Think you have a busy warehouse? Meet Supply Chain Santa.

His warehouse contains billions of toys. He probably employs thousands of elves to receive, pick, stage, and load.

And, like you, he’s got a tight deadline—his customers are not too thrilled with late deliveries.

So, we thought it would be a great idea to review his operations and imagine what technology he uses to keep track of this massive operation.

Supply Chain Santa’s Visibility Challenges

You laugh now, but Supply Chain Santa has many of the same challenges you face. Many think he’s just a seasonal operation, but imagine how complicated it is to store and move toys for 2 billion children around the world.

The North Pole runs 365 days a year, and it used to be a daily struggle. Supply Chain Santa has suffered from inaccuracies at the shipping door and weak inventory control. He’s lost sleep thinking about how to keep control over labor-intensive operations.

Like you, he needs the most efficient way to get clear visibility and deep insights into his operations. A few years ago, Santa realized RFID tagging was the answer to his problems.

Supply Chain Santa’s Asset Tracking History (in brief)

At one time, Santa was just like your warehouse or manufacturing operation: He wrestled with three choices to track his assets.

For hundreds of years, he did it manually. But Supply Chain Santa wised up and stopped relying on manual processes when barcode scanning became popular. He switched and armed his elves with enterprise-grade scanners from Zebra Technologies.

Barcoding worked for a while. It was better than keeping track manually, but it was a very labor-intensive process. When Supply Chain Santa used barcodes, his elves had to go around and scan every single item, one at a time. Each elf was tasked with scanning more than 20,000-plus toys. The scanning elves would, understandably, miss items. Entire pallets were stored in the wrong area of the North Pole warehouse, and no one could find them.

Then came RFID technology. Supply Chain Santa was introduced to the concept of Radio Frequency Identification thanks to his partnership with Zebra Technologies and Versona Systems. This system can broadcast data as an electromagnetic field. We’re sure that RFID is a big benefit to Supply Chain Santa’s warehouse.

RFID to the Rescue
Supply Chain Santa realized that RFID solutions would give him real-time asset visibility. He was able to streamline operations, maximize his assets, and eliminate errors with inventory and other data-capturing tasks.

With RFID technology, he now has his elves label or tag every asset received at the North Pole. When it comes time to capture data, elves can scan up to 200 RFID tags at the same time. The tags store up to 100 times more data than a barcode.

And his warehouse is busy and crowded, so the elves enjoy having the ability to let RFID readers read tags that are not visible. This allows them to track products from anywhere within a specified range.

Supply Chain Santa is a jolly guy, but he wants his inventory done with maximum efficiency and speed.

Let RFID Improve Your Warehouse
RFID can provide unparalleled accuracy and real-time data for your warehouse. It helps eliminate inefficiencies in inventory management that cost you money. Deploy it correctly, and RFID technology gives you an unmatched real-time asset tracking system.

So, how do you deploy RFID?

Our expertise here at Versona Systems lies in helping create the bridge between our client’s processes and the technologies needed to automate and enhance those processes. We can help you understand how RFID should fit into your company and what the benefits will be for you.

We recommend Zebra Technologies hardware. Zebra provides end-to-end RFID solutions for your needs, including printers, readers, and RFID tags or labels.

And if you want to see RFID in action, maybe if you stay up late on Christmas Eve you can catch Supply Chain Santa when he stops by. One thing to note: He’ll have a ZebraRFID reader attached to his sled.

Inventory management never stops—not for Versona, and not even for Santa.

CKH

Tool Equipment Software

 

Stock N Roll helps companies of all sizes maximize tool and equipment utilization, improve productivity and safety by ensuring the accurate real-time tracking of equipment at the point of issue and return.
Our software allows equipment rental, construction, maintenance and repair organizations to maintain complete visibility of their returnable and consumable inventory whether it is in the warehouse, issued to an employee or contractor, or out for service. This is a short video explaining the benefits of Stock N Roll.

