The WSI Wire

Reliability Matters

Looking to store and ship product in a Chicago warehouse? Need same-day delivery? We’ve got you covered - Aug 2017

Over one-third of the nation’s population – more than 84 million people – is within a day’s delivery drive of WSI’s optimally located Chicago warehousing and close to many of the area’s intermodal yards.

Looking to store and ship product in a Chicago warehouse? Need same-day delivery? We’ve got you covered

However, despite its new name, “flex warehousing” or “flexe warehousing” has existed in the logistics industry for a long time. It simply went by different names. “Public warehousing,” “multi-client space” or “public space” all refer to what clients now know as “flex warehousing.”

This type of warehouse space allows for many clients’ products to be received, handled, stored and shipped out in a flexible environment, as opposed to dedicated space and labor reserved for only one contract client at a time.

The inside scoop on flex warehousing

By working directly with a third-party logistics provider that has its own warehouse space rather than through an intermediary you will gain access to a dedicated workforce, as well as a robust and flexible Warehouse Management System software and RFgen scanning capabilities, is still a company’s best option for handling and storing sensitive goods. Logistics services like RF scanning and an Oracle-powered WMS can work in tandem with highly trained, safety-minded material handlers’ skillsets to ensure clients’ needs are met.

Current 3PLs already meeting the need

3PLs with a focus on logistics management can rest assured that they are competing capably against the new kids on the block. 3PLs with myriad service offerings, like distribution, fulfillment, storage, transload, technology and import/export services, can diversify easily. By quickly adapting to various industries and commodities and responding to client requests with urgency and an extremely high level of customer service quality, a strong 3PL will find it can outlast even the most convenient warehousing options of the 21st century.

WSI is one of the largest 3PLs in the nation, with nearly 15 million square feet nationwide. We serve the chemical, paper, consumer packaged goods, packaging, building materials and electronics industries. In 2016, WSI celebrated its 50th anniversary of providing “Absolute Reliability” to its customers. Our WMS, the Oracle-powered JD Edwards’ EnterpriseOne software, can process inbound and outbound shipment orders for products ranging from t-shirts to bulk plastic pellets. Our experience with seasonal goods, like holiday wrapping paper, Halloween costumes and fishing rods, has made us one of the best in the industry. We can react quickly to retailer, distributor and manufacturer needs, no matter the good. Looking for 50,000 square feet of space for 3 months? We have that. Need 400,000 square feet for 5 years? We can do that, too.

Our focus is on “Absolute Reliability” to the customer. That motto instills our organization with an innate flexibility toward changing customer demands, for more than 50 years. Contact us today for availability, pricing and dedicated labor information, or visit our Featured Properties page here.

Flex warehousing, all the buzz right now in the warehousing industry, has been around a long time - Aug 2017

Flexible warehousing is all the buzz right now in the warehousing industry, as e-commerce companies and retailers flock to store high-turnover product in spaces for short periods of time.

Flex warehousing, all the buzz right now in the warehousing industry, has been around a long time

However, despite its new name, “flex warehousing” or “flexe warehousing” has existed in the logistics industry for a long time. It simply went by different names. “Public warehousing,” “multi-client space” or “public space” all refer to what clients now know as “flex warehousing.”

This type of warehouse space allows for many clients’ products to be received, handled, stored and shipped out in a flexible environment, as opposed to dedicated space and labor reserved for only one contract client at a time.

The inside scoop on flex warehousing

By working directly with a third-party logistics provider that has its own warehouse space rather than through an intermediary you will gain access to a dedicated workforce, as well as a robust and flexible Warehouse Management System software and RFgen scanning capabilities, is still a company’s best option for handling and storing sensitive goods. Logistics services like RF scanning and an Oracle-powered WMS can work in tandem with highly trained, safety-minded material handlers’ skillsets to ensure clients’ needs are met.

