Fuzzy LogX Director of Systems and DC Design, Jeff Triantafilo, and Make Good Decisions Project Manager, Amanda Rawstron, tell MHD Supply Chain how they are delivering sustainable solutions for warehousing and distribution clients that they can feel warm and fuzzy about.
Through a team of experienced consultants focused on designing, engineering and operating complex, manual and automated logistics facilities, Fuzzy LogX advises various logistics clients across Australia and New Zealand.
As experts in DC design, re-engineering and warehouse automation – the ‘Warehouse Wizards’, as they like to be called – Fuzzy LogX aims to find the best solution for their client’s needs – from the initial idea to optimal outcome – via independent consulting services, project management, solutions implementation, and operational intelligence.
And in today’s business climate, the best solutions must include sustainability as one of the key considerations.
At its core, Fuzzy LogX focuses on creating a personal consultation experience for its clients. This extends to its inherent business model, in striving to reduce waste across the board and creating fulfilling workplaces.
“We go to the minutest detail in finding ways to optimise our clients’ processes,” Fuzzy LogX Director – Systems and DC Design Jeff Triantafilo says. “At the core of that is reducing waste – wasted effort, wasted cost, wasted time – and that perpetuates from the ground up. Historically there has only been a focus on sustainable building design. Where we add value is in designing an efficient operation first, followed by solution designs that focus on increasing sustainability which in turn ties in to making the building more sustainable.”
In working with Make Good Decisions Project Manager, Amanda Rawstron, to bolster its project management capabilities, Fuzzy LogX is able to further optimise operations.
“Logistics and supply chain optimisation is all about the minimisation of waste, traditionally the main focus has been limited to the areas of saving excess labour resources, time and costs,” Amanda says. “Now, it’s about the total reduction of waste. By taking that extra step in terms of harnessing our environmental resources, we are able to take a more holistic approach when looking at sustainability and optimisation from a supply chain perspective.”
This has translated to the way Fuzzy LogX offers its services to clients. According to Jeff, identifying and implementing sustainable practices in warehousing is key for the next generation of warehouses.
“Over time, warehousing has become part of the circular economy,” he says. “Fuzzy LogX has a niche in automation, where sustainability is becoming all-encompassing in every area of the warehouse. The basic sustainability standards already include forklifts that run on hydrogen or have motors that regenerate energy, on-site EV charging stations, conveyors that only move when their sensors are triggered, and lights that only turn on when someone goes into the aisle. There is, however, a new wave of sustainability that clients need to focus on.”
One example is packaging. With the explosion in e-commerce as a result of COVID-19, end customers become increasingly conscious of waste and the environmental implications of the packaging in which their online orders arrive, and companies are more aware of their environmental responsibilities.
Amanda’s strategy is that “to reuse” is much better than “to recycle”.
“How do we minimise bringing new things into the warehouse?” she asks. “The way to do that is to procure well, but then reuse rather than recycle or dispose, as there’s a huge amount of energy required for recycling. In this part of the circular economy, where everything becomes a resource, everything is treated as a resource. So, it’s about really thinking at the time of procurement, ‘What is the total life value of this, even if you’re talking about items such as cardboard boxes, satchels, labels, etc.’ Effectively, each time you reuse, you are also creating value by halving the amount of procurement cost and eliminating the recycle phase, because you’ve bought it once and used it twice.”
The commercial benefit of reducing costs along with environmental impact is astounding. When you consider the sheer number of packages being shipped daily throughout Australia and how often these packages are filled with either air or void fill, you’d wonder why businesses don’t put more focus on packaging and how to optimally use them.
Jeff says that most of their customers have ideas about reducing packaging waste, but they are hampered by their own business in being able to implement them.
“Most of our e-commerce clients use branded satchels or cardboard boxes to ship their orders to their customers,” he says. “Historically, clients would have several pre-defined sizes suitable for different order sizes. A branded plastic satchel for small items, and maybe three different carton sizes with their logo on the side of the carton for the larger orders. To eliminate damage, operators would add void fill to the cardboard boxes or wrap items in bubble wrap before they close the satchel. Having branded, pre-defined packaging sizes provides a barrier to reduce waste.
“There is a myriad of carton creation and size reduction machines on the market which either make a cardboard box to size or reduce the size of the finished carton down to the top of the products inside the carton to eliminate void fill and shipping air. What is preventing most clients from going down this route is branding specialists or marketing departments who don’t involve the warehouse team when designing these branded satchels or boxes. We get passionate about these things,” Jeff says.
“A simple change to a carton design can make a huge difference. For instance, if you switch to branded lids instead of branded cartons, you can implement carton size reduction machines and still achieve a premium customer experience. Switching to Redcycle satchels means joining the circular economy because they recycle Coles and Woolworths soft plastic packaging into satchels. You could even go a step further and use bio-degradable satchels if you’re not fussed about branding.”
Amanda says this circular strategy also applies to energy usage, especially when it comes to automated operations. On completing a ground-up study for a client of how much energy a warehouse using traditional forklifts uses in comparison to an Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) solution, they found that 20 per cent less energy was required.
“We extrapolated the power usage and actual equipment required and the times that the equipment was operating in a detailed analysis, and it was actually a 20 per cent reduction in the electricity bills for an AGV operation versus a traditional person-operated forklift,” Amanda notes. “Then, the dollar savings from reducing energy waste were incorporated into the business case. It was a double-pronged approach to ensure that that benefit transpires – not only from a sustainability perspective, but also translating into the commercial bottom line for the business.”
Circling back to the focus on sustainable buildings and a drive to make them climate positive, Jeff mentions that most of their clients are now actively adding a sustainability stream to any new project.
“What sets us apart is that we look outside the box. We have developed a number of tools which can be used to calculate the impact of implementing sustainability improvements: from operational profiling to identify the optimal charging times for MHE equipment when solar is available during the day to the commercial benefits of using tank water as energy storage,” Jeff mentions. “Being solution and vendor agnostic also helps because it means our team has no limits when identifying the most suitable sustainability solutions for our clients without compromising on the operational efficiency.”
Jeff challenges the industry to move towards completely off-the-grid warehouses.
“If the ideas and the opportunities are out there, we’re willing to help build the business cases,” he says. “Warehousing has never been known for being energy efficient, and with energy costs going up and resources becoming scarcer, the business case is there. The question remains, How do we get there?”
When designing and building the most sustainable warehouses, Fuzzy LogX is the team to turn to.
“There’s something special about Fuzzy LogX, and it’s becoming a bit of a verb for our clients where ‘Fuzzy’ means more than just productivity and cost saving,” Jeff concludes. “We’re constantly looking to create not just better buildings, but to create better operations and more fulfilling workplaces too.”
For more information on Fuzzy LogX, click here.