Omron Adept Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Omron Corporation, faced a major logistics challenge: How to transfer the entire shipping process for the company’s line of industrial robots in-house and train staff to meet stringent hazmat transport regulations for large format lithium batteries.
Acquired by Omron Management Center of America, Inc., a direct subsidiary of Omron Corporation in October 2015, Omron Adept Technologies, Inc., based in San Ramon, Calif., is a leading manufacturer and distributor of intelligent vision-guided robotics systems and services globally.
Omron Adept’s line of autonomous industrial robots, which provide automated warehouse solutions for manufacturers, feature large format lithium ion batteries – a power source that currently faces ultra-strict regulations for transport.
Battery compliance and shipping had been outsourced to a 3PL – with a majority of shipments originating from Omron Adept’s California manufacturing facility.
“Using a 3PL had increased our lead time and costs for managing the battery program,” said Wes Watson, director of logistics for Omron Management Center of America, which oversees Omron operations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Brazil.
Watson conducted a thorough review of shipping procedures and 3PL costs and recommended moving the entire shipping process for Omron Adept in-house to maximize supply chain efficiencies.
“Shipping large format lithium batteries requires a high level of detail to meet regulations,” said Watson. “We wanted more control to monitor the compliance of the program and stay up-to-date with compliance requirements.”
Watson conducted research and received a recommendation to contact Labelmaster Services for consulting support. Chicago-based Labelmaster specializes in helping companies comply with the complex and ever-changing regulations governing dangerous goods/hazardous materials.
“Labelmaster was an ideal choice because of its software package, personal training and ongoing support services offerings,” said Watson.
Mike Pagel, senior consultant with Labelmaster, managed the project.
Compliance Assessment Audit
A major goal for Watson was to complete the in-house move quickly.
As a first step, Labelmaster recommended an entire shipping process audit. Pagel met Watson in November to review the existing 3PL relationship, evaluate current compliance levels and develop recommendations for the in-house transfer.
A week later, Pagel sent a complete audit report summarizing key findings that included areas of strength and where enhancements were needed.
The report also included recommendations to bring Adept into optimal compliance when transferring the shipping process in-house and steps needed to maintain ongoing compliance.
Along with the audit, Labelmaster provided a shipping process guide with detailed procedures for every type of battery Omron Adept ships for all modes of transportation.
Training Staff for Hazmat Shipping
Following the audit, Labelmaster conducted training sessions in early December for Omron Adept staff. Twelve Omron employees were certified to transport dangerous goods after a full day’s training class.
Concurrently, Omron purchased Labelmaster’s Dangerous Goods Information System (DGIS), a software solution for managing dangerous goods shipping. A Labelmaster software consultant visited the plant to conduct individual training sessions for platform users.
“A growing number of electronics and technology companies use DGIS to ship lithium batteries,” said Pagel. “With recent changes, both to the regulations and to carrier-specific requirements, more battery shipments are moving from ‘excepted’ shipments to ‘fully regulated’ shipments, and our software is an ideal solution to meet those requirements.”
Labelmaster’s DGIS software includes automated functions, templates and error alert features that check inputs to ensure shipping papers are completed accurately.
“The DG Shipper’s Declaration form is a very tightly controlled and regulated document and must be completed correctly or a package can get stopped in transport and receive a violation from the FAA,” said Pagel.
With training complete, Labelmaster observed the team handling and processing shipments to ensure procedures were performed correctly.
The in-house shipping program was fully operational in December.
“From the time I contacted Labelmaster to the time we were up and running was just over a month,” said Watson. “That was a big win for us.”
Omron Adept has experienced a number of benefits since the transfer to a total in-house operation.
First, Watson and team appreciate the ease of use of the DGIS software.
“DGIS is very intuitive with prompts for everything needed, and the warehouse staff has an easy time working with it,” said Watson.
Watson also values the many regulatory updates Labelmaster provides.
“Labelmaster keeps us notified regularly about new and changing regulations that apply to our business,” said Watson.
Another benefit for Omron: improved relationships with the major carriers.
“The carriers accepted the training certificates with no questions asked and appreciate that we partnered with a compliance consultant,” said Watson.
But most important, Omron Adept is shipping product efficiently and compliantly.
“We have not had any compliance issues yet, and I don’t think we will,” said Watson. “With our current system in place, I think we will be in great shape for a very long time – which helps make our customers happy.”