Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Meet Ecommerce Order Fulfillment Demands with Room for Growth




Pick, pack and ship procedures are the three main components of Ecommerce order fulfillment. The last 100’ of a distribution center, however, is often the bottleneck of the operation as the pack and ship procedures can be time consuming and labor intensive with multiple touches and handling processes.  Warehouse automation is the key to improving these processes without increasing labor costs.
Warehouse Control and Execution Systems provide a drastic increase in product processing while also providing a significant reduction in labor expenses. If you want to meet the demands of Ecommerce order fulfillment and poise your business for growth, you need to improve the pack and ship functions with high accuracy and efficient product labeling and sorting.  Replacing outdated processes with efficient, lean automation technologies provides rapid return on investment (ROI) while boosting order fulfillment throughput rates.
Warehouse Control Systems Solve Labor Shortage Problems

It is proving difficult for businesses to continue to meet the increasing demand for same day shipments with the current labor shortage. It is costlier than just a year ago to fill manual labor positions with increasing wages for even entry-level positions required to attract and retain employees.  Relying on manual labor for pack and ship operations can prove especially difficult during peak seasons and times of growth. 

Numina’s Warehouse Control System replaces the tedious tasks of manual labor with dramatic increases in productivity, resulting in immediate return on investment (ROI) while poised for growth.  Real-Time Distribution, RDS™, is a flexible family of modules designed to grow with your business.  Powerful warehouse control software drives automated technologies that replace the many tedious tasks holding up pack and ship operations including:
               
    • Scanning and data entry
    • Manual weight and dimension verification of each parcel
    • Printing packing slips and placing on cartons
    • Printing carrier shipping labels and placing on cartons
    • Sorting for correct shipping destination
               
This is just a small sample of the tedious tasks that Numina’s warehouse control and execution system performs with high accuracy and increased throughput.  Our X-Press PAL™ print and apply labeling system provides automation with accuracy and speed at a rate of 25 cartons per minute.  Incorporate RDS Voice™ for increased efficiency in pick and put applications with 99.99% accuracy.

The Numina Group is recognized as a leading warehouse automation company, providing comprehensive services including warehouse design and implementation of automated technologies.  Contact us today to learn more about our warehouse control and execution systems.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Achieve Quicker ROI with Warehouse Control System




Designing your distribution center or warehouse operations by analyzing all systems including inventory management, picking, packing, shipping and receiving achieves maximum cost savings with quick return on investment (ROI).  Analyzing each area of warehouse movements reveals areas for improvement, but by combining all systems for total warehouse control, companies realize maximum benefits and cost savings.  Performing movement analysis and re-slotting for optimizing pick path is a good first step, but combining streamlined warehouse design with warehouse control, execution and automated technologies drastically improves productivity and profitability.

Warehouse Control and Execution by Numina for High Profitability

Numina Group is recognized for implementing lean pick and pack processes which eliminate wasted touches for improved efficiency and accuracy while reducing labor expenses.  Improving pick, pack and ship processes with streamlined flow is only part of the equation.  To achieve maximum results, distribution operations must invest in a Warehouse Execution and Control System (WES-WCS) to drive the right automated technologies.

Numina Group designs, develops and integrates leaner pick processes with voice picking technology that validates pick and put processes with hands-free barcode scanning.  Operators achieve maximum efficiency with automatic hands-free SKU validation for upstream pack automation. Incorporating print and apply labeling further enhances automation in the packing process with automatic application of all labeling including shipping and compliance labels. Combined with automated packing applications such as automatic vision in-line scanning for weight and dimension validation and automatic sorting removes wasted touches and replaces them with  more accurate, automated processes. 

Combining these automated warehouse technologies with powerful warehouse control software achieves maximum throughput with realized cost savings.  Numina delivers integrated warehouse solutions that utilize minimal conveyor systems and material handling equipment with improved product storage and retrieval processes.  We help companies to lower labor costs across all pick, pack, ship and replenishment operations. 