KEY BENEFITS

  • REDUCE INVENTORY LOSS
  • SHORTEN QUEUE TIMES
  • LIMIT USE OF CONSUMABLES
  • AVOID PROJECT DELAYS

Stock N Roll is an easy-to-use product that tracks and manages inventory of returnable assets such as tools, instruments and non-returnable consumable items at the point of issue. Using a comprehensive tool, location and employee database, coupled with a simple and accurate bar code or RFID-based transaction system from Honeywell, Stock N Roll tracks the issue and return of assets to employees and contractors, and the transfer of assets between various warehouse, job site, service center and tool room locations. If you are interested in the features of Stock N Roll this video includes a demonstration and explanation of the product.

 

 

Stock N Roll generates fast payback and high levels of ROI. In several studies conducted by large construction companies that have deployed Stock N Roll, overall tool room losses declined to near zero levels and queue times dropped below 2 minutes per checkout/check-in visit.
At most sites where Stock N Roll has been deployed, payback of costs was measured in weeks with subsequent savings going straight to the bottom line.

Please let us know if you have questions at 713-654-8222 or visit us at www.VersonaSystems.com

 

turnkey integrationAt Versona, we know that your company has an abundance of projects to manage. Our turnkey solutions are designed to be implemented into your current operation to ensure that your business runs smoothly with little to no loss of time. We provide turnkey hardware and software solutions, including integration of workstations, servers, mobile devices, operating systems, databases, and applications. In addition, we offer custom hardware, software, and networking solutions that address your business’ specific needs and goals.

Integrating different computing systems and software applications doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful. Versona Systems does all the work for you so that you can focus on your business without getting behind. With our turnkey infrastructure improvement, virtualization, and consolidation of applications and data, your business can achieve lower-cost, higher-performance IT and workforce solutions.

Hardware

Versona System’s turnkey hardware solutions are designed with one thing in mind: simplicity. We link together different systems so that they become a unified whole, optimizing your business operations by ensuring less downtime. Our hardware solutions include servers, workstations, and mobile devices.

Changing doesn’t have to mean undergoing an expensive overhaul. Versona Systems works with your current configuration and helps you develop a comprehensive and responsive system that works and grows with you.

  • Server(s)

Servers are one of the most important components of your computer network. Your servers store your client and business information, run your company’s applications, and hold critical data about your computer network.

Versona Systems offers servers that are ready to go. We simplify deployment at end user sites by shipping custom servers that are pre-loaded and pre-tested with your business’ software and configured to match your environment where required. These turnkey solutions offer you functionality at a much lower cost, allowing you to do more to take your business to the next level.

  • Workstations

Integration is the key to determining that your business is functioning at its optimal pace. Disconnect can quickly lead to errors and miscommunication. At Versona, we know how important it is for your workflow to run smoothly and uninterrupted. We provide turnkey workstation solutions for companies.

Workstations are vital because they allow you to access business data and use applications that are on your network. At Versona, we understand that downtime as a result of non-functioning workstations can impede your ability to run your company. This interruption in service further manifests itself as a loss of profits as well as a loss of credibility with customers.

We offer workstations to meet a variety of industry needs. As an example, we can provide Plant Floor Workstations with the following specifications:

Plant Floor Workstation – PFW

Designed for standard Dell small form factor workstation or comparably-sized computer or thin client
Packaged for industrial applications
Color touchscreen
External connectors for power, ethernet, PS/2, serial, and USB
Wireless LAN and speaker kit options
Adjustable height pedestal and mounting plate options
Expansion box options for inputs/outputs, extra serial and ethernet ports

  • Mobile Devices

Mobility has become an integral part of business operations, transforming the way we live in both our personal and professional lives. With many companies utilizing field and remote employees, connection is more important than ever.

Our mobile computing solutions address the upsurge of communications by providing the very best in mobile software, hardware, connectivity, and services solutions to efficiently mobilize and increase the productivity of today’s ever increasing virtual workforce.

In addition, they are designed to address the special requirements of your traveling, field-based staff. Our programs help ensure secure, reliable access in addition to minimizing any loss of productivity.

There are many benefits when you integrate mobility into your workplace. It can help you speed up your decision-making process because it allows employees to collaborate in real time, regardless of location. Your employees are better able to manage their professional time with their immediate access to corporate email and applications. Our solutions also help to reduce corporate security threats.

