working gear

May 01, 2001 9:30 PM  By

Pick It Up

Imagine having picking accuracy guaranteed 100%. Westbrook, ME-based FastPic Systems claims that its new FastPic4 advanced inventory management and control software delivers perfect picking accuracy, allowing users to see actual pictures of inventory during the picking process to verify accuracy.

This imaging capability displays a thumbnail photograph of the product being picked as part of a standard picking dialog screen. Users of the system can enlarge the photo using the zoom function for close-up inspection. Also, this feature can be used as a method of visually checking inventory to confirm proper item storage.

FastPic4′s photo inventory feature can be employed in point-of-use programs such as assembly operations and bag-and-tag applications. Additionally, the software can serve as a training tool to help new employees familiarize themselves with stored items used in assembly and manufacturing operations and to identify parts that look alike.

FastPic4 is designed to manage the vast majority of all manual and automated storage and retrieval systems, including horizontal carousels, vertical storage devices, and shelving, rack, and pick-to-light systems.

The software runs on Windows 95, 98, NT, and 2000, supports any TCP/IP network, and is SQL/OBDC-enabled for easier and faster database connections. It also includes Internet-based help and technical support, with software updates and downloads. For more information on FastPic4 software, call (207) 854-8663 or visit FastPic Systems on the Web at www.FastPicSystems.com.

Fly Like the Wind

Ever have more business than you can handle? Are you maxed out on order capacity because of limited pick, pack, and ship capability? The Wind Sorter, from Germantown, WI-based Professional Control Corporation (PCC), may help.

Unlike sortation systems that employ numerous mechanical devices that require cumbersome maintenance, the Wind Sorter uses air knives to label and divert products at very high speeds. A single in-feed operator stages the product at an automated induction point, unlike the much slower pick-and-turn method. A bar code reader array with read rates of nearly 100% identifies products.

The Wind Sorter also has a high-speed label applicator, which can accommodate a number of labels and apply a label while an opposing force of air holds the product in place. After the product is labeled, wind then diverts it into containers.

For more information, contact Bob Dumke, president of PCC, at (262) 251-3000.

Up, Down, and Around

The MediaStation 125 vertical rotary storage system, developed by Marietta, OH-based MegaStar Systems, makes it easier to keep track of records in warehouses. The MediaStation can occupy 50%-60% less floor space than traditional filing cabinets to hold the same number of files because its design incorporates vertical rotating carriers — controlled by an electronic keypad — that take advantage of unused overhead space.

System capacity is over 2,700 linear file inches of letter-sized filing space (equivalent to approximately 27 standard file cabinets). The system, which features roll-out file drawers, can be configured to handle a variety of media, including hanging letter and legal files, computer tapes, microfilm, card indexes, boxes, and optical disks.

The system design is fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and OSHA regulations. The MediaStation 125 is available in multiple widths and depths and in a wide range of standard and custom colors to handle virtually any records management application. Basic unit costs range from $10,000 to $30,000.

For further information, call Christina Hilligoss at (800) 639-5805, ext. 168, or visit www.MegaStarSystems.com.

Make It Pay

Expbank.com, a new online bank based in New Castle, DE, offers a direct link between merchant accounts and operating account reporting functions for clients of Electronic Payment Exchange (EPX), epxbank.com’s parent company. EPX allows merchant clients to accept credit card, debit card, and electronic check transactions.

The new service will allow merchants to audit credit card and ACH deposits, chargebacks, returns, and fees online and to reconcile bank accounts and payment processing activity in real time. Clients can log in to expbank.com directly from the EPX Web site. For further information, visit www.epx.com.

Leaping Lizards

FrogJazz, in Huntsville, AL, has developed FrogDial, a Web-based, interactive phone menu that can reduce corporate expenses and customers’ frustration with standard, phone-based customer service by publishing a company’s interactive voice response menu (IVR) on the Web. Customers who visit online can follow on-screen menu prompts or place a regular phone call at any point to speak with a live agent.

FrogDial software essentially makes the “Contact Us” page of a company’s Web site into a customer service portal. The program ties together various low-cost Web channels, including IVR phone menus, Web site links, e-mail, and online text chat. FrogDial automatically routes callers to skill-based agent groups, saving time for the customer and toll charges and agent transfers for the company.

A drag-and-drop interface allows contact center managers to develop a contact page without HTML programming skills or help from the IT department. FrogJazz won a “Best of Show” award from Customer Support Management magazine at the 2001 Call Center and CRM Solutions Conference & Exposition in Dallas. For more information, visit www.frogjazz.com, or contact Jay Elshaug, director of marketing, at (256) 704-0555, ext. 118.

