Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!



Automation: Growth via software and conveyors

By Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor
March 27, 2012

Every company tries to set itself apart with something it believes it does better than the competition. How is viastore going to market?

It was a question I posed to Bill Ostermeyer, viastore’s vice president of sales, when I visited the company in Grand Rapids a few weeks ago. For those keeping score, viastore will be number 18 on Modern’s 2012 Top 20 System Supplier list with $125 million in 2011 revenue. As he answered the question, Ostermeyer outlined those things he thinks viastore brings to the table on a white board in the company’s conference room. They included: conveyor – integration – software – and after market support.

And while the company counts companies like Cargill, IKEA and Gordon Food among its customers in North America, and is installing a 22,000 pallet location AS/RS for a large cold storage 3PL, Ostermeyer says viastore is targeting more modest projects that are $5 million or less. “We are hearing from a number of regional companies that are looking into automation,” Ostermeyer said. “They’re going to take an incremental approach to automating and blend manual and automated processes. That’s an approach we’re very comfortable.”

Although viastore is known for its automated storage and retrieval systems and sold Provia, it’s warehouse management solution, a few years back, Ostermeyer believes the company’s software heritage is one of its strengths. 3PLs, for instance, are transitioning from pallet in/pallet out facilities into mixing centers that receive full pallets in and ship mixed pallets out. Software is the key to doing that efficiently. “If you visited our booth at Modex, you would have seen a demonstration of our viadot software,” he said. “We have worked on multiple projects where we’re putting in our software on our competitors’ cranes and conveyors.”

viastore is also positioning itself as a competitor in the conveyor integration space. “We are not recognized for conveyor integration, but that is an area where we have expertise,” he said. “We build some of our systems and we also distribute conveyor from other manufacturer.”

Before I left, I asked Ostermeyer about a robotic picking solution that he and I discussed last summer. At the time, Ostermeyer was in search of a beta customer to work with the new technology that would automate not just case picking but piece picking. “We think it’s a great solution,” he said. “We’re still looking for that beta site.” 

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.


Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

A well-designed driver wellness program could make the job more attractive and help alleviate driver turnover.

The quest to boost worker productivity and improve customer fulfillment is driving materials handling professionals to increase strategic investments in advanced warehouse mobility solutions. Just where and why are these investments being made?

We've interviewed dozens of analysts and practitioners over the years on the growing importance of supply chain collaboration. No longer just a buzz term, the ability to meaningfully connect with partners across the supply chain spectrum----suppliers, transportation providers, internal divisions, and customers----in an effort to make real-time decisions has become the foundation of successful supply chain management.

As the supply chains of high-tech shippers continue to mature and innovate, coupled with rapid growth, it is not a huge surprise to see them further leverage current strategies and lay the groundwork for newer ones, when it comes to further expanding their manufacturing supply chain capabilities.

Recent research issued by global commercial real estate firm JLL explores if retailers’ real estate, regardless of size, is a pro or a con in last mile processes.

Article Topics

Blogs · Automation · Robotics · viastore systems · All topics

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484 or email [email protected].


© Copyright 2015 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA