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Black Friday, Cyber Monday: Last Minute Prep for Peak Season Operations

November 24, 2021
The holiday season is in full swing and shoppers have already started browsing and buying. Despite current supply chain complexities, the National Retail Federation reports, “Consumers are spending just as much this year on gifts and other items to celebrate the spirit of the holidays.” Holiday sales are expected to reach between $843.4 billion and $859 billion in November and December, that’s an 8.5 and 10.5 percentage growth from last year. That does not include automobile, gas station or restaurant data. Consumer demand remains strong when it comes to retail ecommerce. For warehouse and distribution center operations that means putting processes to the test. No matter how much automation is currently installed, handling seasonal peaks requires a smooth process that allows for operations to thrive – accurate orders, reliable fulfillment and scalable operations – during this hectic, bustling time. As we gear up for 2022, experts at Adobe predict we will be facing the first ever trillion dollar year in ecommerce sales – it’s never too soon to prepare for an uptick in sales year-round.

Peak Season: When Customer Focus Matters Most for Supply Chain

November 22, 2021
It’s no surprise that peak season is no longer just Black Friday. The ecommerce and retail markets have changed to show increased demand throughout the year. That increase means added focus on supply chain quality and efficiencies. Material handling automation and software solutions can help offer answers across industries to tasks like picking and packing, manufacturing, on-site storage, product movement, and so much more. As markets change and adjust, even during this traditional holiday peak season companies are striving to win over current and potential customers. Customer trust is key and maintaining that makes a big difference on customer success. This starts with building an internal culture that is customer focused, building lasting partnerships through teamwork, collaboration and trust.

When is it Time to Introduce Automated Vehicles to Your Distribution Center?

November 01, 2021
Bastian Solutions and Toyota Assist with Automation in Warehouses It’s no secret that ecommerce has changed the way people shop as well as how quickly customers expect to receive their orders. This expectation of fast delivery puts pressure on distribution centers to operate faster and more efficiently than ever before. So, how do you make sure your business can compete in today’s ever-changing, high-demand environment? The solution is automated guided vehicles (AGVs). While traditional forklifts such as order pickers, reach trucks and stackers are extremely useful for managing inventory and transporting heavy products, it is beneficial to have automated systems in place to take some of the complex work out of fulfillment. How do you determine when it’s time to integrate an automated vehicle solution in your DC (distribution centers)? Discover how these automated systems can help you navigate your warehouse confidently and take your operation to new heights.

Employee Safety: 5 Key PPE to Prevent Common Warehouse Injuries

October 28, 2021
Safety first. That can’t be stressed enough. Over the last five years, fatal workplace injuries are on the rise and non-fatal injuries has slowly decreased. The most recent November 2020 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed that throughout 2019 there were 5,333 fatal work injuries, a 2 percent increase from year prior. Non-fatal injuries, however, remain mostly unchanged but are in a downward trend compared to the last few years. They stand at 2.8 non-fatal injuries per 100 full-time workers. Employee safety and protection has been a primary concern with the COVID-19 pandemic but the leading causes for non-fatal and fatal injuries are still crucial to keep in mind – falls, slips, trips, contact with objects and equipment, exposure to harmful substances, fires and explosions, and transportation accidents.

Strengthening Supply Chain Operations During India's Peak Festive Season

October 26, 2021
India is welcoming the festive season and ready to celebrate with great enthusiasm while adapting to the new normal brought on by the pandemic. Festive months are generally a time to indulge in heavy shopping, which increases our budget spent in light of the ongoing festive vibe and running promotional sales offers. Festive season 2021 is expected to bring numerous opportunities for retailers and ecommerce companies. Festive sale offers have already begun and with buyers becoming more comfortable with online shopping, Forrester Research expects online retailers to generate about $9.2 billion in sales during this period. That’s a 42 percent year over year increase from their evaluation of $6.5 billion in festival months sales during 2020. We are excited to witness this exponential jump in India’s ecommerce market. As per the estimates by RedSeer Consulting, ecommerce platforms such as Flipkart and Amazon India got $2.7 billion in the first four days of festive sales that began on 2 October 2021. The excitement with festive promotional sales offers will create massive online traffic, impact product sales and company turnover, and put enormous pressure on companies’ supply chain processes. Companies might equate the ecommerce platform as the “brain” and the supply chain as its “heart”. Both must perform in tandem to fully meet and satisfy customer expectations. Festive months are a crucial period when companies can make a lasting, positive impact on consumers.

Adaptaciones y reconfiguración: lo que debe saber antes de modernizar su sistema de automatización

October 14, 2021
Si ha formado parte de una empresa que haya acometido planes de adaptación o transición, conocerá los retos que se afrontan al desarrollar un proyecto con las operaciones en marcha. En Bastian Solutions vemos cada año muchos proyectos con operaciones en marcha, como los de mejora o modernización de las operaciones existentes. Esos proyectos son mucho más complicados que los que se ejecutan en instalaciones flamantes o existentes que aún no se encuentran operativas. Cuando se emprenden proyectos de adaptación en operaciones existentes, los directivos de la empresa deben esforzarse para mantener las operaciones cotidianas en marcha con poca o ninguna interrupción para no debilitar el servicio al cliente. Las reconfiguraciones, cuando un nuevo sistema se instala online en una operación directa, también debe manejarse con cuidado para reducir los tiempos de inactividad y las interrupciones en general.

