Gregg Schiltz is Director of Operations at identification tag, a manufacturer of custom variable information barcode labels, inventory tags and facility signage. He is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company, including manufacturing, sales, marketing, IT and finance. Schiltz joined ID Label in 2008 as Director of Corporate Installation Services, a division he founded and led for seven years. He was promoted to Managing Director in 2015 and COO in 2017.
Q: Where do you see the material handling market heading in 2022?
A: We expect current trends to continue: a shortage of available warehouse space, bottlenecks in the supply chain and increased consumer demand. These market trends existed before the Covid, but they have amplified. Consumers are buying more items online, and no one expects that to go down anytime soon.
For our industry, this means a continued demand for space, material handling equipment, software and barcodes. This demonstrates how integral our industry is to our economy. E-commerce does not work without local storage and last-mile distribution.
Q: Earlier in your career, you worked in operations. How has this experience benefited you now that you are working for a supplier?
A: I think that was a vital base for me. From my previous experience, I know the challenges our customers face and how we can help solve them as a custom fabricator. We have several employees who have experience in warehouse and distribution center operations. We try to look for that when we recruit and hire. This is part of how ID Label approaches the market. We train our team to have an empathetic attitude. This helps them listen to customers to understand their needs; we can then design a solution adapted to their specific environments.
Q: In what ways can proper labeling create efficiencies within facilities?
A: Barcoding is a key part of a smart warehouse operation. Labels and signs combine with mobile scanning technology, warehouse management software and a well-planned layout and numbering scheme. Each part depends on the others to maximize operational efficiency. Ultimately, the role of the barcode is to enable data entry into inventory management software. This software needs our labeling products and vice versa. The net result is better inventory management, part and finished product traceability, faster picking and fulfillment, speed, velocity, improved worker movement and increased productivity, all of it.
It’s a bit like the postal system. Every day they deliver millions of pieces of mail as there is a delivery system in place with individual locations (addresses) so that mail can be delivered from point A to point B in the most efficient way.
Q: What is the impact of new IT technologies on your labeling products and on inventory tracking in general?
A: New technologies go hand in hand with advances in product labeling. Today’s mobile imagers, for example, are more sophisticated, meaning they can scan from longer distances at higher scan read rates. This allows manufacturers like ID Label to develop products that take advantage of these capabilities.
Our hanging signs feature retro-reflective graphics. These materials allow for optimal scanning accuracy over long distances, typically 50 feet or more. This is due to the intensity of the light reflected from the barcode when it is returned to the mobile reading device. We also use this material in newer facilities that have high-rise shelving to accommodate more units and SKUs. Retro rack bay labeling on upper levels allows for accurate reading from the floor.
Newer imaging technology can also read two-dimensional barcodes. Unlike typical linear barcodes, 2D barcodes can store thousands of characters of information. This is because they encode data both vertically and horizontally. They may contain information such as product name, serial number, batch number, date of arrival, date of shipment, etc. A single scan captures all relevant information, which is then easily accessible in the facility’s inventory management software.
On the label manufacturing side, new technological advancements allow us to install inline verification systems on our presses, allowing us to monitor barcode read quality and read rates in real time. as the labels are produced. This helps us produce the highest quality product, which means happy customers.
Q: What is the most popular installation panel you produce and how is it used?
A: The most common panel is a 16 inch by 11 inch curved PVC panel. These are typically installed above bulk storage areas that hold large, bulky items or pallets of fast-moving products. The signs usually feature a retro-reflective graphic – a bar code and human readable letters and numbers. Workers in forklifts can easily drop off or pick up their load and scan the overhead sign to register it in the WMS without leaving the forklift. It’s just another way barcoding improves efficiency and speed.
Q: What advice would you give to facility managers about their labeling programs?
A: In my experience, labeling is usually one of the last things warehouse managers think about. This can leave them scrambling to find a product if there hasn’t been enough time in their planning. The last thing you want to see is a multi-million dollar facility missing its in-service date due to a lack of location tags.
My advice is to consult with your labeling partner at the start of any project. With today’s supply chain challenges, this is more important than ever. Along with this, mapping your facility is effective. Signs and labels tell how to navigate a warehouse and communicate information to your staff. Most warehouse location IDs consist of four to six fields that reflect the layout and organization of a facility. This BOM is an abbreviated language to help workers quickly know where products should be stored or retrieved. And this logic is also integrated into the warehouse inventory management software.
Beyond that, make sure you’re using quality products that work in your environment, whether it’s ambient or cooler/freezer settings. If location labels are easily damaged, stained, or peel and fall off, the result is loss of efficiency and potential manual data entry errors.
Q: What’s the biggest change in labeling you’ve seen in your career in the industry?
A: We have seen materials and adhesives advance dramatically over the past 10 or so years. The industry has moved away from using all-purpose adhesives and paper sheets for everything. The focus is now on designing custom solutions for specific applications and environments with more durable poly materials and advanced adhesives. Barcode labeling today must perform in extreme cold and heat, outdoor environments with prolonged UV exposure, harsh manufacturing environments, and more.
For example, with the growing demand for cold stores, labeling had to adapt. We have developed Arctic Xtreme cold storage labels to meet this demand. They work extremely well in cold, wet, sub-freezing conditions down to -65F. And they can be installed in temperatures as low as -20F.
Repositionable labels are another advancement. Our Clean Release labels adhere tightly to warehouse racks and shelves, yet are easily removable and reusable without leaving adhesive residue. This addresses our customers’ need for greater flexibility in locating and reconfiguring their locations to meet seasonal demands or needs arising from facility expansion.
As our customers’ needs change, we’ll be there with innovative barcode solutions. That’s the advantage of being a bespoke manufacturer. There is no “one size fits all” in our world.