The Material Handling Blog

Read More Articles

7 Ways to Help Your Warehouse Employees Work at Peak Performance

December 29, 2020
For years, logistics consultants, material handling engineers , and supply chain execution providers have been slicing-and-dicing warehouse statistics in a quest to enhance employee performance for the ultimate purpose of bringing profitable dollars to the bottom line. While having tangible statistics and historical records of warehouse operation is important, I suggest that these benchmarks alone will not drive peak employee or warehouse performance.

Hyper-Local Fulfillment 101: Permanent Changes in Buyer Behavior

October 14, 2020
This supply chain evolution has created the need for hyper-local fulfillment, which also comes with its own challenges. Customers expect things like free or low-cost shipping, same or next day delivery, hassle-free returns and inventory to be always in stock, just to name a few.

Breaking the Ice on Cold Storage Automation

October 08, 2020
Bastian Solutions’ Supply Chain Explained: LIVE webinar series continued with Robert Humphry, manager of systems sales taking a look at the complicated industry of frozen and refrigerated goods.

B2B Warehousing: Automation to Transform your Operations

September 30, 2020
Our second webinar of the Supply Chain Explained: LIVE series featured advice from Bastian Solutions’ Director of Consulting, Jason Tenorio, on challenges everyone in the B2B warehousing world is facing. The country has seen a large increase in onshoring due to international transportation issues, along with shutdowns or extreme volume losses in the food service, retail and entertainment industries. In some situations, B2B warehouses are being converted to ecommerce shipping sites, and are being asked to drop-ship direct to consumer orders. We’ve also seen an increase in labor shortages and turnover rates – making it that much harder to meet demand.

Ecommerce Automation: Addressing Overnight Changes in Buying Patterns

September 24, 2020
In the first installment of our Supply Chain Explained: LIVE webinar series, Director of National Accounts Matt Kuper discussed the massive impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the ecommerce supply chain. With retailers shifting to more online sales, grocers managing more buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) orders, and supply chain interruptions across the globe hindering the ability to order parts or products, we saw a major shift in buying patterns for both B2B and B2C.

5 Ways to Keep Your Project on Schedule

September 10, 2020
The two weeks at the beginning of a project take just as long as at the end of a project. The difference between the beginning and end, is that the beginning is usually less stressful than when a project is getting close to a deadline or a hard Go Live date. It can be easy to let precious time slip! By being efficient during the negotiation stage and clearly communicating the project timeline and milestones at the beginning of the process, you can help your projects run smoother.

2020 Internship Program

August 13, 2020
Ever wondered what Bastian Solutions interns are up to during their programs? Bastian Solutions makes every effort to ensure each intern goes back to school or out into the industry with valuable skills necessary for success. From controls to software and systems, our interns had a diverse experience this year, and even with the challenges presented with COVID-19, they each flourished and brought great value to our teams!

Microfulfillment Part 1: What is Microfulfillment?

July 22, 2020
Without a doubt, microfulfillment is one of the hottest trends in supply chain. The ability to get products into consumers’ hands quicker than your competitors is the ultimate leg up, so not only is it a trend, but it’s a strategy enabling today’s retailers to decentralize fulfillment, create a better customer experience and redefine the retail landscape. So, what is it?

Building A Community for Women in Tech: Mentorship and Sponsorship

In the spirit of Canada’s National Engineering Month back in March, and as we welcome a new wave of grads into the workforce, we’re sharing our top tips for inspiring students and young engineers to join the engineering field, stay motivated, and find the community they need to feel sense of belonging. In light of COVID-19’s isolation measures, there’s no better time to connect with community members for a video call to discuss their goals and how you can support them.