Tompkins Robotics: Automating Hyperlocal and DC Sortation from End to End

October 13, 2021
In today’s global market – facing an acceleration in ecommerce and managing the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic – flexibility is not only key, but a necessity. The flexibility to scale up or down and use automation where it fits best in order to help to maintain a leading edge in the industry markets. Facilitating greater speed, agility and adaptability in warehouse distribution and order fulfillment, Tompkins Robotics’ solutions are designed to allow customers to be more successful in dynamically changing environments. In 2019, Bastian Solutions added Tompkins Robotics’ autonomous mobile robot (AMRs) solution to our growing portfolio of automation capabilities. We talked to Mike Futch, the CEO and President of Tompkins Robotics, for a deeper insight on the technology and future of DC automation development.

You Need it When?! The Challenges of Same-Day Delivery

September 22, 2021
Same-day fulfillment and delivery is a growing trend and one that is being explored by big name retailers for an additional competitive edge. With continuing growth in ecommerce sales and mobile device usage, companies will need to master the art of fulfillment in minutes to meet same-day delivery requests. So, how do retailers adjust operations for a better ROI and how do they balance current labor market challenges? Whether you have an omnichannel or direct to consumer, local fulfillment operation, below are some key points when considering a same-day delivery strategy.

Finding the Right Automation for Grocery Ecommerce: 3 Proven Technologies

September 15, 2021
By now, we all know the headache that is the world of grocery ecommerce. Between a global pandemic, supply chain issues, product shortages and changing consumer demands, many grocers are scrambling to make the best decision for their customers and their bottom line. The industry transitioning from “how a grocer is going to automate the instore fulfillment process?” to “how are they going to optimize the whole process, including last mile delivery?” Brick Meets Click data showed that online grocery sales for pickup or delivery were $6.6 billion in April of this year. That’s down from the $7.1 billion in grocery e-commerce sales in March of this year, but up from $5.3 billion in April 2020. Reducing the labor spend for filling orders in the store is the first step; what follows is a strategy that can help reduce the overall cost of getting orders into the hands of customers, regardless of the hand-off location. Being a high-volume and low-margin industry, grocers need microfulfillment automation and technologies that are proven, scalable, dense, fast AND have a quick, high return on investment, like these:

Cold Food Storage: Leveraging 5 Key Automation Technologies

August 25, 2021
Real estate is a hot item right now. Coupled with changing consumer grocery and ecommerce buying habits and frozen goods growth, cold storage is in demand. Whether a metropolitan location, to satisfy microfulfillment and hyperlocal needs, or as a regional distribution center, commercial real estate availability has dropped according to Real Capital Analytics. Cold storage industry growth, however, is projected at 4.5% by 2023. This means storage providers are faced with the challenge of optimizing facilities while handling increased inventory volumes and speed. How can cold chain supply professionals effectively prepare for this expected growth? By eliminating inefficiencies and leveraging the right material handling automation.

Richelieu Streamlines Order Fulfillment for Improved Customer Experience

August 05, 2021
Serving more than 80,000 customers in both Canada and the United States, Richelieu aimed to increase customer satisfaction with faster, reliable order fulfillment. As an international importer, distributor and manufacturer of specialty hardware, Richelieu manages over 110,000 SKUs. In addition to a faster and more streamlined order fulfillment approach, Richelieu was able to consolidate external storage by leveraging their Montreal facility. They looked to Bastian Solutions to advise and implement the right combination of automation technology to add to Richelieu’s facility longevity and implement a system that helps them reliably maintain strong customer service.

5 Considerations for Retail E-Fulfillment Polybag Packing Automation

July 28, 2021
Bag or box? They aren’t the only packing options, but they are certainly the most prevalent when it comes to retail fulfillment. With ecommerce activity on the rise, planning for and designing DC efficiency around single order pick and pack operations is a necessary shift to remaining competitive in the retail industry. Not only does this factor into meeting consumers’ quick turnaround expectations but also in keeping costs low. When it comes to packing and shipping, you can make efficiencies in larger factors such as operations and system design but also in smaller details like the size of the parcel. Shipping fast and cost efficiently is a balancing act that starts in warehouse or distribution center design. Whether you are working with polybags, boxes or both, appropriate automation sizing and integration with surrounding equipment has immediate and lasting impacts.

4 Ways Warehouse Industrial Robots Can Maximize Your ROI

June 30, 2021
In order to maximize your return on investment (ROI) for a robotic system, it is vital that you optimize the tasks that the robot is assigned. If the rate at which the robot handles product does not completely utilize the robot’s capabilities, you just might be leaving opportunities on the table. Analyzing the tasks, rates and capabilities can help not only maximize the robotic system but also help reduce the need for ancillary equipment and additional investments, creating a more streamline operation.

Rethinking DC Packing Automation for E-fulfillment

June 16, 2021
Pick, pack and ship is fairly straightforward but with increasing pressures to process orders faster and faster, these tasks can give your company a competitive edge. When I’m looking at a customer’s distribution center, there are certain indicators I look for to try to find improvement opportunities. For a company that processes ecommerce orders, pick totes are at the top of that list. While they’re sometimes necessary, they’re often a red flag for underlying operational inefficiencies. However, these inefficiencies are easily remedied through a combination of process flow updates and new automation. These projects often have a fantastic ROI, paying back the initial investment in one to two years. To top it off, they’re easy choices for our customers to implement.

Accurately Visualize Robotic Systems with Computer Simulations

June 09, 2021
As industrial robotic technology has improved over the years, so has related simulation software. So much so, that a majority of the upfront programming for a robotic system is typically now completed in simulation software first before being implemented in a physical robot. The sophisticated software programs used for robotic simulations replicate real world robotic conditions within a 3D virtual environment. These tools allow for detailed customization providing a reliably clear view of how a robot will operate before its built and integrated. This gives customers peace of mind of how their investment will support their operations.

