Archive for AS/RS

The Innovator’s Dilemma in Today’s AS/RS Market

The innovator’s dilemma is at play in the bin/tote segment of the AS/RS market – today’s proven solutions face the future prospects of fierce competition from a new set of technologies with a promising future.

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The Cutting Edge of Fulfillment Automation

Earlier today I came across a CNBC article about a “secret” logistics summit hosted by Alphabet, the parent company of Google. The reported objective was to “explore potential business models and investment opportunities in the e-commerce space with a focus in logistics and fulfillment.” The article and the meeting that it discusses gives me the impression that logistics is being viewed as a game changing competitive differentiator. I like that! A few weeks ago, I […]

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The Micro-Fulfillment Center Automation Race

Micro-fulfillment center automation is poised for rapid growth. Customer proximity, throughput, responsiveness, and space utilization are critical factors for success. Innovative companies are addressing the micro-fulfillment challenge with cutting-edge technology and process innovations. Front and center is a number of automation technologies that can be categorized as a hybrid of shuttle system and robotic technologies.

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The Importance of Design for Logistics

I recently spoke with Ralph Rupert, Director for Unit Load Design at Virginia Tech. If you are not familiar with what a unit load is—I must confess, the term was new to me too—a unit load is “a single item, a number of items, or bulk material which is arranged and restrained so that the load can be stored, picked up, and moved between two locations as a single mass.” What prompted me to call […]

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Goldilocks and Warehouse Technologies for Food Distribution

We all remember the story of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears, where one bed was too soft, one was too hard, and third was just right. When it comes to warehousing technologies for food distribution, I see the same thing. In grocery, most store shipments are composed of mixed-SKU pallets. The layout of a grocery distribution center (DC) generally mirrors a store’s layout. So, if fruits and vegetables are found in the first aisle of […]

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IKEA Overcomes Warehouse Control Systems ‘Islands of Automation’

A few months ago, a client asked me to help him put together a short list of best-of-breed warehouse control system (WCS) vendors.  Here is the problem he faced: his company uses a warehouse management system (WMS) that worked well when it was initially implemented.  Over time, the company added various material handling systems, each with its own interface and “island” of control logic.  The company now wants to upgrade its WMS, but all of […]

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Microsoft Xbox and Other AS/RS Killers

I read an article by Bob Trebilcock in Modern Materials Handling titled “Automation: Grocery giant Kroger changes the distribution game,”and I was amazed by what Kroger has accomplished, and the risks the company has taken. Kroger implemented an automation system “that can receive and put-away full pallets, then break them down and rebuild them into store-ready mixed pallets according to how they will be put away on the shelves in a store aisle. It all […]

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Automated vs. Manual Warehouses: A Different Way of Thinking About ROI

How does your company think about ROI?  Your answer may largely determine how much distribution center automation your company is willing to invest in. First, some quick definitions:  My definition of “manual warehouses” is synonymous with “man-to-goods” warehouses, where workers move to a pick location, pick the goods, and then move to the delivery dock.  These facilities aren’t necessarily completely manual; they might employ forklifts and conveyors in certain locations in the warehouse.  In contrast, […]

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