Current 3PLs already meeting the need

3PLs with a focus on logistics management can rest assured that they are competing capably against the new kids on the block. 3PLs with myriad service offerings, like distribution, fulfillment, storage, transload, technology and import/export services, can diversify easily. By quickly adapting to various industries and commodities and responding to client requests with urgency and an extremely high level of customer service quality, a strong 3PL will find it can outlast even the most convenient warehousing options of the 21st century.

WSI is one of the largest 3PLs in the nation, with nearly 15 million square feet nationwide. We serve the chemical, paper, consumer packaged goods, packaging, building materials and electronics industries. In 2016, WSI celebrated its 50th anniversary of providing “Absolute Reliability” to its customers. Our WMS, the Oracle-powered JD Edwards’ EnterpriseOne software, can process inbound and outbound shipment orders for products ranging from t-shirts to bulk plastic pellets. Our experience with seasonal goods, like holiday wrapping paper, Halloween costumes and fishing rods, has made us one of the best in the industry. We can react quickly to retailer, distributor and manufacturer needs, no matter the good. Looking for 50,000 square feet of space for 3 months? We have that. Need 400,000 square feet for 5 years? We can do that, too.

Our focus is on “Absolute Reliability” to the customer. That motto instills our organization with an innate flexibility toward changing customer demands, for more than 50 years. Contact us today for availability, pricing and dedicated labor information, or visit our Featured Properties page here.

Job-seeking in the Tulsa, OK Area? Consider WSI! - Aug 2017

Have you been put out of a job by a mall or retail store closing? Do you have an upbeat personality and are you eager to learn new things? Can you work first, second or third shift? If this sounds like you, consider applying to work as a material handler at WSI.

Job-seeking in the Tulsa, OK Area? Consider WSI!

Online shopping is convenient, fast and often less expensive than shopping at malls. Consumers can save on gas money spent to drive to the mall and retail mark-ups. However, the increased consumer reliance on e-commerce means many retail stores and malls are closing, in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area and beyond. Have you been put out of a job by a mall or retail store closing? Do you have an upbeat personality and are you eager to learn new things? Can you work first, second or third shift? If this sounds like you, consider applying to work as a material handler at WSI. 

We are the logistics provider for the Kimberly-Clark mill in Jenks, Oklahoma, and we run a busy, 24-7 operation. While retail and warehouse work may seem different, they require many of the same skills that you already have: attention to detail, working well with both customers and co-workers, reading and speaking English, and strong communication, math and inventory skills.  

If you or someone talented that you know is looking to advance in the workforce, WSI could be a perfect fit for you. We offer benefits to all our full-time employees, including health insurance, a 401K account with a generous employer contribution, paid time off and more. Our pay is competitive and generally exceeds the pay of retail jobs. Finally, as one of the nation’s leading third-party logistics providers, WSI has many advancement opportunities, both in Oklahoma and throughout the United States. 

Interested? Apply here today: www.wsinc.com/jenksOK.

WSI Assistant Manager Craig Humphrey Demonstrates Inspiring Motivation and Ambition - Jul 2017

WSI Assistant Manager Craig Humphrey demonstrates inspiring motivation and ambition as the versatile assistant manager at both of WSI's Baytown, Texas chemicals and plastics buildings.

WSI Assistant Manager Craig Humphrey Demonstrates Inspiring Motivation and Ambition

As part of our ongoing effort to acknowledge, thank and highlight a few of the many hardworking and
loyal employees that embody WSI’s vision of absolute reliability to the customer, enthusiastic service to
the community and dedication to the balance between work and life, we would like to recognize Craig
Humphrey.

Craig currently works as the assistant manager for both the chemical and plastics buildings in the
Baytown, Tex. area for WSI’s major chemical customer, Covestro. He began working at WSI in 2010,
bringing a material handling and warehouse management background with him. Craig’s hard work,
reliability and dedication helped him quickly move up the WSI operations ranks.

“I was actually a forklift operator and Billy Vance interviewed me,” Craig recalled. “Pretty shortly after,
they asked me if I wanted to be the warehouse lead for shipping in Dallas.”

