Posts

Storage Solutions Vincennes Partnership 1

As of 2018, Plainfield, Indiana, boasted 50% of all warehouse jobs in Central Indiana, including employers such as Amazon, Walmart, and Foxconn. As the supply chain and logistics industries continue to grow in Central Indiana – and Hendricks County in particular – there is a high demand for training and education to maximize employment for skilled labor.

To support that educational demand, Storage Solutions has partnered with Vincennes University’s Logistics Training and Education Center (VULTEC) to introduce students to on-demand automation and its increasing role in warehouse operations.

Storage Solutions has loaned Fetch Robotics’ HMIShelf robot, a picking transportation solution, to the Vincennes center for training purposes. The robot works alongside warehouse associates to carry a wide range of bins, totes, and packages from multiple pick zones or locations to a packing area. The HMIShelf is designed to reduce associate travel time, increasing productivity, and lessening the hardship of employees who would otherwise be carrying the loads.

“As a Fetch Solutions Certified Provider, we can be at the forefront of implementing on-demand automation in warehouse environments,” explained Nathan Storey, Vice President of Operations at Storage Solutions. “Our partnership with Vincennes allows us to help students of all ages learn about how warehouses currently operate, but also be prepared to adjust to technological advances.”

For the next two years, students and visitors to the VULTEC can obtain first-hand experience with the autonomous mobile robot and see how it can assist in real-world applications in the supply chain industry. Whether it comes to programming or picking, students in the programs will likely be working with elements of warehouse automation in some form in their next jobs.

“We are thrilled to have Storage Solutions exhibiting their automated mobile robots at our training and education center,” explained Debbie Furnish, Warehouse Technician at Vincennes’ Logistics Training and Education Center.

“Partnerships like these help us put premium value to the educational opportunities we give to our students. These AMRs are part of the future of the industry, so it gives our students a leg-up to have that first-hand knowledge of how they work and how to work with them.”

THE VULTEC is a 30,000 square foot warehouse that combines a hands-on learning environment with classroom instructions. Students gain the knowledge base that makes them attractive to potential employers while providing the opportunity to apply their education using the latest equipment and technology.

For more information on the VULTEC, visit www.vulogistics.com.

autonomous mobile robots-social-distancing

If there is one thing every person can agree on, it is that we do not know what our world will look like after the COVID-19 crisis finally concludes. As a society, we will likely re-evaluate social practices. As people, we may re-think how we go about our daily lives. As warehouse managers, we may look at this disruption as an opportunity to automate processes where we can.

In the age of social distancing – where we are asking humans to stay anywhere from six to 27 feet away from one another – we have seen an increase of interest in technology solutions like autonomous mobile robots (AMRs).

In the current environment, AMRs also enhance safety by allowing simple automated methods to transfer work from one person in the operation to another while eliminating the need for direct human contact. This allows your team to maintain or increase productivity, while also enhancing personal safety for your employees.

In short, an AMR is a warehouse manager’s dream. They are powered by sensors and on-board computers and programmed explicitly to carry out repeatable tasks within an operation. They are capable of reacting to their environment and avoid things like people, forklifts, and pallets while carrying products from one place to another.

AMRs Can Reduce Labor Disruptions

Right now, you do not have to look too far to see industries impacted by labor disruptions. Labor disruptions can result in anything from a flat tire to a worldwide pandemic – and everything in between. AMRs are just one of many technology solutions that can reduce labor disruptions. They are ideal because they are flexible and cost-effective and can be programmed without the need for substantial additional investment in facility infrastructure or IT.

Autonomous Mobile Robots Can Work Alongside Your Team

Warehouse associates can benefit from the integration of AMRs, especially in the realm of health and safety. For instance, in the picking process, one a product is picked and placed upon a robot such as Fetch Robotics’ HMIShelf, the robot can then take the package to a pre-determined place in your warehouse. This process saves the associate the trouble of lifting and carrying the product, reducing the stress on back, knees, feet, and overall wear-and-tear.

By shortening the distance traveled by humans in your warehouse, you are also reducing the risk of forklift accidents and injuries. These collaborative work scenarios then allow your humans to focus on higher-level tasks and let the robots do the heavy lifting. Literally.

AMRs Can Optimize Efficiency

Every percentage of the laborious, monotonous, and physically exerting labor done by humans that you can transfer to an AMR pays off. Pick times get reduced. Turnover becomes lessened. And, not only will employees be more appreciative of their jobs being safer, easier, and more fulfilling, the work they can do now becomes a better return on your investment in valuable human capital.

Evaluate, Then Evolve

As we continue to re-evaluate all of our practices, it may be a perfect time to re-evaluate the inclusion of technology solutions like AMRs or other systems that allow you to continue to operate at maximum capacity and efficiency, even during challenges times.

