OSHA Asks for Help

Some industry groups were happy recently when they learned the National Safety Council had abandoned its role as overseer of a 13-year effort to draft ergonomics guidelines for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Before this announcement, the fear was that OSHA would start fining companies that didn’t follow ANSI guidelines. These guidelines would have filled the void left when OSHA’s attempt to enact mandatory ergonomics rules was defeated by Congress.

OSHA is now embarking on a new approach to establish workplace safety. It is approaching industries to promote voluntary guidelines. The material handling industry is on OSHA’s dance card.

At the recent annual meeting of Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA), Mario Feletto, of the California OSHA Consultation Service, Research and Education Unit, presented a set of ergonomic guidelines for manual material handling. He asked manufacturers present for input.

Feletto acknowledged that the Federal OSHA standard was too long and was seen as either too restrictive or not protective enough, depending on who was talking. Now, OSHA’s focus is on improvements, not problems. That’s why the Ergonomic Assist Systems and Equipment (EASE) council of MHIA was OSHA’s point of contact.

Feletto asked that EASE partner with OSHA to further develop its manual material handling guidelines. The draft document presented to the group includes a discussion of why these guidelines are needed, how to look for clues as to which tasks are causing problems, how to prioritize jobs, how to make informed improvement choices, and how to manage trial periods and appropriate follow-up procedures. EASE members were asked to flesh out the skeleton of this document to best represent the needs of their customers who perform manual material handling.

For more information on how EASE intends to work with OSHA on establishing workplace guidelines, contact Bobbie Curtis, managing executive, at (704) 676-1190, or e-mail, bcurtis@mhia.org.

Airport Implements RFID Tagging

McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas, announced a contract with Matrics Inc., a pioneer in the advanced development and standardization of low-cost, high-performance, UHF Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) smart label technology, to supply RFID tags for use in tracking passenger bags as part of the airport’s ongoing commitment to improving customer safety. The new system, operational in 2004, is designed to automatically track all passenger bags through in-line explosive detection and screening equipment, ensuring safe passage for the airport’s millions of customers.

Using RFID tags can ensure nearly 100 percent accuracy in tracking baggage and supports the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA’s) objective to screen all passenger baggage. “This becomes a win for all concerned: the traveler, the airport, the TSA and the airline,” says Randall H. Walker, director of aviation, McCarran International Airport, “by reducing the incidence of lost or mishandled bags while ensuring screened bags are delivered to the right place at the right time.”

FKI Logistex will provide the system architecture and integration under a separate agreement. The new, automated system will provide McCarran with end-to-end baggage visibility. RFID tags will be printed and attached at the ticket counter or curbside. Each tag will carry a unique identifier and will be read while the bag is being transported on conveyors to route them to the appropriate screening machines and then to the specific plane for flight.

Under the terms of the five-year contract, Matrics will supply nearly 100 million passive, non-battery UHF disposable tags. The value of the contract, including the RFID infrastructure for the new baggage-handling facility, is approximately $25 million. This is one of the largest single orders ever placed for RFID technology and the largest for a security application and will, according to Walker, “reflect the commitment we have towards improving the safety and service satisfaction of our customers.”

Matrics has been active in supporting the various requirements of airports and airlines for tracking assets with a technology platform that can be used for multiple applications. “We are committed to providing complete solutions with our business partners to bring a new level of visibility and security to our customers,” says John Shoemaker, vice president, corporate development for Matrics.

Shoemaker continued, “Matrics is especially proud to work with the team at McCarran International Airport to create a showcase that will clearly demonstrate how RFID technology can improve visibility, accuracy and security in baggage operations — all while reducing operational costs and increasing customer satisfaction. Future applications using the same platform can include passenger boarding passes, carry-on items, vehicle parking, traveler loyalty, air cargo and more.”

Security Takes Center Stage

At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Bangkok, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell electronically unlocked and held up the Savi SmartSeal sensor system device before world government and industry leaders. The product is at the core of a cargo security solution being deployed worldwide, including the STAR-Best program between the Port of Laem Chabang in Bangkok and Port of Seattle that’s supported by the U.S. National Trade and Development Agency. Following a demonstration of the electronic sensor security solution by Savi Technology, Secretary Powell held up the radio frequency identification (RFID) device that automatically detects and alerts users whenever a cargo container has been tampered with. The device also provides real-time information on the shipment’s location, which enhances supply chain productivity, efficiency and predictability.

The STAR-Best project, which includes the two ports, uses RFID and support software to demonstrate a trans-Pacific, end-to-end supply chain security system between Thailand and the United States, using proven technologies as a model for broader application throughout the 21-nation APEC region.

