, the system could be programmed to trigger recording any time it senses that a tagged product has moved.” That would create a video record of whoever moves the product.

7.

SECURE PACKAGING SOLUTIONS No matter how secure the plant or DC, high-value products are vulnerable once they’re loaded onto a pallet and leave the facility. One new solution, developed for the armed forces, involves tamper-resistant stretch wrap. Today, a stretch wrapper is retrofitted with a device that applies a thin wire with resistance performance, along with the stretch wrap, to the load. At the end of the process, an RFID label that includes a circuit to monitor the resistance levels on the stretch wrap is also applied. If someone cuts the stretch wrap to remove product, the

mmh.com

8.

YARD MANAGEMENT Knowing who is going in and out of your DC is important. So is knowing who is going in and out of the yard. That’s where yard management systems (YMS) come into play, according to Chad Collins, vice president of global strategy for HighJump Software (800-328-3271, www.highjump.com). “During the check-in process, a yard

Using geofencing, fleet managment systems alert a supervisor when a lift truck driver is in an unauthorized area.

management system is collecting information, like the commercial driver’s license of the trucker, and comparing what’s being delivered to what was supposed to be delivered,” says Collins. The system will also direct people at the gate to capture the serialized number on any container seals and inspect for tampering. While containers are in the yard, a YMS enables audits to make sure the right containers are in the yard and in the right locations. Finally, the system validates that the right container or trailer is leaving the yard with the right driver.

9.

ELECTRONIC SEALS Mechanical seals have long been used to secure shipping containers and trailers. Electronic seals, which include real-time locating and communication capabilities, are the next step, according to Pat Burns, vice president of licensing for Savi Technology (650-316-4700, www. savi.com). “An electronic seal is a lot like a bicycle lock,” says Burns. “There’s a mechanical component that secures the container in transit. Then, there’s an electronic component that can proactively record the time the seal has been breached and send an alert to a pager, cell phone or handheld device.” Used in combination with RTLS technology, the seal can also broadcast its location in the yard.

10.

NETWORK SECURITY Real-time information is the fuel that powers the supply chain. The Wi-Fi networks that enable wireless communication inside a factory or DC, however, are easily hacked, according to Dave Kennedy, practice lead for profiling and e.Discovery for SecureState (216-927-0115, www.securestate. com), a network security consulting company. “We have been able to sit in a car a half mile away from a manufacturing plant, and gain access to their network in just 10 minutes,” says Kennedy. “There’s a lot of exposure there.” While Kennedy says network security is primarily the responsibility of corporate IT personnel, there are steps plant and DC managers can take to limit easy access to their networks. “The goal is to minimize the points of exposure to your network,” says Kennedy. “A manager can make sure there’s no exposed network cable that someone can plug a computer into. You can also ask employees and security guards to keep an eye out for people driving near the facility with big antennas on their cars. There’s a sport in the hacker community called war driving, where the hackers drive around and look for weak access points they can attack.” Factories and warehouses are prime targets for war drivers.

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modern BEST PRACTICES

KEEPING HARD-EARNED HIRES Hiring the right materials handlers is hard enough. Keeping them from hitting the road is the bigger challenge. Keep them on your management track instead. By Tom Andel, Editor in Chief

T

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Experience as a teacher Anthony Roden, vice president of distribution for Dollar General, hired Dickerson and says experience is the best teacher for materials handling logistics managers. “You can hire kids out of college for entry-level management positions,” he acknowledges, “but when they come out of college they don’t know how to manage people. They know how to read manuals and study processes and engineer things, but the biggest gap is on the people side.” This is quite a statement coming from a college grad. Roden admits when he came out of school and worked in a DC for Zayre, he didn’t have people management skills. That’s why today, as part of the development of

ILLUSTRATION BY DANIEL GUIDERA

odd Chambers and Chris Dickerson are materials handling all-stars. Neither has a college degree, but both have been educated in the management tracks their respective companies offer employees with the right stuff. Dickerson started out as a case-pack order filler at Dollar General’s Ardmore, Okla., distribution center 14 years ago. Today he’s assistant general manager in the company’s Fulton, Mo., facility. What sets him apart from a college-bred manager is that he can walk among the hourlies working in case-pack order filling and repack, and identify operations that are going well and those that aren’t. He’s done those jobs. Chambers is general manager for The Saddle Creek Corp.’s (www.saddlecrk.com) Grand Prairie, Texas, facility. He started at this third-party logistics provider

10 years ago as a supervisor then moved into operations management, then facility management, before becoming a general manager. He didn’t go to college, but through sweat equity he’s leading a group of 80 people.

