Material Handling and Logistics Education and Resource
Problems & Solutions

Dematic Planet has put together a series of documents that highlight solutions to common material handling related problems.

All documents are in .pdf format and require Adobe Acrobat Reader for viewing.

ASRS Life Cycle Upgrades
  • A Comparison of System Uptime vs Availability
    Astute prospective owners of automated material handling systems are quite interested in how much utility they will enjoy from their investment. This paper discusses a more practical metric for utility beyond the traditional measurement of mathematical system uptime.
  • Central Palletization Technology Evaluation
    A central palletization solution consists of four key subsystems. They include: Case Transport, Sortation, Palletization and Finished Pallet Handling
  • Host to SRM Interface and Control
    The corporate IT department has a project to replace Host business systems. They also have a requirement to absorb all AS/RS management functions into the Host system, originally provided by a separate AS/RS Manager system. The biggest source of risk with AS/RS integration is the SRM equipment interface.
  • Mini-load Full Enclosure Controls Ugrade
    Problem: Many older vintage mini-loads have onboard controls that are totally obsolete. Modifications required to retrofit new controls into the existing modified enclosure is impractical and requires a long field time resulting in extended equipment downtime.
    Solution: Replace the entire onboard enclosure
  • Replacing Obsolete Indramat 2AD Motors
    Though not all users who face obsolescence problems can find off-the-shelf replacement solutions that are physically and electrically compatible, Indramat 2AD motor users will be happy that such an option is available.
  • Replacing Obsolete/Unsupported Power-line Modems
    Problem: The communication system for AS/RS Storage Retrieval Machines is experiencing unexplained errors and original components are obsolete and/or unsupported.
    Solution: Replace the powerline modems with new wireless solutions.
  • SRM Floor Rail Upkeep
    Problem: After several years of operation the AS/RS floor rail is becoming flattened (loss of crown) and has several damaged spots. The Storage/Retrieval Machine (SRM) experiences bumps at floor rail joints and slight jogs during travel. Anchors have become loose and will occassionally be sheared off.
    Solution: Periodic Floor Rail Grinding and Periodic Maintenance
  • Time to Upgrade or Replace Computer Hardware/Software?
    At catastrophic risk from an obsolete system? Upgrade your Automated Equipment Management System.
Bottlenecks and Inefficiencies
  • Efficient Management of Slow Moving Inventory Items
    Problem: Slow moving inventory tends to be a primary bottleneck in Distribution Centers with high SKU count.
    Solution: Dynamic Pick Slots for Slow Moving Product
  • Eliminating Limitations to a Sliding Shoe Sorter's Peak Performance
    Problem: High-volume distribution operations frequently find their shipping operations choked during peak periods by the number of cartons that can be pushed down their sliding shoe shipping sorter. Is it possible to increase throughput by another 10-25% without sorter replacement?
    Solution: Implement an upgrade to balance and optimize carton induction to the sorter.
  • Handling Increased Order Profile Complexity
    Order complexity has increased where order profiles are not predictable and the routing of orders through the system has created bottlenecks and difficulty balancing the workload.
  • Inbound Product Case Labeling
    Problem: A large amount of palletized product is received into a central distribution facility that requires case labeling/re-labeling for high-volume case and piece picking operations.
    Solution: Implement an automatic case labeling line.
  • Manual Case Topping Practices
    Problem: One of the challenges associated with returns processing, co-packing and high volume pick lines is the inefficiencies of opening sealed cases of product.
    Solution: Implement an automatic case cutting system.
  • Slip Cutting of Inbound Product
    Problem: A large amount of slip-sheeted loads are received into a new ASRS storage system. The Slip sheets are required for transport to the facility but are considered to be unneccessary and a nusance in the ASRS causing load profile errors. A simple, efficient method is needed to remove the overhang from the slip sheets as they are inducted into the system.
    Solution: Implement a load induction station that cuts the slip sheet to conform to the load size as the load travels across the pallet conveyor.
Central Palletization Concepts
  • Automated Pallet Swap
    Problem: The GMA pallets used by most companies today are in very poor condition and can result in a number of problems and issues when products are stored on them in a warehouse. If they are used in an automated system, they need to be checked for quality (i.e. deflection, missing or broken board's etc.). Pallets that fail any of these tests need to be swapped with a new/higher quality pallet. Pallet swapping can be very expensive and will slow down the receiving process.
    Solution: Implementation of an automated pallet swap systems that will remove the product from the captive pallet and place it onto either a slip sheet or a GMA pallet, or even place it on a slip sheet and then onto a GMA pallet.
  • Computer Modeling Helps Automotive Manufacturer Upgrade Its Facility
    The work described in this paper included developing a computer simulation model of the material handling system (ASRS and conveyor), verifying the model, conducting experiments, and documenting the completed simulation analysis. This document focuses on activity on the conveyor and in the ASRS. Summary of Results A computer simulation model was developed for an existing ASRS and conveyor system in the Finishing area of a major automotive manufacturer. The company was in the early stages of re-tooling the assembly plant to produce smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles when it commissioned HKS to analyze the existing system and provide recommendations to achieve 63 JPH in degraded mode. The primary area of concern was the system capabilities when in degraded mode.
Financial Solutions
  • Alternative Funding Strategies for Modernizations
    Problem: Modernizations are very important to maintaining the value and productivity of your automated material handling equipment. These projects are typically viewed as an all or nothing funding approach.
    Solution: Funding Strategies That Work
  • Driving Replacement as a Modernization Solution
    How many times do you repair or retrofit your existing automated material handling equipment before a replacement becomes more cost effective?
  • Software as a Service (SAAS)
    Problem: It is difficult to accommodate changes into an existing legacy Warehouse Management System.