MHEDA Elects New President

Loren G. Swakow, vice president, Scott Lift Truck Corporation, Elk Grove Village, Illinois, has been elected the 50th president of the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA, www.mheda.org). Swakow graduated from Carthage College, Kenosha, WI, and did his MBA work at Northern Illinois University. He joined Scott Lift Truck in 1977 when it was a small independent dealership with only eight employees. Scott Lift Truck now serves customers in 38 states.

Swakow says one of the most important things in business is to live your mission. Scott Lift Truck’s mission statement is “to continually improve our customers’ productivity and profitability by providing quality products and quality service.”

Scott Lift Truck Corporation, (www.scottlift.com) has been a Komatsu lift truck dealer serving the Chicagoland area for the past 20 years.

MHEDA is an international trade association dedicated to improving the proficiency of independent material handling equipment distributors. MHEDA represents nearly 700 companies in the material handling equipment business.

Bar Code Label Software Study

Off-the-shelf packaged bar code label generation software (sold separately or bundled with hardware) accounted for nearly 80 percent of bar code industry revenues in 2002. However, by 2007, this percentage is expected to decrease as integration into complex systems and a lack of flexibility drives users toward custom solutions.

In a recent study by Venture Development Company, almost 50 percent of bar code label generation software end-user respondents indicated that some degree of customization was needed to meet specific system and application needs. While the amount of software customization varied from end user to end user, the average amount required by surveyed respondents was roughly 45 percent. In addition, the largest percent of respondents cited that the amount of customization would remain the same, followed by a significant share of end users that expect the amount of customization to increase.

When asked about the need to customize their bar code label generation software, users cited the following reasons:

--smooth integration with other applications such as ERP and WMS without sacrificing any of the software’s features and functionality;

--keeping up with continuously changing compliance standards;

--software and system performance;

--maintaining proprietary printer control and language code.

Mike Liard, senior AIDC/RFID analyst, offers this advice to vendors: “Software vendors could benefit by offering the support needed to customize solutions through partnerships with hardware manufacturers, large systems providers/integrators, their own in-house technical staff, or from agreements with value-added distribution partners.”

Awards Announced by MHEFI

The Material Handling Education Foundation Inc. (MHEFI), has announced the establishment of a new scholarship program, named in honor of Robert R. Reisinger. It was established to honor Reisinger’s long and dedicated career upon the announcement of his retirement.

Reisinger is a published engineer and has been a speaker and instructor at various technical conferences, as well as established universities. He holds a patent for a specialized crane device.

The foundation also announced the winner of the 2003 MHEFI Reed-Apple Award, Dr. Leon McGinnis. For more than 30 years McGinnis has worked in areas related to material handling, most of which has been spent as a professor in the Industrial and Systems Engineering department, Georgia Institute of Technology.

The 2003 MHEFI Norman L. Cahners Award was presented to William Powell, president Powell Systems Inc., Youngstown, Ohio. Powell was elected to the board of directors of MHEF in 1991. He and his company have the distinction of being the only continuous contributor to the MHEF’s scholarship program since 1978, its first year of solicitation for support of scholarships.

Ergonomics Guidelines Revised

The Ergonomic Design Guidelines for Engineers manual, published by Humantech (www.humantech.com) has been revised to include new and improved assessment methods, software and tools. The new 333-page manual, including a compact disc toolbox, offers manufacturing and production engineers a reference for managing risk, reducing injuries and improving productivity by incorporating ergonomic guidelines into the design and selection of workstations and equipment.

The publication features new and updated sections on arm and hand forces, hand tools, manual material handling and workstation heights and distances. According to Mike Wynn, vice president, the publication “combines easy-to-use ergonomic assessment methods, simple and innovative productivity impact tools that can be translated into compelling return on investment statements, and detailed ergonomic design guidelines — everything an engineer needs to optimize human performance.”

WERC Names New Executive

Robert Shaunnessey has been named executive director for the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC). Shaunnessey was a founder and partner with Sterling Logistics. Before that, he served as president and CEO of Records Management Services and served as president of Midwest Distribution for ITEL-GATX, and as executive vice president, finance and administration for DSC Logistics.

Task Force to Study Reusable Pallets, Security

The Reusable Pallet and Container Coalition (RPCC) has established two task forces, one to study the impact of reusable pallets and a second to examine secure supply chain management. RPCC named Jon Holthaus of Worthington Steelpac Inc. to chair the task force on reusable pallets. The creation of this ground-breaking task force is in direct response to an overwhelming interest in pallets, regardless of material, in the North American business community, says Allan Wasserman, president, RPCC.

