In August, Modern featured Office Depot’s new distribution center in Newville, Pa., on the cover. At the heart of the DC is an integrated piece-picking solution that combines mobile robots for high-density storage and conveyance; light-directed picking to ensure that the associate picks the right item; and a high-speed conveyor and sortation system to get the product to the packing zone.
While this level of automation has been common on high-speed assembly lines for years, it represents a new level of sophistication in distribution. Although the technology allows Office Depot to get a significant amount of throughput from a relatively small labor force, labor savings within the four walls of the DC wasn’t the primary driver behind choosing a highly automated system.
Rather, the solution represents a broader supply chain play; it is an enabling technology that will allow Office Depot to completely retool the way inventory is replenished at the stores serviced by that DC. “We believe that the future belongs to the brave,” Brent Beabout, Office Depot’s vice president of global network strategy and transportation, told Modern. “We are in a commodity business and the supply chain is a differentiator. We plan to be on the front end of that.”
About the Author
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
The index ISM uses to measure non-manufacturing growth—known as the NMI—was 55.7 in April (a level of 50 or higher indicates growth), which was up 1.2 percent compared to March, with economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector growing for the 75th consecutive month. The April PMI is 0.5 percent above the 12-month average of 56.2.
Inventory donations protect brands, avoid waste and support schools, churches, government agencies and other nonprofit organizations.
Robotics is the fastest growing industrial sector for PCs, followed by materials-handling equipment.
Acquisition to expand pharmaceutical packaging capabilities and integrated solution offering.
2016 Manufacturing Report from professional services firm Sikich explores ways to address challenges and position manufacturers for long-term growth.