Devoted to learning as much as possible about the warehousing business and WSI as a company, Craig
became a Client Service Representative about a year later. In 2014, he became a CSR lead. Shortly
thereafter, he was back in operations as the work-up for the facility manager in WSI’s Baytown chemical
building. His current role as the versatile assistant manager for both Baytown buildings fills varying
needs, both in operations and customer service.

“If the guys in the warehouse need help, I can help jump on a lift, or I can help the CSRs in the office – scheduling tickets or loading truckloads,” Craig said. “(My manager) really gave me the chance to prove myself to him.”

“If the guys in the warehouse need help, I can help jump on a lift, or I can help the CSRs in the office –
scheduling tickets or loading truckloads,” Craig said. “Billy really gave me the chance to prove myself to
him.”

Craig emphasized that he loves helping people and loves solving problems. In the next few years, he
said, if the time is right, he would jump at the opportunity to become a facility manager. His ambition
and motivation have already led to several cost-savings projects for WSI and Covestro, including
expanding a driveway and rock pad to allow more trailers to be loaded and unloaded and instituting a
drum tracking program. Craig also was instrumental during the recent contract renewal process with
Covestro.

“I like helping and the fact that Covestro trusts me enough to ask for my opinion on the account,” he
said. “I value and appreciate the support my supervisor has given me.”

Outside of work, Craig is just as active and ambitious, citing hunting, fishing and being outdoors as some
of his favorite activities.

“I mainly enjoy hanging out with my family on the weekend – being outside, being active,” he said of his
wife Veronica and youngest daughter Adryanna, both pictured with Craig above.

Humphrey’s dedication to WSI, his versatile roles and his career is inspiring. Thank you for your
continued service, Craig!

Denver-based WSI Accounting Employee Lois Naperola Balances Excellent Work Ethic with Active Lifestyle - Jun 2017

Denver-based WSI accounting employee Lois Naperola balances her excellent work ethic with an active lifestyle.

Denver-based WSI Accounting Employee Lois Naperola Balances Excellent Work Ethic with Active Lifestyle

As part of our ongoing effort to acknowledge, thank and highlight a few of the many hardworking and loyal employees that embody WSI’s vision of absolute reliability to the customer, enthusiastic service to the community and dedication to the balance between work and life, we would like to recognize Lois Naperola.

Lois Naperola currently works in the accounting group doing accounts payable, collections and financials. She also serves as a back-up Client Service Representative as part of WSI’s group in Denver, Colorado. Lois was one of the first employees at American Warehouse Company (AWC) in 1974, which became part of WSI in 2002. Her dedication shines through in her daily commute; she bicycles (15 miles roundtrip) to work daily, a fact that came to light during this year’s National Bike to Work Week.

“I try to ride every day…I’ve been doing that for many years,” Lois said. “I use it as an opportunity to relieve stress, and I find it’s really nice to start the day and end the day with a bike ride. It’s like getting to go out for recess twice a day!”

The varying weather she experiences every day on her bike mirrors Lois’ myriad of responsibilities at WSI. She said she really enjoys the variety of assignments and areas she works with at WSI.

“My job has a little bit of everything. That’s fun. And, I still get to take care of my own financials, which I really like to do,” Lois said, noting that she can always depend on her Wisconsin co-workers for support. “There are lots of people I can go to if I have questions. Our small, tight-knit group here at WSI Denver makes it a great place to work. I’m very grateful for that!” Lois enjoys lifting her head up from the numbers and interacting with people, too, both in the office and afar.

“I still get to keep in touch with some of our clients through my back-up CSR duties. A lot of them have been with us for the whole time I’ve been here,” she said. “Some of the customers I’ve talked to for 10, 20, 30 years. The longevity of those relationships are important.” 

In the next few years, Lois also would like to help with more projects at the Home Office in Appleton, Wisconsin. Her ability to multitask is surely impressive!

Her passion for the outdoors stretches to beyond biking, too. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking and is a member of the Pink Phantoms, a dragon boat racing team for breast cancer survivors. Lois trains with her team throughout the year and competes three to four times a year. 

