ARC Advisory Group ranks Manhattan Associates as leading supplier of warehouse management systems

Global supply chain optimisation provider Manhattan Associates has been ranked as the leading supplier of 'Total WMS Software and Services' in ARC Advisory Group's Warehouse Management Systems Worldwide Outlook, Market Analysis and Forecast Through 2016.

ARC Advisory Group's annual warehouse management market study follows more than 80 suppliers of WMS solutions and gives a detailed analysis and forecast for the marketplace through 2016.

According to Clint Reiser, Enterprise Software Analyst at ARC, Manhattan Associates was the worldwide WMS market share leader in 2011. He said that warehouse management systems are core to Manhattan's business and the company has been the largest provider of WMS for the past decade.

Eddie Capel, President and Chief Operating Officer, Manhattan Associates commented that the ranking was a validation of the company's commitment to developing solutions that give customers a short term path to success while delivering long term value.

Metcash optimises yard and dock operations with Retalix Web Portal solutions

Wholesale distribution and marketing company Metcash Limited is deploying a number of Web Portal solutions supplied by Retalix Ltd. in its five mega distribution centres across Australia.

Metcash, which specialises in grocery, fresh produce, hardware, liquor and other fast moving consumer goods, will deploy Retalix's Yard Management, Dock Scheduling and Transportation Web Portal solutions.

The company will use the Retalix solutions to automate its yard and dock management processes using predictive logic and optimisation algorithms. The software has been designed to assist distributors like Metcash in eliminating operational silos, while synchronising yard and dock activity with distribution centre demand.

Phil Mangan, General Manger of IT at Metcash explained that the company found the Retalix Yard Management, Dock Scheduling and Web Portal solutions "very attractive, because they offer unmatched control over our yard operations and distribution centres."

"The solutions will help us efficiently locate equipment, personnel and products anywhere in our yard. They will also automate scheduling processes, greatly reduce trailer wait times and ensure Metcash complies with chain of responsibility legislation – all of which means higher supply chain visibility and productivity," he concluded.

Honeywell wins $2.4 million project to automate Petrocity’s Greenfield Konza Terminal

Honeywell Technology Solutions Lab has won a $2.4M project in Kenya to deliver a full automation solution for Petrocity's Greenfield Konza terminal storage facility.

Located 60km southeast of Nairobi, the project includes comprehensive solutions for the pipeline receipt system, tank farm, truck loading system and terminal automation through Experion Process Knowledge System (PKS) and Terminal Manager in addition to industrial security, emergency shutdown (ESD) and fire & gas (F&G) systems.

The new terminal facility is situated on the Nairobi-Mombasa highway and has a capacity to handle 120 million litres of gasoline, diesel and kerosene to cater for Nairobi's growing demand for fuel.

Equipped with high-accuracy measurement instruments and approved for custody transfer applications, the Petrocity project will also increase availability of petroleum products to new entrants and independent dealers in Kenya.

Aman Kurji, managing director of Petrocity Energy Ltd explains that Honeywell’s solution offers end-to-end integration to provide a global overview of the entire facility and ensure best practice in safety.

According to Chris Dartnell, Vice President and General Manager of Strategic Geographies at Honeywell Process Solutions, the new Konza storage facility will play a significant role in the development of Kenya’s petroleum industry with Honeywell technology ensuring safe, reliable and efficient operations for many years to come.

Honeywell Process Solutions will deliver all services associated with the project from the initial Hazard and Operability (HAZOP) study, front-end and detailed engineering to onsite commissioning and support services with a resident engineer.

Kuehne + Nagel opens new shared warehouse facility in Hong Kong

A second contract logistics facility has been opened by Kuehne + Nagel in Hong Kong to meet growing demand for quality warehousing and distribution services in the area.

Located at the Hutchison Logistics Centre, the new facility is adjacent to Kuehne + Nagel's warehouse at Asia Terminals Limited and its container freight stations (CFS) in Kwai Chung, the major logistics hub in Hong Kong.

It features 750 pallet positions, 2,000 shelf locations, a 20,000-sq.ft. stacking area and a multi-purpose inspection room, all of which is supported, the company states, by state-of-the-art material handling equipment and warehouse management systems.

Smooth access to the facility is provided by 21 loading docks. The premises also meet stringent security and safety requirements.

