Every day, warehouse managers have to make instant decisions based on unforeseen issues that threaten to halt operationsThe best managers are those who have mastered the rules of the game.

So why is it that their management software bails out on them after creating an initial operations plan each day?  It’s like forcing a world-class chess  player to decide on all of his moves, in sequence, before the game has begun!  In the world of chess, he would lose every time— and the world of warehouse management is even more complicated…

The day that IBM’s Watson computer won the popular TV game show Jeopardy!, the possibility of creating a fundamentally new, ultra-aware decision support engine for warehouse operations came one step closer to reality.  Now it’s available.

CloudLogic™ is a game-theory-based system that plans and communicates each move of people and product in your warehouse. One move at a time. Real-time. Up to a thousand times a second.

For picking, this means that each pick is assigned real-time by evaluating the location of the picker, the congestion downstream of the pick operation, the proximity of  other pickers to the target pick, and even the required truck loading time cutoff.    Instead of pick path being king, the real issues encountered in a real warehouse can alter the pick instructions the second that conditions change.  Priorities can shift, trucks can call in late, orders can be made “hot”, all at any time.  …and the warehouse manager will have to do—nothing at all—in order to re-plan the day’s work…

…and now, CloudLogic™ can manage all warehouse operations: Receiving, Putaway, Cycle Counting, Cubing, Picking, Pallet Building, and Loading…

Exceptions occur. CloudLogic™ changes each operator’s task. As needed. Instantly.  And each day, CloudLogic™ produces a report that shows, numerically, how well it played the Warehouse Operations game.  …you’ll review the report, and find yourself using the same word that many of the nation’s top 10 C-Store distributors have used:

Flawless.

CloudLogic™ is licensed under authority of Solution Partners, Inc.
IBM® , Watson®, Power7®, and the Watson image are registered trademarks of International Business Machines.
Jeopardy! is a registered trademark of Jeopardy Productions, inc.

 

 

First there was IBM’s Deep Blue – which beat the world’s greatest chess player…

Then there was IBM Watson – which won TV’s Jeopardy! game show…

Now, there’s CloudLogic®, a gaming-based decision engine that analyzes your warehouse…  move by move…  up to thousands of times per second!

In the past, legacy systems operated based upon a “pick plan” established as soon as an order was received.  One picker. One department. One order at a time.

…maybe the legacy systems could handle batch picking as well, but still – they were (and are) based on a static plan for picking.

CloudLogic® changes all of that.

Now, each pick is evaluated from the “cloud” of all possible picks, and the optimal next move is assigned via CloudLogic®.

CloudLogic® evaluates the warehouse just like Deep Blue would evaluate a chess board to make the next move, only CloudLogic® considers:

  • Proximity of the candidate pick to the current picker location
  • Current congestion downstream of the picking process
  • Potential interference from other pickers assigned to the the same candidate pick area
  • Downstream requirement of the product for order fulfillment
  • Pick strategy to optimize labor cost: batch pick and sort, order pick, zone pick, or hybrid pick

…and CloudLogic® is not just for picking, but also directs receiving and putaway, cycle count, pallet building, and route-specific truck loading.

CloudLogic® is used under license from Solution Partners, Inc.

 

We reduced more than eight people from our cigarette operation while increasing carton sales volume by 25% within the first year of our SmokePick® implementation.”
– Wayne Baquet, President, Imperial Trading Company, New Orleans, LA

“SmokePick® allowed us to cut our inventory in halfcut our labor in half, and reduce the space required for cigarettes by 40%…and we’re still getting better!”
– Bob Rippley, Executive Vice President – Logistics, AWI

“SmokePick® is a major selling tool for our sales force because it is virtually error free.
– Hal Martin, President, Harrison Company LLC, Bossier City, LA

When a traditional warehouse, one where the order selectors walk or ride from one pick slot to the next, has more SKU than pick slots, many start doing things that are, for the most part, counterproductive.  They may be regarded internally as essential to operations; but a disconnected outsider will most likely view it otherwise.  A few examples include the following:

  • Re-palletize from 48 x 40 pallets to 40 x 32
  • Convert two pallet pick slots per pair of beams to multiple “hand stack” shelving pick slots
  • Create three high pallet pick slots from two high pick slots by lowering the pallet beams and removing a tier or two from each stored pallet

There are alternatives to these that effectively reduce operating costs – some are better than others.

One alternative solution is to add building space.  Besides being an expensive option, the single most significant negative for this option is that the order selector’s travel distance increases for each order picked, increasing labor cost for only a fractional gain in product sales.

