Material Handling's Premiere EventNA2004

New venue, plenty of new products and more information than ever are just the beginning for NA2004 — The Material Handling & Logistics Show and Conference.

by Clyde E. Witt, executive editor, and Alex J. Koleszar, managing editor

It's time to think spring! NA2004 is only a couple months away so here is a first, brief look at what you can expect in Cleveland beginning March 29. Full show and conference information, as well as registration, can be found at www.NA2004.org.

The supply chain is many things to many people. For everyone it represents an opportunity to excel. Keynote speaker Steve Banker, service director, supply chain management, ARC Advisory Group, says operational excellence is actually a journey, not just a destination.

"Supply chains are complex systems of interdependent processes," says Banker. "Recognizing this, supply chain management professionals have been implementing a broad set of planning and execution systems to gain more control of their processes."

Banker will expand on this point and share with the audience, during his keynote address, the findings from ARC's Operational Excellence for Supply Chain Management study. "Supply chain performance can be measured in terms of four key characteristics," says Banker. "Average performance, variability in performance, synchronization and responsiveness to change."

Banker will speak on Monday, March 29 in the opening session of the conference, entitled "Frontiers of Operational Excellence Across the Extended Enterprise," moderated by Sandy Towle, director, strategic advisory services, ARC Advisory Group.

Operational Excellence (OpX) is an approach-to-business term coined by ARC Advisory Group. The term explains a journey of continuous improvement as applied to all aspects of the supply chain. Among the keynote speakers offering examples of the measures taken to apply state-of-the-art material handling and information flow technologies are executives from a broad range of industries.

Also speaking at Monday's opening keynote session will be Steve Hunter, director operations logistics, Philip Morris USA; Fred Berkheimer, vice president, logistics, HPC, NA; and Fredrich Keglowich, manager, division of industrial sensors, SICK AG.

Countdown to 2005

Tuesday's opening program is entitled "RFID Update 2004: 9 Months & Counting." It will feature the most current information regarding the edict issued by Wal-Mart that its top-tier suppliers adopt RFID by January 2005. This exclusive forum is dedicated to presenting the basics of RFID and to sharing the most current technical developments and applications.

The program will again be moderated by Sandy Towle, director, strategic advisory services, ARC Advisory Group. He will moderate Wednesday's program as well.

The panel of experts for this forum includes John Hill, principal, ESYNC; Michael E. DiYeso, executive vice president and COO, Uniform Code Council Inc.; Guillermo Gutierrez, marketing and commerce manager, International Paper; and Christopher White, IT supply chain leader, The Stanley Works.

Experts agree that the breakthrough Electronic Product Code (EPC) has enormous potential to transform the supply chain...but when? In this session, Michael DiYeso, COO, Uniform Code Council (UCC), will explain why standards will be critical in moving EPC from the research phase into real-world supply chain applications. Di- Yeso will present an overview of the various initiatives currently underway at EPCglobal, the joint venture formed by the UCC and EAN International to commercialize EPC technology on a worldwide basis. Attendees will learn about plans for initial EPC applications and the supply chain benefits industries will be able to achieve using this technology under a common system of global standards. If you are considering using EPC technology at your company, this presentation will provide clarity, practical real world advice, and a standards roadmap to help you unlock the full value of EPC technology.

Securing global trade

Since September 11, 2001, the topic of logistics security has dominated publications such as this as well as many conferences. Legislation and industry-led initiatives have been launched, along with new products and services, to create seamless security in the global supply chain. To bring some enlightenment and understanding to these initiatives, MHIA has assembled an unprecedented panel of experts. Adrian Gonzalez, director, logistics executive council, ARC Advisory Group, will share his expertise in international trade and extensive research background in trade security. Joining him will be Philip J. Murray, founding governor and chairman, The Maritime Security Council; Robert E. Perez, director, Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Barry O'Brian, director, global trade and customs, Hasbro Inc.; and Edward M. Emmett, president, TranSystems Advisors.

RFID implementation

With more than 50 seminars focused on virtually every aspect of material handling, you're certain to find an expert addressing your current and future needs. All seminars take place on the show floor and are free.