If you would like more information or would like to discuss the challenges you see with your workforce or operation, contact one of our Storage Solutions experts. We would love to connect and provide customized solutions that are suited to fit your needs.

reduce-labor-disruptions-with-tech

By nature, warehouse operation managers are skilled problem solvers. The best of these managers can quell many disruptions with quick, efficient on-their-feet decisions. Planning plays a crucial role in ensuring a smooth operation. However, there will always be plenty of unforeseen hurdles to overcome, especially when it comes to labor disruptions.

No operation runs at 100% efficiency, without disruption. Even the best managers are going to come across underperformance from their teams. They will also need to overcome outdated design and other challenges that may come with traditional labor. Reducing these inefficiencies allow managers to make fewer, more thoughtful decisions by nature because they won’t be distracted by preventable disruptions.

If you are among those experiencing these issues, know that there are many flexible, cost-effective technology solutions available.

Technology Solutions for Your Operations

  1. Integrate Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs). AMRs work in collaboration with human labor to achieve optimal production efficiency without the need for costly facility renovations. As a Certified Fetch Solutions Provider, we can work with you to design workflows that can be easily adjusted thanks to their cloud-based software, FetchCore. Thanks to their built-in sensors, these robots can also dynamically follow a map, allowing for an optimal travel route.
  2. Begin Smart Slotting Your Inventory. Smart Slotting is a warehouse slotting optimization tool that factors in operational, space, replenishment, equipment costs, storage mediums, and more variables to define the lowest-cost operational plan for your facility. With Smart Slotting, we can take the guesswork out of facility layout by calculating the impact that potential changes will make before implementing them.
  3. Install Pick-to-Light and Put-to-Light Solutions. Because they use the same hardware and software, warehouses can utilize both Pick-to-Light and Put-to-Light Solutions to automate various fulfillment processes. The main goal of both systems is to give you the ability to pack and ship more orders in less time while reducing errors.
  4. Implement Warehouse Execution Systems. A Warehouse Execution System (WES) is a software solution that directs all processes that occur in a distribution center. This system will prioritize work in a way to optimize fulfillment while keeping your facility streamlined. These systems are ideal for operations with less-robust WMS or ERP support. Also, these systems may let you introduce zone or batch-picking to your pick process. This benefit is not possible through some Warehouse Management Systems (WMS).

Whatever the level of consistency you have in labor costs, it can increase with the implementation of technology solutions. Contact us today and let’s talk about what might be right for your operation.

dynamic-solutions-labor-costs

With wages projected to rise nationwide, along with costs associated with employee safety, warehouse managers are experiencing an uncomfortable environment of increasing labor costs. Labor cost issues are not unique to those in the material handling industry. The cost of labor in this industry is especially affected by variance when it comes to maintaining the high levels of service expected by customers today.

No one can predict the future. Accidents are avoidable but happen. Weather delays are not unavoidable. Production delays, changes in regulations, and “the human element” all factor into these variances in labor costs. So, how does one accurately forecast? Can you avoid any of these variances with the addition of automation?

Thankfully, the answer is yes. Our experts know how to solve these issues by introducing dynamic solutions to your operations.

Dynamic solutions like vertical lift machines, conveyors, or any of Fetch Robotics’ On-Demand Automation Solutions supplement your current labor force. These solutions allow for growth for your employees. Rather than having your team carrying items back and forth, dynamic solutions assist with the mundane, repetitive aspects of picking. With dynamic solutions in place, your team can focus its attention on more rewarding – and profitable – tasks and initiatives.

How Dynamic Solutions Help Your Business:

  • Cost Certainty: Adding dynamic solutions can help add cost certainty to your budgeting process. We create efficiencies by automating processes that typically are done by manual labor. With investments into automated solutions, you can streamline variable costs that come with human labor – salary, vacation, benefits, insurance, and more.
  • Right-Sized Investments: When it comes to investing in automated solutions, there is a typical misconception around the size of investment a business needs to make. When you work with a Storage Solutions expert, we will work with your team to address your needs and find the right solution, with an investment that matches your budget and fits within your current operation. Every client has unique challenges. However, we solve these challenges by eliminating unnecessary costs.
  • The “Human Element”: Let’s face it. There is a “human element” that comes with labor that often goes understated and underreported. For example, managers account for sick days, underperformance, and other indirect factors that come with employment. By introducing dynamic solutions, you can account for those lost costs and remove some overhead in the process, adding to your overall efficiency.
  • Maximize Potential – While the “human element” is real, your co-workers are still your co-workers. Now that mundane tasks are automated, what kind of work will your employees do next? How will additional attention toward safety, execution, and optimization improve your warehouse and workflow?

What is Next?