    Solution: For a Warehouse Management System replacement, consider a Software Provider that offers a solution that can easily tolerate third party and hardware upgrades.
Improving Pick Cycle Times
  • Remote Facility Camera
    Facility personnel cannot see operations or tasks that directly influence their daily tasks. Critical operations do not allow personnel to leave their area and remote tasks may be unmanned.Solution: Implement a web-enabled camera to act as the operators remote eyes.
  • Slip Removal of inbound Product
    Problem: A large amount of slip-sheeted loads are received into a new ASRS storage system that utilizes captive system pallets. The Slip sheets are required for transport to the facility but are considered to be unneccessary and a nusance in the ASRS causing load profile errors. A simple, efficient method is needed to remove the slip sheets as they are inducted into the system.
    Solution: Implement a load induction station that allows for the easy removal of the slip sheet as the load is placed on the captive system pallet.
Order Fulfillment
Safety Initiatives
  • Safety PLC Implementation for AS/RS Equipment Control
    In an automated environment, keeping the human asset safe is paramount. Plant engineers at Chrysler were faced with the need to add three new AS/RS aisles that are compliant with new corporate safety standards and initiatives. This was accomplish with a new Siemens Safety PLC-base SRM Control System.
  • Vertical Maintenance and Service of a High-Rise AS/RS Aisle
    Corporate safety policies may require ladders and platforms for safe SRM maintenance practices and problem correction within the AS/RS rack aisle. Consider implementing AS/RS Maintenance Platforms and SRM Mast Ladders.
SKU (NIIN) Compatibility
  • Managing SKU (NIIN) Compatibility
    Problem: The United States Navy had a functional requirement that specific hazard classes could not be stored in the same area due to incompatibilities between these various hazard classes.
    Solution: Implement a new table structure to maintain all of the hazard classes and cross reference those with the other hazard classes and indicate whether the combination is compatible or incompatible.
Solution Analysis and Design
  • Computer Modeling Helps Define Project Scope for Pharmaceuticals Supplier
    Scope of Work: The work described in this paper included developing a computer simulation model of a proposed system (revised conveyor, relocated labeling, ASRS, and palletizing), a final report and a 3-D animation of the proposed system. This document focuses on activity on the conveyor and in the ASRS.
  • Continuous Improvement Using Simulation Model & Graphical User Interface
    Scope of Work: The work described in this paper included developing a computer simulation model and graphical user interface (GUI) of the material handling system (AGV and ASRS), verifying the model, conducting experiments, documenting the completed simulation analysis, and then providing a tool for the customer to run experiments on their own.
  • Distribution Center Design
    As a business grows be it organically or through acquisition so does the need to increase the distribution footprint and capabilities. Building a new distribution centre is a complex process, involving many different considerations and extensive planning. This paper highlights some matters of facility design you should consider, whether it is a Greenfield project or existing premises your distribution centre will call home.
  • European and American SRM (Storage and Retrieval Machines) Equipment Design Considerations
    Differences exist between SRM design standards for European and American machines European design standards are based on FEM (Federation Europeenne de la Manutention) documents. Several FEM documents are utilized to identify a variety of requirements such as how projects are to be executed, how throughput and availabilty is determined, what clearances are needed, design margins, component life, equipment safety requirements, maintenace, etc. American design standards for SRMs are based CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) and ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) specifications. The main focus of these documents is to mandate safety requirmeents for the equipment manufacturer and user.
  • Selecting the Right AGV
    When deciding on AGV's for an application, which type should be considered? Solution: Determining the best fit for your application.
  • Simulation Resolves Constraints in Grocery Order Fulfillment System
    This paper describes the process of developing a computer simulation model of a material handling system, verifying the model, conducting experiments and modifying the model to eliminate constraints discovered in the analysis process.
  • Welded Mast-to-base Connection
    Through the application of Finite Element Analysis (FEA) it is evident that a welded mast-to-base connection provides significantly better structural integrity and longevity than a bolted connection.
Storage Mediums
  • Making AS/RS Gravity Pallet Flow Safe and Reliable
    Interfacing an automated Storage/Retrieval Machine with a gravity conveyor flow lane is not possible to do reliably or is it? Interoll has introduced a tried and tested safety separator for pallet flow lane applications - a breakthrough for AS/RS gravity infeed/outfeed applications.
  • Product Slotting
    Storing inventory in the most effective location based on demand is vital to ensure high levels of productivity and customer satisfaction in any distibution operation. Identifing correct storage locations is fairly simple, with basis analysis and constant focus. This paper highlights the benefits and rewards associated with correct product slotting and how it can be achieved with minimal investment.
  • Selecting the Right Storage Medium
    Problem: Today's distribution centres must hold thousands of products to meet the demands and expectations of customers. As a result, selecting correct storage mediums has become vital for both operational efficiency and space utilization. The following paper highlights different storage solutions that can be employed for palletized goods, full & split case goods as well as long products.
    Solution: As distribution costs continue to escalate and competition intensifies, companies must focus on matching the right storage mediums to their inventory profile. All too often, firms employ solutions they believe are practical, simple and require low capital investment at the expense of productivity, space utilization and long term profitability.
System Reliability and Testing
  • Calculating Uptime of a Multi-Technology System
    System Uptime or Availability for complex systems is subjective and dependent on many variables. This paper provide tips of how to objectively measure the reliability of a highly integrated system.
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