 

Denver-based WSI Accounting Employee Lois Naperola Balances Excellent Work Ethic with Active Lifestyle

“I also attend events with my team to promote the physical and emotional health benefits of dragon boating for breast cancer survivors, recruit new members and raise funds,” Lois said. “As a survivor of almost 5 years now, I was never much into support groups during my journey. But when I heard about the opportunity to join the Pink Phantoms and experience this avenue of exercise and camaraderie, it seemed like a perfect fit for me. It nurtures my love of water, exercise and travel. The team spirit is incredible!”

"Our small, tight-knit group here at WSI Denver makes it a great place to work. I’m very grateful for that!”

Her daughter and grandchildren live in the Denver area, as well. “We enjoy getting together as a family to hike and bike whenever we can,” she said.

Naperola’s dedication to WSI, her multiple assignments and her active, fit lifestyle is inspiring. Thank you for your continued service, Lois!

More Blog Entries

This Just In

The Need for Speed in Automated Truck Policy - Dec 2017

In the 1970s, Congress held hearings about whether a personal computer could be trusted not to read user brainwaves – a fine example of how those responsible for regulating technology tend to trip over what they don’t understand.

I recently read that in the 1970s, Congress held hearings and engaged in serious discussions about whether or not a personal computer could be trusted not to read the brainwaves of its users. This is a fine example of how those responsible for regulating technology tend to trip over what they don't understand. That's why I found myself relieved when the American Trucking Associations (ATA) released its proposal for an automated truck policy.

Without input from experts who actually operate in the trenches, disruptive technologies can get regulated right out of existence. Remember Napster? The regulatory hiccups generated by the technology pushed it into the courts, underground, and then out of business. Without an appropriate framework in place for automated trucks, those too could wind up only being a flash in the pan.

The State vs. Federal Dilemma

Fortunately, the ATA has offered up a basis for regulators to use when building a federal policy in regards to automated trucks. One of the key points in their proposal involves empowering the federal government to do the heavy lifting. Automated trucks will primarily support long-distance, interstate commerce, and letting individual states develop their own sets of regulations regarding the technology will only stunt market potential and development.

Don't get me wrong—I'm usually a big proponent of state's rights and using multiple state regulatory models as a trail-and-error playground for new technologies. At this point, however, we can't afford to let mixed regulations stifle a technology that the trucking industry desperately needs.

The ATA projected that the truck driver shortage will hit 50,000 by the end of 2017. Trucking needs automated solutions to provide capacity and meet growing demand, and manufacturers of those solutions can't afford to be tailoring every vehicle based on what region or state it will operate in. Instead, a strong federal policy will provide consistency, which will drive growth in the national market and spur developmental advancements in the technology itself.

The Driver Debate

Anyone who pays attention to the driverless truck issue can tell you that opponents fear the loss of truck driving jobs, but our truck driver shortage will continue to grow. NAFTA renegotiations could force the driver gap to expand even further—and why is it so hard to fill these jobs?

Because driving is hard. It's a rare driver that still enjoys long-haul trucking. The hours are grueling. The time away from friends and family makes it worse. Many long-haul drivers wind up leaving the industry altogether as soon as they find a something that lets them stay at home. The fact is, most drivers would rather operate regional routes, and automated trucks will let them do that. Let the driverless vehicle handle the coast-to-coast route while human truckers do the short hauls and Last Mile.

The benefits of automated technology will help these drivers as well. Better collision warning systems will keep them safe. Better GPS will help them run on time. Trucks that can run long stretches on their own will give them time to do paperwork or eat lunch without losing miles.

At WSI, we're acutely aware that this driver shortage is not sustainable long-term. Every transportation provider knows this. We're also aware that automated trucks could solve this problem entirely within a matter of years. Instead of batting the idea around regulatory agencies for the next five years – Prime Air anyone? – regulators must take ATA's proposal seriously, and use it as a basis for policies that aid in the development and testing of automated vehicles across state lines.