Dynamic Solutions are available to help you run your operations smoother. With a higher level of certainty and quality, where can you see your business in just a few months?

Our experts often see returns on our dynamic solutions within two years or less, because we put the right solution in front of our clients. We pay attention to the details so we can customize a solution to satisfy the exact needs of your operations.

Contact us today to learn more about our Dynamic Solutions and how these solutions can support your bottom line.

Fetch Robotics Smart Slotting

One of the hidden costs of warehouse operations is inefficiency. Because there is no line-item on the operating statement associated with suboptimal performance, the costs associated with unnecessary wear-and-tear, unneeded turnover, and the growing gap between what you are doing and your competitors’ performance. Sometimes, these inefficient processes go untended for too long.

What is the value of your warehouse efficiency? What is it worth to improve your storage utilization by more than 70%? How much longer is your business going to wait for data to drive your processes?

Warehouse picking is about balancing what has to be done manually with areas where automation can be cost-justified.

At the end of the day, warehouse optimization is all about balancing workloads within picking zones. Every bottleneck or delay in picking causes the next action to be delayed. When you take into account the number of picks per day, week, and month, the total can begin to add up in the wrong way. Especially for operators who lack good balance throughout their picking areas.

Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) provide a great flexible and scalable solution to automate picking. However, one big challenge of all AMR solutions is the need to balance workload throughout all pick zones. The easiest and most cost-effective way to address this balance is with a good slotting plan.

By combining Fetch Robotics’ On-Demand Automation services solutions and Storage Solutions’ Smart Slotting, warehouses can experience unmatched efficiency in their picking processes.

How Does It Work?

To begin, Storage Solutions will evaluate your current process and layout. Using our special slotting tool, Storage Solutions establishes a “heat map” of your most popular SKUs. From there, we evaluate costs associated with space, replenishment, and equipment to provide you with the most productive solution possible. It is all based on data — not guessing or assuming.

In short, we use the information to configure the SKUs you pick the most to be as efficient as possible. And, we spread them evenly throughout all pick zones to avoid bottlenecks and maximize productivity.

From there, once the proper inventory slotting plan has been established, we work with our Fetch Robotics team to ensure the optimal workflow is put into place.

Finding the right balance

Fetch Robotics is an industry leader in On-Demand Automation. As a Fetch Certified Solutions provider, we offer dynamic, flexible solutions to make the most out of every square foot. Autonomous mobile robots are designed to be deployed into any facility, as is – without adding physical infrastructure or installing IT systems, built to any scale with flexibility to change on the fly.

We work with your footprint to get the most products out of your door in the most cost-effective way. Also, we design with flexibility to adapt to ever-changing business needs and scalability for your company to grow.

Less wear and tear

With Smart Slotting, you can make the best use of some of your biggest capital investments: your material handling equipment. Many other slotting systems only take into account the total distance traveled in the picking process. Smart Slotting assigns dollars to your data, measuring labor, materials, equipment, storage mediums, and more. Then, we define and implement the lowest-cost operating plan for your facility.

Let’s say your environment changes, given new demand or a new set of orders. We can reoptimize the inventory slotting plan at any time. We would only need a new data set.

Lower labor costs per pick

By placing the most-selected items in the easiest-to-access areas of your warehouse, you physically move less. Imagine the savings in labor costs and efforts by doing the most repeated tasks more efficiently, every time. We also have the ability to factor in seasonal spikes to account for times in which you may be moving more products.

Want to learn more about how Smart Slotting works? Read our latest case study and success story here.

While You Wait

While you continue operating with inefficiencies, the world is changing. The “Amazon Effect” is real. The highest-performing warehouses are constantly re-evaluating and optimizing.
While you are addressing your warehouse’s labor shortages, your competitors are reducing their turnaround times and adjusting to a new demand model.

By combining Smart Slotting with a Fetch Robotics solution, you are setting your warehouse up for success both in the short-term and long-term. You are using data, technology, and automation to achieve maximum efficiency as soon as possible, all while factoring in future growth potential.

The decision does not have to be made today. However, the process can start at any time. Click here, hit the chat button below, or call us at 317-449-8740 and one of our experts can get begin to determine your workflow needs.

Fetch Robotics Webinar CartConnect

We would love for you to join us next Tuesday, August 27th for our latest Fetch Robotics webinar on CartConnect. This dynamic solution can speed up your facility, therefore, increasing ROI in the long-run.

Many leaders in the manufacturing and supply chain industry agree that robotics and automation are the most effective ways to stay competitive in a dynamic marketplace. However, not all automation mediums are created equal. This technology can transform the way you go about your material handling solutions and can double productivity within your facility.

