Think! The goods to person principle does not solve all problems within a distribution centre

solar_dsc_0898_konterFormer IBM CEO Thomas J. Watson first used the one-word slogan, ”think”, in an address to employees at National Cash Register (NCR). Later, IBM even registered it as a trademark, and it remains part of Big Blue’s brand portfolio to this day.
Why have I used this motto as the heading of my blog post? Well, it’s a bit neater than “A warning about over-optimistic hype”, don’t you think?

This is the topic I’d like you to think about.

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How to work better with barcodes

scannerWe know what you’re thinking: “Barcodes are old news!” And yes, they have been around for a long time. The first barcode was patented by Joseph Woodland in 1952, and they have been used in distribution and retail for more than thirty years. Today’s barcodes are more effective and reliable than ever – but expectations have also risen. This means understanding how barcodes work is very important if you are to make the most of this technology.

You know how it is: you are at the checkout, struggling to pack your bags as quickly as the cashier scans. Sometimes you manage it – but never in supermarkets like Aldi in Germany or Hofer in Austria. How can they scan items so much faster?

The secret is in their product barcodes. Let’s take a look…

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The Pareto Principle and how to live without it

80-20-RegelUsing the Pareto Principle

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

 

 

 

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

The value of designing an intralogistics system based on these principles becomes much less, however, if you cannot predict which the fast and slow movers will be, or if they change frequently. This is apparent in more fashion or consumer oriented businesses, where products may have a relatively short lifetime. A new fashion item may be designed, a certain quantity put on sale, and sales volumes achieved. Depending on the success of the design, the feedback from the market, the weather, and many other factors, this item may sell quickly this week, then slowly next week – and it is difficult for the retailers to predict beforehand.

This sets warehouse designers with a challenge – as the tried and tested Pareto Principle may not be used to design the DC. The operator still wants to be able to pick efficiently, but without relying on predicting the fast, medium and slow movers for next week.

There are different approaches possible to addressing this. What are they?

How is that possible? And more importantly: how can you achieve the same? Click here to continue reading!

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How to Find the Hidden Treasure in Your Logistics System

British_Museum_Alton_B_HoardIt is done. The new distribution system is in operation for a couple of weeks now. It passed the acceptance procedure and the supplier’s team has hit the road after a successful run-up. Was that all? What’s next?

Well, if you do it right, you can now start a phase in which you increase the profitability of the project far above your budget. We are talking about raising efficiency by 20 to 50%, compared to design specifications! By the way, these are not made-up numbers, but instead have been achieved in a variety of optimization projects with our customers.
How is that possible? And more importantly: how can you achieve the same? Click here to continue reading!

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How to Model Your Goods-to-Person Picking System for Maximum Performance

4 Steps to Winning the Race of Order Fulfillment

Just like race car engines, storage and retrieval engines must be designed properly for optimum performance.

Car enthusiasts know that a vehicle’s performance is dependent on many variables. Engine horsepower, for example, is one important factor but means very little if that power does not get distributed efficiently to the wheels. Similarly, there are many storage and retrieval engines in the marketplace today, all with a wide range of potential throughput horsepower. But regardless of the potential power of your storage engine, the overall performance of a goods-to-person picking system may suffer greatly from poor design. What are the most important points in designing a goods-to-person picking system? Read on

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Why Ergonomics Makes a Difference in Warehouse Logistics

In a recent blog post about guided processes, we already talked about how important workplace design is in distribution logistics. The combination of hand, eye and common sense is still the most valuable resource in a distribution centre. Ergonomics therefore, is not a feel good factor, but instead the linchpin in designing work processes and especially workplaces.

Adherence to ergonomics verifiably improves the three dimensions that every industrial performance needs to concentrate on: cost, quality and time (or speed). Ergonomic workplaces lower costs, lead to higher quality and in most cases reduce the throughput time of stock orders. At SSI Schaefer, the result of this knowledge is merged under the brand name ergonomics@work!®. Read on to find out why ergonomics is so important in modern warehousing.

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Intralogistics Trends for 2013: Surprises

SilvesterThe year 2013 promises to become an exciting one, not just for the intralogistics sector. The general connection between the global economy and intralogistics has become almost commonplace. But in 2012, interesting new developments have been clearly foreseeable.

For a long time, we just accepted the worldwide material flow as a three-legged stool: 1. Shipping raw materials from all over the world to Asia, 2. Moving simple products and components from Asia to Europe and North America and finally, 3. Partially moving these products back to Asia in the form of high-value and complex items and facilities.   What are we expecting to see in the intralogistics industry in 2013?

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Vertical Lifts – The Advantages of Compact Small Parts Storage

LagerliftPeople who see a vertical lift storage system for the first time, usually think something like: “Ah, interesting. But they must be complicated and expensive, so why shouldn’t we continue storing our goods in conventional shelves?”

But vertical lifts definitely have their place in modern warehouse technology. This is a strong hint that they have some very specific features making them valuable to warehouse operators. Let’s take a closer look at these characteristics.

Of course, there’s no point in comparing vertical lifts with every conceivable alternative, so we’ll focus on the most common and obvious one, which is storing small parts in conventional shelves. What are the characteristics that make storage lifts so special? Read on…

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Are we at the beginning of the end of conventional conveyor technology?

Whether it’s in the warehouse or in the storage feed area – the future belongs to modular, autonomous agents. At least that what industry publications and research centres predict. It seems we’re witnessing the beginning of the end of conventional conveyor technology.

But what is a modular, autonomous agent? In the field of distribution logistics, this term stands for a vehicle with its own intelligent control. This distinguishes it from passively driven load units on conventional conveyor systems and also requires a control system able to handle complex and abstract tasks. So instead of “Go to x-position 657” the system could ask for complete, autonomous handling of a task such as “Remove the good from shelve 4711 and carry it to transfer location 0815”. Why could this end the era of conventional conveyor technology? Read on…

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Intralogistics for the Future of Shopping

EinkaufswagenHow are we going to shop in the future? To generate some insights into the developments in retail, internet marketplace operator Ebay enlisted a number of experts to create a study called “The Future of Retail”. Even though the results are announced for the end of 2012, some of the theses were published in advance.

The experts brought together by Ebay agree that there will be significant changes concerning retail stores. According to them, conventional stores will almost disappear entirely, giving way to showrooms. These showrooms will allow customers to get their hands on the products and try them out, but not take them home. Instead, customers will be able to order the products they want by using QR-codes or order terminals and have them delivered directly to their homes. Is this the future? And if so, what would it mean for intralogistics? Read on…

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