20 Nov 2019

Successful Strategies for Growing Supply Chain Talent Panel Discussion

November 19, 2019

PENDLETON, SC –  The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) and Clemson University MBA sponsored a panel discussion focusing upon successful strategies for preparing, attracting, and retaining talent in the supply chain industry.  The panelists were Katie Egan, Professional Recruiter with Human Technologies, Inc., Amy Sartain, Director of Business Development at Sunland Logistics, and Rick Joye, Supply Chain Manager at Michelin North America.  Garry Harper, VP for Sales and Marketing at FastFetch Corporation, served as moderator.  The event was held at Clemson MBA in Greenville, SC.

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07 Oct 2019

FastFetch and Snap-on Tools Win 2019 Supply Chain Innovation of the Year Award

October 7, 2019

PENDLETON, SC – FastFetch, a technology development company located in Pendleton, SC, and Snap-on, a leading supplier of hand and power tools, diagnostic software, and shop equipment headquartered in Kenosha, WI, were jointly recognized as winners of the 2019 Supply Chain Innovation of the Year Award.  The award is presented annually by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) and SupplyChainBrain, and the winning team was revealed in Anaheim, CA at EDGE 2019, an international supply chain conference and exposition.

The recognition is based upon FastFetch’s artificial intelligence (AI) strategy used to slash shipping costs at Snap-on Tools’ distribution center in Crystal Lake, IL.  FastFetch’s solution uses AI to quickly determine right-sized cartons for packing individual assortments of items of different sizes and shapes.  The system then identifies the correct carton from an inventory of pre-made cartons maintained near packing stations so that human packers can quickly select right-sized cartons as soon as they are needed.  Using right-sized cartons typically cuts wasted space in shipping cartons by 30% or more, thereby significantly reducing shipping costs.  FastFetch is marketing its AI strategy for right-sized packaging under the name “IntelliPack.”

Dr. Jack Peck, Co-Founder and President of FastFetch, and Katie Neau, engineering coordinator at Snap-on Tools’ Crystal Lake, IL distribution center, presented a paper at EDGE 2019 describing the technology and how it enabled Snap-on Tools to slash shipping costs, packing labor, dunnage, and corrugated materials usage.  “Our customers are excited about IntelliPack because it enables them to be more competitive in today’s eCommerce world,” said Peck.  “Shipping excessive air is expensive, and IntelliPack makes it easy for companies to ship less air using right-sized packages.”

“Winning the 2019 Supply Chain Innovation of the Year Award is a testament to the creativity and dedication of the FastFetch team,” said Peck.  “We are delighted that our technologies are enhancing productivity and reducing costs for many of the top companies across the US.”

According to Garry Harper, VP for Sales and Marketing at FastFetch, “The upsurge in online shopping in recent years has resulted in significant growth in the number of packages that must be shipped.  Since all major small parcel carriers now base shipping charges on both size and weight of packages being shipped, companies are eager to use right-sized packages to reduce shipping costs.”

As explained by Harper, “IntelliPack is a complete solution encompassing carton storage, carton selection, and replenishment of consumed cartons.   And, with a typical return-on-investment period of only a few months, right-sized packaging is now within the reach of even smaller companies.”

FastFetch’s AI application for right-sized packaging was originally created as part of FastFetch’s order-fulfillment product line to enable order pickers to choose the best carton for shipping customer orders.  However, with the advent of dimensional weight charges now used by all major parcel carriers, it became important for suppliers to employ right-sized packaging regardless of their strategy for picking orders.  “IntelliPack is a direct response to the switch to dimensional weight pricing by the carriers,” says Peck.

As explained by Peck, who led the project team that created IntelliPack, “Modern dimensioning systems can quickly determine the size of the individual items that are to be shipped.  Given the dimensions of the items to be shipped, FastFetch’s solution uses a clever AI technique—much like game-playing algorithms that can determine a good move in checkers or chess—to explore possible item placements and orientations and arrive at an optimal-sized shipping carton.”

According to Peck, “The primary challenge faced by the project team was finding ways to speed the execution time. With several items to ship, the number of combinations of possible placements and orientations can be huge, and exploration of all possible combinations is practically impossible. It is therefore necessary to use heuristics to avoid exploration of the entire search space.  As a result, FastFetch’s AI strategy used for IntelliPack executes in less than a second for most practical applications.”

