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60 seconds with Russ Devilbiss

Russ Devilbiss is the chair of the Conveyor & Sortation Systems industry group at MHIA.
By Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor
May 11, 2011

Russ Devilbiss, MHIA, Carter Controls
Title: Chair, Conveyor & Sortation Systems industry group, MHIA; Sales engineer, Carter Controls
Location: Charlotte, N.C.
Web: http://www.mhia.org/industrygroups/conv

Modern: This has been a good year for the materials handling industry in general. How has the conveyor and sortation industry performed?
Devilbiss: Our market is coming back, but it has been slow, especially in the retail sector. We’re hoping this oil crisis doesn’t hurt demand.

Modern: What’s driving the demand for sorters today?
Devilbiss: The drivers are different with every industry, but the common theme is that people continue to look for cost savings. They also want to implement systems that will give them an ROI today, but they are also asking if the system that meets their needs today will keep up with their demand in three to five years. They’re trying to plan for that growth.

Modern: Let’s talk about speed. Is the push for higher and higher speeds, or is there still growth in the slow-speed sortation market?
Devilbiss:There is a lot of demand for sortation in retail fulfillment and retailers want the maximum throughput they can get. We’re seeing shoe sorters running at 600 feet per minute. The major players in our industry continue to come out with new products to make the U.S. more competitive.

Modern: When you look across the industry, what has been the most significant technological development in sortation in recent years?
Devilbiss: I think we have to go back to the last answer, and say that the most impressive technological developments have been around higher speeds and higher throughputs. Software has allowed that to happen. So has the ability of cameras and scanners to read bar codes at faster and faster speeds. We have been able to bring together complimentary technologies like automatic weighing, labeling and bar code scanning to create total sortation solutions.

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Executive Editor

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. More recently, Trebilcock became editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.


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