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…]

No Rest for the Wicked—and None for Supply Chain Managers Either

up at nightIf the supply chain managers in your life appear to be exhausted—you know, sporting dark circles under their eyes or bypassing the K-cups to snort coffee grounds directly—a new report from APICS and Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business details the reasons why. Released last month, the aptly-titled “Supply Chain Issues: What’s Keeping Supply Chain Managers Awake at Night?” investigates the current business practices of more than 50 supply chain organizations and identifies critical issues.

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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.

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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…]