Numina Group delivers lean, automated order fulfillment operations which reduce costs, improve throughput, accuracy and profit.  Contact us today to speak with a warehouse automation expert to learn more about our proven warehouse control system.


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Mechatronics Enhances Order Fulfillment Automation




Distribution centers focused on improvement often direct supervisors and managers to solve daily operational problems by focusing on specific departments within the operation.  A more effective approach occurs when combining an efficient, streamlined design with automated technologies integrated into the entire distribution center.  Warehouse automation such as voice picking systems which allow for hands free pick-to-voice processes drastically reduce wasted labor touches while providing employees with the most optimized path flow to pick and put items in packing processes.  
Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary approach used in engineering which combines mechanical engineering with electronics, computers and systems engineering to yield maximum results when automating machines or production lines.  This holistic view of produces a more efficient process when electronic and mechanical design teams work together to determine the most advantageous and streamlined operation.
Numina Group Provides Holistic Warehouse Design and Automation
Numina Group is recognized as a leading warehouse automation company, providing comprehensive warehouse services which improve productivity and profitability.  Our designers look at all the moving points in each system along with the big picture of your total warehouse movement processes.  We evaluate all mechanical motion from hydraulic and pneumatic motion control, pulleys, gears and motion sensors that define the warehouse system.
We deliver a thoroughly planned design which includes implementation of the most beneficial warehouse technologies to yield maximum cost savings.  Without this analysis of the big picture, companies will get stuck in compartmentalized thinking which may be difficult to incorporate into the bigger picture without costly alterations.  When designed properly, your order fulfillment processes will operate with maximum efficiency as a stand-alone process and also when considered in the overall warehouse movement processes.  
Our combined effort approach allows for automation in which departmental managers collaborate with other departments to achieve maximum productivity.  When the entire pick, pack and ship operations are analyzed and designed to work collectively, distribution centers realize maximum productivity and profitability.
Numina Group is a leading warehouse automation company, providing comprehensive services which include design and implementation of automated technologies.  Our holistic approach provides maximum benefit to our customers who typically realize ROI within one year.  Contact us today to speak with an engineer about our warehouse automation solutions.


Monday, June 11, 2018

Warehouse Design Must Include Short and Long-Term Views




A good warehouse design requires both a short-term implementation phase along with long-term defined goals, both aligned with the company’s overall business objectives.  Companies must first determine their multi-year goals and objectives across the entire organization and realize where they are in their long-term plan.  Without this overall long-term approach, businesses will only yield incremental, limited returns and benefits that may be costly to change and incorporate their long-term goals when realized.
A proper warehouse design should assess which improvements can be made across all aspects of the operation, picking, packing, and shipping. It may seem easiest to correct the low hanging fruit, usually the section with the highest touches. However, correcting one aspect of the warehouse usually forces a bottleneck into another. The best approach would be to consider your workflow as a lot size of one, and streamline your processes across all warehouse operations. This is accomplished by performing an in-depth valuation with value stream mapping practices to clearly identify wasted touches and excess steps in each process.
Numina Group Provides Warehouse Automation with Quick ROI
Numina Group is recognized as a leading warehouse automation company, employing skilled design engineers with vast experience in automated technologies.  We partner with our clients to provide the well-planned roadmap which delivers measurable savings throughout the implementation process.  We have helped distribution centers across North America to eliminate inefficiencies and recover valuable savings throughout their entire operation.  
Our customers typically enjoy an increase in accuracy to 99.99%, reduction in manual labor expenses from 30% to 70%, an overall increase in profitability up to 30%, and quick ROI typically within 12-18 months.  Our Warehouse Control and Execution System (WCS-WES), Real-Time Distribution, RDS™, easily integrates with any warehouse management system (WMS) or enterprise resource planning system (ERP) to control and execute order fulfillment operations with real-time control.  
RDS™ is a family of flexible and scalable modules which deliver total warehouse control with proven technologies such as Print and Apply Labeling, Voice Picking Systems and automated conveyors with vision audit for weight and dimension verification and sorting.  We design your warehouse roadmap with short and long-term goals in mind to realize maximum return on investment while poised for growth.  
Numina Group provides warehouse design and layout services with automated technologies to maximize productivity and profitability.  We design, integrate and implement automated warehouse technologies for quick return on investment.  Contact us today to learn how we can save you time, money and maximize your profit.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Need for Lean Distribution Center Operations