With the additional 75,000 sq. ft. of warehousing space provided by this new facility, Kuehne + Nagel has now a total of 350,000 sq. ft. under management in Hong Kong.

Achieving high-bay efficiency with aisle-changing cranes

The latest technology in aisle-changing automated storage and retrieval cranes provide significant advantages compared to using dedicated-aisle cranes in high-bay warehouses.

TO REMAIN competitive in the modern warehousing environment, distribution centres require systems that offer the flexibility to adjust quickly and accurately to market conditions, such as meeting shortened lead times. 

The most streamlined warehouses today are highly automated facilities, with maximised high-bay, high-density storage that utilises automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS). Central to the ASRS is its stacker cranes which permit full-pallet load and layered-pallet inventory to be moved quickly, safely and precisely within a high-bay warehouse environment. 

 Efficient, flexible design

Modern cranes operate within a set of top and bottom rails, eliminating the need for any flat-floor requirements. Since the crane is stabilised by the rail connections, greater load capacities are available, as well as higher rack heights, when compared to free roaming lift trucks. ASRS cranes have a high efficiency of cycle time, a calculation of the movement of product within a DC's storage system.

Many manual operations in a warehouse transport product in only one direction, then return with an empty load. Stacker cranes place a load into a rack position, and then retrieve a load from storage on their way back out, optimising the crane's movements. This helps to reduce operating and distribution costs in the warehouse, including the number of people required to operate the warehouse, thus allowing DC's to operate at a more cost-efficient level.

The latest generation of cranes incorporate a unique flexibility, allowing single-deep, double-deep, triple-deep and up to 20-deep pallet stacking utilising telescopic forks and shuttle cars, with the flexibility to handle one load at a time or multiple loads. 

High-speed PLCs with integrated controls architecture monitor the movements of the cranes. Receiving directions from the distribution center's warehouse management system (WMS) and warehouse control system (WCS) via Ethernet, the cranes utilise barcode technology to direct their movement in the high-bay and the crane's movement of pallets.

The most efficient stacker cranes that provide the lowest operating cost per hour are now fully A/C powered. This eliminates the costs associated with DC batteries, charging, and associated maintenance. Such cranes have also eliminated hydraulics, which greatly reduces maintenance costs.
Although aisle-changing capability in stacker cranes has been around in some form since the early 1990's, the speed and efficiency with which these new cranes can now execute aisle changes makes them a serious option for use in any DC interested in reducing operational costs while improving throughput.

Reducing costs

Most high-rise warehouses use ASRS cranes that are only capable of travelling in a straight line, in one aisle. The limitation of such a dedicated-aisle crane is that one crane is required to service each storage aisle in a warehouse. 

As cranes are a major part of the cost of high-bay warehouse solutions, by reducing the numbers of cranes significant savings can be realised. The number of stacker cranes can be matched to the warehouse throughput instead of the number of aisles, therefore reducing the capital investment.

Unlike earlier models of aisle-changing cranes which had limitations in their aisle-changing flexibility, some of the latest stacker cranes have been designed with efficient aisle-changing capabilities. For example, warehousing stacker crane manufacturer LTW Intralogistics has produced a crane that travels to the end of an aisle, then travels perpendicular to the aisle and enters another aisle to continue storing and retrieving pallets. 

The company has designed a specialised track to facilitate the move, which requires no transfer mechanisms, supervision equipment or costly and time-consuming maintenance, problems that have plagued earlier aisle-changing cranes. 

The track enables the crane to smoothly rotate around the end of the aisle on a curved track, without leaving the track. It makes for an easy and fast transition between aisles. The ability to switch aisles increases redundancy, in the event that a crane would go out of service. Each pallet position then becomes 100 percent accessible. This also allows cranes to be easily moved off line when service is required into an off-line maintenance area. 

If an ASRS solution in place in a distribution facility has ten aisles and is employing ten stacker cranes each operating in its respective aisle, if a stacker crane breaks down there is no way to get products out of that aisle. With aisle-changing cranes operating in a situation like this, the DC operator could easily move the disabled crane to the maintenance area and the remaining cranes could complete the tasks required in that aisle. The redundancy system would assure that the pallets are retrieved. This is very important to maintaining a high level of delivery assurance. 

Patrick Roberts writes for Logistics Automation.