4 Types of DC Automation Maintenance for Less Operation Downtime

June 02, 2021
If you look up the word maintenance on the internet, you will find a lot of different variations in definition – from how often to service equipment to what degree of maintenance – and terminology. The bottom line is that the need of a maintenance plan cannot be ignored. The most common types of maintenance in the material handling industry can be put into four distinct categories. These maintenance activities include Reactive, Preventive, Predictive or Reliability Centered Maintenance practices. No matter if you have just a small conveyor system or a multimillion dollar fully automated distribution center you will have to perform maintenance activities to keep the equipment running. For each method, there are pros and cons.

4 Steps for Evaluating and Deciding on DC Automation

May 26, 2021
If your distribution center has grown in both SKUs and order volume or your typical order has shifted from retail to more ecommerce sales resulting in larger requests for smaller orders; it’s possible your picking productivity isn’t where it should be. You might also be struggling to find the labor to push orders out the door quickly and meet your service level agreements. These are just some of challenges that companies, both large and small, around the globe are facing as they adapt to market changes and shift fulfillment operations to cater to the latest ecommerce demands.

Making the Most of Automation for Food and Beverage Manufacturing

May 05, 2021
No two automation projects are the same. What makes a project unique? The size of the project, complexity of the operation, deployed technologies, or new installation at greenfield facility versus a modernization or expansion of an existing, brownfield site. Adding automation technology for food and beverage manufacturers, however, adds a different challenge and a different set of variables that are important to consider as you plan, implement, and leverage the new tools. At Bastian Solutions, one of our core values is to “keep growing,” and we do this by implementing Kaizen principles. One detail that is constant in all of these projects is learning how to do it better and keeping that in mind for new projects. Adding advanced technologies to a distribution or manufacturing operation can certainly create efficiencies. With food and beverage, I’ve found that there are four key focus areas that can help manufacturers truly make the most of automating their processes.

Scallog: Creating a Resilient Solution for the Future of Warehouse Logistics

April 28, 2021
Dynamic and easily scalable, goods to person technologies have risen to the forefront of order fulfillment conversation amid rapid ecommerce growth. Answering the challenge of automation for various industry applications and operation sizes, Scallog’s order fulfillment system adds a mobile robotic solution to the mix. Announced late last year, Bastian Solutions, an independent integrator, has added Scallog’s technology to our growing portfolio of automation capabilities. We talked to Olivier Rochet, founder and president of Scallog, for a deeper insight on the technology and future of DC automation development. This French robotic automation system manufacturer, already installed in six countries, offers a goods to person technology based on robots that move shelves around the warehouse.

Employee Development: Path to a Lean Supply Chain

April 14, 2021
As a fundamental element, supply chain and logistics requires delivering a quality product to the consumer. The details behind quality product and on time delivery are complex and filled with complexities such as distribution center locations, advanced automation technologies, product specifications, throughput goals, and software support. And, while selecting the right automation equipment is important for a company’s competitive advantage, sustainable growth is most centered around the people. Lean supply chain management and the operational success is a product of the strength of your human resources. How do you create and foster sustainable human resource growth? While COVID-19 has forced companies to shift priorities and adjust manufacturing processes to deal with changing consumer demand and new safety precautions, the fundamentals continue to hold true for employee development: clarify goals and direction, identify the challenges, promote learning, and put that learning into practice.

Adapting Manufacturing Strategies for Direct to Consumer Fulfillment

March 31, 2021
The internet, since its adoption in the 1990s, is an amazing place that consistently opens new doors and creates new opportunities. Business models continue to adapt to our new connected reality. Increasingly, consumers are working their way up the supply chain. Retailers first felt this push as customers are happy to cut brick and mortar stores out of their daily routine and make purchases directly from the warehouse through digital storefronts. This has led to the development and dominance of omnichannel distribution models, delivering a variety of goods and brands under one company. They are required to compete with online-only retailers like Amazon. This was a dramatic shift for the distribution center.

Investments are Causing Massive Disruption in the Automation and Robotics Field

March 17, 2021
Technology and automation have had a place in distribution and supply chains for decades. Typically, high-end automation was reserved for the largest multi-national organizations with ample capital and a vision to improve efficiencies in their supply chain. While the technology adoption curve is much more mature in Europe than North America, N. American business investment in supply chain automation and distribution is increasing rapidly due to changing customer buying behavior, labor shortages, ecommerce adoption, and access to various technologies both mature and emerging. The amount of new technologies emerging to support distribution and supply chain automation is also rapidly increasing; and for good reason.

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.

Multi-Site Project Implementations: Consistency Drives Efficiency

November 18, 2020
As the global effects of COVID-19 continue to play out, demand for contactless shopping via eCommerce is increasing putting pressure on fulfillment. Businesses are scrambling to identify opportunities to increase supply across their distribution networks. Many are seeking support from automation systems integrators (conveyor, robotics, software, controls) across several fulfillment sites at once. While multi-site implementations can be challenging, when executed successfully they can achieve greater results than single-site implementations.

Using an AutoStore ASRS as a Manufacturing WIP Storage Buffer

October 22, 2020
With the advent of cube storage solutions, non-traditional ASRS have become more prevalent. In certain applications, the cube storage solution can be denser (smaller facility footprint) and less expensive than traditional ASRS.

How Much Does Pallet Racking Cost?

August 27, 2020
There are many factors which must be considered when pricing the various types of pallet racking. For the most accurate pallet racking price you should always consult with your material handling provider. However, what if you’re only looking for a ROM (rough order of magnitude) or high-level estimate? Below are a few rules of thumb that will help you determine a rough price estimate for pallet racking.

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?