Recent Industry Disruptions Challenge, Improve Retail Logistics and Supply Chain - Aug 2017

American consumers are now living in an era of supply chain domination, in which we sometimes sacrifice privacy for convenience, or a few extra dollars for speed.

American consumers are now living in an era of supply chain domination, in which we sometimes sacrifice pri­vacy for convenience, or a few extra dollars for speed. Amazon drones drop small packages on our doorstep the same day. Meals arrive on urban doorsteps via tiny robots moments after placing the order. Naturally, the retail industry needs to adapt an agile and visible supply chain to fulfill these increasingly complex consumer requests.

In recent weeks, both Walmart and Amazon made waves in the retail industry, though for rather different reasons. Walmart recently narrowed its “must arrive by” date windows and will penalize suppliers, big or small, for early or late product arrival. The retail supply chain needs to up its game to meet these require­ments; the penalties Walmart intends to inflict will sting. Similarly, Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods may disrupt the retail industry in a profound way. The initial announcement caused a seismic shift in stock prices and provoked thousands of articles and blog posts about the implications of the deal for the supply chain, brick-and-mortar grocery stores, and small-to-medium-scale organic food producers.

Walmart’s “Must Arrive By” Dates Set Tone for Retail Supply Chain

As consumers make their needs and desires more clearly heard, big-box retailers like Walmart seek to streamline supply chain operations–to have the right product on shelves when the con­sumer wants it. Walmart has turned to a more holistic approach to shopping, integrating its traditional big box retail locations with e-commerce. Walmart aims to stock shelves with product based on just-in-time, lean-minded operations.

And, the retail giant will now require its suppliers, from manu­facturing giants like Unilever to smaller, local producers, to adhere to stringent delivery windows. When product arrives too early or too late at the designated Walmart location, suppliers will incur fines equal to 3 percent of the products’ value. The effort to whip suppliers into shape, with the stated goal of 95% on-time, in-full deliveries, reveals Walmart’s mission to compete directly with Amazon.

Walmart’s rivalry with Amazon is also now reaching toward cleaning up its in-store workings, to provide consumers with a better shopping experience. Notably, after Amazon’s acquisi­tion of Whole Foods, Walmart announced its intention to provide customers with better-located and more aesthetically pleas­ing produce and fresh foods aisles. The compliance squeeze for Walmart’s logistics providers and suppliers is getting ever-tighter. Suppliers and 3PLs that count on Walmart as a client would be wise to shape up and ship out–ideally within the allotted 24-hour window for on-time deliveries.

Amazon and Whole Foods: A Perfect Storm for Grocery Retail Disruption

News that Amazon intends to purchase Whole Foods in the second half of 2017 rocked the retail industry and stock market earlier this summer. The marriage of two retail powerhouses–one e-commerce and the other a traditional brick-and-mortar gro­cery store specializing in organic, locally produced and supplied grocery–inspired scads of think pieces and provoked lots of ques­tions, from those for and against the merger.

Generally, economists see the deal as a positive one for both companies. Whole Foods has been reluctant to embrace digital supply chain technologies, and Amazon can help with that, given its position as a retailer that is really a data and supply chain com­pany. Similarly, Whole Foods provides the cold-chain footprint close to end users that Amazon needs to become a major player in the grocery retail sector. Amazon’s relationship with Sprouts Farmers Market and Whole Foods’ relationship with Instacart could help expand fresh food delivery in an efficient manner. Or the two companies could leave those partnerships by the wayside and focus on enhancing their own complementary synergies in last-mile fresh food delivery.

The potential for cashier-free stores, as currently seen in Amazon’s Seattle, Washington venture, could streamline the grocery-buying process for consumers nationwide. Plus, omni-channel presence would become even more convenient. Consider the possibility of Amazon lockers in every Whole Foods nationwide, to pick up online orders of pillowcases and books, along with your family’s organic carrots and yogurt.