Better pallet management keeps sweet demand at bay

Chocolate manufacturing is a competitive market, and one key factor to success is getting products to market on time and at the right time.

For almost 100 years Adelaide’s Haigh’s Chocolates has managed to balance the high demand for its sweets, especially during peak periods, with logistic efficiency.

However, the process has not always been smooth. The company recently found it was receiving pallets from suppliers, but the pallets weren’t always being transferred onto its account.

The company’s distribution centre was receiving from 600 to 800 pallets, with 100 to 120 transfers through the warehouse every week – twice that at Christmas and Easter.

Keeping track of the movement of pallets in and out of the warehouse was a challenge, says distribution centre supervisor, David Elliot.

Haigh’s enlisted the help of packaging solutions provider CHEP to reassess its pallet management processes.

 “[W]e found we had more pallets than what we were being invoiced for. In warehousing terms, it’s just good governance to ensure the stock you hold matches your invoice,” Elliot said.

CHEP asset management consultant, Rachel Silby, who worked with Haigh’s to resolve their pallet management problems, said that every business strives for optimum efficiency. However, notes that a small issue can become a big drain on company resources, if not addressed quickly.

To reduce the administration workload for Haigh’s on an ongoing basis an asset management system was set up. CHEP also conducts a pallet count each month for Haigh’s, checking what has come in against the dockets and sorting out any discrepancies immediately.

Elliot said that priority was to make sure the company could deliver its chocolate to retail shelves. Simple strategies, such as tagging and tracking pallets were also suggested to help the company to locate its assets and make its logistics process more effective.

“We’ve also started using the Portfolio+ Plus system for ordering pallets, doing transfers, making corrections and keeping track of paperwork,” Elliot said.

“We now always know there are enough pallets in our manufacturing warehouses to cater for our demand of our outgoing goods.”

How to give your distribution a competitive edge

Most successful businesses make promises about the availability of their products through creative marketing programs. The responsibility of delivering on the promise falls fairly and squarely in the lap of the supply chain team. It’s not an easy job to get the right product to the right place, in good condition, just when the customer wants to buy… but someone has to do it.

To meet these business objectives many companies make substantial investments in their supply chain. Whether that be in state-of-the-art distribution centres with purpose designed automation interfaced with sophisticated controls and software, or outsourcing to a third party logistics provider,  the desired outcome remains the same: an operation that performs reliably to achieve its targets week-in, week-out over the life of the system.

But as any logistics professional will tell you, there are traps and pitfalls. Unexpected peaks in demand, changes in product profiles, errors in picking or despatch and – despite the fact that most modern systems are highly reliable – mechanical, electrical, controls or software malfunctions can adversely affect results.

Logistics practitioners place great emphasis on finding new ways to increase uptime, optimise system performance and ensure they meet their customer’s highest expectations. Your logistics and distribution systems can be a powerful competitive strategy and there are many new ways in which your ongoing performance can aid in the creation of a more powerful brand and a more respected position in the marketplace.

In this article, we explore what you can reasonably expect of a service organisation and how they should ensure that your system is finely tuned and highly responsive. We also consider the changing capabilities of a modern service organisation and how advances in processes and technology can give you an extra competitive edge, even as product profiles and demand changes in the future.

The changing role of a modern service organisation

Service has evolved from the stereotypical image of the mechanic in greasy overalls. Today’s service technicians are multi-skilled, multi-disciplinary professionals, who use a range of sophisticated tools and software to monitor the performance of logistics and IT systems, responding immediately to any equipment failure and, in many cases, identifying problems which could affect system reliability even before they happen.
The advent of high speed communications means keeping controls, software and IT systems up to date often doesn’t even require service personnel to be present, with security updates, software patches and the like being delivered electronically.
A modern service organisation will be able to provide you with previously unattainable levels of service and support in the following impressive ways.

Field Service and Support is essential

At a very basic starting point, any good service organisation will provide a team of field service and support personnel who are available around the clock, 365 days a year. These highly trained service technicians provide emergency support for those unplanned events that disrupt your systems. They can also maintain your system through regular servicing to maximise availability and minimise breakdowns. It’s during peak demand times that systems failures are most critical to your business.  A regular service program will minimise the risk to your operations.