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his management staff, they have to go through an extensive program of behavioral science. It’s not only good management, but the most effective way to keep the employees you hire and develop. “The days of ‘do this job or else’ are over,” Roden says. “People know they can get a job for $10 an hour in 30 minutes. If you’re not able to reinforce the desired behaviors to the point where they want to stay to do that job for you and get results through people, they’re going to leave. Logistics is one of the most competitive fields out there, and the competition for labor will be one of the determining factors in who is successful.” At Dollar General, more than 75% of its managers were grown, developed and taught from the hourly level. An orderfiller who goes through the company’s leadership development program can become a supervisor within two years, knowing every job in the DC. “Pay isn’t enough any more,” Roden maintains. “You have to be able to recognize what’s reinforcing behavior. Work has to be fun.” The new mindset Robert Pericht, senior vice president of warehouse operations for Saddle Creek, says logistics disciplines lend themselves to “pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps type” individuals. However, that doesn’t mean these individuals are predictable. “The new generation entering the workforce and their ideals and values are different from previous generations, so you have to constantly update your process,” Pericht says. “That’s No. 1.” The second thing to remember, he says, is to maintain a solid infrastructure you can rely on as a source of good candidates. That could be a dotcom resume clearing house or, even better, a local chamber of commerce or vocational school. Third, deliver what you promise to job candidates. “An extra nickel might get them in the door, but you have to keep them,” Pericht says. “Your culture and your approach to business and to people are important. That’s why we don’t have a lot of turnover.” mmh.com

Hanging on for health

I

n 2004, Crown Equipment Corporation (www.crown.com) implemented its HealthWise Program to improve the health and productivity of its workforce. Today, more than half of Crown’s workforce falls into the low health risk category—an improvement of 12%. Trends also indicate a significant reduction in the health care costs for employees who consistently participate in the program. Crown’s vice president of human resources, Randy Niekamp, says the HealthWise program sends a strong message to employees and to job candidates that the company cares about their well-being. It has also changed the way Crown views health care as a benefit. “Our focus prior to this program was on people who have medical issues,” he says. “But what were we doing to keep them healthy? That’s where we saw the biggest opportunity. This program can’t just be based in the human resources department.” Crown corporate medical director, James R. Heap M.D., says employers would be wise to get involved in such health and productivity management programs because they benefit the employees and the company. “Healthier employees have fewer injuries and medical care costs and they’re more productive,” he says. Heap cites significant support from Crown senior management as a reason this program succeeds. The University of Michigan also played a role by setting an example with its Next Generation Health Management Program. The concept supports educating all employees, regardless of risk levels, reaching out to employees’ families, and partnering with professionals to measure results.

On-site education Another 3PL, Kane Is Able (www.kaneisable.com), of Scranton, Pa., established its own “Kane College” catering to the desire in employees to take ownership of their jobs and skills. John Straub, vice president of human resources, says the more people understand their job, the more ownership they take. “At Kane College, we put all of our folks through training sessions, everything from reading profit and loss statements to team building, we have different products and curricula for every associate,” Straub says. “The operator on the forklift is not just a forklift operator, but the owner of a process, and they should understand the entire process. We’ve used that as a recruiting mechanism, saying ‘You’re not just going to be on a forklift, you’ll learn the operations, including warehousing.’” Straub acknowledges his company doesn’t see many of the right people filling out applications. In fact his applicant-to-hire ratio is as high as 30 to one—30 resumes to find one hire. That’s why Kane no longer requires forklift expertise of candidates.

