About Ben Outwater

Ben is the Director of Customer Service at viastore and is responsible for hotline, spare parts, and crane commissioning and service. Ben started with DCS (later purchased by viastore) in 2003 as a software engineer straight out of college, and has been with the company ever since.

6 Principles of an Effective Spare Parts Stocking Program

service_MG_4965After you’ve invested in an automated material handling solution—whether that includes conveyor, automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS), or a combination of the two—you’re only 1/2 way there. Implementing a solid equipment maintenance program is key to ensuring that your system is always running at its peak. While there may be a variety of options for maintenance providers, in our experience establishing and maintaining an effective spare parts stocking program is mandatory.

Why? Because, with just a little advance analysis and planning to determine which components are most likely to need replacement in the event of a failure, you can ensure that your operation’s key equipment continues to operate with minimal downtime. Here are 6 principles to follow when developing an effective spare parts stocking program for your automated warehouse operation. [Read more…]

Evaluating your automated equipment maintenance options

serivice_viastore_1When trade publication Modern Materials Handling recently published the findings of their first annual maintenance study, “Reader survey: Maintaining the automated warehouse,” the results confirmed the trends we’ve been observing for a while:

  • More warehouses and distribution centers (DCs) are investing in automated material handing equipment, systems, technologies and software. Two-thirds of the respondents reported at least 25% of their facilities had some level of automation; 13.4% run operations with as much as 75% to 100% automated systems.
  • Operations are struggling to find personnel qualified to service and maintain those installations. A total of 87% report that it’s “somewhat difficult” (32%), “very difficult” (42%), or “extremely difficult” (13%) to find technicians who can maintain these complex systems.

Why? Well, as the article notes, the baby boomer generation—who have held many of these skilled positions—are retiring. New technicians are hard to find; there simply haven’t been as many people entering the skilled trades in the past couple of decades. [Read more…]