Combining a lean strategy with the right automated technologies significantly improves business processes and functions, while simplifying daily operations. Creating lean DC operations is accomplished by identifying the tactics and strategies for a warehouse design which eliminate wasted touches with automated technologies.  Selecting the right blend of automated equipment with the optimum design for less labor touches returns the fastest ROI and delivers that required competitive edge.  
Automated warehouse technology delivers significant returns by eliminating manual, redundant processes providing valuable increases to productivity.  Modern technology today includes various designs of automated conveyor systems, voice picking systems, print and apply systems, vision inspection with automated sorting and many other automated systems which deliver high accuracy of 99.9% while providing rapid paybacks in cost reductions.  
Numina Delivers Automated Warehouse Design and Technology
Automated warehouse technology alone will not provide the required competitive edge to solve delivery problems.  Technology must be combined with the properly designed roadmap to meet the requirements of complex processes and workflows in today’s demanding distribution centers.  Providing a warehouse design that delivers the fastest ROI requires vast industry expertise and years of experience.  Numina Group understands how design and technology must work together to provide maximum return on investment.

Taking a holistic view of the entire distribution center operation are best-in-class company practices.  Businesses today realize that continual improvement must occur in individual work processes and how they relate to the big picture of the entire distribution center.

Numina partners with our customers to provide the warehouse design which delivers increased inventory turns, reductions in inventory, reduced order to delivery cycles, improved positive cash flow and overall profitability. We provide quick ROI with reductions in labor costs by eliminating wasted touches, while increasing accuracy and efficiency. Our customers typically enjoy a reduction in labor costs from 30% to 70% and overall increase in profitability of 30%.

Numina Group is recognized as a leader among warehouse automation companies, offering technicians with vast experience and expertise in designing warehouses for maximum productivity and profitability.  Contact us today to learn how to improve your warehouse movement and order fulfillment operations with our automated warehouse solutions.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Warehouse Automation Delivers Profit to Distribution Centers





Consumers today want more from the companies they buy from, they want their products faster with same day shipping at a low cost.  Companies are faced with ever increasing competition to deliver on-time order fulfillment, with accuracy and at a low cost to consumers.  Retailers have given way to E-tailers in a quest to meet the demands of consumers and keep up with competition.  Businesses are expected to deliver more in a faster time, while maintaining a JIT inventory system.
These rapid developments are occurring at the same time the warehousing industry is experiencing a shortage of qualified labor. Along with the increase in demand for hourly labor employees, the pay rate is also increasing.  If businesses want to attract and retain employees that exhibit good work ethic and take pride and ownership in their employment, they’re going to pay more than they did just a year ago.
What’s the solution for these increasing demands in the midst of a labor shortage?  Warehouse Automation allows companies and distribution centers to meet delivery demands with low-touch, lean operations.  
Numina Delivers Warehouse Automation that Increases Profit
The Numina Group offers experienced warehouse design and control to bring increased productivity and profitability to companies and distribution centers across North America.  Our Real Time Distribution System, RDS™, automates warehouse order fulfillment and material movement with streamlined processes.  Our customers typically enjoy a quick ROI within 12-18 months with an increase in order fulfillment accuracy to 99.99%, a reduction in labor expenses in the range of 30% to 70%, and an increase in overall profitability of 30%.
We design your order fulfillment processes to eliminate wasted touches and streamline processes with flexible automation modules that integrate with any warehouse management system, WMS, or enterprise resource planning system, ERP. RDS™ includes a full family of automation modules including our automated Voice Picking System, Print and Apply Labeling, automated cartonization with vision weight and dimension scanning and many other warehouse automation solutions.
Numina Group offers total warehouse automation solutions with experienced warehouse design experts.  We partner with our clients to determine the optimized flow of material that yields maximum return with reduced touches.  Contact us today to learn how we can increase your productivity and profitability with warehouse automation. 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Retail Fulfillment Success Story