The task force will examine the economic, environmental and safety benefits created by the re-use of pallets of any material.

“The establishment of this committee is a logical outgrowth of the dramatic increase in awareness of reusable pallets and their ability to reduce solid waste, costs in fees, storage space, handling labor and incineration,” said Wasserman.

Phil Boyle of Savi Technology will chair the task force on supply chain security established by the RPCC. The creation of this task force is in direct response to overwhelming interest in supply chain security at all levels in the American and global business communities. This task force will examine the economic benefits and safety issues of secure supply chain management, from the grower and manufacturer to the retailer.

London Office For Agency

A.B. Isacson Associates Inc., a global leader in business-to-business marketing public relations for industrial and high technology sectors, announced the opening of a European office in London. The new office provides strategic and more personalized support to European clients.

The 23-year old agency, which was recently named a top 50 marketing agency by BtoB Magazine, provides comprehensive public relations marketing services in North and South America, Europe and Asia for numerous packaging and material handling clients.

The new office is headed by Alicia Colligan, European manager at ABI who manages key international accounts for the agency.

Glossary of Supply Chain Terminology

Industrial Data and Information Inc. announces the publication of Glossary of Supply Chain Terminology For Logistics, Manufacturing, Warehousing, and Technology, a resource for professionals in the supply chain field.

This glossary is for experienced professionals in supply chain software, operations, logistics or warehousing. There are thousands of acronyms that exist within this industry. This handbook takes the mystery out of those and explains what they mean.

Both new and experienced professionals are challenged to know the many industry terms used in warehousing, transportation, computers, EDI, government, manufacturing, standards, business and with various organizations.

Philip Obal, president, Industrial Data and Information, says, “Most glossaries are intended for a single industry, but a supply chain expert must have robust knowledge in multiple industries. This glossary is a multi-industry glossary and helps the system integrators, IT staff, consultants, executives, new users and expert users.”

Reviews of the glossary, in addition to the table of contents and the book cover image, are available on IDII’s website, www.IDII.com/gsct_info.htm.

Associations Making News

Longtime industry expert, Tom Miller, has been named chairman of the board for AIM Inc., the global trade association representing the automatic identification and data collection industry. Miller, executive vice president, Intermec Technologies Corporation, succeeds Keith Bothmann to a two-year term.

AIM has also named Dan Mullen president of AIM Global. Mullen previously had served as interim president of the worldwide automatic identification industry group. Mullen, who helped steer the association to its new global perspective and membership structure, said he looks forward to further growth of the organization.

APICS, an international inventory and supply chain management educational organization, announced a strategic relationship with Accenture to develop online courses that support the Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) review process. The CPIM review courses enhance Accenture’s Supply Chain Academy by providing global supply chain professionals and organizations with access to quality production and inventory management education.

ANSI Standards for Monorails Released

The Monorail Manufacturers Association Inc. (MMA), www.mhia.org/mma, an affiliate of Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA), has released two approved American National Standards Institute (ANSI) specifications. Specifications for Enclosed Track Underhung Cranes and Monorail Systems is new information. Specifications for Patented Track Underhung Cranes and Monorail Systems is a revision of the previous standard. MMA sponsored these standards in the interest of improved uniformity of patented track and enclosed track underhung crane and monorail performance and enhanced public safety.

Sealed Air Seeing Stars

Sealed Air announced that its Korrvu retention packaging and Cryovac Simple Steps heat-and-serve packaging have won awards for packaging excellence in the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP), 2003 AmeriStar Package Awards Competition. Korrvu retention packaging was acknowledged for its engineered protective package designed for Replacements Ltd. Cryovac Simple Steps heat-and-serve package was honored for technology in the Food Category. The IoPP judges recognized the Sealed Air packages based on design innovation, protection, economics, performance, marketing and environmental impact.

Pallets and Logistics Strategy

Pallets are about as basic to material handling as it gets. With increasing recognition of the important relationship of pallet strategy and supply chain optimization, interest in pallets is increasingly making its way from the loading dock to the board room. Pallets: A North American Perspective is a new book for material handling and logistics professionals interested in upgrading their knowledge of important pallet-related topics. This 197-page book, written by veteran logistics and pallet industry analyst Rick LeBlanc, along with Stewart Richardson, president of Thomco Material Handling, covers three major topics in detail: the use and history of pallets; options for designing the right pallet for a particular application; and the rapidly growing trend toward pallet rental and management. For more information or to order, visit www.pactsmgt.com.