Software

Turnkey software solutions allow your company expanded functionality with applications fit to your specific business. We can help configure the software you need for your line of work. Many of our clients work in industries in which proper software management is vital in keeping their business running smoothly. These fast-paced, high-volume environments require software that can keep up with the demand.

Versona Systems is happy to provide software solutions to fit the specific demands of your operation. Whether you need software to track inventory, monitor productivity, replenish supplies, and more, Versona Systems is here to provide what you need.

  • Operating Systems

Users depend on operating systems to run hardware and applications on their computers, and these users can rely on Versona Systems to provide it for them. We consider your company’s needs and assist in providing workable operating systems that meet all of your requirements.

When managing a complex working environment, speed, safety, and reliability in computing and networking are paramount. Versona Systems knows that the operating system you choose can greatly impact the way your business functions. Our turnkey solutions mean that you don’t have to worry about all the technical details. Versona is happy to provide complete assistance with procurement, installation, and support along the way.

  • Database

In today’s digital age, a strong, secure database is essential for any business. At Versona, we know that maintaining an organized collection of data is essential for running your company. We offer a variety of services to fit your database needs, including cloud computing solutions. Cloud database solutions offers portability and accessibility, enabling you to store and access your data anywhere you want to take it.

  • Applications

Applications are programs that permit users to perform a group of coordinated functions, tasks, or activities. As they are dependent on system software to execute, it is vital to have the proper software configuration. When you need a specific application to fit a function, Versona Systems can connect you with the right one.

  • Custom

When the demands of your business go beyond the scope of what it readily available, Versona can provide customizable software solutions tailored to your needs. We understand that each of our clients has unique end goals and that a one-size-fits-all approach will not always work.

Versona Systems works with you to understand your needs in order to procure and develop software that will help you run your business. Our turnkey solutions are designed to provide seamless integration and ease of use.

Network

To remain valuable and relevant, your company must stay connected. The demands of today’s business environment require a global link to everyone. Versona Systems provides you with the connectivity you need to conduct your business with expedience and reliability. From wired to wireless, we can get you up and running and fully connected.

  • Primarily Wireless

Imagine free-range communication that is not impeded by unsightly wires. Wireless networks provide data exchange and communication between various devices on a network through radio signal frequency or electromagnetic waves in the atmosphere.

Versona Systems recognizes that companies operating in today’s world demand wireless technologies to conduct business. Our goal is to give each of our clients wireless networking that delivers speed, reliability, and security. We assess your infrastructure to determine your best fit solution from our range of services which include Wi-Fi, Mesh, Point-to-Point, and Point-to-MultiPoint. We oversee projects from beginning to end, including commissioning and management, ensuring seamless connectivity that will never be a hassle.

  • Limited Wired

While much of the world utilizes wireless services for their on-the-go activities, many businesses find that staying wired works best for their companies. Wired networks provide businesses with security and the ability to move large quantities of data at amazing speeds. In addition, wired connections give your business control over who and what gets online. We provide wired networking solutions for your business, ensuring that your productivity and security are never compromised.

Structured cabling services from Versona Systems deliver the speed and reliability you need to operate at maximum performance. A structured cabling system provides a comprehensive telecommunications infrastructure that integrates a wide range of networking needs, including voice, data, electronic safety & security, project management, and audio & video technologies.

SmartSystems Operator working on computer

SmartSystems Operator working on computer

With almost 30 years of experience in the technology industry, we can bring our knowledge and expertise to assist your company with its programming needs. As a successful and thriving company, we know that your time is valuable and that you need to look to your next business opportunity. Versona offers the best service in programming so that you don’t have to worry about it.

Versona offers programming in Microsoft VS. NET, C, and C++. We also specialize in code migration from Visual Basic, COBOL, PowerBuilder, as well as web development. Whatever your programming needs, Versona Systems has the unparalleled skills and proficiency to help you execute any project.

Microsoft VS.NET

Microsoft Visual Studio.NET is an integrated development environment (IDE) used to create Active Server Pages (ASP) Web applications, XML Web services, and desktop and mobile applications. It is a full set of tools used to support different programming languages. As long as a language-specific service exists, the code editor and debugger can support nearly any language including C, C++/CLI , VB.NET, C#, and F#.