350,000 Sq. Foot Retail Fulfillment Distribution Center Streamlines the Picking Process by Moving to Pick by Voice for its 1,000,000 Active SKU’s

When a leading retail fulfillment firm with over 250 retail stores wanted to ditch its paper picking process, it leap-frogged RF and went directly to voice picking, which turned out to be a wise choice. The voice automation integrator, The Numina Group, delivered a picking automation system with over a 35 percent productivity gains and a boost in accuracy to 99.96 percent.

retail fulfillmentDespite the high SKU count and high volume of items shipped daily, until adding voice picking, the specialty store’s retail fulfillment operation was primarily a manual paper based picking process that required picking and replenishment from random forward high density pick shelf locations. Store sales represent 90% of the DC’s order fulfillment volume with internet sales accounting for the remaining volume.  Prior to voice picking, orders were picked by paper and the operator used price label sheets to direct the picking combined with applying price labels across the four main pick zones.

Pickers would follow paper instructions and discretely pick and price label each items for a single store in each zone.  Picks per store would range from 30 to 300 items into a series of totes. At pick completion, the totes were placed onto a conveyor that transported and sorted the totes to the individual store’s staging and shipping area.  Approximately 63 retail store orders are picked each day. Stores receive 35 to 40 totes with the larger stores getting up to 175 totes. This labor intensive process was a drain on the company’s profit margin.

Numina Group first performed a process design study to determine the best investment and whether voice picking was the best means to increase the productivity in the order fulfillment operation.  During the design study, Numina Group’s engineers collaborated with the company’s logistics executives and operation’s team. The team reviewed the current picking and store delivery processes and then defined and flowcharted leaner processes that would streamline and improve the picking operation. The team looked at a few technologies, but it was quickly apparent that voice had the fastest ROI.

Multi-modal voice that combined voice commands and responses interleaved with barcode scanning to direct and validate the order fulfillment pick and packretail fulfillment operation was the technology choice. The study showed that voice could provide a one-year ROI by replacing the paper based operation. At the end of the study, The Numina Group was hired to implement the defined solution.

A major advantage of Numina Group’s Real-time Distribution System, (RDS™) Warehouse Execution and Control System, WES-WCS is that the RDS™ Voice picking module is an integral component and can be deployed either as a voice application for warehouse picking, replenishment, and inspection applications or it can be combined with other automation technologies such as conveyors, packing automation and print and apply labeling for a complete warehouse order fulfillment automation solution.

RDS™ Voice extends functionality beyond traditional systems. For example, at this retail distribution center, it added wave pick optimization and batch picking in addition to the store item price label printing to the existing WMS. RDS™ Voice manages the batch cart pick process, and balances order picking across the pick zones. 

Another unique and key advantage of RDS™ Voice is its speaker independent, zero voice training technology.  It requires no operator voice training regardless of accents or languages.  Operators are productive in minutes so even temporary workers can be trained in under 15 minutes.  The RDS™ voice system permits more flexibility in cross-training workers and interleaving work tasks, leading to better labor utilization in picking, replenishment, and cycle counting, all prime voice directed processes.