A New Graduate's Experience in the Warehouse Automation Environment

June 03, 2020
Graduating from university is an exciting and meaningful milestone for many. Following shortly after is a huge leap into the first full-time position of your career

3 Things That Will Help You Succeed in a Robotics Career

May 02, 2019
At Bastian Solutions' R&D branch, we have seen many intern candidates and interested students apply, all hoping to get into robotics. Here are three characteristics that we look for. They may not be what you think!
Posted in Education

Lessons Learned: Styrofoam Coolers and Timing Belt Transfers

March 20, 2019
While most of our projects are successful, there is always the occasional project that didn’t go as planned. Here are some lessons learned from a recent project involving timing belt transfers and styrofoam coolers. Read: Lessons Learned: Styrofoam Coolers and Timing Belt Transfers

What to Expect When Onboarding at an Engineering Company

February 28, 2019
Here's what you can expect when starting a new role at an engineering company based on my experience joining a team of industrial & systems engineers. Read: What to Expect When Onboarding at An Engineering Company
Posted in Education

Split Case Picking Systems: A Beginner’s Guide, Part 3

February 15, 2019
With the growth in e-commerce, the demand for split case picking order fulfillment systems has never been higher. Here's Part 3 of our Beginner's Guide: Considerations for Choosing a Split Case Picking System Design Read: Split Case Picking Systems: A Beginner’s Guide, Part 3
Posted in Education

Split Case Picking Systems: A Beginner's Guide, Part 2

February 14, 2019
With the growth in e-commerce, the demand for split case picking order fulfillment systems has never been higher. Here's Part 2 of our Beginner's Guide: Options for Designing a Split Case Picking System Read: Split Case Picking Systems: A Beginner’s Guide, Part 2
Posted in Education

Split Case Picking Systems: A Beginner’s Guide, Part 1

February 12, 2019
With the growth in e-commerce, the demand for split case picking order fulfillment systems has never been higher. Here's Part 1 of our Beginner's Guide: What Is Split Case Picking? Read: Split Case Picking Systems: A Beginner’s Guide, Part 1
Posted in Education

The 8 Wastes of Lean Manufacturing Applied to Warehouse Operations

January 10, 2019
Using lean manufacturing principles to increase efficiency and productivity in warehouse operations by eliminating wasteful, non-value-added components. Read: The 8 Wastes of Lean Manufacturing Applied to Warehouse Operations

Trends in Supply Chain Network Software Stack

December 27, 2018
Supply chain network software tools that can help optimize inventory, facilities, and transportation - and some tips to use them. Read: Trends in Supply Chain Network Software Stack

Great Gifts to Give an Engineer

December 10, 2018
We polled Bastian’s engineers to see which gifts they’d love to get this holiday season. From books to gadgets, even STEM toys for future engineers, our fifth annual Gifts for Engineers holiday guide is sure to please! Read: Great Gifts to Give an Engineer

From the “Other Side” – Perspectives from a Systems Integration Rookie

October 19, 2017
Material Handling is not as large of a household term as many of us would like, but once you have product that needs handled, you must know certain levels about the industry. Here's my first material handling systems integration experience. Read: Perspectives from a Systems Integration Rookie

4 Tips for New Engineers Starting Their First Job

July 27, 2017
So you just graduated from an engineering school, and you had a couple interviews with a company that went pretty well. With a sigh of relief, you’ve managed to convince them that you know stuff about things. You may have even convinced yourself of the same. For a time. Read: 4 Tips for New Engineers Starting Their First Job

A Supply Chain Software Comparison: WMS vs. WCS vs. WES

June 07, 2017
The evolution of supply chain management has introduced a new breed of supply chain software, but what are the differences between the "big three"? Let's examine the functionality of WMS, WCS, and WES. Read: A Supply Chain Software Comparison: WMS vs. WCS vs. WES

20 STEM educational gifts perfect for aspiring engineers this holiday season

December 13, 2016
Our list of STEM gifts for the 2016 holiday season will not disappoint the budding engineer in your life. From one year of age and up, these toys make the perfect gift for growing, young minds! Continue Reading: 20 STEM educational gifts for aspiring engineers
Posted in Education