Seating for the seminars is limited and you can bet those addressing RFID will fill quickly. Because RFID is a hot topic, there will be three sessions in as many days, covering nuts and bolts, as well as applications of the technology.

If you're thinking of implementing an RFID system, the best place to start is at the beginning. And to find the beginning, you have to understand where you are. Joe Jiner, director of business development, The Kennedy Group, will show you how to survey your current operations to determine if RFID is, in fact, right for you. "You have to know how to look at your application," says Jiner, "and to know what your needs are and what measurements to make. You need to know what information is, or is not, critical."

When you enter the RFID arena, you have to be able to speak the language. For help, attend the session offered by Michael Wohlwend, Manhattan Associates who will be speaking on "The Nuts and Bolts of RFID." "This session," says Wohlwend, "is designed to help the audience separate the hype of RFID from the reality." In this session, attendees can better educate themselves on RFID and understand the capabilities and limits of the technology. In addition, this session will touch upon industry standards initiatives and compliance requirements related to RFID.

Order selection

Sometimes putting all the material handling pieces together can be a challenge. If you want to learn how to optimize order selection and fulfillment, Tim Post, order fulfillment specialist, Siemens Dematic Material Handling Automation, says he will highlight the vast range of methods and technologies available. "We'll discuss smart information management and controls systems, pick-to-light, voice picking, RF picking carts, zone routing and much more," says Post. This seminar is designed to help your business establish the most appropriate order fulfillment strategy and type of technology to use for varying products and order profiles.

Want to know a secret? "Distribution's best-kept secret is how productivity management can drive unheard of benefits directly to the bottom line," says Dara Gault, RedPrairie. Speaking with Gene Gagnon, Gene Gagnon Consulting, Gault will tell us why labor remains the largest element of distribution costs in spite of huge investments in technology and equipment. "What many logistics professionals don't know," explains Gault, "is that today's advanced productivity management solutions combine powerful software support with improved operational methods, engineered standards and computerized goal setting to help companies significantly reduce these labor costs, while increasing employee retention, morale and safety."

Transport packaging

Your product is not out the door until it's out the door. If any facet of transport packaging is part of your job, you'll want to attend the half-dozen seminars targeted at material handling professionals also responsible for safe, timely shipping. Of particular interest, if you're looking for ways to ship odd-sized parts, will be the session presented by Joe Borer of Buckhorn. "Particularly with bulk containers," says Borer, "we can take our standard size containers and adapt those to different lengths or heights to better fit a particular product." He adds that creating a special mold is not cost-justified for the container manufacturer or the user. You'll learn how to get your products into reusable containers for less than you thought.

Warehouse management

Warehouse management systems are critical to the success of virtually every major retailer these days. Susan Rider, RedPrairie, says, "Although the ability of an advanced WMS to drive out cost and improve customer service has been proven, significant project problems or outright failure are not options when a company's order-to-cash cycle is on the line." To learn more about mission-critical WMS implementation, attend Rider's session to learn how to select the right WMS vendor and successful system deployment.

If the complexities of material handling have you thinking about using a consultant to unravel some of the mysteries, several members of the St. Onge Company will be speaking. Lloyd Morgan, principal, says, "Methods of identifying and prioritizing the most important functional and fiscally attractive aspects of an overall project or recommendation is the focus of this seminar." In the session "Capital Sharpshooting for Your Project," Morgan will also discuss the concept of focused technology applications versus complete "project-wide" applications.

Benchmarking Sean O'Neill, principal, will explain the "Essential Elements of Facility Audit and Benchmarking Studies." "How do you know when to audit and when to benchmark?" he asks. "Do you know how to differentiate between the two?" This session will discuss the purpose and approach for each; when and where the different approaches are used. An eight-point audit program as a case study in practical applications will also be presented.

And, for getting down to granular choices, Bryan Jensen, principal, will focus on the comparison of pick-versus-put paradigms for order fulfillment. Methods for defining which approach is appropriate, for what segment of the order profile and what automation and mechanization can be applied will be discussed.

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