“We’re hiring for attitude and we’ll train them on the skill sets,” Straub says. He admits there’s danger in that he could be training the next forklift operator that chases the next better paying job offered down the street. Yet he’s convinced that investing in employee development and offering opportunities that take advantage of those new skills is the key to retention. Get ‘em while they’re young Another school of thought for finding and retaining talent is to go to school. Joe Sing, executive director of the technical training center of the Memphis Area Boys & Girls Club (www.bgcm.org), works with at-risk 16 to 21 year olds. He places as much concentration on warehousing’s soft skills as he does on hard skills. For those hard skills, his training center has a lab in which the staff teaches not only lift truck operation, but the basics of picking, packing and inventory management. Soft skills include team building, presentation skills and conflict resolution. “Those are the areas where we’re doing the most good because once people are placed, the training on the

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modern BEST PRACTICES hard skills are set, and they’ll train them at each location as to how they want them to work,” Sing says. “It’s the soft skill area where punctuality, communication, behavior, working relationships and leadership skills will get these people in lead positions.” Sing is looking for employers who will partner with him to make use of the fruits of his training. He’ll even tailor training to an employer’s needs. Clifford Lynch, president of C. F. Lynch & Associates (www.cflynch.com) in Memphis, has provided management advisory services in logistics since 1993. Before that, he was vice president of logistics for Quaker Oats and president of Trammell Crow Distribution. He says the work of people like Joe Sing is critical because the number of those able and willing to work in a warehouse environment is shrinking. Just attracting someone who is drug and alcohol free and willing to work 8 hours a day is tougher than it was 10 years ago, says Lynch.

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Just attracting someone who is drug and alcohol free and willing to work 8 hours a day is tougher than it was 10 years ago, says Clifford Lynch, C.F. Lynch & Associates. “What’s going on through the Boys & Girls Club is not a dead-end program,” he adds. “It has a career track. There are a number of things you can learn in today’s distribution center.” He identifies technologies such as warehouse management systems (WMS), bar code scanning and RFID as points of entry to that career track. The problem, as he sees it, is that most distribution centers and logistics service

2 0 0 8 / MO D E RN MATE R IAL S HA NDL ING

providers don’t have succession planning at the operational level, as they do at the managerial levels. It’s a luxury many can’t afford. That’s why medical benefits are such a strong retention tool. These workers will change jobs for an extra dollar, Lynch says, but when they find out what the cost of their medical insurance will be at the new place, they may have second thoughts. Kane’s John Straub says his company offers group accident and long term care, things that competitors choose not to provide (see box, page 45). He’s also big on incentive pay. “The most effective thing is where I can team up with my client and my associates and say, ‘My goal is to get 1,000 of these done today. If we get to 1,200 done, everybody gets an extra 25 cents.’ If I can get folks to stay for 180 days, I can keep them for years. I’m adding 20% to my headcount every year. I found a way to beat the fact I can’t hire everybody with a degree.”

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modern PRODUCTIVITY SOLUTION

BI-RITE RAISES VOICE By adopting voice picking, this foodservice distributor improved order accuracy more than 90%, increased productivity and reduced operating costs. By Tom Andel, Editor in Chief

B

iRite Foodservice Distributors may be the largest independent foodservice distributor in northern California, but that doesn’t guarantee it No. 1 status in the hearts of customers. One missed case or delivering the wrong product can change a reputation overnight in this business. Although mis-picks were low, they were costly when factoring in the cost of fuel and labor. It could require one person and an entire shift to fix a mistake. All picking was manual, and selectors were guided only by a stack of labels. “When you’re picking orders at 2 a.m. even under the best of circumstances it’s a challenge for any human being to maintain focus all night long,” says Dennis Collins, BiRite’s general manager. “We knew we had to automate.” After investigating warehouse management systems (WMS) to help improve operational efficiencies and deliver higher customer satisfaction, BiRite’s WMS developer recommended voicedirected distribution (Vocollect, 412-829-8145, www.vocollect.com). With annual sales topping $240 million, BiRite operates from a 235,000 square foot state-of-theart distribution center. It handles a wide variety of products that have a range of handling requirements. These include dry groceries, meat, seafood, poultry, dairy, frozen foods, disposables, cleaning chemicals, equipment and smallwares. In this multi-temperature environment, associates must cope with temperatures as cold as minus five degrees and pick from among 35,000 SKUs. With voice technology, the company hoped to improve order accuracy, increase productivity and