Your First ZiPline Conveyor and the Basics of Owning It

November 08, 2016
You are now the proud owner of a ZiPline conveyor, and maybe you are starting to wonder what exactly the next step is. Possibly this is the first conveyor you have ever purchased to which I will be the first to say congratulations on taking the efficiency of your operations seriously and making a bold step to transition to an automated facility. This is likely a little scary, a little exciting, and a little costly compared to previous modes of operation, but don’t worry, you’re in good hands. Read: Your First ZiPline Conveyor and the Basics of Owning It

Improve Warehouse Safety During National Safety Month

May 16, 2016
Employee safety is important in any field of work, but for manufacturing, distribution, and warehouse workers, it's something that must be considered every day. From poor ergonomics to high-tech machinery, there are a lot of situations our workers encounter each day that could potentially lead to injury. Read: Improve Your Warehouse Workers' Safety During National Safety Month

How to Select the Right Container for Conveying Products

July 01, 2015
Are you considering the purchase of a conveyor system to transport your product in the warehouse? If so, there can be many factors to consider when deciding how to convey your material, especially when it comes to the box or container holding the material. In this article, we’ll discuss a few things to keep in mind. Read: Selecting the Right Container

Prep for the Holidays with These Material Handling Maintenance Tips

September 24, 2014
The holiday season is fast approaching: Yesterday was the first day of fall, football is finally back, and Kmart has already released its first Christmas commercial (no matter how hard they deny it). With the holiday rush around the corner, it’s important to inspect each area of your material handling system to ensure it's running at peak performance. Read: Material Handling Maintenance Tips

What is an Engineer’s Favorite Food?

August 29, 2014
With Labor Day weekend upon us, I asked our robotics team about their favorite food. From the results, it seems they are very carnivorous! See the full survey and enjoy a great grilling recipe from one of our engineers. Read: Engineers' Favorite Foods

How to Stay Healthy While Traveling

December 30, 2013
With the New Year right around the corner, many people are likely thinking about a resolution or two: maybe staying organized, a better work-life balance or one of the most popular, getting healthy! Focusing on a healthier lifestyle can be challenging anytime, especially in the super-size-it world we live in. However, staying healthy is even more challenging when you travel a lot. Read: Stay Healthy While Traveling
Posted in Education

How Do We Recruit the Next Generation of Skilled Workers?

October 02, 2013
I regularly hear from manufacturing business leaders about how hard it is to attract and retain top skilled workers for manufacturing. I know firsthand how hard it is to bring on the next generation of craftsmen in our plant. There are many reasons for this shortage, but I think a lot of it stems back to lack of a successful career path for our young people coming out of high school... Read: Recruiting skilled workers >>

Why Career Fairs are Still Relevant in Our Digital World

March 20, 2013
I recently attended a career fair with our HR Manager to look for quality production candidates to join our custom automation group in Greenfield, Ind. As an employer, we typically list most of our job openings online, but I have found attending career fairs can be very valuable for qualifying great candidates... Read More >>

Transitioning from a FIRST Student to a FIRST Mentor

January 16, 2013
A stadium is packed, adults and kids filling the stands and watching in anticipation. Fans loudly cheer on their team, proudly wearing their teams' colors, while fans back home watch the game on ESPN. Both teams are vying for a guaranteed playoff spot within their division and have had a long season getting to this point. Think this is your typical sporting event? Think again. Welcome to Einstein Field during the championship event of a FIRST Robotics Competition. Read More >>

The Value of Training

November 07, 2012
As a recent college graduate, I have been exposed to many new and exciting aspects of the robotics and material handling industries. I will argue that in the past month alone I have gained more valuable work experience than in the last four years of college. Why do I say this? The main reason is due to strong and impactful training. Continue Reading >>

Grinding Gears: The Journey of a Master’s Degree

November 02, 2012
As a grad student (MSME - Fall '12), I've had a few challenges while balancing a full-time job and a earning my master's degree. So has it been worth it? It depends on the day you ask, but here are my thoughts on what grad school is, what it is perceived to be, and how you can survive... Continue Reading >>

Do You Know the Difference Between SaaS and Cloud Computing?

