Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!


The State of Automation

Technology and innovation inside the four walls are changing the face of inventory management and transportation operations. Are you ready for the brave, new world?
By Bob Trebilcock, Editor at Large
February 24, 2011

TAKING A HOLISTIC VIEW
As is the case with Office Depot, companies that own their own stores and control their distribution and transportation processes are justifying automation by taking a holistic view of the supply chain, starting with what happens in the store. “In Europe, we are implementing systems in the retail channel where the focus is on improving the materials handling in the distribution center to reduce the cost of operating in the store,” says Strayhorn.


In the past, companies have implemented systems that build aisle-ready pallets, meaning that all of the items on a pallet will be putaway in a specific aisle in a specific store. Sophisticated examples can design a pallet so that the top layer will be stored on one end of the shelf with the bottom layer on the other end of the shelf.

Strayhorn is now seeing systems that take that concept one step further, to loading containers—and not just pallets—with product in the order it will go on the shelf. “We’ve developed a system that picks women’s T-shirts by size and places them in store-ready cartons in the order that they’ll sit on the shelf in the women’s department,” he says. “The store associate simple opens up a tote, puts the cartons on the counter, and they’re done.”

Likewise, one of Witron’s customers in Southern California justified the cost of a highly automated system on transportation savings. “The system builds a pallet in an aisle-ready fashion that ends up saving them about half a person per store over several hundred stores in their region,” says O’Farrell. “But the automation is able to build a load that is taller than the load they can build manually. That’s generating a 20 percent to 40 percent savings on transportation because they’re getting more cube on the truck.”


Looking for automation

About the Author

image
Bob Trebilcock
Editor at Large

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484 and .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


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!

Recent Entries

Seasonally-adjusted (SA) for-hire truck tonnage in July headed up 1.3 percent on the heels of a 0.8 percent increase in June. The ATA’s not seasonally-adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment, was 133.3 in July, which outpaced June’s 132.3 by 0.8 percent, and was up 2.8 percent annually.

Volumes for the month of July at the Port of Long Beach (POLB) and the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) were mixed, according to data recently issued by the ports. Unlike May and June, which saw higher than usual seasonal volumes, due to the West Coast port labor situation, July was down as retailers had completed filling inventories for back-to-school shopping.

With a 0.8 cent decrease, this week’s average price per gallon is $3.835 and stands as the lowest price since hitting $3.844 the week of November 25, 2013.

LTL carriers are rapidly investing in expensive, on-dock, three-dimensional size measurement capturing machinery, and they are hoping one day of being able to more accurately charge shippers rates based on the actual dimensions of their shipments, rather than the traditional weight-and-distance-based formula that has been in effect since the 1930s or even earlier.

The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) recently reported that its Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) dipped 0.9 percent from May to June.

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


© Copyright 2013 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA