Mar. 1, 2012

From your office

WEBCAST SERIES (six sessions): Using Metrics to Achieve Results — fourth session today!

WERCouncil events

  • March 1, North Texas WERCouncil Kohler Facility Tour, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • March 7, Utah WERCouncil Associated Foods Facility Tour, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • March 8, Southern California WERCouncil New Balance Facility Tour, 9 to 11:30 a.m.
  • March 15, Chicagoland WERCouncil: Making Sustainability Sustainable in the Distribution Chain, 5 to 8 p.m.
  • March 29, North Texas WERCouncil Henry Schein Facility Tour, 11 a.m. to noon

  • Early-bird rates end March 27. Register for WERC's Conference now.More

    Safety is yours — if you claim it
    Material Flows
    Tom Andel writes, "OSHA's been playing 'Bad Cop' for the last couple years, and in 2012 it will go from bad to worse. By 'bad,' I mean 'carry-a-big-stick' bad. According to report from Sherman & Howard, a law firm specializing occupational safety and health law, last year OSHA issued more 'Significant' citations — where the proposed fines are $100,000 or more — than in prior years. Some 'mega-penalty' citations exceeded $1 million. Penalties deemed merely 'serious' doubled from $1,053 in 2010 to $2,132 in 2011. But Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, says these aren't enough, especially compared to the fines other regulatory agencies levy."More

    Hiring engineers during the recession pays off for material handling equipment vendor
    DC Velocity
    News of economic growth, success, and job creation is always welcome, but it's especially heartening at a time when many companies are still recovering from the effects of the Great Recession. There was quite a bit of good news to be heard at the recent MODEX 2012 show in Atlanta. A number of companies reported that they not only had survived the recession but also had achieved significant growth — and they're anticipating even brighter days ahead.More

    Capacity will be tight for at least next 2 years
    Material Handling & Logistics
    Companies expecting a favorable climate for shippers in 2012 will likely be disappointed, based on the latest market trends from FTR Associates. FTR's Shippers Conditions Index for December edged up roughly 1-1/2 points from the previous month to a reading of -4.6, which still reflects a somewhat adverse environment for shippers. The small improvement reflected a slight easing in demand for transport capacity. The SCI sums up all market influences that affect shippers; a reading above zero suggests a favorable shipping environment, while a reading below zero is unfavorable.More

    Traditional laser scanners versus imagers in distribution centers
    Supply Chain Digest
    Bar code scanning is one of the foundational technologies of most advanced distribution centers, and with RFID still slow to make its way into the DC, is likely to stay that way for years if not (almost) forever. Whether as a separate device tethered to a PC or data collection terminal, or as an integrated scan engine built into a wireless terminal, the choice of what scanner to use has become almost routine today in one sense, given the performance of today's scanning systems, which are far better than a decade ago. But when most people think of a scanner, they think in terms of a traditional laser scanner, in which the device generates a laser beam.More

    4 steps to TMS success
    DC Velocity
    In a recent posting in "Logistics Viewpoints," an online newsletter published by ARC Advisory Group, analyst Steve Banker reflected on two companies that had recently implemented transportation management systems with an eye to reducing costs and improving service. In one case, the company achieved its goals, wrote Banker, a member of ARC's supply chain and logistics consulting team. But in the second case, the firm had only limited success. What made the difference, Banker concluded, was not the software, but how the customer managed the implementation.More

    How shippers of perishables face cold realities
    Material Handling & Logistics
    Truck continues to be the primary mode of transportation for temperature-controlled transportation and with today's capacity crunch this poses challenges for shippers. According to a new report by RWI Transportation, an asset-based logistics company providing temperature-controlled transportation for perishable commodities, the top three challenges include the following.More

    Cliff Holste: Automated sorting improves eaches picking efficiency
    Supply Chain Digest
    "Piece picking," "eaches picking," "loose case picking," "broken case picking" and "split case picking" are the most common terms used to describe the picking of individual items. Typically, these items are picked directly into a corrugated shipping container or perhaps a captive plastic tote box used as a material handling transport container for moving items through the picking operation. Individual item picking often is the cause of much consternation among distribution managers.More

    Checkpoint Systems launches new tags, encoding solutions
    RFID Journal
    Checkpoint Systems has announced expanded and new radio frequency identification encoding solutions, as well as the expansion of its RFID tag portfolio for apparel brand owners, their retail partners, and closed-loop apparel retailers and department stores. According to the company, its latest offerings are designed to meet the needs of retailers and vendors scaling up their RFID initiatives. Checkpoint now offers three ways in which suppliers and retailers can uniquely encode tags: high-speed bulk encoding, RFID service bureaus and in-plant printing services.More

    Voice Picking is calling. Is your DC listening?
    Modern Materials Handling
    Chuck Fuerst writes, "The global recession still has many businesses reeling and searching for additional cost-cutting projects. In 2011 many businesses turned to their supply chain as an area to achieve greater efficiency with an eye towards cost cutting. As such, voice picking received more attention, but in the end, we still saw lower adoption rates than we were expecting. Could 2012 be the year for voice? Momentum could be building. More widespread acceptance of speech recognition technology is helping to fuel this momentum."More

    Vizualiiz's LightsOn solution uses RFID to locate servers
    RFID Journal
    Several U.S. businesses are deploying an RFID solution that provides visibility into the identity and location of every piece of equipment stored within their data center. Developed by Vizualiiz, the software — known as LightsOn — utilizes passive ultrahigh-frequency EPC Gen 2 RFID tags to track the locations of servers within a data center, in order to identify not only which servers are on-site, but also their exact positions in a specific rack and in a particular part of the room. Vizualiiz is a startup launched by the husband and wife team of Kathy Cartwright, the company's CEO, and Bob Cartwright, its president.More

    Efficient? Says who?
    Material Handling & Logistics
    Energy efficiency is a useless claim unless you can document it. And because more stakeholders in your company require it, it's up to you to prove it. Even the most energy efficient U.S. manufacturers and suppliers have room for improvement — especially at a time when sustainability is becoming a more important yardstick for virtually all stakeholders. But how does one measure sustainability? It doesn't necessarily mean renewable energy.More

    FDA changes to drug bar code rule could have significant impact on packaging lines
    Healthcare Packaging
    Depending on line speeds and label printing requirements, new equipment costs to meet rule could hit $200,000 per line. The discovery in February that counterfeit Avastin, the cancer infusion drug, found its way to physicians and hospitals in the U.S., makes it more likely that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, either on its own or at the behest of Congress, will allow pharmaceutical manufacturers to change the way they print bar codes on unit-of-use drug packages. The FDA already had announced last October that it was reviewing its 2004 drug bar code rule, which requires drug companies to print a linear bar code containing the product's National Drug Code on the package directly or on a label. More

    Whether planning a new DC or upgrading existing operations, product and sales data drive automation strategies, technologies
    Supply Chain Digest
    Based on the amount of activity at MODEX 2012, it is apparent that many companies are giving some serious thought to upgrading their DC operations. Seeking a bigger "bite-of-the-apple" they are looking to launch new marketing and sales programs that will impact on current order fulfillment operations. What is not so apparent (to many of these companies) is that they will need to become much more intimate with the critical data that drives order fulfillment strategies and automation technologies. They must become aware of what data is needed, what data is available within their business systems, and how accurate that data is. Another critical question in that regard: Does the company's historical data base represent what future activity will be? If not, how will it be different?More