June 27, 2012
When talking about software as a service (SaaS) and cloud computing, people tend to use the two terms interchangeably. Although the two technologies are related, they are not the same. So what is the distinction? Simply put, SaaS is a type of cloud computing . Let’s roll up our sleeves and dig into the specifics so you can better select services and products that will benefit your organization... Continue Reading >>

Have You Thought About a 401K?

March 29, 2012
Our life cycle can easily be broken into three distinct seasons: childhood, the working years, and retirement. Although many people survive the first two seasons with few financial crises, the final season is often a difficult and stressful time financially due to a lack of planning. What can we do to avoid this difficult time in our retirement years? The answer is having a well-developed savings plan and implementing it at the outset of the working era... Read more >>

Help Me, Help You -- A Project Engineer's Take on RFPs

January 19, 2012
End users... can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. We love our customers. They keep us in business. More importantly, they make the world go round. BUT, we do need to talk. In this day and age, it's absolutely crucial to develop a sound request for proposal, or RFP. There are several key advantages to taking the time and effort to do so, but this isn't a how-to on on RFPs. Instead, it is key information that you should think about as it relates to your projects. Read More >>

The Power of Hopes and Dreams

December 09, 2011
As a child, I was very fortunate to have a great family that encouraged me to work hard, do my best, and go after my dreams. I was also blessed throughout school with great friends, coaches, and teachers that helped build my character, knowledge, and imagination. Unfortunately, many young people have not been given this same level of encouragement, but as adults, it is our responsibility to encourage our youth and teach them to go after their dreams... Read More >>

5 Ways to Support Your Conveyor System, While Conserving Floor Space

October 27, 2011
In years gone by, facility roofs were designed in such a manner that you could just about hang the Queen Mary from them with little regard given to worrying about the roof collapsing or caving in. Nowadays, this is not always the case. With rising costs in steel and labor, roof structures are for the most part designed with the minimum loading allowed by law. This can cause concern when trying to layout a material handling system within a distribution center. Clear floor space is very important to customers, so here are five ways conveyor can be supported without hanging it from your roof or facility structure. Read More >>

Safety First: A Review of OSHA Violations and Penalties

October 21, 2011
In my last blog article, What's the True Cost of Your Corporate Safety Program , I discussed the importance of corporate safety training and some of the most popular OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) citations in 2010. Now I'd like to review some of the costs that occur when workplace safety standards are not followed, which often results in violations with costly penalties that can reach upwards of $500,000, and in some cases, even jail time. Read More >>

Evaluating the Economics Behind Your Project Investment

September 14, 2011
As consultants and material handling system integrators, we are often asked to evaluate the economics of capital projects. There are several metrics that can be used to evaluate a project, each with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. However, we are almost always pressed to say what the "payback period" is of a given project. Every time it happens, my stomach hurts just a little. Read More >>

How the Material Handling Industry Sparked a Marketing Craze

August 18, 2011
As surprising as it might seem, the material handling industry was the founder of today's current marketing craze--the quick response (QR) code. That little black and white square now seen everywhere from your Starbucks cup to movie posters was originally used by vehicle manufacturers to track parts. In recent years, however, the QR code has transitioned into a handy little marketing tool, great for increasing customer engagement and providing additional information. Read More >>

The #1 Way to Increase the ROI of Your Automation System

July 20, 2011
So you're planning to invest, or have already invested, thousands or millions of dollars in your industrial automation system to ensure the long-term growth and success of your company. That's great!  Now it's time to make a relatively small investment that will help you maximize the return on investment (ROI) from your new system, and here's how... Read More >>

The Lipstick and Rouge behind the Material Handling Industry

July 13, 2011
I have the privilege of being surrounded by very bright, brilliant, and talented individuals on a daily basis. They take complicated problems associated with the material handling industry, and come up with amazing engineered solutions to those problems. Those engineered solutions are then most commonly expressed in some sort of technical document along with an engineering drawing. Within that drawing, exists brilliance and beauty; however, not everyone has the ability to see that, which is where the lipstick and rouge come in. Read More >>

