System Buyers Rank Top 7 Most Important Characteristics of Material Handling Solution Providers (Infographic)

In the spring, viastore systems partnered with Modern Materials Handling to conduct a survey investigating how organizations evaluate and select material handling system providers and their solutions. The resulting report, “Material Handling System Choices: Priorities, Approaches and Selection Processes of Decision-Makers”, was released in June. It shares insights into the processes used by managers at warehouses and distribution centers (DCs) as they as they seek out the equipment and services that will help them met their operational goals.

The 306 survey respondents work in manufacturing, wholesale and retail, warehousing and distribution services, with consulting services, or third-party solutions providers. Their job functions included executive management (18%), operations (16%), engineering (22%), warehouse management (10%), purchasing (9%), plant management (7%), and sales (13%).

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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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The Waveless Warehouse: Why Wave Picking Might Not Be the Best for Your Distribution Center

2014_viastore_Reportage_WIKA_Bild12We adopt new technology because it presents a better way of getting things done. The horse and buggy gave way to the car because of speed and convenience. The smart phone eclipsed feature phones because consumers could have richer apps and a connected experience.

Similarly in business, new technology must bring tangible benefits to really catch on. A new buzzword won’t cut it without bottom line benefits, especially in the cost conscious world of logistics.

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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…]

11 Considerations Before Purchasing Material Handling Equipment

When considering the purchase of an automated material handling solution it’s a given that you have to stay within your budget. Whether you are looking at conveyor, sortation, AS/RS, WMS, or a combination of all of the above, there are several factors that need to come into play beyond just who might have the lowest price.

Here are a few to consider:

1. Does the solution match your scope?

2. Did the supplier give you what you asked or, or offer an explanation of why it is different? If what you asked for is not the vendor’s recommended design/solution, it’s important that you receive a quote for the design you requested so you have a base comparison to make against other quotes.

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An Incremental Approach to Automation for 3PL Cold (or any type of) Storage

Last week at the IARW Conference in Orlando, viastore’s Bill Ostermeyer partnered with David Sturver, from viastore customer Americold to speak about automation and cold storage 3PLs. The presentation, ‘What level of automation makes sense for a 3PL – an incremental approach’, was well-attended, with about 125 attendees. The topic of an incrementation approach to automation isn’t just for cold storage 3PLs, but really is applicable to many companies.

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viastore Case Study – Phoenix Contact-How AS/RS is the ‘backbone’ of an automated material handling logistics solution

IMG_1448-2viastore implemented an automated warehouse and picking solution for Phoenix Contact, a global manufacturer of industrial electrical and electronic technology products, at the company’s US operations headquarters, based in Middletown, Pennsylvania. The viastore solution includes robotic depalletizers, a conveyor sortation system, a seven aisle mini-load automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS), and ten (10) Goods to Person pick/pack stations, all driven by a warehouse management system (WMS) that also controls a conventional warehouse. The entire automated material handling system was supplied by viastore systems.

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ProMat ’15 – Grease isn’t the word, it’s Software

PrintAnother ProMat has come and gone. With ProMat 2015 now in the books, the theme that seemed to resonate throughout the show was software.

While many vendors don’t like it said, the differences between the mechanical product offerings each has aren’t all that much any more. Its the software that is the new separation point. [Read more…]

Installing a Material Handling System in your Cooler or Freezer? Here’s What You Need to Know

Operating conveyor in a freezer is not the same as everywhere else. It’s cold in there. REALLY cold. Just like your car prefers not to operate in sub-freezing temperatures, neither does other mechanical equipment. With temperatures under 0 degrees Fahrenheit, there’s a lot to take into consideration when installing your freezer solution.

If you’re considering automation for a cooler or freezer environment, you’ll need to take into account everything from air condensation to motor temperature ratings. To ensure optimal performance of your automated system, you’ll need to take all of these into account and be ready to implement solutions.

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About the Author Rich McGrath