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throughput, and reduce employee training time. “There was just no question that it had to help us reduce our mis-picks,” Collins adds. Using test routes and test orders, trainers walked behind the employees, listening in on training headsets to gauge their understanding. Training went from two weeks to hours, order accuracy improved by more than 90%, and mispicks dropped to virtually zero. Sixty workers now use the system. “I always assumed that the return on investment would take a couple of years,” says Collins, “but we are already saving money every time we don’t have to make an emergency delivery to a customer. Plus, it enhances our image with our customers because we aren’t making emergency deliveries—we are not plaguing them with those kinds of mistakes anymore.”

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Totes and containers

Divide and conquer organization For storage and organization of extra long parts, the AkroBin measures 33 x 8.625 x 5 inches. Seven dividers can be added within the reusable bins to create up to eight different compartments. This division accommodates multiple sizes and shapes of materials for workin-process applications. The bins stack securely atop each other, sit on shelving or hang from the supplier’s 36-inch louvered rack, rail and shelving systems. Reinforced side ribs permit a weight capacity of up to 80 pounds, and a wide hopper front

provides easy access for quick parts picking. Molded from high-density polypropylene, the bins are offered in yellow, red, blue, green and stone colors. Akro-Mils, 800-253-2467, www.akro-mils.com.

HDPE hinges attach lid to container Measuring 21 x 15 x 12 inches, the all-plastic attached lid container features extra-secure, molded HDPE hinges that snap-lock when the lid closes for greater security in shipping, storage or picking applications. Ideal for use in grocery, general merchandise, manufacturing and medical industries, the 50-pound capacity container is 100% recyclable without separating the lid from the container. The lid incorporates interlocking fingers for tight closure and secure

stacking. Holes located in both ends are compatible with a variety of closures for additional security or tamper-evident seals. When empty, the containers nest for storage. Buckhorn, 800-543-4454, www. buckhorninc.com.

Recyclable bulk containers Engineered from 100% recyclable high-density polyethylene structural foam, lightweight, durable MACX and KitBin bulk containers meet USDA standards for direct food contact. The MACX fixed-wall containers stand up to demanding, heavy duty

See you at the center of the moving world.

CeMAT2008

Move to the next level

THE WORLD’S LEADING FAIR FOR INTRALOGISTICS www.cemat.com

27 – 31 May 2008, Hannover • Germany 1st international CeMAT Conference on May 26 • More information: www.future-of-logistics.com Hannover Fairs USA • Inc. Long Beach Office • Mr. Art Paredes • 100 W. Broadway, Suite 210 Tel.: +1 (56 2) 90 1-91 91 • E-Mail: info@hf-usa.com • Web: www.hf-usa.com

48 F E B R U A R Y 2 0 0 8 /

MO D E RN MATE R IALS HA NDL I NG

Long Beach, CA 90802

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Totes and containers materials handling applications. The modularly designed KitBin incorporates removable and interchangeable walls for space efficiency and lower repair and replacement costs. The collapsible bins also include patented locking panels for increased strength when upright. Decade Products, 877-999-6229, www.decadeproducts.com.

Protect heavy products with wire mesh containers Returnable, reusable and environmentally friendly, wire mesh containers protect heavy or high-value products. Featuring heavy gauge wire and reinforced understructure, the containers provide years of use in shipping, manufacturing and warehouse applications. The containers stack to maximize cube utilization when full, and collapse for cost-effective return shipping. With standard capacities of 4,000 pounds and six sizes offered, additional features include half-drop front gate for easy access and a galvanized final finish. Options include custom sizes and capacities, several powder-coat colors, internal dividers, caster wheels and label tags. Atlas Material Handling, 888-650-9473, www.atlaswire.com.

