Global Material Handling System Integrators

Presentation at the 33rd Annual WERC Conference

WERC LogoI had the privilege last week, along with my friend and colleague Mark Gaskill, to speak at the Annual Warehouse Education Research Council Conference in Anaheim California. Our topic was “Breakthrough Material Handling Technologies”. This is the 3rd year that I have put together this presentation, highlighting new technologies and exciting uses for existing technologies. With Mark’s help, this was - in my humble opinion - our best presentation of the latest and greatest distribution technologies available on the market. Although the session was a multi-media presentation and lasted about 90 minutes, I will summarize some of the highlights and what I found to be the most interesting topics: Everyone is interested in “green” these days. We highlighted several environmental / energy-saving concepts related to distribution. In the conveyance side, we discussed the emergence of 24V technology and its impact on power reduction. We were excited to present innovations in lighting, including new fluorescent and LED lights, advanced controls, and sky-lights. We even discussed the impact of low-tech solutions like big fans and bailers. Highlighted in the conveyance portion of the presentation was the use of ARB (Activated Roller Belt) technology. ARB uses the best benefits of belt and roller conveyors in a combined format. It can be used for several applications including aligning, switching, case turning, merging, and sorting. It is really slick. On the storage side, we discussed the surge of AS/RS (Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems) implementation in the U.S. As more of these types of automated systems are being installed, integrators are finding even more uses for the technology. Deep lane storage, imbedded picking modules, and product buffering are some of the applications that AS/RS is being employed. We also showed the next generation of AS/RS, capable of even greater flexibility at high throughputs. On the order picking side, I got the chance to show the Pick-n-Go system. As you know from previous posts, I am a big fan of this system to aid in “tour picking” operations. We also showed the next generation of pick-to-light called “pick-to-display”, which replaces the colored lights with an OLED display. We discussed the coming-of-age of robotics in distribution – mainly in end-of-line palletizing of same or similar SKU environments. We also showed how robots are now being implemented in mixed case palletizing systems. We also showed video of how robots are being utilized in each picking operations. We threw the Kiva system into this part of the presentation. Kiva is really a cross between AGV (automated guided vehicle), robotics, storage and a picking system. It is a very interesting technology. We discussed a lot of other technologies including warehouse control systems, human machine interfaces, labor management, and packaging systems – just to name a few. We had great attendance at the presentation and I think it was well received. The PowerPoint was recorded to video and as soon as it becomes available, I will post the link to this blog. Posted by Marvin Logan on 5/28/2010

Author: Johan Källvik


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