With these recent changes, the potential for retail supply chain disruption is great. 3PL providers must be cognizant of these changes in the supply chain and shifting compliance require­ments to ensure continued profit and high performance for some of their biggest clients.

Need Flexibility? Seek out Full-Service 3PLs - Jul 2017

The retail and supply chain worlds have changed–and are changing–rapidly.

The retail and supply chain worlds have changed–and are changing–rapidly. Soaring end-user consumer demand for same-day delivery of goods and companies’ desire for increased visibility of their supply chains are two instrumental factors in the ever-morphing industrial real estate industry. Companies want and need instant, flexible warehousing options with skilled, efficient labor to handle and ship their products. Despite newcomers to the market, third-party logistics providers with years of experience and myriad service offerings, like distribution, fulfillment, storage, transload, technology and import/export services, can diversify easily.

Specifically, flexible warehousing is all the buzz right now in the warehousing industry, as e-commerce companies and retailers flock to store high-turnover product in spaces for short periods of time. However, despite its new name, “flex warehousing” or “spot warehousing” has existed in the logistics industry for a long time. It simply went by different names. “Public warehousing,” “multi-client space” or “public space” all refer to what clients now know as “flex warehousing.”

This type of warehouse space allows for many clients’ products to be received, handled, stored, and shipped out in a flexible environment, as opposed to dedicated space and labor reserved for only one contract client at a time.

The Inside Scoop on Flex Warehousing

Currently known as the Uber of warehousing, the Seattle, Washington-based Flexe warehousing and fulfillment company recently launched next-day ground delivery service, in addition to its on-demand storage, shipping and delivery services. Describing itself as a supply chain software company, Flexe does not own or operate any warehouse or industrial real estate space. Instead, it builds, executes and maintains software that is then housed within contracted warehouse space around the country. Tenants who need quick space can turn to Flexe to store their goods for the short amount of time needed.

The downside of flex warehousing is the lack of dedicated labor to handle certain, highly sensitive products, such as chemicals, perishable foods and large, easily damaged goods. Seeking out a third-party logistics provider with its own dedicated workforce, as well as a robust and flexible Warehouse Management System software and RFgen scanning capabilities, is still a company’s best option for handling and storing sensitive goods. Logistics services like RF scanning and an Oracle-powered WMS can work in tandem with highly trained, safety-minded material handlers’ skillsets to ensure clients’ needs are met. 3PLs with transportation assets–even a small fleet of trucks–have another leg up on their clients’ need for speed. Even better, a 3PL with logistics software, like its own Transportation Management System and/ or B2B systems integration software, can easily fulfill the needs of a short-term client.

Current 3PLs Already Meeting the Need

3PLs with a focus on logistics management can rest assured that they are competing capably against the new kid on the block. By quickly adapting to various industries and commodities, and responding to client requests with urgency and an extremely high level of customer service quality, a strong 3PL will find it can outlast even the most convenient warehousing options of the 21st century.

WSI is one of the largest 3PLs in the nation, with nearly 15 million square feet nationwide. We serve the chemical, paper, consumer packaged goods, packaging, building materials and electronics industries. In 2016, WSI celebrated its 50th anniversary of providing “Absolute Reliability” to its clients. Our WMS, the Oracle-powered JD Edwards’ EnterpriseOne software, can process inbound and outbound shipment orders for products ranging from t-shirts to bulk plastic pellets. Our experience with seasonal goods, like holiday wrapping paper, Halloween costumes and fishing rods, has made us one of the best in the industry. We can react quickly to retailer, distributor and manufacturer needs, no matter the good. Looking for 50,000 square feet of space for 3 months? We have that. Need 400,000 square feet for 5 years? We can do that, too.

Our sister companies, WSI Transportation, LLC, and 360data, offer personalized transportation and supply chain visibility solutions, respectively.

Whether the client needs transportation brokered or available onsite via one of our trucks, WSI Transportation, LLC can ensure safe, speedy shipment of product.