Promoting Warehouse Worker Safety Post-COVID-19

June 23, 2020
During this global coronavirus pandemic, people are concerned with protecting themselves and their families from contracting and spreading the disease; many go to extraordinary measures to ensure everyone they care about stays healthy. For employers, this protective nature extends to the employees who are the foundation of their business too.

A Thank You to Essential Businesses and Personnel

March 30, 2020
Without the world of supply chain – truck drivers, factory employees, maintenance crews and retail workers, just to name a few – our world might, figuratively, stop turning.

Weathering the Storm, Part 2: The Balancing Act of Supply Chain Risk Management

February 19, 2020
It's impossible to predict where or when a disaster may occur, but these tips can help mitigate the risk in today's increasingly global supply chains.

The Blockchain Supply Chain: Transparent and Traceable

January 17, 2019
Modern supply chains are extremely complex, making it difficult to track provenance, production methods, and more. Blockchain technology can change that. Read: The Blockchain Supply Chain: Transparent and Traceable

Lessons From the Amazon Effect

December 19, 2018
How the retail and material handling industries have evolved to service increasing e-commerce demand. Read: Lessons From the Amazon Effect

Optimizing Productivity and Space Utilization Through Warehouse Slotting

November 15, 2018
One of the differentiators between average-class and best-in-class operations is having an active warehouse slotting program. Read: Optimizing Productivity and Space Utilization Through Warehouse Slotting

A Food Bank Supply Chain: The Logistics of Feeding the Hungry

November 13, 2018
Food banks from a supply chain perspective: how they receive, store, process, and distribute millions of pounds of food out to the community. Read: A Food Bank Supply Chain: The Logistics of Feeding the Hungry
Posted in The Supply Chain

Software and Automation for Third Party Logistics

April 30, 2018
The need for third party logistics companies has grown greatly over the past decade. With the rise of e-commerce, many companies do not wish to host their own distribution for those channels of sales. The solution is for businesses to outsource elements of their distribution and fulfillment operations. Read: Software and Automation for Third Party Logistics

How Can Internet of Things (IoT) Tracking Help Recover Assets?

March 14, 2018
From theft to damaged goods, there is a disconnect in the current supply chain. The Internet of Things is quickly changing how we track, manage, and recover assets. What can you do today to ensure your products are shipped on time and uninterrupted? Read More: How Can Internet of Things (IoT) Tracking Help Recover Assets?

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe: Picking the Best Supply Chain Trade Organizations

March 02, 2018
Welcome to the world of distribution…or is it supply chain….or maybe logistics? Whatever you call it, your objective is to get something from one place to another. There are hundreds of thousands of people working to do the same. Wouldn't it be great if you could find those people and learn from them? Read: Picking the Best Supply Chain Trade Organizations

The Highway to Success – Enhancing the Value of the Workforce through Automation

February 28, 2018
Last year, MHI published its “Material Handling & Logistics US Roadmap 2.0”. The Roadmap explains how changing trends in the workforce, technology, consumers and logistics infrastructure will impact material handling and logistics through 2030. One of the biggest changes we see occurring is the relationship between the workforce and technology. Read: Enhancing the Value of the Workforce Through Automation

3 Keys to a Successful Warehouse Management System Implementation

February 09, 2018
Purchasing a new warehouse management system (WMS) can bring levels of uncertainty. You want to ensure it's installed correctly and smoothly and your employees are properly trained. To do so, here are 3 steps to a successful WMS implementation. Read: 3 Keys to a Successful WMS Implementation

10 Common Warehousing Mistakes to Avoid This Year

December 28, 2017
Constraints such as omni-channel distribution and speed to delivery have really put a strain on overall operations.  Given the immense challenges faced today, DC managers and facility engineers should work to avoid the following 10 common warehousing mistakes. Read: 10 Common Warehousing Mistakes to Avoid This Year

Zone Skipping Your Way to Increased Profits in Ecommerce Distribution

October 05, 2017
Zone skipping is a logistics technique where companies ship their products directly to sorting facilities close to the final ship-to destination.  Zone skipping can result in a significant savings as the costs associated with multiple sort and transfer points by the carrier are eliminated. Read: Zone Skipping Your Way to Increased Profits

Business Intelligence in Modern Material Handling

September 06, 2017
As consumer needs get more demanding, material handling companies must keep pace and stay competitive.  There is a plethora of unique technologies for developing a warehousing solution, and with all of these, the ability to monitor the system and make meaningful decisions is crucial. Enter business intelligence... Read: Business Intelligence in Modern Material Handling

A Beginner's Guide to Order Picking Technologies

August 01, 2017
Time to impress upper management with four picking technologies you should know when beginning a career in the supply chain. Read: A Beginner's Guide to Picking Technologies

The Death of Brick and Mortar Retail…Not So Fast!

June 29, 2017
Never in our lifetimes have we seen such as change in the retail supply chain. The traditional process of regional distribution centers shipping to brick and mortar stores has been significantly altered by online fulfillment from the likes of Amazon.com and an ever-growing list of online retailers. Read: The Death of Brick and Mortar Retail

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

Now is the Time to Replace RF with Voice Picking Technology

May 23, 2017
Warehouse picking technologies have developed immensely over the past 15 years. Offerings range from paper pick lists and light directed picking, all the way to goods-to-man technologies. Depending on throughput, budgets, and space requirements, each of these have their place in the warehouse logistics world. Read: Now is the Time to Replace RF with Voice Picking Technology

Supply Chain Software Making a Big Impact for Small Business & Startups

April 20, 2017
Large companies have teams of statisticians, data scientists and engineers to solve complex logistical problems. Companies like Amazon invest millions of dollars for small improvements to their already lean and efficient operations. But what about companies just starting off in warehouse distribution? How can these companies plan for growth while maintaining small, budget friendly operations? Read: Supply Chain Software Making a Big Impact for Small Business & Startups

