Three Ways Automated Tote Storage Systems Solve Throughput Challenges

viastore mini-load AS/RS tote storageIdeal for handling high volumes, automated tote storage systems—such as a high-density mini-load automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS)—maximize the amount of broken case (or eaches) storage in a given facility footprint. This type of material handling automation holds individual stock keeping units (SKUs) in dimensionally consistent plastic totes or trays; alternately, with the right load handling device, a mini-load system can handle cardboard cases of products. [Read more…]

Steps into Goods-to-Person Order Picking Systems

Picture1In the typical conventional warehouse, only about 40% of each order picker’s time is spent actually picking products to fill orders; the other 60% is taken up with walking to, between and from picks. That means these same associates are only engaged in revenue-generating activity about 40% of the time. That’s one reason more companies are taking a closer look at goods-to-person (also sometimes called goods-to-man) order fulfillment solutions.

As a basic rule-of-thumb, the ideal application for automating your warehouse with a goods-to-person system is one with a high number of SKUs and an increase in demand for just-in-time ordering—such as e-commerce. As with all automation implementations, there is a range of complexity levels associated with different goods-to-person technology installations. These levels, or steps, are built upon scalable warehouse automation technologies, allowing each to be integrated into an operation progressively, as a business—and its order fulfillment needs—grows. [Read more…]

Back to the Future Day…for Automation

BttFHappy Back to the Future Day. If you don’t know what this means, is was on this day 30 years ago in the ‘Back to the Future’ movie trilogy, where Marty and Doc Brown traveled 30 years into the future to…today. While they saw what the future looked like around Hill Valley, they didn’t happen to visit a distribution center. [Read more…]

High-Density Storage: Automated Warehouse Systems Deliver Flexibility, Savings

When it comes to maximizing the amount of inventory held within the four walls of a facility, more companies are turning to high-density storage supported by an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS). Whether handling unit loads that require automated pallet storage, or cases, or eaches held in totes and moved by a mini-load AS/RS, high-density storage solutions offer a variety of warehouse optimization advantages over conventional rack. These include load handling flexibility, less product damage, storage of more inventory in a compressed footprint, lower energy and labor costs, and construction and tax savings. [Read more…]

Automated Pallet Storage Offers Range of Operational Benefits

With all the trade media coverage of goods-to-person, shuttle-based case handling systems in e-commerce and parcel shipping order fulfillment applications recently, you might think that automated pallet storage with a unit load automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) is no longer a popular solution. That’s not the case with viastore’s customers, however. [Read more…]

Just How Old is Old? What the age of your Material Handling Automation Means

oldJust what does ‘Old’ mean?

As a recent post from Tompkins International said, “Many material handling systems used today are beginning to show their age. What were once considered brand new systems are now deteriorating and fighting to stay current.”

Unlike a favorite saying of mine that ‘you can’t help but grow old, but you can always be immature’, an aging automation system can cause problems for your operation. When downtime becomes a matter of not ‘if’, but ‘when’, an older automated system can easily become the weak link in your supply chain.

There are some tell-tale signs that you should modernize your automated system.

Just how old is YOUR system? [Read more…]

New Research on Who Should Design, Implement Your Next Material Handling System

When it comes to the design and implementation of a material handling system, the warehouse and distribution center (DC) operators have four primary choices:

  • In-house engineering
  • System original equipment manufacturer (OEM)
  • Consulting firm
  • Third-party systems integrator

This past spring, Modern Materials Handling partnered with viastore systems to delve deeper into how organizations evaluate and select material handling system providers and solutions. Among other areas of investigation, the final report—“Material Handling System Choices: Priorities, Approaches and Selection Processes of Decision-Makers” —takes an extensive look at the system design and implementation decisions made by respondents’ organizations. [Read more…]

A three-year payback on an automation installation?

It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? That an automation installation could pay for itself in just 36 months—or sooner?

But it’s true. Depending on the level of automated system installed and the specific circumstances surrounding an operation’s current mode of operation, an investment in automated material handling systems and technologies could very well produce a three-year return on investment (ROI). [Read more…]

Give Your Old Automation Equipment New Life

service_MG_49657 Key Things to look for when evaluating your older conveyor or automated storage and retrieval system to see if it still has some life left in it

Is replacing your current material automation solution the only option you have? If only there was a way where you could keep your older equipment, but have it work better (and more reliably).

There are companies that have an automated material handling system that is getting a bit old (maybe even 20-30 years old). These systems may have been kept going over the years with good maintenance and replacement of parts as needed. The problem is that this system may be seeing a need for an update.  If you’ve talked to suppliers of new material handling systems, they probably suggested tearing it out and replacing it with new equipment.  While that may be the optimum solution, for a variety of reasons (budget, avoidance of downtime, etc.), that won’t be YOUR solution.

[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…]