Ready to Go

Any company looking to start up a warehouse or distribution operation is likely to run into a maze of complex issues ranging from site selection to financing to design. Advance Storage Products, based in Huntington Beach, CA, recently introduced its revamped Web site, www.advancestorage.com, to help warehouse operators develop the most economical and efficient solution to their storage needs. Advance’s methodology is based on the principle that no single warehouse configuration will suit every need. Through systematic analysis, Advance examines numerous alternatives to find the best individual storage solution.

Advance Storage Products’ Web site features a warehouse design calculator that “helps visitors help themselves” during the initial budgeting phase of warehousing projects. The site will provide cost estimates for installing major rack configurations in an existing building or for sizing a building for putting in a rack system. Also, the site will supply descriptions of various rack systems, as well as discussion of their advantages and limitations.

The “Phases of warehouse design” area of the Web site is divided into four sections: rough space planning and budgeting, detailed space planning, partner selection, and implementation information. The design area includes a description of terms and a sample output of warehouse budget analysis.

For more information, visit www.advancestorage.com.

Sortation Starvation

When Sears, Roebuck and Co. recently installed a new, high-capacity hanging garment sortation machine for its Fashion Distribution Center in Columbus, OH, the trolley system already in place was unable to deliver sufficient merchandise to the DC induction stations to keep from starving the sorters and lowering hourly throughput.

In response, material handling systems integrator SDI Industries of Pacoima, CA, developed a trolley-less handling system that incorporates a super-slippery polytube extrusion mounted on an aluminum rail section. A polytube power system moves product on plastic or metal hangers over long horizontal distances and up inclines of 15°. The trolley-less system can support 225-position, high-speed hanging garment sortation machines capable of sustained throughput in excess of 12,000 garments per hour through a single induction station.

The trolley-less handling system has potential applications for receiving, processing, storage, automatic distribution and consolidation, and shipping for garment-on-hanger apparel in brick-and-mortar retail, manufacturing, and e-commerce. For further information, contact Dick Ursitti at dursitti@sdiindustries.com.

Pack It In

Automation has now come to the protective packaging market via Concord Township-based Ranpak Corp. Ranpak has recently introduced PAL (Packaging Automated Logistics), which uses networked, Windows-based software enabling companies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of packing and shipping operations.

The PAL software integrates with Ranpak’s AutoPad machines, which convert rolls of multi-ply kraft paper into lightweight cushions that protect almost any product shipped in a box. The software maintains a centralized packing instruction database shared by packing workstations in one or more locations. The PC displays detailed specifications to operators on how to pack individual items as they come down the line; it then prompts the converter to generate the appropriate PadPak pads.

The standard-based PAL system is able to exchange data with compatible warehouse management or ERP systems. The network architecture is server-based, allowing the system to run on a single PC or a dedicated network, or reside on a customer’s existing network. For more information, call (800) 726-7257 or visit www.ranpak.com.

Hire and Hire

In an economic climate as volatile as today’s, hiring and keeping stellar employees is becoming more and more essential to success, but finding qualified workers is a formidable challenge. Atlanta-based Fitability Systems has introduced an online assessment and interviewing system called Fitability for Employers, which offers marketing companies job matching and selection tools with no up-front fees, software licenses, or training required.

“We remove many of the hiring and retention roadblocks companies face today in a tight labor market with mergers, acquisitions, and downsizing in the marketing industry,” says Fitability Systems chairman and CEO James R. Campbell. “Companies seeking new employees can simply have them log onto the Internet and start doing ‘twenty-first century HR’ over the Web today.”

Fitability allows marketing organizations to evaluate potential employees while lowering recruiting and training costs. The program helps predict a candidate’s job performance and satisfaction, which in turn lead to greater productivity and lower turnover. Companies can evaluate candidates online in less than 20 minutes each.

The service is based on five years of research and 130,000 participants, incorporating a library of more than 750 personality profiles and job descriptions. These profiles give employers access to skill, experience, training, and education requirements, allowing companies to compare their staffing needs to the job profiles selected. Fitability has a résumé, income history, and notes section, allowing companies to track thousands of candidates with relative ease. The service includes face-to-face interview guides and job-specific questions to make the final interview process straightforward and consistent for candidates.

For more information, call (770) 730-5950 or visit http://www.fitability.com/pr.