It’s the best company at what it does that you don’t know about. Wynright conveys a penchant for innovation and creativity in products that help distribution centers and warehouses optimize space and better facilitate product movement through a number of state-of-the-art technologies, as Lorie Greenspan finds.
Intralogistics is defined as: “every dimension of logistics within the four walls related to implementing, managing, monitoring and optimizing materials handling and information flows.” While that definition encapsulates Wynright’s business, its parameters might need a little adjusting: The work might be within four walls, but such boundaries hardly limit the solutions the company brings to customers.
The consolidation of several different companies offering integration, engineering and material handling services brought forth Wynright, a new name and brand offering a range of traditions in innovation and capabilities. The company maintains corporate headquarters, engineer and integrator regional offices in Elk Grove, Ill., as well as engineer and integrator regional offices in Oak Lawn, Ill.; Indianapolis, Ind. and Chino, Calif. “We’re a direct-to-consumer, pure-play integrator,” notes Joe O’Connor, director of marketing. This means the company seeks out the best solution for a situation without relying on “cookie cutter designs,” through branded companies that include:
- Automotion, a technology based designer and manufacturer of integrated package conveyor and sortation systems;
- Lighthouse Selection, which first introduced CAPS semi-automated pick-to-light technology in 1982; the company engineers fulfillment technologies that make warehouse operations faster, smarter and more profitable;
- Midco, offering engineered solutions from simple rack protection products to custom engineered mezzanines, staircases, ladders, specialty carts, conveyor supports, tables and other accessories;
- Control Solutions, specializing in providing turnkey software and control solutions in the material handling industry.
“If you look across all companies there’s a common thread – the Scheck family,” O’Connor says. With second-generation Mike Scheck at the helm, Wynright’s roots extend to the Automotion company founded in 1967 by three families, including Mike’s father, Roy Scheck, who eventually bought out the company. Additionally, the family had holdings in Midco. Wynright itself was originally Warehouse Equipment Inc./WEi.
All of these material handling companies grew side by side for the last 40-plus years, developing organically, and focusing on customer driven needs. But each business unit built its brand in slightly different ways, and without a common focus, O’Connor says, so that each had come to mean different things to customers, employees, suppliers, dealers, and competitors.
A BRAND NEW DAY
Today the company has reached a pivotal point in its history, facing fundamental shifts in how customers form opinions about the suppliers they choose to work with. “Because of this it’s time for us to tighten the brand to become an even stronger presence in the material handling world,” O’Connor says. “In fact, we are even expanding the reach of our brand to go beyond the traditional definition of material handling.”
And this is where the definition of intralogistics comes in, which forms the crux of the company’s new focus to leverage its engineering and system integration expertise in traditional material handling. It goes beyond material handling because it:
- includes products and services that help customers manage goods efficiently throughout the entire supply chain;
- includes hardware, software and controls;
- requires that Wynright deliver end-to-end supply chain analysis, design and engineering expertise and services.
Elevating the brand, O’Connor adds, is an essential step in reaching business goals for the future. The company chose the name Wynright because it encompasses both its heritage and new direction. “This company has grown up under the radar for many years. We do many things very well. We have grown to be a formidable force in material handling and supply chain services, yet we have had little recognition in either the industry or the marketplace for our depth and capabilities, because of a low awareness,” O’Connor says. “It makes sense then, that in looking for a new name we tried to find a word that expressed the ‘essence’ of this company, our formidable team, our values, and what this means to our customers.”
Therefore, “Wyn” retains a bit of the old, taken from the old English for the letter W and reflecting the company’s heritage (WEi), while conveying a sense of something “done well.” The “right” delivers a clear message about the company’s integrity, values and resolve to meeting, or exceeding commitments.
