60 seconds with Jeremy Davidson, Fortna

Modern spends 60 seconds with the industry lead in sporting goods and retail specialty group at Fortna discussing trends in automation.

Latest News

State of Logistics 2016: Pursue mutual benefit
Report forecasts growth in automated truck loading systems
B2B Industrial Packaging acquires Alpine Distribution’s packaging division
Corrugated industry links rise in recycled content of boxes to advances papermaking technology
The Benefits of Shared Transportation & Supply Chain Networks
More News

Latest Resource

The Benefits of Shared Transportation & Supply Chain Networks
In this new digital issue, the editors of Logistics Management have gathered four feature articles designed to help mangers break away from traditional, “transactional” relationships and move toward integrated provider partnerships for freight transportation.
All Resources
By ·

Jeremy Davidson, Fortna
Title:
Industry lead in sporting goods and retail specialty group.
Location: Reading, Pa.
Primary Focus: Working with retailers and industrial distributors on how best to make their facilities function and operate.

Modern: We saw a nice bump in the revenues of the Top 20 system suppliers last year. As companies continue to automate, are they looking at technologies differently than in the past?
Davidson: I think they are. I see my customers moving away from point solutions and technologies that are focused strictly on labor productivity, like a voice or pick-to-light picking solution. Instead, they’re addressing the overall operational flow through the facility. For instance, end users are realizing that they can put in a great picking solution, but they can’t improve their inventory turns if their inbound inventory sits on the receiving dock. So, there’s a concerted effort to look at the operational flow through the whole building and to not just look at functional areas for improvement.

Modern:  Does that mean that end users are finding ways beyond a reduction in labor to justify automation?
Davidson: Absolutely. The biggest change is that our customers are designing facilities with capabilities to match their business strategy. We have customers who are willing to pay a premium in the cost of distribution because it will result in service level improvements. The growth of e-commerce, in particular, is pushing us to discussions around much richer business cases than we saw five years ago. Companies are asking: What is the cost of doing nothing? How much am I putting the business at risk or constraining the business if I don’t make these investments and my competitors do? Those are the kinds of questions they’re asking today that they weren’t asking five years ago.

Modern: If that’s the case, what’s different about the systems they are deploying?
Davidson: This is a great topic. First, let’s talk about the things that aren’t changing. The time-tested principles of design, such as the shortest path, the least number of touches and effective slotting, haven’t changed. What is changing is the look of process solutions. Customers are looking at their inbound operations for ways to automate receiving, streamline returns or opportunities for crossdocking. They’re looking at ways to mix and match technologies and solution providers to optimize solutions or to adapt processes that have worked in one functional area to other functional areas.

Modern: What are the trends driving these changes?
Davidson: There are a number of trends. One is the rising cost of real estate. For instance, customers might be looking at storage and asking how they can generate more capacity within the same footprint. That is leading to discussions around using mini-loads, shuttles and automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) technologies to bring product to a person or a storage area.
Safety is a significant concern. For instance, customers want to increase the number of items picked per hour, but they want to make sure the operation is safe, reliable and consistent. We’re also talking to customers who may have a solution in place, like a picking mezzanine, that isn’t fully depreciated. They want to leverage that existing infrastructure, but get more throughput. That’s leading to solutions like batch picking to a cross-belt or tilt tray sorter that can handle store replenishment and e-commerce orders. There are a number of rich discussions going on right now, and I don’t see these trends ending any time soon.


About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
The Benefits of Shared Transportation & Supply Chain Networks
In this new digital issue, the editors of Logistics Management have gathered four feature articles designed to help mangers break away from traditional, “transactional” relationships and move toward integrated provider partnerships for freight transportation.
Download Today!
From the August 2016 Issue
A growing number of low-cost lift trucks offer new avenues for pairing equipment and applications, but less cautious buyers might find that small up-front costs come at a steep price. Selecting the proper lift truck, lift truck tips 2016, Choosing the right Lift Truck
Megatrends in ocean freight
Ocean Cargo Roundtable: What’s in store for 2017?
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Getting the most out of your 3PL relationship
Join Evan Armstrong, president of Armstrong & Associates, as he explains how creating a balanced portfolio of "Top 50" global and domestic partners can maximize efficiency and mitigate risk.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
2016 Quest for Quality: Winners Take the Spotlight
Which carriers, third-party logistics providers and U.S. ports have crossed the service-excellence...
Regional ports concentrate on growth and connectivity
With the Panama Canal expansion complete, ocean cargo gateways in the Caribbean are investing to...

Digital Reality Check
Just how close are we to the ideal digital supply network? Not as close as we might like to think....
Top 25 ports: West Coast continues to dominate
The Panama Canal expansion is set for late June and may soon be attracting more inbound vessel calls...