Volume 6 | Issue 3 | Year 2003

Many of LB International’s loyal customers are Fortune 500 companies that enjoy improved customer service levels, a safer work environment, lower maintenance, and less product damage. Some customers report manpower reductions of more than 50 percent, trailer loading in two-thirds less time, space savings as high as 45 percent, eight-fold productivity increases, over 7 percent reduction in product costs, and per-case costs cut in half. One ironic outcome of delivering new material handling solutions is a reduction of up to 80 percent in the actual handling of material.
“Someone at a convention years ago said that the best material handling is no material handling,” recounts COO Gary Janz. “Not only is that true, but it really is our goal. We are looking to minimize the number of times that people have to handle material in order to maximize efficiency and savings for our customers.”

“What we’ve seen in the past months is that companies have been delaying almost all capital spending, including improvements to the internal supply chain,” Janz observes. “Most recently, however, some of these companies have reached a point where they can’t afford to delay any more. Other business conditions are forcing them to make the capital investment. That is a good thing for us and for the economy in general.
“Meanwhile, our company has been investing in new products and cost reductions and all of those things that position us to be a leader as the economy rebounds. That’s critical because, if you wait for the economy to completely return, you’re going to be late in the game and lose a competitive edge.”

The company’s assembly plant depends on talented employees and partners who add to LBI’s knowledge base and extensive resources as an industry leader.“Although some of our supplier and vendor relationships predate the existence of the company, we continue to forge new partnerships. They’re all just great people. They deliver on time. They watch their costs and help us maintain our reputation for high quality,” Janz says. “A key in the mutual success of these relationships is a philosophy in business and life that mirrors our emphasis on high integrity, fairness, and honesty.”

The Bottom Line
LBI understands the importance of streamlining material handling operations in the warehouse as well as in the factory. “In industry today, the majority of capital spending continues to be used for improving production processes because it is typically the most visible and easiest to justify,” Janz says. “Companies tend to forget about how much they can save by streamlining their warehousing and distribution. Some are even myopic about the way they handle incoming, work-in-progress, and finished material within production.”

“In the past, the idea of a warehouse was to store as much material as possible,” relates Janz. “But that thinking has changed. In fact, the smaller you can make your warehouse and the faster you can turn your inventory, the better. People come to us looking for answers, not just equipment. We must deliver justifiable solutions that are agile and scalable.”

Instead of adding forklifts and operators that get in each other’s way, LBI seeks more creative solutions and may totally re-engineer material handling operations to add unprecedented efficiencies. In addition to building, installing and integrating systems, the company offers a number of internal supply chain services such as computer simulation and animation to highlight process improvement opportunities, refine system requirements and validate economic justification.

Upgrading material handling is an idea whose time has come as companies look for an economic advantage. LBI’s solutions are designed for payback in three years or less, and add profit to the bottom line for decades to come. Not only do LBI systems include the granularity to keep initial cost low, they have the built-in flexibility to accommodate changes in market demands and product lines. With the promise of vastly improved efficiency and reduced costs, companies are seeing the value of investing in material handling.

Innovation and Integration
LB International has literally reinvented the wheel and with very good reason. “We use a lot of wheels and rollers in our products and we must accommodate a wide variety of pallets, containers, totes, and slip-sheets,” explains Janz. “The construction of one of the most ubiquitous pallets places its nail pattern directly over the wheels in the tracks, chewing up standard skate wheels. So we developed our own case-hardened skate wheel.”

The patent is pending for ArmorWHEEL®, just one of many innovations from the company’s unparalleled engineering, and experience in material handling.Such innovation is part of the company’s history, which extends to 25 years ago when CEO Ted Hammond invented the Classic LoadBank® system. This ingenious, gravity-driven, unit-load conveyor uses air to raise and lower wheel or roller tracks, which control load movement along sloped rails. The program-controlled, OSHA-compliant system is in use in production facilities, warehouses and distribution centers all over the world.

Based on the unique technology, the company was born in 1989 and has expanded its patented systems and equipment, along with its headquarters, building a 20,000-square-foot production/assembly facility in St. Cloud, Fla.LBI’s products are employed in applications ranging from automated case picking to high density, deep-lane storage and staging in a variety of industries such as food, beverage, automobile, electronics, retail, textiles and plastics. In fact, many of the hundreds of LBI installations have been operating successfully for over a quarter century.

Other innovations among LBI’s 70-plus U.S. and foreign patents include AirTRAX™ Technology, an underpinning of safe, reliable power that supports most of LBI’s systems. XpressLANE® is a space-saving, bi-directional system that moves a variety of unit-loads, in practically any size, smoothly and gently on a level plane. Integrated solutions include pallet conveyors, sorters, case conveyors, palletizers and stretch wrappers, automatic storage/ retrieval systems, automated guided vehicles, robotics, and inventory management and control software. LBI continues to lead the way in innovative technologies, looking back at an illustrious past as the key for future progress.