Until SLAM got underway at the beginning of 2022, no MHI industry group specifically sought to optimize what practitioners sometimes call the “last 100 feet” in warehousing, distribution and fulfillment applications. SLAM—an acronym for Scan, Label, Apply and Manifest—now targets expertise regarding this critical supply chain component.
It’s important because as e-commerce distribution systems increase in importance, especially in the wake of the COVID pandemic, bottlenecks and errors within the last 100 feet may impact accuracy and customer satisfaction the most.
Versatility in e-commerce environments
A series of organizational meetings conducted by Managing Executive Christian Dow of MHI resulted in Steve Finn of MHI member Panther Industries taking a role on the SLAM Executive Board as secretary, serving alongside Chair Randy Neilson of MHI member Cubiscan and Vice Chair Steve Pickfield of MHI member PSI Engineering.
Finn is director of sales and marketing at Panther, a labeling automation firm that works primarily with 3PL systems integrators in e-commerce contexts. “We’re in one of the most important zones in the warehouse,” Finn said. “Labeling can either cause a lot of pain points or, if done properly, make achieving ROI so much quicker.”
As such, Panther has researched ways to solve carton height variance problems that previous-generation pneumatic systems could not. Also, the company has incorporated an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) print engine design in its Predator adaptive label application solution, which is geared toward making off-the-shelf replacements seamless and maximizing ROI by reducing errors and maintenance.
Driving the application process
Rounding out the SLAM Executive Board is Treasurer Stephen Hull, senior business development manager for OEM print engines at MHI member SATO America. SATO established an OEM standard for print engines in 1985 that still applies across the industry.
These engines are one of the most perishable components of the print and apply process. In the absence of robust high-speed products, the line grinds to a halt and perhaps negates any efficiencies gained elsewhere.
SATO understands the need for these engines to be easy to use and maintain, as well as accurate, and built these specifications into the SATO S84-ex/S86-ex Series engines.
“If it’s not labeled correctly, it’s never going to get to the person who actually spends the money, which pays for everything we do,” Hull said, adding that being accurately labeled adds a measure of certainty to delivery in the last 100 feet.