A second alternative solution is to purchase powered pallet trucks that raise the operator’s platform, bringing the selectors to the pick level more ergonomically.

A third alternative solution is to invest in a “pick-to-belt” system where the order selectors pick multiple orders simultaneously (i.e. “waves” or “batches”), picking cases to a powered conveyor.  In the right application, studies prove that labor productivity for pick-to-belt systems is quite high in spite of the need created to sort and palletize the cases once they’re picked.  Though the capital investment for a system like this one is higher than the option to add building space, the investment return is typically better as well.

A fourth alternative is Velociti’s CasePick® system.

CasePick® can be a manual alternative where selectors pick to pallets; or it can be an automated alternative where selectors pick to conveyor.  Both methods, manual and automated, tackle the challenges caused by Pareto’s Principle, where medium and slow moving inventory items equal or exceed 80% of the SKU, producing only 20% of the workload.  And both process multiple orders at the same time, reducing the number of trips through the pick system, utilizing Velociti’s patent pending inventory management software system.

One key advantage for Velociti’s CasePick® system is the reduced capital investment in powered conveyor and the elimination of multiple mezzanine pick levels.  It doesn’t require the capital investment of ”miles” of conveyor and hundreds of square feet of mezzanine (plus stairs) as do the “pick-to-belt” systems.

With CasePick®, success metrics show that inventory storage and product utilization is typically doubled, and pick slot counts are typically increased by 30% as compared to the traditional warehouses that employ hand stacking, re-palletizing to smaller pallets, or three high pick slots.

For more information, click here.

Shakespere said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Problem is, whether it’s called “single pick”, or “broken case pick”, or “repack”, not even Shakespere would call anything resembling less-than-case picking a “rose”! He may suggest a thorn…?

In short, broken case picking is all of the following:

  • It’s a poor use of warehouse space…
  • It’s labor intensive…
  • Order accuracy is dependent upon a non-highly compensated associate…

It’s well established that “to increase productivity, one must reduce the number of touches”.

That old adage is now officially proven false…because PiecePick® actually INCREASES the number of touches and at the same time, INCREASES productivity.

The secret is in the definition of the word “touch”. Specifically, how much time is involved in each touch? And how much product is actually picked once the operator is in front of the pick slot? A touch, for example, that requires an operator to move horizontally and/or vertically for several seconds before making a pick of one or two units will have a much lower pick rate than someone who moves only two or three steps and picks 10 or more units.

PiecePick® focuses on touches that require one or two seconds of movement between picks as well as larger pick quantities, sometimes twenty to thirty times more quantity per stop.

Studies suggest the following results:

  • Double the amount of product stored in the same amount of space, or the same product in half the space.
  • Two-thirds the labor.
  • 100% verifiable accuracy.
  • A fraction of the capital investment typically required for pick modules with case-flow lanes and “miles of conveyor”. (Please Note: Some companies actually boast about the miles of conveyor in their warehouse. It amazes us…has no one explained how expensive conveyor is per linear foot?)

For those who wish to read more, let’s begin with a simple description of the typical broken case pick system:

  1. Receiving is where it all begins – so let’s begin there by describing the most typical method. Less-than-case items are typically (not always) received in less-than-full pallet quantities. Perhaps a tier or two of the same item, and often a case or two delivered by a re-seller’s truck with multiple SKU on the same pallet.
  2. Next is the put-away function. When inventory is moved from receiving to put-away, it is typically moved to reserve. When the pick slot is nearing empty, a replenishment function is requested and inventory is moved from reserve to the pick slot. If the pick slot won’t accommodate the inventory on the pallet, the pallet is returned to reserve – to be called upon again later.
  3. Picking is next. The most typical method is single order picking to totes transported by either a mobile cart or gravity conveyor. One order selector picks one (or if they’re really good, perhaps two), order for each trip around the pick path. The selector may have pick-to-light for assistance, or voice pick, or no assistance at all. Predominantly, the orders are picked one per person per trip.
  4. Totes are released from the pick area in one of two ways, a.) as they’re filled, requiring a sorter, or b.) they’re kept together and released when the order is completed.
  5. The final step is truck loading, where totes are either palletized with full case items and loaded by pallet, or the truck is floor loaded with a combination of cases and totes.

PiecePick® is a completely different paradigm set.

  1. PiecePick® allows receiving to bring inventory into the warehouse without repalletizing it. Specifically, receivers aren’t required to separate different SKU onto different pallets. The received pallet can be delivered to put-away as it is received. Labor required for re-palletizing at receiving is no longer needed.
  2. PiecePick® eliminates the replenishment function. Once a product is put into storage, it isn’t touched again until it’s picked. The replenishment function is gone, finished, caput, finis. Labor required for replenishment is no longer needed.
  3. PiecePick® assigns selectors to pick bulk quantities of inventory for multiple orders at a time. Instead of traveling the pick path once for each order picked, the pick path is traveled only once for multiple orders – perhaps 50 or 150 orders picked at the same time.
  4. Inventory is touched an additional time for this step because the inventory is now sorted into the shipping containers (i.e. tote or corrugated). To optimize productivity and insure accuracy, PiecePick® utilizes pick-to-light technology, robust controls, and integration of conveyor controls with network software that interfaces with the host computer in real time.
  5. When a tote is full, it is either pushed onto a take away conveyor and sorted, or it’s retained in queue with the other totes/boxes for the same order until time to be released to shipping and truck loading.

Call 864-616-6457 to receive a priority access password to view the videos.

For more information, click here.

 

Studies have proven that “pre-stamping” cigarette inventory (stamping at receiving beforeput away) is the most labor productive method for stamping cigarettes. The bad news is that it requires the highest inventory cost.

The same studies prove that “post-stamping” cigarette inventory (stamping after an order is picked) is the highest labor cost method because it delivers the lowest labor productivity rate for stamping cigarettes. The good news is that it yields the lowest inventory cost.

The question distributors have wrestled with for years is, “Should we ‘pre-stamp’ or ‘post stamp’?”

SmokePick® makes that question irrelevant.

 

Why?

Because SmokePick® achieves the labor productivity rate similar to a “pre-stamp” application AND an inventory cost that is similar to a “post-stamp” application. In addition, SmokePick® delivers an accuracy rate that is superior to either “pre-stamp” or “post-stamp” applications, exceeding 99.99% and typically 100%. If there is an error, the system will know exactly who committed the error and when.

Historically, “pre-stamp” applications have required fewer stamping machines than “post-stamp” applications because of the higher stamp rate at which “pre-stamp” applications achieve. SmokePick enjoys a similar stamp rate to “pre-stamp”, so fewer stamp machines and fewer stamp machine operators are required.

One last SmokePick® advantage…because inventories are reduced and because there’s only one unstamped pick slot per SKU, SmokePick® utilizes less warehouse floor space. (The reduction is a direct correlation with the number of pre-stamped inventories that currently exist.)

In summary, SmokePick® is the best-of-breed solution for lean distribution of cigarette products. Through the use of high-speed sortation, put-to-light technology, robust controls, and integration of all facets of the cigarette product life cycle, SmokePick® enables high product velocity and throughput with amazingly low labor requirements.

Call 864-616-6457 for priority password access to view the product videos.

For more information, click here.

Warehouse companies who distribute product from freezers combat conditions unlike those in any other department.

  • Initially, warehouse freezer space is more expensive to build; and then it’s more expensive to service than any other grocery department.
  • Over the past 20 years, SKU growth as a percentage of total SKU is higher in the freezer than in any other department. Many, if not most of the SKU represent slow, and at best, medium sales volumes. Each requires a pick slot, each requires reserve storage, each increases the travel distance required to put-away product, each increases the travel distance required to pick an order.
  • Workers are subject to frigid conditions, ranging from -8 to as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Special compensation and additional “warm up” breaks all add to the labor cost for freezer operations.
  • Product picked and shipped in error is expensive to return and recycle to another customer. More typically, discounts are given to encourage the retailer to keep the product.

For those companies who break cases in the freezer in order to ship single picked items, the order fulfillment process is compounded that much more.

When faced with an abundance of SKU, each requiring a pick slot, the single most significant challenge for freezer distributors is the height of the worker – they can only reach as high as the length of their arms. Once the height factor is used up, to accommodate the challenges, the traditional solution is to make pick slots smaller, either vertically or horizontally. Problems escalate once this decision is made. For example, received product is re-palletized to fit a smaller pick slot; and workers are forced to climb below beams to reach product.

IcePick®, Velociti Alliance’s solution for freezer operations, typically doubles the product stored in freezers, reduces labor by 30% to 50%, eliminates errors and the cost associated with errors, and increases the number of pick slots by 40% or more.

For more information, click here.

 

We’ve just launched the beta of Velociti’s new web site!  Coming soon: online support requests and tracking, product updates, and more!

We thought it would be great, but now we know for sure!  Day one.  New system.  Nervous operators moving slowly.  …and they still finished their workload ahead of schedule!  CasePick® effectively harnesses the power of batch selection and sorting to reduce labor cost.  Accuracy?  Day one was flawless!  Take a look at CasePick®, it’ll add profit to your bottom line!