The retail fulfillment voice directed pick process is closely coupled to the WMS and works like this:

  1. The WMS Sends the store order picking details and item location map to the WCS.
  2. The WES-WCS builds order waves of 1- 6 store batch carts optimized for the operator walk path.
  3. The WES-WCS sends back the pick plan to the WMS which uses the data to batch print the store tote ID labels along with item price labels matching the walk path order for each store.
  4. Voice commands are then used to direct the operators to the cart loading in both the cart pick zones, and at the high volume fastest moving SKU zone that uses a pick and pass conveyor pick process.
  5. WES-WCS manages each picker using an industrial hardened PDA, a small, lightweight wearable Wi-Fi computer that directs the picking using natural voice command messages to direct picking locations and quantities using audible natural voice command messages.
  6. Pickers receive the first pick location and perform each voice directed picking and labeling task hands free – eyes focused!
  7. At each pick location, the operator is prompted with the pick location and verifies the location by reading the check digit which causes a voice prompt of the required item quantity pick.
  8. At pick completion the operator uses voice response “OK” to validate the quantity picked.
  9. Voice is then used to direct the placement of the items to the store specific tote.
  10. All pick transactions are returned by the WES-WCS Voice Server to the WMS for inventory records and additionally the WES-WCS provides labor management and operational productivity reporting.

The customer had three initial questions about implementing a Voice Directed picking process.

  1. Would the upgrade require a significant and costly software investment from IT or a major wireless network to accommodate the voice messages generated by 250,000 transactions?
  2. Would the software connect with the existing WMS – JDA Merchandise Management?
  3. Most importantly, would they achieve the expected ROI?

All three concerns were readily alleviated due to the advantages of RDS’s™ WES-WCS Linux based voice solution! It can operate on virtually every hardware platform from dedicated servers, virtual servers, and private Cloud-based Servers.  RDS™ Voice uses small network message packets, typically under 25K bytes per message, a fraction of the size compared to other voice picking technologies, for transmitting picking instructions and operator work completion confirmation messages.  The client-server based voice solution is very lean with small, highly efficient messaging technology.  It handles high volume picking transactions which minimally impacts the existing facility wireless network.

To answer their second question, Numina Group explained that RDS™ software is a top tier WES-WCS platform with thousands of installations that bolt on to virtually any existing ERP or WMS.  Adding the improved processes to the clients JDA WMS on the IBM I-Series AS-400 platform was achieved using an RDS™ pre-developed interface.

The answer to the third question, can RDS™ Voice deliver a one-year ROI, was evident after the conclusion of the successful pilot. The work force had never used voice picking.  The customer had doubts about the estimated ROI and the adaption of voice by their workers.  The pilot was initially conducted with 20 pickers, then after the initial success the trial period was expanded to 40 pickers.

The goal, to raise average picks by 30 percent per hour, from 195 lines to 257 lines, was soon exceeded.  “We had to prove to ourselves that we could get a 30% productivity gain during the pilot before we added the entire workforce.  This goal was achieved, and several additional enhancements were identified that would provide even higher productivity when we added the entire workforce” stated the operation manager.

During the pilot, a 20% productivity increase occurred in the first day due to the speaker independent voice technology that requires zero operator voice training.  Within just a few weeks the workforce had exceeded the 30% goal and went above a 35% productivity increase with the highest performing workers achieving a 60% productivity increase. Picking accuracy across the team averaged 99.96%.  Voice combined with hands free scanning accounts for 5-10% added productivity with a typical boost in accuracy of .5% compared to voice only picking applications.

RDS™ Voice includes labor management and reporting that further boosts workforce performance.   It adds operator accountability through Web based labor management tools that record the accuracy and the performance of each of the approximately 100 operators.  Management is able to view operational productivity from any PC, tablet, or portable device, and can see real-time production statistics for any worker.  Views and reports provide feedback of workers that display individual and team hourly and daily production results.  This real time reporting capability is a useful tool to recognize and reward workers that exceed their goals.

“Once we started tracking the labor productivity measurements, we saw that some of our associates were just really excelling at it,” said the company’s operation manager.  “This prompted us to put in an incentive policy for our workers, so if they maintain an accuracy level of at least 99.6 percent, and if they reach at least a 30% higher productivity level than the designated standards, they qualify as a Voice Professional (VP) which earns them recognition within the order picking team, as well as a wage increase as part of our bonus plan.”

For information about how to increase productivity by 35% or more in your distribution center, contact an engineer.

Contact an Engineer

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