Who in metro Detroit doesn’t remember the commercial where the owner of a certain eyeglass retail chain was seen dancing around telling us about purchasing “sexy specs”? Well, according to a recent article from DC Velocity “sexy specs” that give visual directions for order picking may be all the rage at 3PLs one day soon.
This article made me think about the changes to our technology and information systems in the 10 years I’ve been at Evans and while I wouldn’t say we are the earliest adopters of technology, we really have come a long way.
Back in 2001 I saw the implementation of the first Transportation Management System Evans ever had. Along with this system we implemented scanning of all paperwork/invoicing for all four of Evans’ trucking companies. At the time it was confusing and a big change, but totally worth it. I think we’ve probably saved a forest or two with the reduction in paper around here since then too. Next up for transportation will be the addition of in-cab mobile computing systems for our trucks, which will bring a whole new level of efficiency to our dispatch operations. I can’t wait to see this in action next month for the first time.
After completion of our TMS the focus shifted to our warehousing operations. I was witness to the chaos of converting to a new Warehouse Management System. A WMS is instrumental to a logistics company like us, and we had to change a lot to accommodate this new system. There are still things to this day that some will say the other system did better, but we gained a lot of flexibility to customize solutions for our customers, which has been imperative for our growth. We continue to invest in this system today, and now not only can customers see real-time inventory online, but they can pull their data into Excel and we’ve even integrated photos into some on-line inventory applications.
Another exciting innovation here at Evans came a couple of years ago when we converted a manual co-packing process for a large Wine & Spirits customer to a fully automated operation. We use less labor and package twice as fast as we used to with specially designed equipment for this contract packaging operation, which has saved both Evans and the customer time and money. Not to mention how cool it is to watch this line in action!
In an industry that I used to think was somewhat reluctant to change it really is amazing how far we’ve come as a whole. I can already feel the next Top 10 list forming in my head. From bar codes to RFID, to voice-activated picking and some day soon order picking “sexy specs”, it will definitely be interesting to see where we go from here.
Please share your thoughts on past innovations that you think really moved the industry forward, or what you think might be next for us.