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E-Commerce Consolidation: The Challenge of Multi-Item Orders

Outside the e-commerce industry, most would barely know or recognize the challenge of multi item consolidation. In a facility that features discrete order picking (shopping cart principle where one pick run equals one order), the consolidation of the order happens … Continue reading

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E-commerce – An Assessment of the Future

The future is now! As outlined in recent posts, e-commerce and multichannel retail are successful business models. The number and size of e-tailers are growing, brick-and-mortar businesses are converting to multichannel retailers and manufacturers have set up their own online … Continue reading

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Fields of Innovation & Expertise

The mystique that surrounds the application of creativity and innovation is occasionally so thick you’d be forgiven for thinking your ability to develop these incredible skills are probably zero. How could a mere human change the world so that they’re … Continue reading

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All You Need to Do is “Stick it On That”

Apologies first of all, for sounding more like my dad as I get older… and in my third blog for yet again harping on about the “good old days”. Read on and I hope that you will understand…  As an … Continue reading

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E-commerce Solutions Part 1: Traditional One- and Two-Step Sortation Fulfilment

The word traditional is a little bit of an oxymoron, since e-commerce hasn’t been around that long to refer to decades-old methodologies of picking, packing and shipping. However, the one highly similar business model prior to e-commerce has been the … Continue reading

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A Frozen Renaissance

For something that’s been on UK shelves since the 1950s, frozen food has been through something of a renaissance recently. Lately, there’s growing recognition of the fact that frozen food can be just as nutritious, if not more so, than … Continue reading

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A Sign of Things to Come?

Late one Friday night a few weeks ago I landed at Gothenburg Landvetter airport. Walking from the aircraft to the baggage hall a new sign grabbed my attention. It had pictures of food products, with a sales tagline that translates … Continue reading

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The Future is Now

Automation is once again in the spotlight, this time being identified as one of the technologies expected to have the most influence in the business world over the next decade.  According to management consultants, McKinsey, twelve emerging technologies—including the mobile … Continue reading

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The Future of Retail?

The future of retail? Imagine a world where Suzie finds virtual shoes she likes on her friend’s social networking page. She buys the same shoes for her profile and decides she would like them for real. During a break at … Continue reading

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Life Before Gilt, Fab and Shoedazzle

Shopping per mouse click Before the US had Gilt, Shoedazzle, and Fab, Europe pioneered the addictive discount and curation models with Vente Privée and Net-a-Porter. But it’s not only the brick-and-mortar busting business models where the US e-commerce sector has … Continue reading

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Changing Channels

Multichannel is a simple term for a complicated idea. At its heart lies the challenges presented to retailers who are either traditionally ‘stationary’ – that is, with an existing physical presence on the high street – or predominantly online. The … Continue reading

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Shopping in Pyjamas

E-Commerce Trends – From Multi- to Omni-Channel Imagine: Going down to the kitchen in the morning, grabbing a coffee, putting on your 3D goggles and diving into the virtual world of shopping centers via fingertip and voice recognition. 10 minutes … Continue reading

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The Power of NOW!

I want it NOW…not bovered…I need it NOW…Life is strange, in the 1960’s I spent many years as a petulant child crying to one’s parents “I want it now”. It didn’t matter what it was, where it was from, how … Continue reading

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The Impact of E-Commerce on Distribution Centers in the U.S.

It is well documented that the amount of retail sales in the U.S. via E-Commerce, instead of through traditional bricks-and-mortar stores, has now crossed the BUSD 200 mark and continues to grow at double digits. Several major forecasting firms predict … Continue reading

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Earthquake and Parmesan Cheese

In May 2012 a series of strong earthquakes hit northern Italy in an area between the provinces of Modena, Mantua and Ferrara. The magnitude of the shock was defined by the INGV (Institute of National Geophysics and Volcanology) as being … Continue reading

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Labor, the Holidays and E-Commerce in the U.S.

The holiday shopping season has arrived. This year, retailers are faced with big challenges, including the emergence of smartphone shopping and the continued e-commerce boom. For the first time in history, Black Friday online sales in the U.S. via mobile … Continue reading

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China’s Cold Chain Logistics Set to Improve

People have been pursuing freshness of food ever since ancient times. It was even vividly described in a famous poem in the Tang Dynasty that the favorite imperial concubine smiled when she saw lychee, her favorite fruit, delivered fresh by … Continue reading

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A Fifty Year Cycle? Home to OOTS and Back Again…

Fifty years ago my family moved to a small Surrey village where regular deliveries of food and drink direct to the house were the norm. These were presented at the back of the house, via a purpose designed window that opened … Continue reading

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Is Packaging Becoming More Important Than Content?

Trends in beverage packaging have a significant impact on the whole supply chain. This is not confined to the production line or the store shelf. Current packaging changes can impact all aspects including storage density, automated handling and even manual handling. … Continue reading

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E-tail Requirements Grow Faster Than Retail – Part II

In my first post of July 13th about the e-commerce revolution, I considered smart automation solutions that allow for better use of infrastructure and simplified operations. Today I would like to draw your attention on a very promising concept that … Continue reading

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How to Keep the Milk From Turning Sour

Nowadays standing still means going backwards – this applies equally in the food industry, and particularly in the area of milk processing. Standardizing the entire supply chain is called for. Regulation, Accuracy, and Price Pressure The regulators nowadays impose ever … Continue reading

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Tracking Material Flow at -30°C

Automatic Cardboard Box Handling Without Barcodes?   One aim of the control system for automatic cardboard box conveyor systems is to be able to perfectly identify boxes at every point in the system. In deep-freeze warehouses, however, the normal identification … Continue reading

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E-tail Requirements Grow Faster Than Retail