Operational Audits highlight improvements and identify safety issues

Operational requirements invariably change over time. Often the original business and product mix the system was designed for has to be changed as customer and market forces dictate.
Whether it is a full functional audit to assess system and operator effectiveness, or specific safety and equipment-related details that are needed, a thorough and professional operational audit is an economical way to highlight productivity and safety improvement ideas. Any operational audit should include Equipment Condition Assessments and recommend upgrades and improvements to mechanical, controls and IT systems, in addition to safety and productivity reports.

Residential Service

Reliability is the key to achieving service targets week-in, week-out over the life of a system, and many larger distribution systems users – for whom uptime is absolutely critical to meet demanding order turnaround cycles – are taking a new approach to service.
Residential Maintenance Programs provided by the system integrator are becoming more commonplace. They typically provide trained, mechanical, electrical or software technicians who can perform preventive, corrective and emergency maintenance as well as providing operational assistance to ensure systems function at optimum efficiency.
These programs reduce operating cost and improve system performance by providing a systematic approach to service.  Additionally, KPI reporting provided under a Residential Program can give management insight to other benefits, such as reduced parts usage and increased system longevity.

Remote Monitoring & Diagnostics

Today, the internet and high speed communications networks mean that service centres don’t need to be located on the actual DC site. Monitoring can take place at a remote location.
Centralised teams of skilled engineers can significantly reduce the impact of faults and the time taken to rectify them, and ensure systems are fully supported 24/7. Trained operators have the expertise to provide immediate advice about the best course of action to respond to any issue, or to actively intervene to correct system faults often before they become a problem. 
Remote access, help desks and programmers can be on standby to ensure software and IT systems meet operational needs. Software support programs can include regular database checking, server architecture and software applications.

Seeing into the future with Early Warning Systems

Sophisticated software has enabled the development of predictive tools to further improve system performance. Diagnostic software has the capability to monitor systems performance, look for potential malfunctions and analyse events and issues that could affect system reliability.
The aim of early warning system software is to optimise DC performance improving delivery, accuracy and reliability. But there are added advantages. Unscheduled stoppages are reduced, maintenance cost is lowered and system working life is maximised.

Modernising your Distribution Centre operations

With supply chain demands changing at a faster pace than ever before, keeping your distribution operations up to date – even if they’re only a few years old – is vital to responding efficiently to changing customer and market demands, including regulatory requirements.
Systems may have provided many years of excellent service, but should performance levels fall, or business model and requirements change, then a modernisation program can breathe new life into an existing system at relative low cost.

Older systems can also become expensive to repair and maintain as parts and software become obsolete. Alternatively, and without scraping the whole system, performance can be enhanced by introducing automation and new technologies.

As businesses grow and develop, so too can systems, especially when the initial design is based on modular and scalable components. As no two logistics operations are the same, a range of options can be evaluated and a modernisation plan tailored specifically to suit business requirements and timescale. Proven modernisation and upgrade technologies can transform systems and deliver increased efficiency, ease of maintenance and reliability, quick smart.

Updated controls, software and mechanical components are also available, and they may be all that’s needed to increase operating efficiency to meet current needs.

Summary

Service can no longer be looked at as a necessary evil. It plays a crucial role in fulfilling the delivery promise. An unreliable supply chain can quickly bite into profits and, more importantly, business reputation.
The high cost of disruption to the supply chain means keeping logistics systems operating reliably is a key driver for all DCs. Advances like remote monitoring and early warning systems, and constantly evolving IT connectivity, are revolutionising the approach to service, enabling users to achieve high uptime levels while lowering total distribution costs and optimising service levels.

Michael Jerogin is the general manager, customer service at Dematic .

Electrodrive supplies powered trolleys for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner

Materials handling supplier Electrodrive has delivered sixteen custom powered trolleys to Marand Precision Engineering for use on a turnkey operation for Boeing's 787 Dreamliner aircraft project.

Leaders in automation and mechanical ground support equipment and tooling, Marand’s Aerospace division supplies leading Australian and international airlines and manufacturers.

Marand required the power trolleys to move heavy tooling around the production site seamlessly as part of a turnkey operation for Boeing.

Marand had earlier commissioned a fleet of powered trolleys from Electrodrive in 2006. Needing to expand their capacity for Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, Marand worked with Electrodrive to specify an additional sixteen power trolleys, including a customised top to specifically suit the load requirements as well as a restricted space handle and speed control.