Three-runner bins save space

Model: PD0635-18845 Color: SW63345 Door: 51313

Door Weld Seam: PASSED

YOUR PARTS TALK. YOUR LINE RESPONDS. WELCOME TO THE FUTURE.

RFID

Introducing BL ident . The modular, in-line RFID solution that integrates with industrial networks. ®

• RFID and remote I/O in the same unit integrates easily with your industrial fieldbus

• Highest operating temperature tags up to 425˚ F (210 C)

• Modular design with up to 8 channels per gateway plus an additional 32 slices of I/O

• On-the-fly high-speed read/write capabilities up to 2000 bytes/sec

• Extended read/write distances up to 500mm

• TURCK hand-held programming unit with Wireless Ethernet support

TR Three-Runner combo bins are an alternative to card• Connectorized read/write board and other disposable containers. Reusable, durable heads in barrel, square flush and seamless, the bins reduce maintenance and disposal and ring configurations costs. Nestable when empty and stackable on lids, the bins maximize storage and backhaul capabilities. They comply with FDA and USDA standards and feature smooth interiors and rounded edges for easy cleaning. Bins can be repaired with a hot air gun and polyethylene Robust FRAM welding rod. Because storage technology allows virtually unlimited read/write operations they provide easy access for lift trucks, the bins are ideal for the food processCall us with your next application: ing, assembled parts and recycling industries. A range of 1-800-544-7769 sizes are offered, and options include custom colors, stacking email: turckusa@turck.com lids, drain holes and plugs, caster kits and stenciling. Remcon www.turck.com Plastics, 800-360-3636, www.remcon.com. ©2008 TURCK, Inc.


Totes and containers

Color code and manage inventory Divider box containers are now offered in dark blue, as well as standard red, grey and light blue for improved inventory management. Injection molded of recyclable high-

This option maximizes tote capacity, increases part protection and prevents migration. Features include large, flat label areas on multiple sides, a set of cardholder snaps, security tie and hang tag holes and multiple divider heights to permit layering. LEWISBins+, 877-975-3947, www. lewisbins.com.

Corrugated plastic containers for carousels

density polyethylene, the 40-pound capacity boxes reduce linear workspace, provide a clean environment and cut product damage. Thirteen industry-standard sizes are manufactured, and include vertical and horizontal dividers that conform to any product size, shape and quantity.

Reusable corrugated plastic containers for carousel systems offer capacities up to 130 pounds per tote and last up to 50 times longer than corrugated cardboard units, reducing waste. Recyclable, the containers maximize the available cube in a carousel system. Features include pitched drain holes to prevent system collapse in the event that a sprinkler is set off. Manufactured of

fire retardant UL94HB flame class resin, the containers do not hold static, eliminating problems that may occur due to static build up in a moving carousel system. Flexcon Corporation, 973-467-3323, www. flexconcontainer.com.

Bulk containers Ship Shape bulk containers safely stack up to three high when filled and covered and nest empty up to seven high without locking to maximize available space between the top rack and ceiling that is typically

Longer Lasting Belts

Better than

Lifetime Warranty

z Abuse Resistant Belts work where others fail. z Super Strong Joints are virtually unbreakable. z High Tension Belts move heavier loads. z Super Red Belts double conveyor capacity.

New Split Line-shaft Spools  High precision. Reasonable price.  Easy to install. Zero downtime.  Can be locked to shaft. Eliminates need for keyed spools and shafts.

Dura-Belt 50

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800-770-2358 614-777-0295

Fax: 614-777-9448 www.durabelt.com

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Totes and containers unused. Rotationally molded from durable polyethylene in a single piece, the rigid containers accommodate up to 1,500 pounds. Containers are available in seven different designs with capacities ranging from 32 to 40 cubic feet with two- or fourway lift access. Meese, 800-7727659, www.meeseinc.com

Lighter weight improves ergonomics Molded from recyclable high-density polypropylene, the reusable NewStac containers for the automotive industry meet the current 33pound ergonomic industry weight standard. Offered in five sizes with a variety of bottom and sidewall options, the containers feature label pockets and cardholders. All sizes use only one style cardholder. A new wall configuration on the 5-inch tall model allows placards to be placed

without folding onto ribs or wrapping over sidewalls. For placard placement on 4-inch tall totes, a rimless option with a break in the bottom horizontal stacking rib may be selected. SSI Schaefer Systems International, 704-944-4500, www. ssischaefer.us.

