MHIA Study Finds AS/RS Meet User Expectations
The Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA) recently released the results of two independent research studies on AS/RS reliability. The studies, commissioned by MHIA and conducted by Brigham Young University's (BYU) Marriott School of Management found that AS/RS offer very high levels of reliability—taking the uncertainty out of a long standing question about AS/RS performance.
The first study determined how users, potential users and non-users of AS/RS felt about the technology, how it was being used and what its benefits were in the minds of study participants. The second study focused on the perceptions expressed in the first study vs. the reality about AS/RS reliability and overall performance.
The study found that experienced AS/RS users have high expectations for their systems. Even before purchasing a system, respondents expressed an average uptime of 97.98 percent. The BYU studies show that today's AR/RS do deliver on these expectations, with an average uptime of 97.34 percent, compared to the expected 97.98 percent.
The AS/RS technology examined were based on Fixed-Aisle systems that rely on mobile load handling machines to store and retrieve loads to and from storage racks aligned along aisles that can be of varying lengths.
The study concluded that the reliability of AS/RS points to its potential as a tool for productivity improvement across the supply chain. The research defined opportunities for expanding the role of AS/RS in today's Lean and JIT-oriented applications, as well as in modern distribution centers where rapid order fulfillment plays such a large role.
It concluded that space efficiency, time efficiency, accuracy and other benefits inherent in AS/RS, combine with the flexibility need for coping with today's world of rapid change, make for a powerful tool in many applications, especially in those where customer service is an important factor. To download the a whitepaper about the findings of the study, go to www.mhia.org.
Border Foods Spreads A Taste Of Mexico Throughout The U.S.
Throughout the decades, one aspect of the U.S./Mexican relationship has remained constant—Americans have an insatiable appetite for cuisine from the other side of the Rio Grande.
For the past 30 years Border Foods Inc. has been satisfying this hunger by giving Americans an authentic taste of Mexico.
As the world's largest green chile pepper processor and a producer of salsas and enchilada sauce to restaurants and grocers, Border is one a premier provider of Mexican food.
Headquartered near Dallas with operations running out of Deming, NM, Border provides its bulk ingredients and food service and retail products to national retail chains and major food service providers.
The logistics team at Border realized that due to its tremendous growth its logistics model had become extremely cumbersome, requiring employees to manage freight out of multiple warehouses, each run by a different warehousing company that followed different sets of procedures. This system consumed work hours and was prone to error. Border needed a much simpler warehousing and transportation infrastructure.
The ideal system would also have the technical capability to integrate with Border's advanced computerized customer ordering system and offer up-to-date information on inventory with 24/7 visibility.
In its search for a logistics provider, the Border team went to CaseStack, a company that enables mid-sized organizations to cost-effectively ship products and warehouse them by utilizing its national logistics network and proprietary Web-based technology. With warehouses spanning the U.S. and an extensive network of shippers, CaseStack can transport its clients' products to any U.S. location overnight while securing cost-effective transportation rates.
In 2005, Border Foods enlisted CaseStack in a four month pilot test, using the logistics provider for warehousing and transportation service to several of its major retail customers. Upon completion of the test period, the Border team concluded that working with CaseStack was a success and proceeded to expand their relationship.
CaseStack now handles the majority of Border Food's national logistics needs and utilizes all of its U.S. warehouse locations, including Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago and Scranton. Border products are manufactured at a plant in Deming, NM, and then self-shipped to CaseStack warehouses, with CaseStack handling all logistical needs from warehouse to retailer or food service provider.
With the CaseStack warehouse system transition complete, Border saw immediate benefits. Before CaseStack, Border employees had to manage freight out of several different warehouses run by various companies, each with its own set of procedures. The entire process was labor intensive, stressful and prone to error.
"The previous system was like a patchwork quilt of warehouses with multiple relationships to manage," says David Gregory, director of planning and logistics, Border Foods. "CaseStack has streamlined operations for us, so that we only have one methodology for tracking items."
Border Foods also relies on CaseStack to provide proper stock rotation practices. Rotation is extremely important when it comes to shipping food products, as older products must go out first.
"CaseStack provides the consistency that we require, making sure that products are shipped in the correct order," continues Gregory. "It's reassuring to know that all its warehouses are following sound stock rotation procedures."
All CaseStack warehouses containing food are certified by the American Institute of Baking (AIB) the industry standard for high quality for food service warehousing.
"Before CaseStack, Border had to go through the laborious task of individually confirming that each warehouse was receiving an adequate grade," says Gregory.
Border also benefits from CaseStack's proprietary, Web-based system that enables its employees to track inventory and shipments in real-time, 24/7 online.
CaseStack provides complete inventory management for Border, alerting them to shortages, damages, and inbound vs. outbound discrepancies. Through the Web-based system, the Border team can view all activity in real-time at any hour of the day.
CaseStack's technology offers a full range of services and will allow clients to either place orders directly into the CaseStack system or integrate with their own electronic order systems. Border was already utilizing Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). CaseStack linked the two companies' systems so that as customers input orders into Border's EDI interface, the information populates the CaseStack system.
CaseStack technology allows Border to manage inventory by "lot code." In the event of a recall, this enables Border employees to link into production dates to certain lots of goods, making them easy to locate.
The highly integrated arrangement enables CaseStack to keep the Border team continually informed regarding what is going on at the warehouses, constantly communicating via email and phone so that they aren't caught off guard with shipments.
"We maintain very open lines of communication with our clients at all times, listening to their needs and making sure we fully understand their expectations," says Robert Luna, warehouse account manager, CaseStack. "We are their eyes and ears any time there's an issue we step in and make sure it is resolved smoothly."
CaseStack also manages Border's involvement with its consolidation program, providing shipments to Wal-Mart distribution centers nationwide. CaseStack's consolidation program combines less-than-truckload shipments from various vendors to create a full truckload, allowing for cost-savings on transportation and mitigating rising fuel costs and it's environmentally friendly too.