Bob Giberson, Principal of PeakLogix, recently sat down with Victor Hoerst, President/Owner of Logistics Connections, LLC to discuss his experience, current technology features and trends within the industry.
Victor Hoerst is responsible for sales & marketing activities in the North America market connecting industry supply chain solutions to clients with an emphasis on food, beverage, CPG and grocery retail end users. The manufacturers he currently represents are Palomat and Qubiqa. Prior to beginning Logistics Connections in 2008, Mr. Hoerst had a robust career in the material handling industry enjoying employment with key players such as SwissLog and Witron.
An interesting technology application Mr. Hoerst has implemented into client facilities such as: General Mills, Proctor Gamble, Kroger, and SUPERVALU is the Qubiqa Layer Picker. Additionally, the Qubiqa Layer Picker Flex-R was developed about a year ago and combines materials handling with robotics. Reducing the height and weight of the machinery to make it compatible with existing robotic arm technology has resulted in one of the most robust machines available to pick up a layer off of a pallet.
This new technology uses a patented, low-vacuum chamber principle to gently and safely lift one pallet layer at a time. The Qubiqa Layer Picker Flex-R can effectively pick up 98% of the products found in a typical retail sector environment. The adaptability of the Qubiqa Layer Picker Flex-R’s technology is critical for the retail sector because they don’t necessarily know what the pallet configuration will be. Each layer could include diverse products with varying surfaces like loose products, six packs of bottled beverages or smooth cartons.
Some of the industry trends Mr. Hoerst shared with Mr. Giberson during the interview include:
- Automation in the warehouse is not a dirty word any more.
- Automation in Distribution Centers is beginning to catch up.
- Manufacturing has had automation for decades; whereas the warehouse has the same old processes from decades ago.
- The gap between technologies in the distribution center vs. manufacturing facilities is closing.
As the economy improves, we can expect to see:
- Manual labor jobs affected – i.e., 20 order selectors will be replaced by 3 mechanics.
- There will be an increased demand for technical maintenance skills to keep automation running.