Leo Clement

Leo Clement, Eastern Canada regional manager for Orion Packaging, succumbed to cancer in October. Clement, a long time resident of Ottburn Park, Quebec, was a veteran of the stretch wrapping industry for more than 25 years.

Automation Market to Exceed $30 Billion

The overall future of automation products serving the discrete industries looks bright over a five-year period, according to a new ARC Advisory Group study. The total automation business to worldwide discrete industries is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 6.1 percent over the next five years. The market is forecasted to be more than $30 billion in 2007.

With a bottoming of the economy and changing user perspectives on automation and collaborative manufacturing, ARC anticipates the overall automation market growth will continue. “There are still many pockets of reliable growth in the discrete automation business,” says Senior Analyst Himanshu Shah, the principal author of ARC’s Total Automation Business for the Discrete Industries Worldwide Outlook. Industries such as building automation, electronics and semiconductor, automotive and plastic machinery will continue to perform well, adds Shah.

Discrete industries will grow despite the recent slowdown. ARC research found that a number of factors will drive the growth in discrete industries:

--The average performance for manufacturing plants across many industries can be raised to a much higher level using better controls.

-- Effective use of modern automation technology presents a major opportunity for manufacturers to increase productivity and reduce costs to stay competitive.

The continuous advancements in semiconductor and electronic products will remain an impetus behind automation product revenue growth. Additionally, automotive manufacturers, facing fierce global competition, will expand adoption of advanced automation technologies in more areas to reduce unit cost and increase quality. The high cost of energy will also drive increased use of automation products in building automation and manufacturing plants in general.

Major automation suppliers are battered in this challenging time as they try to win customers. Global competition and downward pricing pressures have eroded margins and reduced revenues for suppliers. Progressive suppliers, however, are offering more services and broader solutions to offset the decline in revenues. They are augmenting their deliverables and enhancing functionality to meet the expanding needs of users.

Top tier companies are firmly establishing themselves by making significant investments in developing facilities outside their home countries. In addition to global sales and support capabilities, these foreign facilities typically include highly technical staff to support new projects, local industry expertise, fully skilled trainers, logistic center, customer service center, and web-enabled support structure. Additional information on this study can be found at: www.arcweb.com/res/tadww.

New Tech Center Opens

Witron recently opened the doors to WITEC, a technology center at its headquarters in Germany. This project was designed and realized within six months, a true benchmark of rapid implementation.

Witron has created a showcase of its picking systems in a running environment, including installed warehouse management systems, PLCs, conveyors, cranes and racking. Existing systems, like DPS (Dynamic Picking System), and OPS (Order Picking System), as well as cutting-edge picking systems for case picking and break picking are presented.

The WITEC benefits for customers are manifold: Visitors can see the latest innovations in picking technology, live. Secondly, customers can test and confirm these systems fit their business requirements. Furthermore, customers can verify the feasibility of various picking processes with their own products and with their own staff at WITEC. And finally, colleges and students worldwide are invited to experience this cutting-edge technology firsthand.

Siemens Center of Competence

Siemens Energy and Automation has announced the opening of its Chemical and Pharmaceutical Center of Competence, based in Spring House, Pennsylvania, focusing on working more intimately with international and national chemical and pharmaceutical companies based in the United States.

Paul Camuti was named vice president, Chemical and Pharmaceuticals CoC. He also will continue as general manager, Process Automation Systems.

“Our success in using this approach in food and beverage and automotive shows that focusing on an industry segment — and developing technical concepts and solutions specific to it — results in greater understanding of customer requirements and excellent value propositions for those customers,” said Aubert Martin, president of Siemens Energy and Automation.

WERC Guide to Storage Systems

The Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) has published an updated edition of A Complete Guide to Pallet Storage Systems. This long-time best seller is the perfect primer for determining how best to combine storage type and equipment to optimize the efficiency of your facility. The publication details the various factors to consider and provides charts, graphs and examples to illustrate how to apply the information to your operations.

“Selecting the right storage system can reduce a company’s overall investment in building and equipment, while keeping operating costs low,” says M. Geoffrey Sisko, senior vice president and principal with Gross & Associates and one of the authors. “This guide explains the types of unit loads, types of storage modules and types of material handling equipment. Most importantly, the guide illustrates how to perform a comparative analysis to determine the optimal solution for your particular application.”

Copies of the Complete Guide to Pallet Storage Systems (37 pages, ISBN 1-892663-28-7) are available for $44 for non-members and $22 for WERC members . Order through the Web site at www.werc.org or call (630) 990-0001.