Supply Chain Innovation: Build Products Customers Need

Supply Chain Innovation: Build Products Customers Need -- blog header
Supply Chain Innovation: Build Products Customers Need -- blog header
Supply Chain Innovation: Build Products Customers Need -- blog header

Supply Chain Innovation: Build Products Customers Need

When we think of supply chain management innovations, we often look to artificial intelligence, software, drones, and the "internet of things." Sometimes, it’s lower-tech, simple solutions that deliver the innovative results customers need to develop more efficient processes, better safety protocols, and improve supply chains.

Two  examples of this type of product  innovation were recently recognized by Materials, Handling, and Logistics News: J-tec Industries CarryMore Gen2 All-in-One Kit Cart and the Eco Latch’s Box Latch system.

Gen2 All-in-One Kit Cart: the cart that does it all

The new Gen2 All-in-One Kit Cart is a redesign of one of J-tec’s most popular products. Director of Marketing and Communications Jon McKee said, “Customers love it. They came to us and asked how we can retain all the strength of the cart but make it more versatile and lighter.” McKee said J-tec’s engineers created a completely customizable modular cart that is 39 percent lighter, and has more flexibility to adjust and add shelves, attachments, and outer walls. An ergonomic design makes it easy to push and pull. The cart was created to easily slide off pallets and onto a J-tec train.  

It’s making internal supply chain operations more efficient and helping improve lean outcomes. “It’s really there to answer a need for moving materials through industrial facilities,” said McKee, explaining that the Kit Cart is a favorite with customers in the automotive, mining, and agriculture industry, including John Deere, Caterpillar, Moen, and Amazon.

McKee said the Kit Cart is designed to move products efficiently but also safely. The cart picks up entire kits of parts and materials in the supermarket area of a warehouse and can move them to an assembly line, reducing fork lift activity in high people traffic areas. “This answers the call to go fork-free in high people areas, making them safer,” McKee said.

J-tec is committed to lean manufacturing and continuous improvement. “Our customers are our best source of ideas,” McKee said. “Our engineers are sharp individuals who operate with a design and solutions mindset.”

Eco Latch Box Latch System: Box use revolution

Eco Latch is on a mission. It’s starting what it calls a “Box Use Revolution” with its Box Latch products that make it easier to close boxes and reuse them. It’s the ideal product for organizations that want to cut shipping and supply chain costs while incorporating more sustainable practices into their businesses.

The Box Latch system is a reusable alternative to tape, staples and bands — which can damage boxes and limit their reusability. These easy-to-snap-on closures for cardboard boxes are mostly made from recycled plastic and can be reused hundreds of times.

Box Latch saves money on typical supply chain costs such as tape and more traditional box closures. Box Latch says it has economic, environmental and social benefits.

The system improves workflow. It’s safer for workers, as it reduces repetitive motion injuries while being kinder and gentler to boxes, making it more sustainable.

According to Box Latch, operations and supply chain managers can cut their costs for materials anywhere from 10 to 90 percent when they use Box Latch products.

In a press release, Lisa Geason-Bauer, chief communications and sustainability officer for Box Latch products said, “Box Latch products are a cost-effective, low-tech invention that are delivering significant triple bottom-line benefits for our customers. Today, corporations are looking for innovative strategies to reduce waste as they implement circular economy solutions within their manufacturing, logistics and/or transportation systems.”

Innovation and supply chain management

When asked about supply chain managers using real-world solutions, McKee said, “There is a world of opportunity for engineers and designers to create changes. We’re always looking for people to help improve our products with an eye for how to keep efficiencies high and costs lower and safety the best.”

In Kettering University’s Supply Chain Management master’s degree program, students connect with colleagues, leaders and faculty from all over the globe innovating high- and low-tech solutions. Each professional provides effective strategies such as streamlining operations, improving strategic purchasing, safety best practices, and creating a smarter bottom line.