Material Handling & Supply Chain Technology

Material Handling & Supply Chain Technology is the place for conversation and discussion about conveyors, overhead handling; purchasing & logistics; warehousing & distribution; lift trucks, loading docks & AGVs. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

Four Supply Chain Challenges and Solutions

Posted December 09, 2018 12:01 AM by ahorner_22
Pathfinder Tags: data shipping supply chain

A supply chain is a network involved in the creation and sale of a product from inception to delivery. Supply chain management is the oversight of resources that go into the process.

Here are some common supply chain challenges:


Finding the right employees to achieve results is not easy. A recruiting plan can be a helpful way to keep the pipeline full. Another way to impact recruiting is with positive employee morale. Happy employees tell people about work. This can lead to a fuller pipeline organically.


Managing inventory can be a challenge. In today’s environments, having a system to manage inventories can help companies go from overwhelmed to organized. Regardless of size, the need for effectively managing inventory is a mission-critical one.

An automated inventory handling system can be an asset. Although these types of systems are a significant investment, having a system will help in the long run.


There is so much data to be collected. Making decisions on which data is needed for analysis is important. By drilling down, valuable time will be saved. It is also important to decide when metrics are needed. Information is important to have but too much information can create paralysis without a plan.


Companies pay millions of dollars a year to deliver packages. It can be difficult to be at the mercy of major carriers when it comes to costs.

A solution is offering shipping incentives to customers. These incentives should increase sales and drive overall volume. This offsets the high cost of shipping.

The best way to solve issues in your operation’s supply chain is to identify weak links and to strengthen those weak links. Seeking solutions that increase customer satisfaction while adding to the bottom line will keep your operation running successfully for years to come.

1 comments; last comment on 12/10/2018
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An Automated Shipping System May Be Right For Your Company

Posted June 10, 2018 12:00 AM by ahorner_22
Pathfinder Tags: radwell shipping

Companies face many challenges in today’s business climate. The constant need for improvement is all for mitigating challenges and turning them into wins throughout the buying cycle.

A manual shipping system requires accessible inventory and humans to execute bringing that inventory to customers. There is a lot of movement in a manual system and humans must execute the steps. Challenges like space, time constraints, volume, efficiency, and consistency are all reasons to consider automated shipping. Adopting an automated shipping system can be a game-changer when it comes to resolving modern shipping struggles.

Prepping for shipping items requires a lot of space, both for storage and humans. Having an automated system aids the human and automated elements throughout the process. It provides help with tasks and it helps an order get through to shipping with ease. With checks built in, it helps the humans performing these functions too. Checks also help validate the automated system and make handling business much easier.

Automated material handling systems are the first element in a successful automated shipping system. Automated warehouse solutions make the picking process more efficient. Utilizing technology like a tablet interface and a boxing machine help make shipping preparation much more error-proof. A conveyor system saves time. A good system should be redundant enough to handle much of validation. It should allow users to access data to validate/ track progress. Errors do happen and being prepared for them is the best way to resolve them properly.

Meeting the ever-changing demands of a customer base that demands goods quickly and accurately will always be a challenge. By automating critical steps in the shipping process, a business can maximize efficiency and quality. Automating points in the fulfillment cycle can not only reduce errors but provide the ability for growth and ongoing process improvement.

Editor's note: This is a sponsored blog post from Radwell International.

1 comments; last comment on 06/11/2018
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A Growing Role for Automated Pipeline Pigging Systems

Posted March 25, 2017 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

Pigging is a routine maintenance procedure that plays a critical role in oil and gas pipelines for mitigating and monitoring internal corrosion, and for preserving safety and integrity. Extensive time and manpower requirements associated with manual pigging systems have become problematic, so many pipeline companies are turning to automation.

Editor's Note: This news brief was brought to you by the Material Handling & Supply Chain Technology eNewsletter. Subscribe today to have content like this delivered to your inbox.

1 comments; last comment on 03/27/2017
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Sensor Provides Immediate Detection of Lead

Posted December 21, 2016 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

The technology, a handheld device used for one-time testing of lead in tap water, can also be integrated into water meters and purifiers with the goal of continuous monitoring. In addition to lead, the technology can be adapted to test for other chemical signatures, such as mercury, arsenic, and E. coli bacteria.

Editor's Note: This news brief was brought to you by the Material Handling & Supply Chain Technology eNewsletter. Subscribe today to have content like this delivered to your inbox.

3 comments; last comment on 12/22/2016
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You May Never Go Grocery Shopping Ever Again

Posted December 07, 2016 11:11 AM by HUSH

I typically bring my own lunch to work, but today I must venture out in the masses to forage for nutrition. Yesterday’s bi-weekly, Monday-evening grocery trip was superseded by holiday shopping, of course.

Grocery shopping sucks and I hate it. I find few things as tedious as slow strolls through aisles of food, buying basically the same stuff week-after-week. And I don't live in one of the cool states that allows you to buy a 'walking around beer' as you shop.

Unlike most other forms of shopping, grocery shopping has been resistant to e-commerce, and for a variety of reasons. Traditional parcel carriers aren’t optimal because distribution centers aren’t close enough to get fresh food to customers quickly, and food might not survive the Tetris game of boxes in the back of a truck. Chilled goods also need insulated packaging, adding shipping expense.

With a few exceptions, grocery stores don’t typically deliver. This is because supermarket profit margins are extra-small (about 1%), and order picking by an employee and last-mile delivery add expenses that would make grocery delivery unacceptably expensive for the customer. As of yet, drones haven’t filled the delivery void, though they soon could.

What it takes to make e-grocery shopping a reality is a deep-pocketed, entrenched online retailer to provide a solution. Enter Amazon. Last summer, Amazon re-launched its Amazon Fresh service in eight U.S. markets, and continues to roll-it out in more areas as it invests in refrigerated warehousing and delivery trucks. There is a significant charge up-front, nearly $300, but after witnessing an Amazon Fresh delivery at my brother’s home last week, I say the convenience can’t be beat.

Users browse for their groceries on the Amazon Marketplace, and [reputedly] the prices are similar to or cheaper than a grocery store. Users pay online and select how they like their groceries delivered by dedicated Amazon trucks. Selecting a one-hour delivery window requires a person to be present to accept the delivery. Users who select three-hour delivery windows find insulated cooler totes on their porch awaiting them; the totes will be exchanged with full ones upon your next delivery.

Even under this current system, it’s hard to see Amazon Fresh profitable, at least to begin. But by starting Amazon Fresh now, they are the first to market as an online grocer, and are in an excellent position to move to a delivery chain of autonomous autos, drones, and robots once such a supply chain is possible.

Current competition to Amazon Fresh is meager. Safeway Inc., a regional, Midwest -based grocer, is the most established competitor and has offered online grocery ordering and delivery since 2002, but is a regional chain that only offers it on the west coast and in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. WalMart stores around the U.S. are beginning to offer online ordering, but customers need to pick up groceries themselves.

Amazon Fresh is just the tip of Amazon’s grocery initiatives. This week, the company also announced plans for 2,000 Amazon Go convenience stores around the U.S. These stores will feature Just-Walk-Out technology, which utilizes machine vision, sensors, and AI so customers never have to visit a point-of-sale. Instead, they sign in with their phones, select items, and then leave.

It definitely seems as though major changes to the grocery supply chain are impending, and if it can eliminate the regular grocery trips, or even just the order picking process, I will be forever grateful.

14 comments; last comment on 12/09/2016
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