Key Considerations When Designing Goods-to-Person Systems

January 26, 2017
The ever-increasing need to satisfy customers in the world of order fulfillment is causing the warehouse and distribution industries to consider more efficient and cost-effective solutions to satisfy the need. This has lead many companies to implement, or consider, higher-automation solutions that include goods-to-person technologies. Read: Key Considerations When Designing Goods-to-Person Systems

E-Commerce, the Economy, and Our On Demand World

January 24, 2017
A movie, pizza, pair of shoes, microwave…your new material handling system. All these things and anything else you can think of are now available with a few keystrokes and a click of a mouse. All this buying is not only driving the retail market, but also growing other businesses. Read: E-Commerce, the Economy, and Our On Demand World

The Whole 9 Yards on E-Commerce

December 21, 2016
With an unprecedented ability to compare prices and shop around without ever leaving the house, more and more people are utilizing E-commerce. So how are successful E-commerce companies setting themselves apart? Read on to find out. Read: The Whole 9 Yards on E-Commerce

Taking Ownership of Your New Automation System

December 07, 2016
A customer who is ready and willing to take ownership of their new automation system is more likely to be successful Continue Reading: Taking Ownership of Your New Automation System

I am Thankful for….Same Day Shipping!

November 22, 2016
As Thanksgiving approaches, I would like to admit that I am very thankful for same day shipping. Yes, of course this comes behind my family, friends, home, etc. However as part of a two-working-parent household with two young boys, this convenience is a lifesaver. Continue Reading: I am Thankful for….Same Day Shipping!

3 Considerations to Prep Your Order Fulfillment for Black Friday

October 17, 2016
In order to be best prepared for seasonal peaks such as Black Friday and its potential 10:1 volume spike, distribution leadership must begin looking at how their warehouses are set up.

Where Should My New Distribution Center Be Located?

April 22, 2016
Whether you are looking to build your first Distribution Center (D.C.) or your fifth, the location of the D.C. is critical for the success of your operations. There are many factors that can affect the decision of where the facility should be, including: real estate cost, transportation cost, labor cost, access to quality labor, taxes, transportation routes, service level guarantees and many others. Read: Selecting Your Distribution Center Location
Posted in The Supply Chain

The Southeast U.S. Provides Big Opportunity for Business

March 18, 2016
With MODEX 2016 right around the corner, I took some time to speak with our Atlanta regional manager, Brian Ulanch, on the growing opportunities and benefits of doing business in Atlanta and the importance of hosting one of our industry's biggest shows. Read: The Southeast U.S. Provides Big Opportunity for Business

Competitive DC Growth Nationally Drives Need for Space Efficiency

January 26, 2016
The Journal of Commerce reported that big-box distribution facilities of 500,000 to more than 1 million square feet are leading construction activity. These large-scale, modern warehouses give top retailers and distributors the economies of scale of operating under one roof, whether serving as national distribution centers or regional distribution facilities. Read: DC Growth Drives Need for Space Efficiency

Examining the State of Logistics Report

January 14, 2016
Every year the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals produces a “State of Logistics Report”. The 26th annual report, released last June, analyzed U.S. logistics in 2014 and gave a prediction for what 2015 would have in store. Here's a look at some of the key stats and tips on how logistics companies can respond. Read: Examining the State of Logistics Report

15 Popular Posts from 2015: Tech and Cost-Savings Top the List

December 30, 2015
In 2015, manufacturers and distributors were faced with growing consumer demands—faster delivery, at a lower cost, with more order customization—a tough achievement for companies while still maintaining strong revenues. With these challenges, it’s no surprise that out most popular blog posts often featured discussions on new material handling technology trends and operational cost savings through labor, ergonomics, and space utilization. Read: Our Top 15 Posts of 2015

The $1.3 Trillion Benefit of Order and System Visibility

April 16, 2015
$1.3 trillion…Globally in 2014, that’s how much money consumers spent shopping online. Although especially busy during the holidays, e-commerce retailers are growing increasingly busy throughout the year. Shipping deadlines are tighter, and customer expectations are at an all-time high. As pressure mounts, retailers are depending on automated facilities with material handling equipment for efficient processing of large volumes of orders. But aside from the equipment, software is taking center stage for ensuring order deadlines are met. Read: The $1.3 Trillion Benefit of Order and System Visibility

Wearable Technology in the Warehouse: Picking with Vuzix Smart Glasses

March 10, 2015
Technology has always been a driving factor in supply chain progress and efficiency gains. The perfect example of this is the introduction of “goods-to-person” technologies over the past couple years, but as the industry is still enjoying the benefits from this technology, wandering eyes are already looking toward the next solution. One of the more promising up-and-coming technologies is wearable technology, and more specifically, smart glasses. Read: Wearable Technology for the Warehouse

Project Management: Who is to Blame?

