November 14, 2016

The market for warehouse space is looking up. Literally, in fact, as companies seeking storage facilities closer to cities are hoping to get more for their money by building multi-story facilities.

Following a concept that is already popular in Asia and Europe, Prologis announced last week that it would bring its first multi-level warehouse to the U.S. Located near Seattle, the facility will have three floors and a square footage of 580,000.

All that space will be needed, as market forces combine to stretch the supply of commercial real estate and add another fulfillment challenge for brands.
Continue reading Warehouse Operators Look to the Skies for Additional Storage

July 14, 2016

If you’re up to speed with the latest supply chain headlines, you’ll know by now that storage costs are on the rise.

As a proportion of operating expenses, holding inventory is a significant contributor. Retailers are especially vulnerable to excessive storage costs, which makes it all the more difficult to see the price rising after many years of relative stability.

There’s never a bad time to explore ways to save money and improve efficiency, which is exactly what we’ll do today in terms of reducing inventory holding costs. Continue reading Inventory Holding Costs (and How to Handle Them)

March 17, 2016

We often get asked about the best ways to manage short term seasonality, when the reality of order fulfillment means planning cargo movements and efficient inventory management throughout the year.

Keeping product in storage costs money, as do long term storage contracts. No-one wants to keep more stock on hand than is required in the immediate future, but the implications of running out of an item in high demand can be just as damaging in terms of lost sales. Continue reading Ask Capacity: How Do I Manage Short Term Seasonality Without Long Term Storage Contracts?

November 20, 2014

Updated: December 17th, 2015
We all know by now that, for many brands, the packaging is as important as the product. A visually appealing package speaks to both the content and quality of the product inside.

More often than not it’s the appearance that product managers focus on to stand out from the crowd. That’s a competitive criteria where it can be tough to stand out though (trust us, we have a hand in creating a lot of great packages each and every day!)

If that’s true of your product category, it might be time to  add “tactility” to the list of qualities that your higher-end product packaging should exhibit. Continue reading Can’t Stand Out? Pump Up Your Product Packaging!

July 23, 2014
Drone sunset
Image Credit: Gregory Younger

It’s been a while since we dealt with the potential for delivery drones here, and even when we did it was with tongue firmly in cheek.

The phenomenon is rarely far from the headlines, however, and more logistics professionals are beginning to analyze the effect that drone technology could have, from internal warehouse management to external distribution.

While the latter has been widely derided as a pipe dream, at least in the near term, due to FAA restrictions and very real concerns over safety, the former may be closer than you think.

The use of drones to improve internal storage operations isn’t such a leap when we consider the existing automation within warehouses and along assembly lines. In fact Amazon, the pioneer of publicity-seeking drones late last year, already has drones at work within its own warehouse infrastructure.

Although we tend to look to the skies when we consider drone technology, that’s more media hype than reality. In some cases flying drones will have uses within the warehouse environment, but the most immediate applications will be for ground drones that can connect up routine tasks.

Some of the suggested areas for drone use in internal supply chain operations include:

  • Simple A to B product relocation for automated assembly processes,
  • Automatic replenishment of stocked items when an inventory system flags low levels,
  • Integrated hybrid human-drone packaging lines, in which drones fill the repetitive but tedious tasks that have high rates of human rework,
  • Light item lifting to high shelving units typically accessed by human-operated lift tools,
  • Performing functional tasks during off-peak hours, when skeleton crews are running and employee costs would run into higher rates of pay,
  • Automated palletizing systems where product dimensions are standard and packing routines do not vary.

 

Delivery drones that serve external customers will continue to hog the headlines, but the real advantage for supply chain professionals is likely to come from applying the technology internally.

Keep this in mind as you consider adjustments to your warehouse operations in the weeks and months to come!