The e-commerce revolution has upended brick-and-mortar conventions as companies explore better ways to pull products to consumers, not just retailers, faster. Retail and wholesale channels are converging. Production companies and 3PL providers are reconsidering infrastructure design and warehouse processes as … Continue reading

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Automation Trends in Food & Beverage Distribution

When we at Swisslog talk about Food & Beverage, our focus is on the link between production and retail markets: On the production side it’s about taking over produced, bottled and packaged goods. On the retail side it’s about efficient … Continue reading

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Raspberry Pi

What is It? We take so much technology for granted these days, it’s easy to overlook something that at first appears to be a minor step forward, but might just transform the way we work. Take the new Raspberry Pi. … Continue reading

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Automation Opportunities in China’s Dairy Industry

20 years ago, due to the reasons of lower incomes and consumption habits, dairy products – at that time mainly milk powder – were consumed by selected population segments in China such as infants and children, the sick and the … Continue reading

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F&B – The Warehouse Automation Market of the Future, Forever?

During a meeting with one of the top materials handling trade journal editors in the U.S. last week, I asked him what he thought were the hot topics in the Food & Beverage industry. He immediately and enthusiastically mentioned Material … Continue reading

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From Farm to Shelf – Meat Warehousing

Fancy a juicy steak? Most of us do, sure enough! But the treat it is for those at the end of the supply chain has become an ever more demanding task further ahead in that chain: Meat product manufacturers and … Continue reading

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Ideas are Easy, Innovation is Hard Work

People Think Innovation is Difficult Often we might hear people say “I think it is difficult to innovate in this industry!”. In fact people from all industries say this. Instead they could say “I think it is difficult to innovate!” … Continue reading

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After Japan’s Earthquake, the Implications of Reconstructing Food Logistics in Asia

The earthquake and tsunami of March 11th, 2011 brought immense tragedy for Japan. Even worse, it has been a big shock socially and economically as people had to face contamination with radioactivity. Then, it negatively affected the global manufacturing network … Continue reading

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What Happens When You Leap Frog The Industrial Revolution?

The story of India Inc is much like a Bollywood movie. It seems to have skipped all vital steps but it still makes sense and is fun; much like in the telecom industry, where India went from waiting five years … Continue reading

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Keeping a Grip on Milk

Offering shopping convenience is an excellent asset for any retailer, but it can cause quite a headache for those involved in the supply chain. In his recent blog post, my colleague Patrick Seibel looked at Coca-Cola to highlight what it … Continue reading

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The Elf is back!

Sooner than Santa dared to expect, the Elf is back. Santa puts his arm on the Elf’s shoulder and says in a conciliatory tone: Hang on, we started talking about SKUs, not like you to use techno babble, you haven’t … Continue reading

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Santa Meets an Elf After Missing HIS Day

Dearest Elf, I’m heartbroken! Yesterday was MY day but as there was absolutely no snow I got stuck with the sleigh in the woods. I’m still flustered now so please, Elf, help me: what’s an SKU again and why aren’t … Continue reading

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Catering for Empowered Shoppers

We all recognize the advertising scene: summer somewhere, warm and glamorous. A guy with a body like Adonis is delivering a crate of ice cold Coke to an office with thirsty female workers just when they desire it most. Unfortunately … Continue reading

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What Cows, Sheep and Goats Mean for Your Warehouse

Increased numbers of SKUs, retailers going for more frequent just-in-time ordering of smaller quantities, and more stringent supply chain track and trace requirements have pushed manufacturers, distributors and retailers of dairy products to embrace more streamlined automated systems in their … Continue reading

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What’s Happening with Ice Cream and RTE Logistics?

In the current times of ongoing economic uncertainty, food consumption has shown a surprising steadfastness, with frozen food products even recording some growth (e.g. in Italy: retail market has grown 5% and catering 6% over the last five years according … Continue reading

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Innovate to Survive – Reloaded

I concluded my June 15 post stating that “The winners in the industry will be those willing to embrace innovation and having the diligence and tenacity to see it through to implementation.” I have come across various news that seem … Continue reading

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Food Manufacturers to See Marriage of Logistics Centers and Production Sites

Over the past years there has been a clear trend of production facility consolidation triggered by the expansion of a few large global food producers. Production facilities that used to service the local market only are nowadays servicing multiple or … Continue reading

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Solutions for Streamlining Packaged Food Warehousing

The packaged foods industry is in the midst of a supply chain evolution. The focus on a small core number of high volume SKUs has been giving way to the demand for smaller quantities of a larger number of products, … Continue reading

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Ergonomics – Healthy Workers for Healthy Returns

Tighter labor laws are increasingly impacting the processes of Food & Beverage warehouse facilities. Although today’s sophisticated automated systems allow reducing ergonomic issues while boosting productivity, order picking is mainly still done manually. Challenges of F&B Manufacturers In the highly … Continue reading

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Innovate to Survive

When analyzing the US beverage industry, a former Coke and Pepsi Senior Executive with over 20 years experience between these two firms and Swisslog concluded that in today’s world innovation was required to survive. Why this? Quite simply because: Relying on … Continue reading

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What Sales Promotions and Product Range Extension Mean for Your DC

Sales Promotions and Product Range Extension are two key measures of modern-day marketing that pull warehouses in almost opposite directions. Nevertheless, both activities are here to stay. The comparison of characteristics highlights the inherent disruption potential: Sales Promotions High volume … Continue reading

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Optimizing Efficiency in Deep-Freeze Warehouses

For decades, the vast majority of deep-freeze warehouses have been manually-operated facilities with workers operating lift trucks to move pallets of frozen products. However, increased consumer demand for frozen food products and a highly competitive market with low margins, prompted … Continue reading

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