Timberland’s Lighting Upgrade
Sustainability is fundamental to The Timberland Co., which has committed to reducing its environmental footprint by cutting emissions from its facilities and stores by 50%. The company has identified lighting, which accounts for a significant portion of its total energy use, as a prime source for energy reduction. In 2009, it replaced incandescent and halogen track and flood lighting in many of its stores with LED technology.
“We had been tracking LED technology for a while, and though it was still emerging, we felt we were ready to make the conversion to LEDs based on their progress at that time,” said Al Buell, store planning and construction project manager, Timberland, Stratham, N.H.
Always on the lookout for more efficient technologies, Timberland recently upgraded its lighting again, installing new high-performance LED lamps from Solais Lighting in track and flood applications.
“Timberland executives were committed to using LEDs based on energy efficiency, but they were not getting the desired light output they needed from their first-generation LED lamps,” explained Ryan Hunt, national account sales manager, Standard Electric Supply, Wilmington, Mass., Timberland’s electrical distributor of record. “They wanted an LED lamp that would really draw out the colors in their stores and make their merchandise pop.”
According to Hunt, the aesthetics that Timberland was looking for — along with a much higher lumen output — could be achieved with Solais’ LR38 and LR30 Long-Neck LED lamps. The LEDs have a lumen output of 850 to 1,000, a high color rendering index, strong center-beam candlepower and a lifespan rated at 50,000 hours.
In addition to delivering high performance and superior light quality, the 18 to 21 watts of energy the products consume will enable the retailer to enjoy a 58% to 64% reduction in energy consumption and costs (relative to Timberland’s original 50-watt halogen technology).
Timberland oversaw the installation of 100 to 200 Solais LEDs in each of the four newly constructed stores that it opened between March and June 2011. The retailer also retrofitted a few existing stores with the lamps.
“We love how easy they are to install,” Timberland’s Buell said. “You just screw them right into the existing incandescent or halogen sockets; there’s no fixture change needed.”
According to Buell, green products and practices are always at the forefront of Timberland’s operating decisions.
“As we gain experience and progress with store expansion, we strive to incorporate more environmentally friendly materials in our construction, and energy is always something we consider,” he said. “The efficiency offered by LEDs is great, but we’ve been especially impressed with the Solais lamps, which we feel duplicate the industry’s best-in-class metal halide offering in terms of their light output and color quality, but at a fraction of the energy consumption.”
Buell has identified the Solais LEDs as Timberland’s “go-to” lamps for all new construction and as replacements for the stores’ older lighting technology as it fails. “The color and brightness of the Solais lamps are excellent,” he added. “The store lighting is now exactly where I want it to be.”
Mobile-Robotic Solution Makes for Faster E-commerce Fulfillment
The rapid growth of multichannel sales has put new pressure on retailers to find a way to fulfill orders fast and inexpensively. Among the more innovative strategies is Kiva Systems’ mobile-robotic fulfillment system. Kiva’s Mitch Rosenberg, VP marketing and product management, discusses the company’s solution, which is designed to enable extremely fast cycle times with reduced labor requirements, from receiving to picking to shipping — all without conveyor.
What are some of the main challenges of traditional material handling systems with regard to e-commerce fulfillment?
The challenge with today’s e-commerce activity is that it is no longer traditional. Consumers are shopping differently today than they did even five years ago. Free shipping, overnight delivery, guaranteed product availability and vast merchandise variety are just a few of the things consumers have grown to expect from their online shopping experience. But this puts a major strain on a traditional materials handling system.
What is Kiva Systems’ solution for order fulfillment? What are the main components of the solution?
Kiva uses hundreds of robotic drive units that bring inventory on mobile shelves directly to workers, allowing easy and efficient access to all inventory items at all times. Kiva can handle products of all shapes and sizes, and automatically brings products to operators, eliminating wasteful time spent walking the warehouse floor.
Kiva is a complete order fulfillment solution that encompasses inventory control, forward replenishment, picking, packing, shipping sortation, finishing and quality assurance to simultaneously improve fulfillment center productivity, speed, accuracy and flexibility.
How does Kiva’s solution differ from traditional warehouse automation systems?
Other warehouses use conveyors or carousel systems to automate their operations, but this form of automation often involves miles of bolted-down metal and rubber equipment in winding patterns. These systems also require complicated installations, are inflexible to modifications in product shape and size, and are vulnerable to single points-of-failure. Today, business models are changing significantly with the advent of Internet and multichannel retailers. Kiva is different.It is completely portable and flexible, can handle products of all shapes and sizes, is quick to implement, and easy to use.
What are the main benefits for retailers?
The Kiva solution goes beyond traditional warehouse automation to solve real-world order-picking challenges. It is two to four times more productive than other pick, pack and ship automation approaches. Its light-directed picking, put-away and order consolidation, combined with barcode scanning and multiple methods for confirming quantity, ensure that inventory and orders are 99.99% accurate.
Also, Kiva does not require batching and waving of orders like a conveyor does, which means any order can be processed in as little as 15 minutes. And unlike traditional bolted-down automation, operators can implement the solution they need to handle current volumes, then add additional capacity quickly and easily if they need it later. With Kiva, you pay as you grow.
Can the Kiva solution scale up and down to help retailers meet changing customer demand?
For many businesses, growth is a moving target. With Kiva, you can implement the solution you need to handle current volumes, and can easily add additional capacity quickly and easily if needed over time. This is in contrast to conventional automation, which requires planning for, and even buying, capacity several years before it is actually needed. Because of this system flexibility, Kiva customers can pay as they grow, which eliminates the risk of over- or underestimating how much to buy at once.
