Mid-September through the very beginning of October was likely the busiest two-week period for warehousing-and-logistics-minded beverage companies in recent memory, as it offered a trio of industry trade shows on two continents with equipment and solutions for a range of distribution functions. First among those events, as you likely witnessed in the Production & Packing Equipment, Packaging and Ingredients sections of this issue, was drinktec in Munich, Germany, Sept. 16-20. That was followed closely by Pack Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Sept. 22-25 and, finally, by the National Beer Wholesalers Association’s 76th annual convention and trade show, also in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace. Here are some of the warehousing and material handling solutions on display for a combined total of nearly 100,000 visitors 6,000 miles and nine time zones apart during those three trans-Atlantic events.
An Orderly System
At drinktec, System Logistics introduced new solutions for automated storage, picking, and material handling dedicated to the beverage market. Among those were the automated warehouse FRS (Fast Rotation Storage), allowing warehouses to reach very high throughput levels and storage capacity in limited spaces. The company also showcased the new fully automated picking system APPS (Automatic Pick to Pallet System), which, System Logistics says, combines management simplicity and investment scalability. Additionally it highlighted its Modula Vertical Lift Module (VLM), tailored with some unique “beverage configurations.” Finally, it demo’d its Systore software, which boasts 20 years of experience in optimizing complex logistics flows. systemlogistics.com
Smaller Size, Greater Efficiency
In its first new product intro in the U.S. in about two decades, Chep at Pack Expo announced that it’s offering pooled half-pallets for its customers. The half-size pallet is designed as a more efficient option for retail merchandising as an in-store display. About 60 percent of the total cost comes from moving products and getting them to stores, and the half pallet cuts down on a lot of that cost. It’s designed to enhance the profitability of fast-moving products like bottled water. It’s tougher and tougher to make money off of bottled water, especially when 24-packs are being sold for as low as $1.99 in some places. The half pallet, the company says, will take out some of the labor cost of getting it to retail, thereby enhancing its profitability. chep.com
Krones AG at drinktec showcased its partnership with Micromatic, which resulted in BEVkeg, a one-way 10-liter PET keg. It’s equipped with a screw cap, human-engineered handle and disposable beverage line and features proprietary, gas-free BEVmate tapping equipment, which operates with mechanical pressure. When emptied, the container rolls itself up inward, helping to eliminate tapping losses. krones.com
Lightweight Containers at drinktec unveiled a slim one-way keg that will hit the market in early 2014. The KeyKeg 30 Slimline is a cylindrical 30-liter keg fitted with two walls, allowing the keg to withstand higher internal pressures and resist external damage. It features Bag-in-Ball technology, which the company says makes it perform like steel kegs while keeping the product fresher longer. www.keykeg.com
Freeing Up Time
Liberty Technologies, a Millwood, Inc. company, introduced a line of lift tables and pallet loaders at Pack Expo. The line has been designed to maximize load-building efficiency and improve ergonomics and worker safety by continually adjusting load heights to minimize back strain, providing load maneuverability to reduce wasted motion, utilizing rugged components to handle a wide range of loads and providing a range of table tops to handle a variety of load types. millwoodinc.com
At Pack Expo, Intelligrated showcased an interactive system with robotic arms integrated with Intelligrated pallet conveyor and motor-driven roller case conveyor. One robotic arm was able to palletize multiple case sizes while a second performed vision-guided random case depalletizing. The robots’ flexibility, combined with advanced software and vision technology, enables variable load handling and brings the speed and accuracy of automation to previously manual processes. The two order-fulfillment-enabling technologies showcased can integrate with the company’s other material handling components including software, conveyor, sortation and picking systems to streamline operations. intelligrated.com
Intermec recently introduced its CN51 mobile computer, which, it says, is designed for distributors that depend on mobile workers being “nimble, empowered and well informed.” The Intermec CN51 allows the choice of Windows or Android operating systems on a single device and offers a power-packed 1.5GHz dual core, multi-engine processor design with 1GB RAM, and 16GB Flash for the highest degree of future-proofing capability. The CN51’s large, multi-touch, outdoor-readable screen provides ample room for application viewing with less scrolling and greater productivity, Intermec adds, as well as more space for capturing more legible signatures. It’s also equipped with state-of-the-art smart battery technology, delivering life that lasts through a full shift and beyond without interruption to replace or recharge to get the job done.
The company says the CN51’s high-performance imagers provide optimal barcode scanning capabilities even in low light scanning environments with significant motion tolerance and rapid scanning to eliminate costly delays and user frustration during scan-intensive applications. The 5 megapixel color camera and Intermec’s image processing technologies deliver capability beyond reading barcodes. Mobile Document Imaging (MDI) and Remote Deposit Capture (RDC) provide a fast and reliable way to convert full-size paper documents or check payments into electronic files. intermec.com
At the NBWA trade show, Encompass Technologies highlighted what it says is the industry’s first and only iPod voice-directed warehouse solution. The WMS offers live real-time inventory counts, eliminating the need to shut off all or part of the warehouse. The iPod-based voice recognition with integrated scanning, Encompass says, enhances ease of use and simplifies training. The intuitive touch-screen interface shortens the learning curve for warehouse employees. The voice-pick system supports multiple-pallet picks per pick. encompass8.com