November 12, 2014
I came across an article about the GT Advanced Technologies bankruptcy and thought, who is actually at fault? GTAT’s position is that Apple put them out of business with burdensome demands whereas Apple’s position with GTAT remains unclear. Last year, Apple offered $578 million to assist them with setting up their facility. As a project manager, I suggest that both parties are to blame. Read: 9 Principles of Project Management

A Review of 3 Popular Lift Tables: Pneumatic, Hydraulic and Ball Screw

July 02, 2014
The lifting, bending and twisting that often comes with manual labor in our field, can quickly cause neck, back, and other upper body injuries. One easy solution to help with ergonomics is industrial lift tables. Here is a quick review of the 3 most popular types of lift tables... Read: 3 Popular Lift Table Options

Analyze: Step 3 in the DMADV Process to Improve Your Supply Chain

June 30, 2014
In previous editions of this article series the Define and Measure stages of the Five Step Decision Making Process (DMADV) to drive supply chain improvements were discussed paving the way for step 3 - Analyze. During this step, the overall performance of the system is evaluated using statistical models to analyze transactional and inventory data. Read: Analyze - Step 3 in the DMADV process

Measure: Step 2 in the DMADV Process to Improve Your Supply Chain

June 05, 2014
DMADV stands for: Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Validate. It is a problem-solving approach used by our consultants to help customers make the best decisions for their warehouse and ultimately their supply chain. We've reviewed step 1, but here's more information on step 2: Measure. Read: DMADV Step 2 - Measure

Defining the Problem: Step 1 in the 5-Step Decision Making Process to Improve Your Supply Chain

May 22, 2014
In a previous article, we started the discussion on the 5-step decision making process, DMADV, and how it helps you make better decisions in your supply chain or any area of your business. In a series of articles, we’ll further explore and define each step so you can get the most out of this process. In today's article, step 1... Read: Step 1 - Defining the Problem

5 Methods for Reducing Product Loss in Your Warehouse

May 12, 2014
There are a few major concerns in distribution system design that need to be consistently addressed. One of the most critical cost concerns is financial waste through damaged product. In a post-recession era when companies are working to “stay lean”, managing product waste is a tangible area where capital investment can lead to great returns.

Standing in Line for 2.5 Hours: Tips for Process Improvement

March 27, 2014
After standing in line for more than 2 hours at the Post Office, I realized how important studying processes and improving them can be for any organization. Here are a few tips for redesigning processes in your company. Read: Tips for Process Improvement

The 5-Step Decision Making Process to Improve Your Supply Chain

March 03, 2014
Sometimes it can be hard to make a decision. Especially when that decision will cause major changes to the status quo or cost a lot of money. So how do you know you’re making the right choice? One way is to use the proven Bastian Consulting 5-step methodology, DMADV, as your decision making process. Read: The 5-Step Decision Making Process

How Supply Chain Software Keeps iHerb's New DC Running Smoothly

January 28, 2014
With a distribution center full of automation plus 35,000 SKUs to manage, iHerb’s Hebron facility relies on Exacta 6.0, a warehouse control system (WCS) and suite of supply chain software to ensure the entire system runs seamlessly and orders get to customers in the most efficient manner possible.

How a Project Go-Live Compares to Having a New Baby

January 23, 2014
My wife and I were recently blessed with a newborn baby, and the during labor and week after, I couldn’t help but think how the process and activities of being a parent are very comparative to being a project manager... Read: Project Go-Live is Like Having a Baby

4 Advanced Picking Technologies Improving E-Fulfillment

December 04, 2013
Following a hugely successful Cyber Monday, it’s easy to see why an efficient and accurate order fulfillment process is critical to today’s retailers. Customers are expecting orders to arrive faster, and one way of doing that is injecting a little automation into an often manual operation. Read: Advanced picking technologies for e-fulfillment

The Supply Chain as a Hot Career Choice

November 27, 2013
With all the buzz about supply chains recently, it’s no surprise that career opportunities in the supply chain world are also on the rise. In fact, logistician / supply chain manager was identified as one of the top growth jobs for 2013, but more than 250,000 supply-chain jobs will go unfilled each year through 2018 for lack of qualified talent... Read: The Supply Chain as a Hot Career Choice

Logistics Gets a Taste of the Spotlight

September 19, 2013
Logistics professionals are the unsung hero of the retail industry, ensuring consumers get the products they need when they need them. With all this hard work, it's nice to see the industry experience an increase in news coverage in recent months. Here are some of the top stories... Read More >>

7 Reasons for Project Failure and How to Avoid Them

August 06, 2013
Project management is filled with daily challenges, from the planned to unplanned, and often it is the failures of a project that teach us the most. Any project manager worth their salt will acknowledge that the failures and misses during their careers taught them valuable lessons while making them better at their job. Read More >>

Major Sporting Events Require Better Logistics

July 31, 2013
Major sporting events such as the World Cup and Olympics are a critical time for players and teams, but what about the corporations supplying apparel, equipment, food and beer, televisions, and the list goes on and on. For those companies, prepping and improving logistics operations is key to beating the competition during those big events. Read More >>

The Top 5 Reasons to Hire a System Integration Team

July 11, 2013
A growing trend in the material handling automation industry is the use of system integration companies as opposed to traditional equipment-focused manufacturers for materials handling needs. Here are 5 reasons system integrators are a great option for your next material handling project... Continue Reading >>

4 Emerging Technologies That Will Change How We Do Business

June 17, 2013
It is easy to look back and say how different technology was fifteen years ago. It’s also not a stretch to say that technological innovations like laptops, broadband Internet, and USB drives have made the workplace more efficient. But what comes next? Below are 4 emerging technologies that should, in the next 15 years, make as much of an impact as the laptop computer had on the last. Read More >>

Brick and Mortar in E-Commerce 2.0

May 15, 2013
With the recent release of the Samsung Galaxy S4, I finally reached the tipping point and tossed my antiquated Blackberry to the wayside, but when I was researching which smartphone to select, I looked online only to be overwhelmed by the number of options. This led me to visit a small kiosk in the mall before finally making my purchase online. In this instance, and in many others as the trend continues to grow, the storefront served to augment my online buying decision... Read More >>

Manufacturing in Australia is Dying. Or is It?

May 01, 2013
The Australian market is changing as are the challenges and opportunities, and some say the outlook for manufacturing in Australia is dim. However, for Australian manufacturers to compete in a globalised world, they need to use the latest technologies and manufacturing methods... Read More >>

From the Vine to My Table...

April 17, 2013
In college, I was given the opportunity to attend a wine tasting session to learn the basics and proper food pairings. Since then, I was fortunate enough to marry an individual whose hobby is cooking and who over the years has enjoyed seeking out the right (reasonably priced) wine to go with whatever dish she might have prepared. However, it is after the wine is made and bottled that my private interests have intersected with my professional endeavors; somehow this bottle has to get from the winery to my table... Continue Reading >>

Put Some “Zoom Zoom” in your Warehouse

March 12, 2013
There are three new goods-to-person technologies bringing Mazda's "Zoom Zoom" campaign to life in the material handling world. OPEX Corporation's Perfect Pick™, SencorpWhite's EffiMat®, and Symbotic's MatrixSelect™ provide unprecedented order fulfillment improvements to any warehouse... Read the full article >>

Size Does Matter...When It Comes to SKUs

February 28, 2013
I just had a discussion with a colleague in our consulting group about a client who wanted him to design a picking area. The problem was the client didn’t have any product size information. To this client, the size of a case was “case size,” and an individual item was smaller than “case size.” Regrettably, many distribution operations have little information about the size of the product they are distributing, but know size information has many advantages... Continue Reading >>

3 Essential Traits of Good Project Managers

February 20, 2013
All project managers are NOT created equal. Some are more schedule-focused, while others are more budget-driven. Some spend more time on procurement management, and yet others concentrate on ensuring scope creep doesn’t occur. Regardless of what a project manager emphasizes, I’ve found all good project managers have these 3 essential traits. Continue Reading >>

How Gardner Improved Operations with an Exacta WMS

October 24, 2012
Gardner, the leading distributor of outdoor power equipment, needed to reduce operational costs and improve customer service. After installing an Exacta warehouse management system (WMS), the company was able to achieve those goals, while reducing inventory dock-to-stock time by 50 percent. Read More >>

ERP Resourcefulness Starts With You

October 11, 2012
AX 2012 is Microsoft’s most recent release of its global Enterprise Resource Planning solution. The product contains several new features and enhancements, but with all these updates, it can be challenging to find resources to answer your questions. Here are a few options I've used to expand my knowledge resources... Read More >>

Global Supply Chains Going Local

September 21, 2012
Most of us are familiar with the phrase: “think globally, act locally.” Though it might be popularly thought of in terms of food sourcing, the manufacturing industry is also adopting a local mindset. A recent survey by EEF, the manufacturers' organization, found that 40% of U.K. companies are bringing production back in-house, while 25% have increased their use of local suppliers... Continue Reading >>

3 Technologies Driving Efficiency Gains in the Medical Service Industry (and Shortening Hospital Visits)

August 22, 2012
I am extremely proud to say I have two very active and adventurous sons. On occasion, however, that means I get to visit our local hospital to get them fixed up. On one such visit, I entertained myself by thinking about the logistics behind the day-to-day operations of the medical facility (probably a sign of a bad father or bored engineer). While waiting for all the materials to come together from various locations to assemble the cast for my son's leg, I began analyzing the logistics management required to ensure the proper materials are available when needed throughout the hospital.. Continue Reading >>

Why Cycle Counting Beats Physical Inventories

August 15, 2012
Accurately tracking inventory can be a costly affair for many distribution centers since it interrupts your daily operations and consumes man hours better spent on revenue-generating activities. If your DC has struggled with completing a physical inventory, cycle counting could be the solution you need... Read More >>

Automatic Print and Apply: Blessing or Pain?

July 11, 2012
Are there machines out there that can automatically print a shipping label for a container and apply it without anyone touching it? Why yes, there are. As much as that might seem like a miracle machine, they can come with their fair share of headaches, but let’s start with the positives... Read More >>

Freight “Solutions” Management

June 29, 2012
As a material handling solutions provider, we take pride in integrating the best mix of technology and people to maximize our customer’s bottom line. We believe that there is a “best” solution out there for every customer. This philosophy is typically applied throughout our business processes; how can we do things cheaper, faster, better, and provide more value to our customers. One of the areas we recently focused on in this regard is freight management . Here are 6 key areas on which we have focused our attention and have seen real benefits... Continue Reading >>
Posted in The Supply Chain

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 >>

Automation: Not Always About the Dollars, But Always About the Sense!

June 21, 2012
When considering why some manufacturing and distribution companies have implemented automated material handling systems , you often hear of financial statements including a solid Return of Investment (ROI), prompt Payback Period, or Strong Internal Rate of Return (IRR) . While it cannot be debated that the financial justification for an automation project is very important, financial evaluation alone should not be the only criteria when considering whether to automate . Here are 10 additional benefits to justify automation... Read More >>

Synergy of Information and Material Handling Automation is Key in Supply Chain Management

May 08, 2012
The benefits of timely and accurate information in the supply chain are the driving force behind automation, but to achieve meaningful automation, the automation of material handling and the automation of information should go hand in hand. Business is ever changing and competition is always increasing, but the companies that can properly harness the power of automation in their supply chains will thrive into the future... Continue Reading >>

How to Harness the Power of Gen Y Employees in your DC

April 24, 2012
Generation Y currently makes up the second-largest workforce in U.S. history at 70 million people, so it is likely that current and future hires into your distribution center will include many in this generation. Although it is difficult to talk in all-encompassing generalities about a group of employees, understanding Gen Y's needs and their generational/cultural attitudes toward a work/life balance and engagement can make for an overall better workplace. Read More >>

The Invisible Men of Material Handling

March 27, 2012
Upon the approach of my tenth anniversary with Bastian Solutions, I began asking myself what makes this company successful. After all, there must be some reason or reasons why I have found such satisfaction here that I have contributed a decade's worth of skill, talent, and effort toward the company's success. In answering this question, recent project experiences led me to an answer that lies partially outside of the company... Read More >>