C, C++

As one of the most basic programming languages, C++ is designed for use in embedded systems or operating system kernels with performance, efficiency, and flexibility of use as its design requirements. Versona Systems aims to connect your business with the C++ programmer you need for your projects.

Code Migration (Visual Basic, COBOL, PowerBuilder, etc.)

Code migration enables you to move programming code from one system to another. Code migration is inherently complex with each level involving more cost and risk. Versona Systems can help you locate an expert who will assist you with any code migration needs you may have, including assistance with Visual Basic, COBOL, and PowerBuilder.

Web Development (Various Tools)

Versona Systems is able to assist you with the many facets of web development, from markup and coding to the development of a fully-functional Content Management System (CMS). Let our experts guide the process for you. Versona Systems can connect you with the right person to deliver a website that is professional and able to meet the demands of your customers.

productionlineAt Versona, we provide business solutions to suit the needs of a variety of industries, but we pride ourselves on the work we do for companies that engage in high-volume repetitive manufacturing. We have worked with automotive companies such as Ford Motor and GM, enabling smooth processing within their automotive supply chain sectors.

Efficiency is key in this type of automated environment. Versona Systems aims to provide solutions that not only deliver efficiency, but also precision. We are experts in seamless, flawless integration of systems and sub-systems, melding our solutions so that they fit into your working model.

Our application solutions are intelligent, able to identify any issues or flaws in products as they move past. The smart design reduces instances of human error, saving you time and money, as well as contributing to workplace safety.

Automation allows real-time data collection from the warehouse and shop floor, giving managers and decision-makers instant visibility to production. Imagine real-time access to everything you need–drawings, order information, operating instructions, and more–all at the touch of a finger. The automated solutions with which we can provide assistance include:

  • Time and attendance
  • Labor tracking
  • Asset inventory management
  • Improve business process
  • Optimize inventory management
  • Remote replenishment

RFID_Consult_APP1The right consultant understands your business. They offer you a fresh perspective, bringing you sharp insights that can guide your business in today’s ever-changing landscape. At Versona Systems, we are experts in organizational project management, aiming to bring our expertise to companies in order to achieve maximum growth.

We are here to increase performance in all areas of your business, with equal attention to people, process, and outcomes. Our business consulting services help you make smart decisions with the end goal of saving you time and money. Our proven track record of success speaks for itself.

Our thinking extends beyond the traditional. We want to give our clients business systems that move and grow. Today’s rapidly evolving industry needs responsive and flexible thinking, and we recognize this need for adaptive innovation and growth. We know that staying current or even ahead of changing technologies earns you an immense business advantage.

Versona’s expertise in a variety of industries gives you a sharp, competitive advantage, enabling you to make better business decisions, re-examine how you run your industry, and execute initiatives that will deliver results.

Program Management
Ensuring that work gets completed in a timely and productive manner involves much more than just running down a checklist of items. Versona Systems provides program management services to improve an organization’s performance beyond the scope of individual projects; instead, we help companies define success by meeting overall business objectives.

Program management allows you to oversee groups of related projects and examine them from all aspects. It encourages a focus on context, people, and business strategy. With program management from Versona Systems, your company can manage complex organizational, program, or environmental changes.

Project management enables your company to:

  • Perform more strategic tasks
  • Oversee and implement change
  • Develop strategies for business success
  • Set business objectives
  • Maximize ROI and value delivery
  • Set up benchmarking and mobility assessments

In today’s changing technological landscape, expectations run high, and Versona Systems is here to help companies meet these expectations.

Project Management

Having a clear, cohesive goal is the starting point for any successful venture, but sometimes details can get muddled along the way, resulting in a finished project that doesn’t quite meet the original intention. Project management from Versona Systems prevents this from happening by monitoring projects from start to finish to make sure objectives are met. Our organizational system ensures that those crucial details don’t get lost along the way.

Poor performance leads to lost time and resources. Versona Systems aims to eliminate these lost hours with project management that goes beyond the ordinary. We apply our vast knowledge, skills, and techniques to execute projects effectively and efficiently. We give organizations the power to link project results to business goals, which leads to better ability to compete in the market.

