span style="font-family: arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">The span between mid-September and early October was likely the busiest two-week period for warehousing-and-logistics-minded beverage companies in recent memory, as it offered a trio of trade shows on two continents with equipment and solutions for a range of distribution functions. First among those, 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 in Las Vegas, Sept. 22-25 and, finally, by the National Beer Wholesalers Association’s 76th annual convention and trade show, also in Las Vegas Here are some of the warehousing and distribution solutions on display 6,000 miles and nine time zones apart during those three 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.
Smaller Size, Greater Efficiency
In its first new product intro in the U.S. in about two decades, Chep has announced 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 x amount of the labor cost of getting it to retail, thereby enhancing its profitability.
Krones AG used drinktec as an opportunity to showcase its partnership with Micromatic, which resulted in BEVkeg, a one-way 10-liter PET keg that is self-supporting and doesn’t require any secondary packaging. It comes equipped with a screw cap, a human-engineered handle and a disposable beverage line in a hygienic blister pack. It features proprietary, gas-free BEVmate tapping equipment. The tapping system operates with mechanical pressure. When it’s emptied, the container rolls itself up inwards, helping to eliminate tapping losses.
Lightweight Containers introduced a slim one-way keg that will hit the market in the first quarter of 2014. The KeyKeg 30 Slimline is a cylindrical 30 liter keg fitted with two walls that allows the keg to withstand higher internal pressures and resist external damage. KeyKeg features Bag-in-Ball technology, which the company says makes one-way kegg perform like steel kegs but with the advantage of keeping the product fresher longer. New KeyKeg production lines are slated for Germany and the United States. 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 new 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 wide variety of load types.
At a media event at Pack Expo, Intelligrated showcased an interactive system with robotic arms equipped with custom end-of-arm tooling, integrated with Intelligrated pallet conveyor and motor-driven roller case conveyor. One robotic arm was able to palletize multiple case sizes while a second arm performed vision-guided random case depalletizing. The robots’ flexibility, combined with advanced software and vision technology, enables handling of variable loads and products and brings the speed and accuracy of automation to previously manual processes, Intelligrated representatives noted. The two order fulfillment enabling technologies showcased in the Intelligrated booth can integrate with the rest of the company’s material handling components including software, conveyor, sortation and order picking systems to streamline operations in manufacturing, warehousing and distribution. What’s more, the company’s comprehensive suite of lifecycle support services offers controls upgrades to existing systems, in addition to Intelligrated’s portfolio of web-based resources including Dashboard, OnTimeParts and Knowledge base.
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 company adds The voice-pick system supports multiple-pallet picks per pick.
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 combined with Intermec’s image processing technologies deliver advanced 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 while out on the road, transmitting directly from the point of capture to the back-office workflow.