4 Project Management Lessons I Learned From Kids

July 01, 2011
I spent the last year helping some middle school students start a robotics club . We had a ton of fun, some challenges, very little money and in the end ... a very big success. There were quite a few lessons I learned as a professional project manager that, as it turns out, it takes a child to teach (or at least reinforce)... Read More >>

Creating Effective Safety Training for Your Employees

May 03, 2011
In 2009, 4,340 fatal work injuries were reported in the U.S. Although that number is lower than in previous years, the importance of providing a safe work environment is still a very big issue for many employers. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) mandates that business owners must provide safety training to all employees. However, owners are given the option of deciding what kind of training will be done and what topics will be covered as it relates to their business. Read More >>

Thinking Outside the Box is Key to Innovative Solutions

April 28, 2011
In today's business world, many employees--including myself from time to time--wear multiple hats on a day-to-day basis. These additional responsibilities, combined with a decreasing amount of time in which to do them, create an atmosphere in which out-of-the-box thinking is often lost. Read More >>

Is Social Media Just a Fad for B2B Companies?

April 21, 2011
Regardless of popular belief, social media isn't a new concept. It's been around in the form of word-of-mouth since the beginning of time. It's in our nature to want to share information and our experiences, whether good or bad. In fact, and I'm sure this is true with many companies, word-of mouth is Bastian's number one form of new business, and with the onset of social media, customers now have even more ways to connect with and talk about their favorite brands and companies. Read More >>

Top 10 Ways to Accomplish Your 2011 Strategic Goals

February 08, 2011
Most successful businesses devote considerable time and energy to establishing annual strategic goals. So now that the goals have been set, what's the secret to getting them accomplished? No doubt this is tough because the day-to-day, urgent tasks tend to push annual goals to the back burner. Read More >>

Lean Six Sigma Part II: Do You Know What Your Customers Want?

January 20, 2011
As an officer in the U.S. Air Force, I was responsible for the phase inspection of our bomber aircraft. The team took the aircraft down for inspection, repairs, and preventative maintenance of safety-of-flight and mission-critical items. Our maintenance group commander, a colonel, constantly challenged our quality assurance (QA) pass rates on phase inspections. The goal was 96 percent, and on average, the unit hit that mark. "Not good enough," the colonel kept saying month after month. Read More >>

The Importance of Optimizing Your Packing Process

January 13, 2011
For most companies, warehouse efficiency has become a matter of survival versus the profitability goals of a few years ago. Thus, most companies are looking for even more ways to make their day-to-day processes more efficient. Depending on the SKU's mix, efficiencies in the picking process are as unique as the stars; but regardless of how efficiently items are picked, each individual order still needs to be packaged and marked for transit before shipment, making efficient packaging methods very important. Read More >>

What's the True Cost of Your Corporate Safety Program

December 21, 2010
Few of us have been able to escape the unwanted, but necessary, cost-cutting initiatives of our employers during the past three years of the recession. In the interest of self preservation, we have combed through each line item of the corporate budget looking for hidden treasures to help sustain us until consumer demand returns. In addition to reducing the true costs of our goods and services, we have also turned to cost avoidance initiatives to help shore up the bottom line by delaying a multitude of expenditures, such as upgrading machinery, hiring new employees, and training efforts. This short-sited approach is great in the near term, but in the rush to save one dollar today, we often times fail to fully consider the long-term implications.
Posted in Education

The Top 10 Characteristics of a Perfect Project Manager

July 26, 2010
Having been in the trenches executing complex automated material handling systems for the last 23 years certain “lessons learned” become etched into my mind. The difference between a great project manager and a mediocre project manager directly impacts: the ability to complete the project on time, overall profitability, and most important customer goodwill... which translates to the future revenue stream with that customer. I would offer the following 10 characteristics of a perfect project manager for your consideration...
Posted in Education

AGVs for the common man.