This new technology is called CartConnect. CartConnect is an autonomous material handling solution that picks up, transports, and drops off warehouse carts to any location, within any warehouse, factory, or distribution center. During the webinar, we will show how CartConnect can be used for multiple picking strategies and other applications such as put away, replenishment & retail stocking. In short, this Fetch AMR solution can give you a competitive edge in your operation.

Want to learn more? Join us on Tuesday, August 27th at 2:00 PM EST to learn how to launch your facility into the future. Sign up for the webinar today!

WERC Robotics in the Warehouse

Mark your calendars! On March 20th, Storage Solutions and Fetch Robotics will be hosting a WERC event at our headquarters in Westfield, Indiana to help you learn more about autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) in warehousing. Robotics and automation are overhauling warehouses and changing how work gets done. Even though robotics are relatively new in the warehousing industry, they are quickly making their impact.

We are ecstatic to provide the opportunity to teach you more about robotics and their role in the modern warehouse. This event will highlight the general landscape of this up and coming technology, as well as how it will affect the industry in the near and long-term. This will also include a demonstration and our insight into this new tool and how it can help you.

The demo will talk about some success stories that other companies have had with Fetch AMRs. In addition, we will showcase ways they helped improve operational efficiency, increased man-hour value and made overall operations more profitable.

Want to be a part of this event? Click here to register and learn more about this new technology!

AMR vs. AGV

Due to market conditions such as labor challenges and increasing customer service demands, warehouse automation is a hot topic lately. Companies both large and small are looking into resources to move items throughout their operation more efficiently. If you’ve been following this trend, you’ve most likely heard the buzz around using AMR vs. AGV.

AGVs, or Automated Guided Vehicles, have been familiar in warehouses for quite some time now. AMRs (Autonomous Mobile Robots) on the other hand are a little newer to the scene. It’s important to understand what you’re getting with each of these solutions.

AMR vs. AGV: What’s the Difference?

While on the surface the two may seem very similar, there are several key factors that set an AGV and an AMR apart. The most fundamental difference between the two comes down to how they move through a facility. A guided vehicle is just what the name implies, a vehicle that operates on a fixed and guided route. Usually AGVs run along some sort of path, such as embedded magnets or wires. With this set path, an AGV does not have the ability to make quick changes on the fly, and does not always have the intelligence to stop when something comes in its path. This can lead to expensive upgrades down the road as your operational needs change. It could also put you at risk for more work-related accidents to occur.

An AMR is an autonomously navigating robot designed to work collaboratively with humans. Therefore it offers a much smarter solution. With an AMR, you get a flexible solution that offers easy adjustments as your operational needs change. In addition, the implementation for an AMR is much simpler. There is no need to make costly facility adjustments to get started. Finally, another key point that sets an AMR apart is the safety factors. AMRs use vision systems and laser sensors to ensure that accidents are avoided in any environment.

Cost Standpoint When Addressing AMRs vs AGVs

When you hear the value that an AMR can bring your operation you probably assume that the cost must be much higher than an AGV, but that is not the case. Since AMRs help you avoid costly modifications, getting started with one is fast and relatively inexpensive.

Storage Solutions is proud to partner with Fetch Robotics as a Fetch Certified Solutions Provider. Through this partnership we offer a variety of AMR solutions that can be customized to meet your needs. Want to find out how a Fetch AMR solution can assist you in achieving optimal efficiency in your facility? Click here to learn more about the products or to schedule a free consultation with one of our Fetch experts today.

Fetch Robotics Shelf

In case you missed it, we recently announced our latest partnership with Fetch Robotics. Now let’s learn how can you benefit from it. With this new collaboration comes a wide array of products and services, and we are ready to pass that along to you! Whether you face staffing issues, increased shipping volume or flexibility challenges within your operation, we will find you the right robot solution to remedy those problems.

As the leader in the Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) industry, Fetch brings numerous products to the table that can fit multiple ways in your solution. While most robotics companies specialize in a single type of robot and application, Fetch created smaller robots that can handle totes all the way up to larger robots that can move full pallets. With all varying in max capacity, we will work in collaboration with you to find the robot that works best in your solution.

Available Product Line

Fetch Robotics Products

Fetch Robotics also has their own cloud-based operating system called FetchCore. Fetch created this operating system to be as user-friendly and flexible as possible, from launch through operation. You can easily set the operation workflow for robots on the system and even pair it with your WMS software for complex solutions. However, having WMS software integration is not necessary, and therefore allows for a quick and seamless setup in any facility.

Of course, safety is of paramount importance when it comes to choosing a partner. Fetch products have received countless safety certifications. All robots are built with numerous protection features, making them extremely secure to work collaboratively with warehouse staff.

Above all, we strive to be your service partner. Therefore, we will ensure that we provide the best products and services possible for all your AMR needs.

Want to learn more? You can read more about our partner and contact us for more information here!