THE NEXT GENERATION
In this configuration, Wynright designs, engineers, sells, manufactures, installs, configures and services solutions for clients to efficiently make products, fill orders and move material. As a manufacturing company, Wynright makes conveyers, sortation solutions, software, mezzanines and structural products, and order fulfillment systems. As a professional services company, Wynright provides supply chain engineering, application engineering, project management and system integration. The company also provides a wide array of products used throughout the supply chain, from totes, to pallets, racks and dock equipment.
Among the innovations in Wynright’s extensive portfolio are smart conveyors, which can bring significant time and cost savings to distribution centers by eliminating paper. “Instead of working with paper to show what items to pick, a smart conveyor knows what to do,” O’Connor says. It works this way: Once an order is generated, it’s scanned into the system, which talks to the WMS (warehouse management system) and WCS (warehouse control system). The WMS knows the order and number of items asked for so rather than a box with a paper clip that’s passed down the line and through each picking zone, the WCS will route the box through the zone, and skip all the zones it doesn’t need. “It will divert the box into the zone required; if it doesn’t need a particular zone, it stays on the conveyor and passes right by,” O’Connor explains.
Other advances include light-directed and voice-directed technology. With light-directed products, manufactured by Wynright’s Lighthouse brand, an order is scanned by the WMS whereupon lights are activated in the picking zones that display numbers, telling the workers the amount of merchandise to be picked for a particular box. “The worker sees the carton and he goes to where the lights are that show a number on how much to pick. It increases efficiencies; it’s quicker and more accurate.” Wynright also offers put to light technology, used in a distribution center feeding regional stores. “So, say there’s 50 blue shirts in a box on the conveyor; but where do you put them? You turn and see lights on various boxes according to store location, showing you this store gets five shirts and this store gets three, etc.,” O’Connor says.
Voice-directed technology, produced in partner with Vocollect of Monroeville, Pa., is similar to light except workers wear radio packs and headsets and listen to instructions in head phones. Having a multi-lingual feature, this system helps workers overcome language problems, allowing a facility to bring people in and up to speed in a short period of time, where historically management could face a week or two-week training period.
Other capabilities include products that allow management to dial in and see progress reports from facilities on efficiencies on picking and shipping via live feeds that come back to the control center. “Everyone knows that downtime in a distribution center is a no-no,” O’Connor says. “This system is capable of monitoring online and heading off potential problems.”
Another key player in the Wynright family is Wynright Robotics, responsible for developing automation systems for companies from many industries with applications that include mechanical assembly, electronics assembly, machine vision, dispensing, routing, material handling, automated truck loading, and sandblasting. One of the advances brought to industry from this segment is the robotic truckloader, or RTL, in which a robot attaches to a carriage that goes onto a truck with an onboard scanner and determines number and stacking arrangements for cartons, ensuring they all get to the correct destination. The Wynright RTL was named a Golden Mousetrap Best Product finalist by Design News.
Wynright’s penchant for innovation has transferred to a number of successful projects for clients such as IKEA which, through Wynright, was able to reduce turnaround to stores from 72 hours to 24 hours while taking nearly 700 miles out of the process, from a distribution center in Georgia. In 1998, when Crate&Barrel built a 450,000 square-foot facility in Naperville, Ill., Automotion helped the company meet its increasing distribution goals with three miles of conveyor and a sliding shoe sorter, enabling the company to ship more than 36 million individual pieces annually, averaging about 35,000 outbound cartons daily with holiday peaks of 70,000.
Indeed, stresses O’Connor, “A lot of what we’re seeing are increased efficiencies, people wanting to do more with less and constantly asking, ‘How can we achieve that?’ They want to expand to pick more SKUs but there’s no floor space for pick modules. It comes down to how to get more for less, and looking at the space three-dimensionally. There might be room to grow vertically, with two- and three-tier picking modules.”
What sets Wynright apart, he adds, “Is the breadth and depth of what we do and our product offering. We’re not just an integrator, but an integrator that manufactures. We have capabilities that typically might get sourced out – with us it’s a one-stop-shop solution. The other side of that is relationships. We truly believe the reason we have the largest repeat business is because of the importance we place on relationships.”