mature and improve visibility into product status and
lead to improved food safety, optimized ordering and
fulfillment, and enhanced labor efficiency. Meanwhile
in-store, Dan Tafaro, national account manager for
grocery at Orbis Corp., based in Oconomowoc, Wis.,
expects to see innovation that allows restocking to happen in an instant.
“Consumers expect more immediate service and
are less willing to wait for a product to be restocked or
found,” he says. “Therefore, it is important for retailers
to find ways to quicken this process. As soon as a base
or section of bulk items—such as soda, bottled water,
bakery, dairy products and the traditional refrigerated
cases—are empty, they must be refilled to avoid a missed
purchase opportunity. However, these items in some
cases are not quick to restock. Products that allow goods
to be refilled almost instantly have already been intro-
duced, and we expect more mobile, interchangeable and
flexible solutions to come.”
To help Orbis offer the Pally, a reusable pallet dolly
combination that combines the mobility of a dolly with
the functionality of a static pallet. This feature allows
material to be rolled from a delivery truck directly to
the aisle with only one touch point. When combined
with a racking system, the Pally is designed to transform
into an in-aisle shopper-ready endcap or point-of-pur-
chase display, alleviating the need for retail associates to
restock products. It also helps in picking and fulfilling
material and enables staging of e-commerce products
designated for store pickup.
Dhaneshwar says the “last-mile” in grocery home delivery is one of the most challenging aspects of the business model. Retailers are finding out that the final
part of the supply chain needs a lot of improvement to
address the complex customer interaction needs around
product delivery, product substitution, returns management and so forth.
“By leveraging a combination of superior devices,
improved visibility, Io T and structural arrangements
with last mile delivery service providers, companies can
provide a vastly superior customer experience that drives
growth for the home shopping segment,” he says.
That would be welcome news, says Ryan, who says
online grocery has slow pick-up sales because many
supermarket chains simply digitize grocery products
without prioritizing the differing purchase decision-making and psychology of digital buyers.
Improving Material Handling with
In its 2016 Productivity Benchmarking Report, the Food
Marketing Institute (FMI) stressed the need for companies
to “innovate to stay ahead” in material handling. To that end,
much of the recent innovation has focused on technology.
“As new, lower-cost sensors and other advancements in
technology are introduced, automation will expand to a wider
range of forklift applications in warehousing and distribution,”
says Andy Smith, director, marketing product management
for Crown Equipment Corp., based in New Bremen, Ohio.
He notes that big data applications within the warehouse
are already providing managers with information they need to
make better business decisions and improve the bottom line.
Because of its role and proximity to warehouse activity, the
forklift is one of the primary data collectors in the warehouse.
“For that reason, we are moving toward a connected warehouse in which the forklift is not only a roving sensor that
reaches parts of the warehouse no other system is reaching, but is also a hub that collects data from various other
devices, acts on this data, and consolidates and analyzes it
for other systems,” he says.
Another area of opportunity is in data integration. With
enterprise resource planning, warehouse management systems and forklift fleet management, the systems are in place
to collect and analyze data about product movement across
the supply chain. As organizations begin to integrate these
systems, Smith says forklift fleet management will prove to
be a vital link in tracking product movement.
Tasks that require the operator to get on and off the truck
multiple times in the same aisle to pick product may be good
candidates for automation, according to Smith. Technologies
such as Crown’s QuickPick Remote order picking system,
which gives the operator the ability to control the vehicle
from the aisle, are designed to boost operator productivity
while minimizing the impact of the limitations imposed by the
current state of the technology.
“The vehicle does not require a high degree of intelligence
since the operator, who is in close proximity to the vehicle, is
controlling it remotely,” he says.