Progressive Grocer - September 2017 - 111

Warehouse Management Systems

Supply Chain

A Warehouse

Space Odyssey
New technology is bringing a sci-fi spin to the back end of the retail supply chain.
By Jenny McTaggart

far ouT
New imagerbased scanning
devices can read
barcodes from up
to 70 feet away.

I

f someone made a science fiction film
about grocery warehousing, the scene
might look something like this: drones
flying through the air counting inventory,
automated guided vehicles taking contents
off trailers and putting them away, and lit-up tunnels equipped with RFID sensors, taking pristine
records of every perishable product that travels
through their dark confines.
This scenario might actually happen in the not-toodistant future, according to some of the grocery industry's warehousing technology pros. As well as exciting
new technology applications on the market, they cite
the promising integration of systems and technologies
already being combined to tackle two of the industry's
most pressing needs: accuracy and speed.
Today's own "warehouse space odyssey" features
voice technology, wearable technology, imager-based
scanners, and warehousing systems that tie into trans-

portation and labor management systems, as well as
retailers' ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems,
to offer the ultimate in visibility and planning.
"Accuracy and speed don't necessarily go
together," notes Tod Hummert, product manager,
warehouse and transportation systems for Duluth,
Ga.-based NCR Corp. "We typically have to put
more validation within our applications, but we try
to do it in a way that doesn't slow down the users
from a productivity standpoint. One of the ways
we do that is by using different technologies at the
same time."
One of NCR's recent developments in this arena is
a clever integration with pallet jacks, which is currently
being used by Associated Grocers, of Baton Rouge,
La., and Merchants Distributors (MDI), a wholesale
grocery store distributor based in Hickory, N.C.
"We worked with a forklift and pallet jack manufacturer to integrate voice in with the pallet jack,"
September 2017 | progressivegrocer.com |

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