Our complete project management package includes:

  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring and Controlling
  • Closing

TC8000 ZebraThe new TC8000 Zebra handheld enterprise computer just hit the market in 2016. It has undergone a major ergonomic redesign that now lets users read its display with fewer wrist motions because of the top mounted display. This new parallel screen reduces wrist strain and repetitive motion injuries. The screen can also be operated by a finger or gloved hand.

It also has a state of the scanner that includes a hands free proximity scanner allowing users to scan an item without pulling the scan trigger. It can also read an entire document with one scan because of the 8 megapixel auto focus option coupled with Simulscan document capture software, which now makes it easier to capture multiple bar codes and entire forms with a single scan.

Don’t forget about software on this unit. The All-touch terminal emulation which automatically updates legacy TE “green screen” application on the unit without any involvement from your IT department with easy to create custom keyboards for different application screens to simplify data entry. And All-touch TE is pre-loaded and pre-licensed, ready to boost productivity right out of the box.

“The TC8000 mobile computer represents the greatest advancement in warehouse technology in more than two decades with its revolutionary design contributing to an extra hour of productivity per worker per shift without disrupting existing IT systems,” Bill Burns, senior vice president of enterprise visibility and mobility at Zebra, said in a statement. “Warehouses are evolving from simplified operations to tightly integrated profit centers as companies increasingly rely on analytics to drive business decisions. Watch this video and see the unit in action, https://youtu.be/ZN2ahg2AArI . The TC8000 will help warehouse workers be more efficient and deliver more accurate information, ultimately helping businesses operate more profitably.”

Versona Systems is excited about this new ground breaking Zebra handheld. We believe the market is overdue for a new look and feel which will improve productivity for your workers. Contact our team of experts who will get you up and running in no time.

omni-idRFID Directionality (i.e. the direction a tag is traveling past the RFID read) has been a sought after capability since RFID was introduced to the commercial market in the 1970’s. While the evolution of RFID technology has made great strides over the years, these technological advancements have for the most part been limited to the packaging, operating environment, standards adoption, and cost elements. The basic function of using RFID technology to identify the existence of an item(s) at a particular location, at a particular point in time has not changed much.

Because of the universal need for passive RFID tag directionality, coupled with the lack of inherent technical capability within the RFID ecosystem, the industry has tried a few “workarounds” to provide this capability. These “workarounds” have included the setup of multiple antennas (essentially along the tag path) and determining which antenna was the first to read the tag which helped determine direction. This “workaround” is expensive and also requires the physical space necessary to set up multiple antennas that will not contain field overlap. Another tactic that some vendors have pursued is to measure the phase of the RFID tag signal which can be returned if a vendor’s reader provides Low Level Reader Protocol (LLRP) data. This method involves measuring the signal phase of a tag at several points in time as it moves through the antenna’s field of view. This “workaround” also has its pitfalls since there are so many variables that are difficult to control in the real world in order to get an accurate determination of direction. (i.e. – the tag direction calculation is based upon a formula that assumes the tag is moving through the antenna’s field of view at a constant velocity, and at a constant height relative to the antenna location, etc.) It’s safe to say that while some of these techniques may be of some use within certain environments, they are certainly not the answer for everyone; especially anyone who requires 99%+ accuracy with their inventory and/or assets.

Within the last year or so, a company called Impinj, has introduced the technology that will finally make this a reality. They call it their xArray Gateway.

This gateway is a ceiling mounted robust RFID reader, is “Always-on” and uses a combination of proprietary antennas within the gateway to track multiple tags in 2 dimensions in pseudo real-time. It can track the identity and location of an item reading up to 1000 tags per second in a 1500 sq. ft. area. It is getting good reviews within the retail industry.

Versona Systems believes that this technology will someday evolve into a production-solid product offering for the manufacturing and distribution industries. However, at this point we would consider this technology (version 1.0) to be a bit immature to be realistically considered for most manufacturing and distribution companies. We think the first adopters of this technology will be retail and healthcare. Impinj believes their “Always-on” gateway is well suited for manufacturing. But we are not aware of any wide-spread use in that environment to date.

