The Friday Report: May 18th, 2018

Quick wrap up of a few hot topic newsworthy stories in the supply chain logistics industry

Track and Trace of Romaine Lettuce and the E-Coli Outbreak

Good news salad fans.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is close to lifting their recommendation to dispose of romaine lettuce that may be in your refrigerator.  Traceability efforts have revealed that the romaine lettuce involved with the incidence of toxic E-coli bacteria sickening consumers since March.

The romaine lettuce in question, grown in Yuma Arizona has an anticipated shelf life of 21 days.

Track and trace of the romaine lettuce and the CDC investigation revealed that the last day romaine lettuce was harvested in Yuma Arizona was April 16th.  Since it is a fresh product and past its shelf life, it is unlikely that it is still being sold in stores or served in restaurants.  According to the CDC, the new cases of E-coli contaminated food poisoning originated during the period of time when contaminated romaine lettuce may still have been in circulation or in consumers’ refrigerators.

As of May 15th, 172 people in 32 states became ill from the toxic E-coli bacteria outbreak.  One person died and 75 were hospitalized.  20 of these suffered from kidney failure.

 Augmented Reality:  Order Picking in the Warehouse

With all the excitement about potentially using augmented reality in today’s warehouse, the idea has not seen widespread interest or adoption.  As with many other captivating technologies introduced to the supply chain logistics industry today, it takes time to try out the solutions in real time warehouse operations to see how well they actually perform in real world scenarios.

Typically, companies select technology enablement to experience gains in productivity and efficiency.  Often, this replaces other legacy technologies.  When doing so, it is critical to examine the entire process, warehouse layout and other factors that may influence not only productivity and efficiency but also the impact of changing to a new technology.  By starting with an eye towards process improvement, better results may be achieved using the technology of choice.

Vision picking has distinct advantages over other similar technologies. Unlike voice-enabled technologies like voice picking, using vision picking eliminates the language barrier and warehouse sound issues. 

Pick-to-light has a low training curve, Use of RF barcode scanners and mobile computers prevent warehouse workers from hands-free operations.  This provides a distinct advantage to both vision picking and voice picking.

Before investing in any technology, be sure to do your homework.  Whether you seek help from a consultant or research yourself, arm yourself with education so that you can make the best decision possible for your business.


Amazon Returns at Kohl’s:  It is Paying off

In October 2017, Amazon launched a pilot program to accept Amazon returns in selected Kohl’s retail brick and mortar stores.  For Kohl’s, there does not seem to be much downside.

During the time period of July 1st to April 14th, 5 of the 13 Chicago Kohl’s stores were studied to compare the results of activity resulting from enabling Amazon returns at Kohl’s retail stores.

Since beginning the program, traffic at participating Chicago Kohl’s stores has proven to be nearly 8.5% higher than others, according to research conducted by Gordon Haskett Research Advisors.  Approximately 56% of the consumers who returned Amazon goods to a Kohl’s retail store were new Kohl’s shoppers, or had not visited Kohl’s since July 1st.  Less than 43% of those visiting other Kohl’s stores were considered new to the retail chain when using the same standards.

Consumers returning Amazon goods appeared to spend more time in stores that allowed the returns. Data used in the study was obtained by tracking customer traffic via cellphone data. Partnering with Amazon appeared to pay off.  Kohl’s sells Amazon innovations including Amazon Echo in a specialized section of the retail store in 10 stores in Chicago and Los Angeles. 

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