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Automation of the Future

If 2017 has taught us anything, it’s that businesses in every industry are placing a stronger emphasis on today’s ever-progressing technology, specifically automation, to streamline operations and drive growth. From a Dematic Multishuttle system to voice-to-pick software, L&R Distributors is embracing advanced automation to simplify and boost operations.

Monroe Township, here we come. In quarter 4 of 2017, L&R Distributors will be consolidating its multiple distribution centers into one state-of-the-art warehouse. Located in Monroe Township, the new, fully automated distribution center centralizes all of L&R’s services and ensures seamless integration among our many divisions. The move embodies our drive towards the future, and most importantly, meets today’s competitive demands and streamlines services to our clients.

“A cutting-edge distribution, innovation and training center delivers on our commitment to be designers of the ultimate shopping experience,” said Marc Bodner, CEO of L&R Distributors. “The new technology will expedite orders to our clients and provide an aisle-ready delivery to the stores we service.”

How We’re Automating
Fueled by the Dematic Multishuttle system (DMS), which enables us to develop aisle-ready programs for each customer, our “goods-to-person” method is changing the way we organize and pack our 40,000- plus health, beauty and wellness, general merchandise and cosmetics SKUs.

The DMS’s systematic approach stores and sequences a variety of products with increased speed and accuracy. One major benefit is its ability to layer each order – up to 43 layers per box – making it easier to receive orders at store level. For example, an assorted order of school supplies is meticulously packaged layer by layer, with writing instruments in one section, topped by notebooks, and followed by paper and binders.

Products are now transported directly to an operator, minimizing time-consuming travels across the warehouse to manually retrieve and pick items that have been ordered. Robots pull products from the DMS system and deliver them to packers at the end of the line in an organized fashion as defined by the aisle-ready profile for that customer. In addition, our bin-pick module offers a comprehensive voice-to-pick system, providing our operators the ability to simultaneously pick 6 aisle-ready cartons.

Our robot-to-person technology harmonizes innovation with the expert abilities of L&R employees. Explains Bodner, “We see this new technology as a chance to utilize the talents of our dedicated workforce to provide our clients with premier retail solutions. It’s a new age. With robots and humans working in tandem, we can heighten efficiency, while simplifying both our distribution efforts and customers’ acceptance of orders at store level.”

Innovation Lab
Beyond the methodical display of automation is an eye-catching Innovation Lab that allows us to carefully plan our clients’ merchandising needs. Our vendor partners present new products, which we then study, make expert determinations for optimal configuration, and implement them. The Innovation Lab is also home to all new major category reviews.

Enhanced Fulfillment Services
We’ve designed and developed an automation system to increase our fulfillment capabilities, enabling us to readily fulfill direct-to-consumer e-commerce offerings for our clients. The program’s full capability will be launching around our extended aisle program in late 2017.