July 13, 2010
Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) have historically been extremely hard to justify for everyday distribution applications. They are burdened by the high cost of a custom engineered vehicle and the fear of supporting a one of a kind piece of equipment. Kollmorgen has recently come up with an impressive solution to this problem...

Lean Optimization for Pack Out and Manifest Operations

June 28, 2010
Lean manufacturing is a common production practice. It considers the spending of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be a wasteful practice, and thus a target for elimination. Wasteful practices are those practices that do not add value to our customers. When considering each process within your facility it becomes necessary to consider those goods and services that you, as a customer, are willing to pay for and those goods and services that you do not see value in...

Inventory Accuracy is Key to Operational Performance

April 08, 2010
I was recently at a client location and I asked them what their number one operational problem was. The director of distribution didn’t miss a beat. “Inventory Accuracy,” was his reply.
Tags: Indianapolis
Posted in Education

Options Available with ASRS Technology

March 05, 2010
In my first article, I discussed a method of quickly testing the applicability of a particular solution without investing a great deal of time or energy in investigating the concept. This “first blush” approach has saved me countless consulting hours by avoiding alternatives that will not pass the test of selection. This, in turn, has allowed me to spend more time on the eligible candidates that hold more promise.
Tags: AS/RS

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About AS/RS, But Were Afraid to Ask...

August 05, 2009
Since the introduction of AS/R systems in the United States, the technology has evolved in a number of directions that has resulted in greater capability, and a large diversity in the rules for its application. Needless to say, in the last 40 years or so, these systems have become both Hero and Villain to the enterprises they have served. Success and horror stories are constantly referenced, and depending on which end of the spectrum your counsel is from, you may be influenced to make a decision focused on the wrong issues or for the wrong reasons...
Tags: AS/RS, Mason, Ohio
Posted in Education

"Rules of the Road" for Conveyor

May 28, 2009
There are basic rules of the road for designing a conveyor system. Here are a few. · Determine the size curve required for your conveyables before picking the width of the conveyor for your system · Be sure to select straight tangents before or after curves depending if you are entering or exiting a belt conveyor or a live roller conveyor · Never skimp on horsepower. It doesn’t cost much more before the system is installed but it’s always more expensive to upgrade later · Unless you have first hand knowledge of how a product conveys, test it. Inclines and declines can surprise you since boxes or totes may be slippery or unevenly loaded. Airborne particulates can be a gotcha... Click on "Rules of the Road" above to read more...
Posted in Education

Continuous Employee Development: Setting and Managing Expectations for Successful Growth

May 28, 2009
All living things grow if they're healthy. You don't have to make them grow -- it's just natural for living organisms. As a parent, I didn't have to force my six children to grow. They grew up naturally. As long as I removed the obstructions, such as poor nutrition or an unsafe environment, their growth was automatic. The same principle is true for a healthy organization of people. An organization is a living organism - an interrelationship of people and processes, and it is natural for it to grow if it's healthy, and if the obstructions are removed. I refer not to a growth size (although that may a natural consequence), but in the process of relentless maturing. Every growing organization is always re-evaluating itself and looking for that next step in its growth pattern. These are the companies, departments, functions, etc. that are always reaching to be better. Along the way they try things and take risks that, if lead by good leaders, pay off - more often than not...
Tags: Indianapolis
Posted in Education

How to Maintain System Uptime, In a Down Economy

April 02, 2009
In a down economy, businesses start to maintain their conveyors instead of replacing them. As the economy starts to squeeze the wallet, new conveyor sales start to fall but spare parts sales, according to Bob Trebilcock from Modern Material Handling magazine, could potentially increase 25% this year...

Cash Flow: Material Handling Financing Strategies

August 21, 2006
Bastian Material Handling explains financing options for building and equipment in a feature article in Modern Material Handling.
Tags: N/A
Results: 62 Blog Posts found.


Upcoming Events

Bastian Solutions MODEX 2022

Don't miss this supply chain industry event on March 28 - 31 in Atlanta, Georgia.