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60 Seconds With: Bill Leber

Modern Materials Handling editors sat down with Vice chair, Automation Solutions Group (ASG); business development at Swisslog, Bill Leber

Bill Leber

Swisslog

Title: Vice chair, Automation Solutions Group (ASG); business development, Swisslog

Location: Charlotte, N.C.

Experience: 15 years in logistics and warehouse automation

Duties: The Automation Solutions Group aims to be the “go-to” authority on automated materials handling solutions for supply chain operations.

Modern: Bill, the Automation Solutions Group represents a new approach to the market for MHI. Tell us a little bit about ASG and who is involved.

Leber: ASG is an outgrowth of the automation alliance and includes members from organizations that provide automation software, hardware and services that support a fully integrated supply chain. If you look on the Website (mhi.org/asg), you’ll see the object is to strategically position and market automated materials handling solutions to the manufacturing, warehousing and distribution industries, and our vision is to become the definitive resource for identification, integration, deployment and use of existing and future automated materials handling solutions for supply chain operations.

Modern: How is it different from past organizations?

Leber: No. 1 is that ASG really looks to engage on an ongoing basis with the end user community. MHI has traditionally only represented the materials handling industry—the solutions providers who are executive members, but we now have a general membership, led by Todd Farwell from Caterpillar, for end users. We’re trying to get better direct contact and ideas from end users to guide us in the development of solutions and to help us get better acceptance and penetration of automation overall. At our October annual meeting in Tucson, for instance, we had good participation from end users, including team workshops and a presentation from a Target executive that received good feedback. One of our basic tenants is to create an environment for real-time collaborative problem solving with end users and solution providers in a non-commercial setting.

Modern: What’s driving this change in approach?

Leber: It’s to try to get the MHI group to not just look at issues from our point of view, but from the viewpoint of the end users—to be more market driven.

Modern: Tell us about some of the initiatives you have underway.

Leber: There are three to start. One is to create a clear business case for selecting automation equipment. Done right, this will help end users justify automated systems to their organizations. The second is to develop data interoperability standards, which are common in other industries. For instance, at present there are no defined standards for interfacing with common materials handling technologies. The third is to develop order fulfillment performance strategies. If I added a fourth, it’s that we want to be the “go-to” authority on automated materials handling solutions. As an example, we’re presently working on an industry response to an article in The New York Times that claimed the real job killer is automation.

Modern: How does an end user get involved?

Leber: There is no fee. All we’re asking for is time and talent to participate. You can find contact information for Todd Farwell, who can provide membership information, on the Website.

Source: {source}

Article Topics
Automation   Caterpillar Forklift America   MHI   Swisslog   All topics


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