AS/RS trays are recyclable A line of trays and collapsible containers for automated storage and retrieval system applications may be customized and built to the specifications of any logistics project.

Manufactured in an injection-molding process, the containers may be recycled when their usable life ends. Additionally, the containers offer substantial freight savings by collapsing when empty for consolidation on return trips. Monoflo International Inc., 800-446-6693, www.miworldwide.com.

Organize large, bulky items Strong, stackable injection molded Hulk and Mammoth plastic bins store and organize large, bulky items. Measuring from 2 to 2.5 feet long, the bins can be oriented backto-back on 48-inch pallet rack or inside heavy-duty, extra deep shelving. The containers may be reused and recycled when no longer needed. Quantum Storage Systems, 800-685-4665, www.quantumstorage.com.

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classified/recruitment Barcode Printing Software

Job Board

Pallets Career Opportunities Material Handling and Logistics Opportunities Available Now!

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email: mikef@thedorfmangroup.com website: www.thedorfmangroup.com (480)860-8820 Positions now available with outstanding companies: •Solutions Consultants •Systems Sales Engineers •Senior Project Managers •Controls Engineers •Process Improvement Sales •Account Managers Call Mike Flamer today! Serving the industry since 1988

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Advertise Often! 52 F E B R U A R Y 2 0 0 8 /

To advertise, or for more information please contact: Colleen Bresnahan 847-223-5225 ext. 13 colleenb@caseyreps.com

VISIT MMH.COM

MODERN MATERIALS HANDLING

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advertiser index

Intelligrated 866-936-7300 www.intelligrated.com

10

Executive Offices 225 Wyman Street Waltham, MA 02451 781-734-8000 Fax 781-734-8076

Material Handling Industry of America 800-446-2622 www.mhia.org

25

Kevin McPherson, Group Publisher Dorothy Buchholz, Group Production Director Geri Patti, Production Manager

31

37

Mattech 2008 941-320-3216

Baldor Electric Co. 800-828-4920 www.baldor.com

28

Matthews International/Holjeron 46 503-582-0820 www.holjeron.com

Buckhorn, Inc 800-543-4454 www.buckhorninc.com

14

BuyerZone www.buyerzoneindustrial.com

C3

Cannon Equipment Company 800-207-4088 www.cannonequipment.com

30

Raymond Corporation 800-253-7200 www.raymondcorp.com

C4

CeMAT www.future-of-logistics.com

48

Remstar International 800-639-5805 www.remstar.com

Dehnco Equipment Co. 847-382-1579 www.mmh.dehnco.com

32

Schaefer Systems Intnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;l, Inc. 877-724-2327 www.ssi.schaefer-us.com

20

Page #

Akro Mils 877-877-9680 www.akro-mils.com

36

Alum-a-Lift 770-489-0328

51

AmbaFlex, Inc. 877-800-1634 www.ambaflex.com

16

Anthro Corporation 800-325-3841 www.anthro.com

Motorola www.motorola.com

18

Propane Education & Research Council 888-963-7372 www.propanecouncil.org

17

8

CT, MA, ME, MI, NH, NJ (north), NY, OH, RI, VT, Eastern CAN Steve McCoy, District Sales Director 508-261-1120 Fax: 508-261-1121 smccoy@reedbusiness.com AL, DC, DE, FL, GA, KY, MD, NC, NJ (south), PA, SC, TN, VA, WV Sean Bogle, District Sales Director 215-504-5004 Fax: 215-504-5058 sean.bogle@reedbusiness.com IA, IL, IN, KS, MN, MO, ND, NE, SD, WI, Central CAN Bob Casey, District Sales Director 847-223-5225 Fax: 847-223-5281 bobc@caseyreps.com AR, AZ, CA, CO, ID, LA, MS, MT, NV, OK, OR, TX, UT, VA, WA, WY, Western CAN Jay Gerson, District Sales Director 214-496-0181 Fax: 214-496-0182 jay.gerson@reedbusiness.com EUROPE Mike Hancock, VP International Sales Reed Business Information Quadrant House The Quadrant, Sutton Surrey SM2 5AS UK Tel: 44-181-652-8248 Fax: 44-181-652-8249