Kiva also offers a Robot Rental Program, which solves one of the largest e-commerce challenges that fulfillment-center managers face in today’s unpredictable market: how to run a cost-effective operation that easily scales up and down to accommodate significant seasonal processing without sacrificing speed, accuracy or customer service.
Helping the Most Vulnerable
When the Retail Orphan Initiative (RetailROI) was launched three years ago, its goal was to raise awareness of — and develop solutions for — orphans and other vulnerable children around the globe. Fast forward to 2011, and the charitable foundation, which is made up of IT-focused retail executives, consultants and vendors, remains laser-focused on its mission. Leveraging the power and influence of retailers, RetailROI is changing for the better the lives of vulnerable children globally.
The program evolved during an informal meeting between the late Paul Singer, then senior VP and CIO of Supervalu, and Greg Buzek, founder and president, IHL Group. Singer shared his longtime work as an adoption advocate, while Buzek talked about his work to support orphan care. Their discussions and shared interests gave birth to RetailROI.
Today, operating under the umbrella of The Giving Back Fund, and with the support of the retail industry, the organization provides grants to charities that provide hands-on efforts across a wide range of areas. These include orphan care (food, shelter, medical, clothing, education), child rescue from human trafficking, and life skills training for orphaned and vulnerable children.
“We laid the groundwork, and RetailROI continues to raise awareness for the 400 million vulnerable children worldwide,” said Buzek, who is the organization’s donor trustee. “In addition to raising funding for these children, we are also leveraging the core strengths of our members to aid adoption and foster-friendly environments.”
The group has raised just shy of $500,000 since its inception, and the members’ advocacy has become much more “hands-on.” Last winter, for example, a team of retailers and analysts that support RetailROI made two trips to Honduras in partnership with Lifesong for Orphans to help outfit and install a computer lab for a school of 500 children, more than half of which are orphans.
“This lab was funded by companies at the NRF Show, partnering with RetailROI, to drive traffic to their booths during the show,” Buzek explained. “They made a donation for every tour, visit, badge scan. That paid for 59 computers for the lab when combined with donations of software from Microsoft.”
Honduras is just the latest example of the group’s efforts. A $5,000 grant, from a single sponsorship to the group’s SuperSaturday (see page 28) event, was used to help fund a border monitoring station between Nepal and India.
“Because of that grant, 72 young girls were rescued out of human trafficking in one year, and six adults have been put in jail for 25 years,” Buzek said.
At press time, Buzek was getting ready to leave for Marshall, Liberia, where RetailROI helped build a school in a community that had not had one for more than 14 years. The current student body is 60 children, a group that will soon expand to 84 kids.
“Our trip will help us determine how else RetailROI can help,” Buzek said. “By allowing members to go on these trips, they are coming face-to-face with the kids, and are changing the world in ways they never imagined,” he said.
Other projects on the agenda for 2012 include:
• Teaching opportunities. RetailROI is encouraging members to visit Honduras for “career day”-style speeches.
“It gives members the chance to discuss IT, sales, marketing and other skill sets and areas of interest,” > Buzek explained. “These kids are hungry for knowledge, and the more they learn about different careers, the more they see a ticket out of poverty.”
• Establishing more “Safe Families” programs in the United States. With the help of grants, these programs offer sanctuary for children of parents in financial, domestic or health crisis.
“It is estimated that these programs will save 50% of children from going into foster care during a family crisis,” Buzek said. “It builds a safety net around the family and children, so the family can stay together and out of ‘the system,’ at the taxpayer’s expense. About one-third of our funds have been donated to expanding this domestic program.”
RAISING THE BAR: RetailROI’s charitable efforts are made possible and sustained by the involvement of retailers, technology partners and analysts alike. The group is always on the lookout for innovative ways to boost donations and participation.
In May 2011, in collaboration with IBM, it launched a national campaign designed to make it easy for retailers to raise money for charities at the point of sale. And in July, it launched an online charity “locator” to match up retail chains looking to donate overstocked merchandise with local charities, giving retailers the opportunity to receive a potential tax deduction for items that were not going to be selling at a profit.
“There are $65 billion worth of overstocks industry-wide,” Buzek reported. “Chains that mark down merchandise are eroding profit, and if they sell overstocks to liquidators, they can suffer a tremendous loss. RetailROI has a database of charities in key locales where retailers can donate this merchandise to kids in distress, which benefits the children and the retailer.”
RetailROI is eager for more members of the industry to get involved, even if just to help spread the word. Buzek continues to work to expand RetailROI, and his efforts have not gone unnoticed. In October, he was honored by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute with the first annual Paul Singer Award.
Buzek received the award, designed to recognize business and governmental leaders who have gone above and beyond their corporate roles to advocate for better adoption and foster care policies worldwide, at the 13th annual Angels in Adoption Congressional gala in Washington, D.C.
“It was a great honor,” Buzek said, “and I was humbled to be named in the same sentence with Paul. We’ve accomplished a lot in three years. I hope this opens doors to other things and helps us make an even bigger difference.”
Going forward, RetailROI will be providing a lot more opportunities for folks in the industry to make a difference.
“It could be teaching marketing or sales, sharing a career path, donating expertise to impact a child — anything that helps show them a path that is different than the poverty they have seen to date,” Buzek said. “Most of these children suffer not only from lack of parents, but a lack of hope or vision.”
To find out more about RetailROI and how you can get involved, visit retailroi.org/.