5 Steps to Eliminate the “Madness” of Your Next Project

March 12, 2012
March Madness is finally here, and there's a reason it's called "madness." The unexpected often happens - which is very exciting in sports, but not so much with a mission critical project. To reduce the "madness" that can often overwhelm and impede project success, follow this simple outline. As a result, you will save time, effort and money over the lifespan of the project. Continue Reading >>

Manufacturing and Logistics Facts about Valentine's Day [Infographic]

February 14, 2012
Behind all those flower bouquets, candy hearts, and jewelry boxes, there's a manufacturer and distributor who got them to you! So this year, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the numbers and logistics behind Valentine's Day because without all the behind-the-scenes work, well, the day just wouldn't be the same... View Infographic >>

Poetry, Process Improvement, and Stepping Out of the Rut

February 10, 2012
Recently, I attended a meeting where a consultant was presenting his recommendations for a project that involved adding automation to an existing process. One of the key points that jumped out at me was that his justification for this project was focused entirely on the elimination of people. While the consultant suggested that the project would probably go forward because it was a strategic initiative on the part of the customer, I could only think about a more than 100-year-old poem entitled, The Calf-Path ... Continue Reading >>

The Art of Project Management

January 31, 2012
Project management is more or less the art of making things happen, or moving a project forward to completion. Sounds simple enough, right? We all wish that were the case anyway! Even simple projects can quickly turn complex with delays in supplier shipments, installing a system during a customer's operating hours, sourcing miscellaneous hardware in an unfamiliar area, handling issues with working dynamics between multiple sub-contractors, etc. I have been involved in multiple projects, which I felt would go smoothly, only to quickly find out that the proverbial "Murphy" decided to step in, mix things up, and make things more interesting. It's during times like these that one's project management skills are put to the test. Continue Reading >>

Why You Should Care About the Price of Non-Compliance

December 16, 2011
Most engineers and operators in the manufacturing and production world understand the need for quality in their processes. The inherent value of "zero-defect" delivery of goods and services to a customer or end user reduces many of the headaches associated with repairs, returns, and reworks. All of these issues point to added time and expense for a supplier, as well as reduced customer satisfaction. But those having a deeper understanding of the reasons behind these issues and metrics understand that the cost of quality is a factor that cannot be avoided... Read More >>

Halloween Tips and Tricks for Improving Your Supply Chain

October 26, 2011
Ghosts and goblins aren't just for Halloween anymore! Improve your supply chain by following these 10 tips and tricks from some of your favorite Halloween characters! 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 >>

The Pros and Cons of Implementing a Robotic Mixed Pallet Building System

October 14, 2011
The topic of robotic, or automatic, mixed pallet building has come up quite a bit recently, so I thought I'd share some of the benefits and challenges that go along with it. To give you some background, a few years ago companies started building rainbow packs, which are basically a box or bag of products that contain smaller quantities of different flavors or product lines. This allows consumers to sample a variety of items without buying large quantities of each. So what does all of that have to do with robotic mixed pallet building? Well, the concept of rainbow packs actually stemmed from the advent of mixed pallet building first used by the material handling and logistics industries. Read More >>

Material Handling Trends and Technologies Improving the Supply Chain

September 08, 2011
Today's economic climate has put enormous pressure on companies to obtain quicker returns on their investments, so as manufacturers research and develop new material handling equipment , this issue is becoming increasingly important. Customers want solutions that offer not only a strong return on investment but do so faster than ever before. The material handling industry is responding with new equipment, technology, and systems that enable complete supply chain visibility , thus allowing customers to see how their investments are impacting their overall operation. The following are just a few of the trends and technologies helping to make this possible. Read More >>

Warehouse Safety Profile: Southern Wine and Spirits

June 28, 2011
Recently our team visited the Southern Wine and Spirits distribution center near Indianapolis, Ind, to see how they handle safety in their facility. As you can imagine, with the fragile nature of their products, accidents generally lead to product destruction. Combine that with the fact that many of their products cost much more per gallon then the $4.50 gasoline you're currently putting in your car, and you can easily see why safety is critical here. Every bottle broken or box dropped directly eats away at their bottom line. The following is list of just some of the safety solutions Southern Wine and Spirits uses to protect their workers and products... Read More >>

Change Management: 8 Tips to Successfully Implement a New Technology

June 21, 2011
The world is full of companies that have excelled in their market for decades with antiquated operational methods. In fact, I continually encounter companies that have prospered for 40+ years with unchanged processes, and it's hard to argue their past success. More often than not, the leadership within these companies knows there is a more effective way to operationally function through interaction with their peer groups and other educational resources. However, there is also a culture within these companies that often chooses to leave the boat "un-rocked." Read More >>

3 Ways to Reduce Supply Chain Costs

May 18, 2011
Whether you believe the peak oil theory or not, the cost of crude oil continues to rise causing a major affect on a variety of supply chain costs. Last year, I listened to an economist talk about the influence of rising oil prices, and how it will change the logistics industry as we've known it in recent years. At the time I was skeptical of his predictions . Today with gasoline prices at $4.15 per gallon and rising, I'm starting to believe what he had to say. Here's why....... Read More >>

From Military Satellites to Material Handling, Engineering Processes are Key

February 25, 2011
In the past several months, I have been making the (more or less) smooth transition between my previous career as an engineering manager in the aerospace sector and my new role in the material handling industry with Bastian. While originally it was somewhat scary to move from one industry to another, I was pleased to discover the many connections between my previous career and my new one. Read More >>

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.
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