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21 Aug 2019

FastFetch Named to 2019 List of 100 Great Supply Chain Partners

August 21, 2019
PENDLETON, SC – FastFetch Corporation, known for developing innovative echnologies to support distribution, logistics, and manufacturing operations, has been named to the 2019 list of 100 Great Supply Chain Partners by SupplyChainBrain. This year’s list, published in the August issue of SupplyChainBrain magazine, includes such well-known companies as IBM, Honeywell, Oracle, SAP, UPS, and FedEx.

The list of 100 Great Supply Chain Partners is compiled annually by SupplyChainBrain based upon nominations received from supply chain professionals. As stated by Brad Berger, Publisher, SupplyChainBrain, “For seventeen years running, SupplyChainBrain has published our much-anticipated list of 100 Great Supply Chain Partners — a select group of companies whose customers recognize them for providing outstanding solutions and services. Our six-month online poll of supply chain professionals requires a qualified response, asking them to nominate vendors and service providers whose solutions have made a significant impact on their company’s efficiency, customer service and overall supply chain performance. This year’s field of nominees was competitive and inspiring – coming from all sectors of supply chain management.”

As explained by Dr. Jack Peck, Co-founder and President of FastFetch, “This is the second year that FastFetch has been named to the list of 100 Great Supply Chain Partners. We are especially pleased to receive this honor because it comes from nominations by our customers who have recognized FastFetch for making significant enhancements in their operations. We are grateful to our customers for nominating us for this award.”

Garry Harper, VP for Sales and Marketing at FastFetch said, “We are delighted to be included in among the 100 Great Supply Chain Partners. This recognition shows that our technologies and services are helping companies across the US improve efficiencies in today’s fast-paced eCommerce environments.”

Link to SupplyChainBrain’s 2019 List of 100 Great Supply Chain Partners: https://www.supplychainbrain.com/articles/30068-building-success-100-great-supply-chain-partnersof-2019

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25 Oct 2018

FastFetch Recognized as a Finalist for the 2018 Supply Chain Innovation of the Year Award

October 25, 2018

Introduction

An upstate company has created technologies that are speeding eCommerce order fulfillment for several well-know companies across the US.  FastFetch Corporation, located in Pendleton, SC, has installed its eCommerce order fulfillment solutions for nationally known companies including GNC, Stanley Black & Decker, Saddle Creek Logistics, and Snap-On Tools as well as SpartanNash, a 3PL who does picking for more than 14,000 Dollar General stores.  FastFetch’s technology is also used to supply parts to work cells on automotive assembly lines.  Here, it is essential that parts are supplied quickly and in exactly the right sequence for vehicles in progress on the assembly line.

FastFetch was recently recognized of the 5 most innovative supply chain companies among across the US in competition for the 2018 Supply Chain Innovation of the Year Award presented by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) and SupplyChainBrain.  The other 4 winners were Intel, Pfizer, Schneider Electric, and Kansas City Railway.

Impact of eCommerce

The explosive growth of eCommerce during the last decade has drastically changed the way customer orders are placed and fulfilled.  Most products are not shipped directly from the manufacturer to the customer.  Rather, products from manufacturers are transported to distribution centers that typically maintain a wide assortment of products from multiple manufacturers in inventory.

When an order is placed, the required products must be located in the distribution center, the required quantities of each item must be retrieved or picked, and, finally, the picked items are placed into an appropriate container for shipment to the customer.  With the emergence of eCommerce, distribution centers began to experience a dramatic upsurge in the number of orders per day, but with fewer items per order.  The upsurge in on-line ordering together with the expectation of shorter and shorter delivery times has placed new demands upon distribution centers to handle products in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.

Order Fulfillment Background

Order picking is labor intensive and costly.  It often accounts for up to 70% of the labor cost of operating a distribution center.  Enhancing order picking productivity can therefore make a huge improvement in the efficiency and cost of distribution center operations.