The Electrodrive powered trolleys have helped Marand seamlessly integrate a heavy moving requirement into their operations, improving productivity and work conditions. Safety has also improved significantly with the elimination of heavy lifting and pushing by the workforce.

Jerry Kops, Program Manager for Aerospace Automation at Marand, explains that the company sourced the custom powered trolleys from Electrodrive to expand their customer Boeing's capacity in manufacturing components for the new 787 Dreamliner.

The trolleys Marand purchased from Electrodrive in 2006 have proven to be the perfect solution to handling precision tooling safely, which encouraged the company to contact Electrodrive again for the new Boeing requirement.

New standard offers safer, more economical storage systems

A NEW standard covering the design of steel storage racking systems was released on February 29th 2012 and will bring Australia up to date with the latest international knowledge and experience in the design of storage systems and cold-formed steel structures.

Compliance with the new standard, AS4084-2012 Steel Storage Racking, is a rack-by-rack, application-dependant proposition.

It is the designer's task to create steel racking systems that are fit for purpose, meet the user's requirements and budget, and provide acceptable safety margins to ensure safe, long-term operation.

However, when it comes to day-to-day operation, the onus of responsibility to ensure the systems are being properly used and maintained, and continue to meet the standard, falls squarely on the user.

Key changes

The major change contained in the new Australian standard for steel storage racking is the switch from using a "permissible stress" design philosophy to a "limit states" design approach – a move which brings Australia into line with most of the advanced rack designs codes in the world, including the European racking standard EN15512: 2009 and the Rack Manufacturers Institute Specification from North America. 

It also brings the standard into line with the relevant cross-referenced companion Australian standards, including AS/NZS4600: 2005 Cold Formed Steel Structures and AS4100-1998 Steel Structures.

From a structural design perspective, the limit states approach offers advantages over the permissible stress format. 

It allows the designer to consider the application of different margins of safety to different types of loads (dead loads, storage loads, live loads, seismic loads) to facilitate design optimisation, while guaranteeing a prescribed level of safety across different combinations of loads. Limit states design also provides the designer with greater insight as to how the structure will behave in the event of an overload that approaches the true collapse load of the system.

Other significant changes in the new standard include vastly expanded and improved testing provisions, including statistical evaluation, and the inclusion of advanced methods of structural analysis and finite element analysis.

Compared to the old standard from 1993, the new standard has the potential to result in more structurally efficient and finely tuned designs. 

The result is that the storage racks of today are generally lighter and cheaper than those of yesteryear, while still possessing the required minimum level of structural safety – and that's good news for end users.  

AS4804-2012 Steel Storage Racking contains a number of important changes storage system users should be aware of:

  • No changes to storage system configuration allowed without the approval of the equipment supplier or a structural engineer.
  • The vertical clearance requirement for pallets stored above heights of 6m has been increased from 75mm to 100mm. This is aimed at reducing the risk of accidental impact with beams during pallet put-away and retrieval.
  • The "flue space" between pallets backing on to each other has been increased by 50mm, reducing the risk of an adjacent pallet being accidentally dislodged when storing or retrieving pallets. This increase in flue space also better accommodates the needs of insurance companies who often insist on a minimum flue space of 75mm to allow adequate penetration of water from roof and rack-mounted sprinklers during a fire.
  • A minimum of two ground anchors must be used per baseplate on racks where forklifts are used.
  • Minor changes to rack load signage whereby the dimension from ground to first beam level, and from first to second beam level must be noted explicitly on signs.

What AS4808-2012 doesn't cover

Like the standard before it, the new steel storage racking standard is only relevant for closed-face racks such as Selective, Narrow-Aisle and Double Deep racking. It does not cover open-face racks such as Drive-In or Cantilever racking. 

When designing open-face racks, designers will need to seek guidance from other international standards and codes such as FEM 10.2.07 for drive-in racking and FEM 10.2.09 for cantilever racking. These codes can be used in conjunction with AS/NZS4600-2005 Cold Formed Steel Structures to obtain structurally sound racking designs consistent with world's best practice.

As per the previous standard, storage system users should ensure their system is professionally audited every year.

[Dr Murray Clarke is a member of the Standards Australia committee for steel storage racking and Structural Design Manager and Structural Design Manager with Dematic.]

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