Here are a few of its current shortcomings (as we see them):
1. The ideal ceiling height for this product (according to Impinj’s specifications) is between 10-15 feet. Most of the ceiling heights where we work are anywhere from 25-40 feet up. We are not sure what effect that would have on the reader’s ability to track items beneath it.
2. We have not been able to do any testing with this new reader/gateway. This gateway may not detect a tag on a pallet that is buried beneath 30-40 other tags (especially from 40 feet up) much more testing is needed.
3. Again, because of the lack of testing with this new technology, we don’t know if this reader/gateway could read all tags on a pallet 100% of the time. (i.e. – if the forklift is putting a pallet of plastic containers on the trailer and that pallet contains 48 parts, we would want to be absolutely sure that the tracking system has accounted for all 48 parts)

In today’s fast paced market, many businesses are unable to make sound decisions based on inventory data because the updates are not frequent enough for split second decisions with the demand of internet transactions. Understanding RFID tag directionality is important to making decisions on inventory flow and location for an item in real time. As the demand for inventory visibility grows with the internet, the new era of RFID of “Always-on” item intelligence is a must. Versona experts believe this will be a game changer in the RFID space and our team is watching this closely.

Background and Problem Description:

A major automotive manufacturer uses an AGV system to deliver parts to the assembly line in a just-in-time fashion. The system is considered “mission critical” and uses a relatively large number of vehicles (~50) that must operate wirelessly with the system’s central computer to carry out their delivery instructions. If any of the vehicles ever lose communications with the central computer, the vehicle is designed to stop until the problem can be resolved. Depending on the type of communication failure, the AGV could only be restarted in one of two ways: 1) an automatic reboot of its on-board computer which takes approximately 5 minutes, or 2) through manual intervention which could take up to 20 minutes. These “communication failures” were occurring roughly 10-15 times each shift. This downtime is unacceptable as it severely impacts the auto manufacturer’s ability to build product.

The auto customer and AGV manufacturer had performed extensive troubleshooting in an effort to determine the cause of the wireless issues. Their analysis led them to believe that there were multiple causes including: wireless coverage inadequacies, unidentified and intermittent RF interference, and excessive shock/vibration to the vehicles due to “potholes” along the cart path. They were unable to determine how to fix these issues on their own and they contacted Versona Systems because of our extensive experience with wireless networks in mission critical environments coupled with our in-depth knowledge of real-time application design, development, and deployment.

Once the Versona Systems experts arrived we took an entire systems perspective instead of only focusing on the wireless pieces of this puzzle. Our pursuit of root cause certainly involved employing standard wireless troubleshooting techniques to check for potential wireless issues (i.e. – Spectrum Analysis, Wireless Coverage Checking, Wire Shark Ethernet packet captures, and visual inspections). However, we also requested:

  • O/S log files from the on-board AGV computers experiencing communication failures
  • Communication log files from the HP network bridge from each AGV experiencing communication failures
  • Communications log files from the AGV System central computer
  • An inventory of model numbers and firmware levels for each on-board AGV computer and network bridge
  • Access to the engineering teams from HP, Cisco, and the AGV System manufacturer (for assistance in interpreting the various log files)

We wanted to be sure that we could follow AGV system communications literally from end-to-end as this would be the only way to determine (for certain) where the communication breakdown was occurring.

After days of constant, real-time monitoring of the system, pouring through log files and Ethernet packet captures, and discussions with various engineering teams we began to get a clearer picture of the issues that confronted us.  Our analysis led us to the identification of 2 problems that were causing the majority of the communication failures:
1. The network bridges on all AGV’s were not using the same firmware levels
2. There were low-level code incompatibilities between the HP network bridges and the Cisco access points that required firmware updates to the HP network bridges.

The Fix:

By taking a total systems approach (instead of merely looking at the traditional wireless issues of coverage, power levels, and channel assignments), we were able to leverage our considerable experience with Project Management, Advanced Wireless, and Systems Integration to supply the HP engineering team with enough data to enable them to create a firmware update for their network bridge that is truly compatible with a Cisco wireless infrastructure. We also worked with the AGV manufacturer to ensure that the network bridges for all AGV’s received this new firmware update.