360data software solutions provide customized TMS and B2B Integrator options for complete supply chain visibility. Visit 360data.com to learn more.

Our focus is on “Absolute Reliability” to the client. That motto instills our organization with an innate flexibility toward changing client demands, for more than 50 years. Contact us today for availability, pricing, transportation and dedicated labor information, or visit our Featured Properties page at wsinc.com/featured-properties.html.

Handle With Care: How to Be the Best At Fulfilling Your Clients' Chemical Handling Needs - Jun 2017

Chemical handling is an important function of a third-party logistics provider.

Chemical handling is an important function of a third-party logistics provider. 

If your firm is looking to source a chemical handling partner or currently han­dles chemicals and wants to perform better, our guide below illuminates some key factors to finding the best fit.

Explain your chemical business thoroughly, so potential providers know their duties.

Allow your incumbent provider and any potential providers in the RFP process to learn as much as they can about your business. A potential provider should demonstrate intimate, near-encyclopedic knowledge of your business, operations, and current and future needs. Be sure to communicate must-do, regularly repeating tasks, current and past lean projects (so the potential providers know about any past inefficiencies and challenges), and a list of future goals. A strong provider should be able to explicitly address how it will be able to resolve challenges and improve your organization’s processes.

Be on the lookout for the kind of top-performing provider that combines integrated teamwork, commitment to delivering absolute reliability to your business, and dedication to going beyond the normal scope of work to best serve the client.

Make sure your provider considers or complies with industry partnerships/memberships: Responsible Care and Operation Clean Sweep.

Responsible Care is the global chemical handling indus­try’s premier environmental and safety initiative, holding many organizations, companies, and non-profits accountable for safe and responsible chemical handling. American Chemistry Council companies are strongly encouraged to participate in Responsible Care initiatives for responsible chemicals handling.

However, for companies like 3PLs, participation in Responsible Care is strictly voluntary. Becoming a Responsible Care Partner entails adhering to Responsible Care commit­ments to improve performance in the fields of environmental protection, occupational safety and health protection, plant safety, product stewardship and logistics, as well as to con­tinuously improve dialog with neighbors and the public, independent from legal requirements. The initiative is global and currently active in 52 countries. Responsible Care is not simply marketing or symbolic.

Joining the Responsible Care initiative as a Partner involves taking a leadership role with chemical manufacturers and distributors to ensure products are handled safely and in sustainable, environmentally friendly ways. If your poten­tial chemical handling provider is committed to safety and health, as well as efficient and sound logistics, it will commit to Responsible Care Partner designation.

Similarly, Operation Clean Sweep, a product stewardship pro­gram of the American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division and Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), helps to strengthen your provider’s commitment to sustainability. Operation Clean Sweep’s goal is to help every plastic resin handling operation implement good housekeeping, including pellet, flake and powder containment practices. The ultimate goal of OCS is to achieve zero pellet, flake or powder loss. Should your orga­nization handle plastics, your provider’s participation in–or compliance with–Operation Clean Sweep standards is para­mount for good housekeeping, safety and health.

You get what you pay for; beware of the “too-good-to-be-true” price.

After providing your thorough and complete scope of work to the provider, getting to know its labor force and capabilities, and ensuring the provider has all necessary part­nerships in place, the final and most important step is to ensure your price expectations are aligned with the provider.

It is essential to consider what you know about your compa­ny’s current operations. Are you certain the account will require after-hours receiving and shipments? Expect to be charged accordingly, and trust that your provider will spell out its justifi­cation for pricing to the utmost degree in its RFP response.

If a potential provider responds with a lowball pricing offer, be sure to consider your incumbent provider’s strengths and consider the value of their work, including future proposed projects and past performance. A potential low-cost provider that does not know your business well may fail dramatically at delivering high-performance chemical handling. The lowball offer may overlook essential elements of your business, such as the need for same-day bulk transfers or for frequent rela­beling. Accepting a low-cost offer from a provider that is not prepared to take on the workload could end up costing your company more in the long run.