While automated systems are capable of supporting some order picking activities, most order fulfillment strategies in use today rely upon substantial human labor.  According to Dr. Jack Peck, Founder and President of FastFetch, “Decision makers are faced with a variety of options for improving the speed and accuracy of order fulfillment.  Key considerations are projected picking speed, capital expenditure, operating costs, fault tolerance and return on investment.  An equally important consideration is the flexibility of the technology to be scaled up or down to accommodate changing demands.”

Several order-picking technologies were already in widespread use in 2006 when FastFetch was launched.  The motivation that fueled FastFetch was the idea that the best features of voice picking, light-directed picking, and barcode scanning could be blended into a singe system that would be much more versatile and would offer substantially better performance than any system based on a single technology.  The idea of combining different supporting technologies into a single system—pioneered by FastFetch—is now referred to in the distribution industry as a multimodal system.

FastFetch is also known for integrating highly effective artificial intelligence techniques into its products to improve the efficiency of order fulfillment processes.  As explained by Garry Harper, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at FastFetch, “A particular distribution center might have several distinct order fulfillment needs requiring different strategies and technologies.  The FastFetch technologies are sufficiently flexible to be used as building blocks for assembling distinctly different order-fulfillment methods— using an appropriate mix of voice, barcode scanning, and light-directed techniques.”

Recognition by CSCMP and SupplyChainBrain

As one of the five most innovative supply chain systems in the US, as recognized by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals in its 2018 Supply Chain Innovation of the Year Award, FastFetch was recognized for creating and implementing an agile order-fulfillment strategy for BuySeasons, a major eCommerce supplier of costumes and party supplies located in New Berlin, WI. In addition to its own eCommerce customers, BuySeasons also fulfills costume orders for Walmart, Amazon, Target, and JCPenny.

Prior to adopting FastFetch’s order fulfillment technology, BuySeasons was employing a modern voice-picking system.  The performance of the voice-picking system was inadequate to keep pace with the growth in BuySeasons’ order volume.  Additionally, the time required to train new workers on the voice system further contributed to low productivity because BuySeasons relies heavily upon temporary workers during their busiest season.

BuySeasons made the decision to abandon the voice-picking strategy and replace 100 voice-picking headsets with 40 batch-picking carts employing FastFetch’s multimodal picking technologies.  Adoption of the FastFetch technology more than tripled the speed of order picking and enabled a 64% increase in worker productivity across the distribution center.  As explained by Joe Plassmeyer, BuySeasons’ Director of Operations, “During the last peak season, we were able to ship 43% more orders with 12% less labor.”

As noted by Peck, “The impressive performance increases result primarily from FastFetch’s multimodal picking technologies and from the use of artificial intelligence for assigning orders to carts in a manner that minimizes the travel within the distribution center required to fulfill orders.”

2018 Supply Chain Innovation of the Year Award

The winner of the 2018 Supply Chain Innovation of the Year Award was revealed in the closing ceremony at the CSCMP Edge conference in Nashville, TN last week.  The winner was Intel who was recognized for developing artificial intelligence and cognitive computing tools to help make sense of vast amounts of unstructured data as might emerge from modern supply chains.

Jack Peck placed things into perspective when he said, “We were pleased to be in the company of the outstanding contenders for the 2018 Supply Chain Innovation of the Year Award.  We are delighted that our order fulfillment solutions have been adopted by some of the top companies across the US, and I greatly appreciate the entire FastFetch team for creating the technologies that led to our recognition by CSCMP and SupplyChainBrain.”

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23 Oct 2018

FastFetch and BuySeasons Recognized as a Finalist for the 2018 Supply Chain Innovation of the Year Award

OCTOBER 23, 2018

PENDLETON, SC – FastFetch, a technology development company located in Pendleton, SC, and BuySeasons, a major eCommerce supplier of costumes and party supplies located in New Berlin, WI, were jointly recognized among five finalists for the 2018 Supply Chain Innovation of the Year Award.  The award is presented annually by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) and Supply Chain Brain.  This year’s five finalists were selected from more than 100 entries. The other finalists included Intel, Pfizer, Schneider Electric, and Kansas City Railway.

The recognition was based upon the application of technologies developed by FastFetch to create an agile, eCommerce order-fulfillment strategy for BuySeasons.  BuySeasons uses FastFetch’s technologies to speed fulfillment of on-line costume orders for Walmart, Amazon, Target, and JCPenny, among others.