Benefits of Using An Expert:

When you go to the doctor for a second opinion, you expect them to review every detail in your casefile from start to finish. As a patient, we do our best to “self-diagnose” our condition but a new set of eyes, from an expert in the field, may reveal something that was missed. As in this case, the customer believed they were plagued by a “traditional” wireless issue (they just couldn’t quite identify it). They came to this logical conclusion based on incomplete data they received from non-wireless professionals. In contrast, Versona Systems uses a proven methodology along with the industry’s most talented wireless engineers to troubleshoot and resolve mission critical wireless/communications issues. By taking an entire systems perspective and methodically troubleshooting the environment we were able to isolate and apply a fix for the true factors affecting this wireless infrastructure. For this customer, eliminating the AGV communication failures dramatically increased the assembly line’s uptime, which in an automotive plant translates to serious dollars.

http://www.mmh.com/article/putting_rtls_technology_to_work_to_handle_returns/

The real-time locating system (RTLS) is an integral part of receiving, putaway and picking operations.

MMH1105SystemReptGenco-3The optical recognition system at Genco ATC’s Mcdonough returns processing facility has led to a 47% gain in pallets moved per hour since the system went live.

By Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor
May 11, 2011
Genco ATC, McDonough, Ga.
Size: 223,000 square feet
Products: Retail return center handling clothing, small appliances, tools and exercise equipment
Units:23 million units handled in 2010
Shifts: 1 shift/4 days/10 hours
Employees: 120 employees in operations

The real-time locating system (RTLS) is an integral part of receiving, putaway and picking operations.

Receiving: Everything arrives on pallets from the retailer’s stores through common carriers. Those pallets include a mix of any of the products sold by the retailer.

Newly arrived pallets are received into the warehouse management system (WMS) and staged temporarily on the dock. The contents in the cartons won’t be identified until the cartons are depalletized and conveyed to a workstation, where the cartons are opened and the individual item contents are scanned into the WMS system.

Based on the item scan, the WMS identifies the product that will be processed, determines a disposition for that product and prints a license plate bar code to identify the item. Genco ATC personnel can override the system based on a visual inspection. For instance, an item that is broken or may raise a safety concern can be disposed of or delivered to another zone for additional handling.

Once the items have been identified and processed, they are put on the takeaway conveyor and sorted into various categories based on final ship to points. Full pallets are stretch wrapped, labeled with the 2D bar code used by Sky-Trax, and scanned into the WMS system for putaway.

Putaway: Based on the location of the stretch wrapping station, the WMS determines a putaway location for that pallet based on the best available storage location and notifies a lift truck operator that a pallet is ready for putaway. The WMS system calculates the best available location based on horizontal and vertical travel of the forklift; horizontal travel is quicker than the vertical travel of the mast. The system visually confirms to the operator if they are at the proper put-away location or not. The operator has the flexibility to override the WMS’s recommendation based on certain criteria, such as if the location is blocked by another larger pallet. Once the operator places the pallet into the location, the optical real-time location system updates the exact putaway location in the WMS. That pallet is now available for shipment.

Picking: When Genco ATC receives authorization to release returns that have been processed, the system directs an operator to a storage location to retrieve a pallet. Once the camera-imaging system validates that the 2D bar code on the pallet belongs to the shipment being picked, it is taken to the dock for staging and shipping. This validation prevents incorrect pallets from being picked.

Shipping: During the shipping process, the forward-looking camera verifies that the right pallet is being loaded while the upward facing camera reads the overhead location markers to confirm that the pallet is being loaded into the right trailer. Once the trailer is full, the load is ready for shipment.

System suppliers
Optical real-time location system: Sky-Trax
Engineering: Versona Systems
Lift trucks: Crown Equipment
Mobile computing: Intermec

The sky’s the limit for Genco ATC with new optical RTLS
A unique optical RTLS system has led to dramatic productivity improvements at Genco ATC’s returns center in McDonough, Ga.

MMH1105SystemReptGenco_cover