Web Operations Clive Purchase Director, Web Operations 781-734-8273 clive.purchase@reedbusiness.com

Internet Sales Manager

50

Turck Inc. 800-544-7769 www.turck.com

49

Custom Article Reprints

13

Wireway/Husky Corp. 800-438-5629 www.huskyrack.com

16

Worthington Industries 717-851-0333 www.steelpacpallets.com

27

Yale Materials Handling Corp. 800-233-YALE www.yale.com

35

4

Dura-Belt, Inc. 800-770-2358 www.durabelt.com

FKI Logistex 877-935-4564 www.fkilogistex.com

Sales Offices

Toyota Industrial Equipment C2, 3,15 800-226-0009 www.toyotaforklift.com

Dematic 877-725-7500 www.dematic.com

EnerSys Power/Full Solutions 866-443-9433 www.enersysmp.com

Page #

6

Flexcon Container Div. 973-467-3323 www.flexcontainer.com

12

Gauer Metal Products, Inc. 908-241-4080 www.gauermetal.com

50

Chris Boucher 781-734-8541 Fax: 303-265-3459 chris.boucher@reedbusiness.com

Reprint Management Services The YGS Group (800)290-5460, ext. 100 modernmaterials@theygsgroup.com

Magazine subscriptions FREE magazine subscriptions available at www.getFREEmag/com/MMH

Direct all magazine subscription inquiries to: 8878 Barrons Blvd Highlands Ranch, CO 80129-2345 Phone: 303-470-4445 Fax: 303-470-4280 E-mail: subsmail@reedbusiness.com

eNewsletter subscriptions Keep up with the latest industry news and resources. Sign-up for our FREE eNewsletters at www.mmh.com/subscribe.asp

This index is an additional service. The publisher does not assume any liability for errors or omissions.

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modern THINKING

Keeping flowers and business fresh P

roFlowers guarantees freshness—even a week after Valentine’s Day delivery. Flowers must be received, processed, kitted into orders and shipped within hours after our distribution centers receive them. That requires visibility, not only into our own operations, but into the information supply chains feeding us. We need suppliers to give us information in the right formats to keep product moving (i.e., bar codes for each SKU, a box ID, P.O. number and a lot number indicating cut date). Not all suppliers are equipped or eager to oblige. What entices them to comply? Information in return. We reject as much as 20% of the product they send us for deficiencies. With better information management, we can tell them what we reject and why, and we can also give them competitive benchmarks. Information is key to maintaining freshness throughout the supply chain. Working with Fortna (www. fortna.com), we came up with a system that streamlines crossdocking to move imported product from our point of entry to our distribution centers with fewer touches. We combined our stringent quality assurance process with order picking, which significantly reduces turn-around time and improves distribution accuracy. All orders are assembled and kitted with the customer’s selection of vases, chocolates, teddy bears, etc. These are stored in flow racks, 54

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ABOUT THIS MONTH’S COLUMNIST

similar to the floral product. Once an order is built, it is scanned out of inventory and then it is scanned onto a pallet based on its carrier and ship method. Palletized orders are routed to trucks based on predetermined pick-up times. This minimizes touches and speeds the flowers through our facilities. All that information on product origin, age and supply chain history translates into customer satisfaction.

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Curtis McConnell Manager, Enterprise Systems/Applications at ProFlowers

LOCATION: San Diego, Calif. EXPERIENCE: Transportation industry, then an IT professional in the late 90s. Supply chain consultant. COMPANY: ProFlowers is part of Provide Commerce, an e-commerce marketplace for perishables.

FEEDBACK: cmcconnell@proflowers.com or visit www.prvd.com.

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MMH Feb 2008 Issue  

Modern Materials Handling February 2008 issue