The finalists for the 2018 Supply Chain Innovation of the Year Award were recognized at CSCMP Edge 2018, an international supply chain conference and exposition held in Nashville, TN earlier this month.  The winner was Intel who was recognized for developing artificial intelligence and cognitive computing tools to help make sense of vast amounts of unstructured data as might emerge from modern supply chains.

Dr. Jack Peck, Co-Founder and President of FastFetch, placed things into perspective when he said, “We were pleased to be in the company of the outstanding contenders for the 2018 Supply Chain Innovation of the Year Award.  We are delighted that our order fulfillment solutions have been adopted by some of the top companies across the US, and I greatly appreciate the entire FastFetch team for creating the technologies that led to our recognition by CSCMP and Supply Chain Brain.”

John Moore, CEO of NEXT, the Greenville Chamber’s entrepreneur support organization, said, “we are delighted to see one of our member companies named as a finalist for such a prestigious award.  This recognition shows that small companies in Upstate South Carolina can make major contributions to the way that some of the nation’s largest companies serve their customers.”

FastFetch’s technologies are speeding eCommerce order fulfillment for several well-known companies across the US.  FastFetch has installed its eCommerce order fulfillment solutions for nationally known companies including GNC, Stanley Black & Decker, Saddle Creek Logistics, and Snap-On Tools.

The explosive growth of eCommerce during the last decade has drastically changed the way customer orders are placed and fulfilled.  The upsurge in on-line ordering together with the expectation of shorter and shorter delivery times has placed new demands upon distribution centers to handle products in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.

Most products are not shipped directly from the manufacturer to the customer.  Rather, products from manufacturers are transported to distribution centers that typically maintain a wide assortment of products from multiple manufacturers in inventory.

When an order is placed, the required products must be located in the distribution center, the required quantities of each item must be retrieved or picked, and, finally, the picked items are packed into an appropriate container for shipment to the customer.  With the emergence of eCommerce, distribution centers began to experience a dramatic upsurge in the number of orders per day, but with fewer items per order.

While automated systems are capable of supporting some order picking activities, most order fulfillment strategies in use today rely upon substantial human labor.  According to Peck, “Decision makers are faced with a variety of options for improving the speed and accuracy of order fulfillment.  Key considerations are projected picking speed, capitalization costs, and operating costs.  An equally important consideration is the flexibility of the technology to be scaled up or down to accommodate changing demands.”

Prior to adopting FastFetch’s order fulfillment technology, BuySeasons was employing a modern voice-picking system relying upon 100 speech recognition headsets.  The performance of the voice-picking system was inadequate to provide the required accuracy and to keep pace with the growth in BuySeasons’ order volume.  Additionally, the time required to train new workers on the voice system further contributed to low productivity because BuySeasons relies heavily upon temporary workers during their busiest season.

BuySeasons choose to abandon their voice-picking strategy and replace their 100 speech recognition headsets with 40 batch-picking carts employing FastFetch’s multimodal picking technologies.  FastFetch’s multimodal approach combines voice, barcode scanning, and light-directed technologies into a single system.  At BuySeasons, FastFetch’s technology more than tripled the speed of order picking and enabled a 64% increase in worker productivity across the distribution center.  As explained by Joe Plassmeyer, BuySeasons’ Director of Operations, “During the last peak season, with the FastFetch technology, we were able to ship 43% more orders with 12% less labor.”  Volume of orders this season has reached 60,000 orders per 14 hour day.

As noted by Peck, “The impressive performance increases result primarily from FastFetch’s multimodal picking technologies and from the use of artificial intelligence for assigning orders to carts in a manner that minimizes the travel within the distribution center required to fulfill orders.”

FastFetch is known for integrating highly effective artificial intelligence techniques into its products to improve the efficiency of order fulfillment processes.  As explained by Garry Harper, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at FastFetch, “A particular distribution center might have several distinct order fulfillment needs requiring different strategies and technologies.  The FastFetch technologies are sufficiently flexible to be used as building blocks for assembling distinctly different order-fulfillment methods using an appropriate mix of speech output, barcode scanning, and light-directed techniques.”

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