Using these three strategies, your company can gain the knowledge needed to find an expert provider in the chemi­cal handling industry. WSI, one of the nation’s largest 3PLs, has been handling chemicals for decades. We are a current Responsible Care Partner and Operation Clean Sweep partici­pant, handling chemicals for some of the largest distributors and manufacturers in the world.

Working Alongside Robots: No Longer Science Fiction - May 2017

Working alongside robots in warehouses is the way of the present, rather than the way of the future.

Working alongside robots in warehouses is the way of the present, rather than the way of the future.

The recent ProMat and Automate conferences, in Chicago, featured robotics and automated materials handling equipment. “Solve for X,” the theme of the conference, emphasized the need for manufacturers, warehousing and third-party logistics companies to embrace change to stay relevant. Rather than focusing on the technological capabilities of these high-efficiency robots, our team attended ProMat & Automate with an eye toward the changing workforce. As we strolled the aisles, observing robots in demonstration booths, we reflected on the results of the 2017 MHI survey. The
MHI survey, the fourth in a series of annual industry reports developed in conjunction with Deloitte Consulting, focused on “Next-Generation Supply Chains: Digital, On-Demand and Always-On.” The survey received 1,100 responses from manufacturing and supply chain industry leaders. Approximately 80 percent of respondents to the survey said automation will dominate the logistics industry in the
next half decade. Even more relevant, 61 percent of MHI survey respondents indicated that they view robotics and automation of warehouse materials handling equipment as either a disruption or an advantage in the supply chain industry. For comparison’s sake, 39 percent of respondents to the 2015 MHI survey reported this view on robotics and automation.

According to the survey respondents and other research, using current logistics methods in urban areas is unsustainable. Sorting robots that use flights and pushers within a small warehouse footprint, such as in a tight-spaced urban setting, will maximize efficiency. Small unit robots in warehouses, like Amazon’s Kiva robots, and delivery botpods, like Skype founders’ new food delivery venture Starship Technologies, will be key to reducing congestion and gaining efficiencies both inside and outside the warehouse. In addition to well-known retailers like Amazon and Skechers, at Under Armour’s manufacturing facility, humans and robots already work alongside one another, to a much greater extent than at most other manufacturing facilities. Technological disruptions are generally considered positive for industries. However, for those in the materials handling workforce, a robotic disruption could seem  threatening.

We want to help assuage those concerns about potential diminishing warehouse job openings. Instead, warehouse employees should look forward to easier physical labor, less stress and more intellectual stimulation on the job. Robots can take the pressure off of warehouses and 3PLs during seasonal surges. Robots can take shifts during the hottest or coldest parts of the day and drastically reduce the amount of walking humans need to do on a daily basis picking orders throughout the warehouse.

A New York Times Magazine article published the week of Feb. 23, 2017, emphasized that most robots working alongside humans in warehouses are not eerily human-like, but machine-esque. The reporter implied it is less unsettling to work alongside machines than it would be to work alongside animatronic bots. In this observation, the Times addresses and then debunks a common fear: that robots will replace all human workers. Materials handlers should rest assured that there will always be work that needs to be done by humans, namely work that requires observing and anticipating needs in social situations and work that demands emotional intelligence. Customer service situations, like communicating with a major manufacturer about space needs and limitations, inventory shortages or damage, still require abundant human interaction and interference.

Moreover, a Los Angeles Times article published Dec. 4, 2016, points out that, while fewer warehousing jobs are being added for materials handling tasks, the new job positions pay more, due to the higher skill set required to monitor automated lift equipment. In the coming years, new automation technology should create approximately 15 million jobs, according to Forrester, a research firm. With
these new jobs come important consideration factors. For example, lights-out automation would be much more possible with robots, creating a new set of safety considerations, such as creating adaptive zones, complying with new regulations and providing both bots and humans with clear instructions on how to operate within the designated zones.

Has your organization implemented automated lift technologies yet? How much have you saved in operational efficiencies and utility bills? (Automated lift trucks can work in the dark.) The future is now

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