KUECKER LOGISTICS GROUP, PULSE INTEGRATION, AND QC SOFTWARE HAVE COMBINED

KUECKER LOGISTICS GROUP, PULSE INTEGRATION, AND QC SOFTWARE HAVE COMBINED

 

Kansas City, July [16], 2021 – Leading integration firms Kuecker Logistics Group, Inc. (“Kuecker”), Pulse Integration (“PULSE”), and QC Software, LLC (“QC”) announced today that they have combined to form a new company, Kuecker Pulse Integration, L.P. (“KPI” or the “Company”).  In conjunction with this combination, funds managed by the Private Equity Group of Ares Management Corporation (NYSE: ARES) (“Ares”) have acquired a majority interest in the Company with the existing owners of all three businesses retaining significant equity stakes.

Larry Strayhorn, CEO of Pulse, will lead the Company, and he will be joined on the leadership team by executives from each of Pulse, Kuecker, and QC.

“Pulse, Kuecker, and QC all hold the same core values of honesty, integrity, and transparency. We are thrilled about the opportunities ahead to combine our companies and extend our track record of value creation, innovation, and success as a larger operator,” said Strayhorn.

Jim Kuecker, President of Kuecker, noted “This is an exciting time for our companies. This combination will enhance our capabilities and scale, and we look forward to working together to deliver even greater value to our customers and suppliers in the future.”

“We have worked closely with Larry and Jim and their respective companies over the years, and we are excited to be combining with them in this next chapter of our evolution” said Kevin Tedford, CEO of QC.

Kuecker is a leading innovative material handling solutions provider for more than 40 years. Using a customized approach, they work to design, engineer, and implement logistics management solutions to increase distribution efficiency. Kuecker provides cutting edge solutions in logistics management, supply chain management, value chain management, industrial automation, inventory management and more.

PULSE is a systems integrator that has over 50 years of experience serving customers throughout North America.  Pulse is focused on helping companies leverage the right mix of technology in their facilities, and works to understand, collaborate, and analyze business needs in real-time, and provide custom-engineered solutions in a tiered delivery process.  Using a data-driven, technology-agnostic approach, Pulse ensures projects are scoped to fit the needs of the customer while remaining adaptable for a changing market.

QC is recognized as an industry leader in providing innovative software solutions for order fulfillment and distribution centers. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, they have been providing software solutions to customers in North America and Europe to streamline their warehouse operations using the most innovative supply chain automation software solutions.

“As a pure-play technology and solutions integrator, KPI is well positioned to serve the requirements of the fast-growing warehouse automation space,” said Brian Klos, Partner in Ares’ Private Equity Group. “This combination will provide KPI with significant scale and expanded capabilities to better serve its customers and drive the next phase of the Company’s growth, both organically and through strategic acquisitions. We are excited to have the opportunity to partner with Larry, Jim, Kevin, as well as the other members of the management team.  We believe this combination brings together a group of uniquely talented and motivated leaders.”

Mr. Strayhorn continued, “Our vision is to build a full-service integrator platform with an industry leading software offering”.  “We believe Ares is the right partner to help us expand our Company and deliver on these important objectives.”

About Kuecker Logistics Group, Inc.

Kuecker is a leading innovative material handling solutions provider working to design, engineer, and implement logistics management solutions to increase distribution efficiency. Kuecker provides cutting edge solutions in logistics management, supply chain management, value chain management, industrial automation, inventory management and more. Not only does Kuecker design and build systems to make business supply chain more efficient, Kuecker acts as a partner and consultant to ensure the success of our implemented services. The strong relationships with clients are testaments to value, commitment, and fulfillment of customer expectations in providing operational analysis, system engineering, system installation, project management, training, start-up assistance and ongoing support.

About PULSE Integration

PULSE is a full system integrator working diligently to provide a customized solution for every client. Combining design expertise, seamless integration with intentional transparency Pulse provides clients with scalable engineered solutions. Cultivating over 50 years of material handling experience to specifically help companies leverage the right mix of technology (digital and physical) in their facilities. The Pulse team ingrains Industry 4.0 Thinking into the design philosophy at every level to deliver truly agnostic solutions that adapt to continuous evolving customer requirements.

About QC Software, LLC

QC is recognized as a leading provider of supply chain automation software solutions. Our Warehouse Execution / Warehouse Control Systems streamline warehouse/distribution operations with the lowest total cost of ownership in the industry. QC solutions maximize your system’s productivity and dependability, making us the ideal solution for your warehousing needs.

About Ares Management Corporation

Ares Management Corporation (NYSE: ARES) is a leading global alternative investment manager offering clients complementary primary and secondary investment solutions across the credit, private equity, real estate and infrastructure asset classes. We seek to provide flexible capital to support businesses and create value for our stakeholders and within our communities. By collaborating across our investment groups, we aim to generate consistent and attractive investment returns throughout market cycles. As of March 31, 2021, including the acquisition of Landmark Partners, which closed June 2, 2021, and the acquisition of Black Creek Group, which closed July 1, 2021, Ares Management’s global platform had approximately $239 billion of assets under management with approximately 2,000 employees operating across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East. For more information, please visit www.aresmgmt.com. Follow Ares on Twitter @Ares_Management.

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Contacts:

Ares Management Corporation

Bill Mendel

212-397-1030

bill@mendelcommunications.com

Or

Carl Drake

888-818-5298

cdrake@aresmgmt.com

Or

Brittany Cash

212-301-0347

bcash@aresmgmt.com

KPI

Brittain Ladd

469-714-9754

brittain.ladd@kpisolutions.com

Or

Stephanie Fisher

315-778-0138

stephanie.fisher@kpisolutions.com

 

Top Material Handling System Solution Provider

Top Material Handling System Solution Provider

Leading Material Handling System Solution Provider

PULSE Integration has been featured as a top material handling system solution provider for 2021 by Logistics Tech Outlook Magazine.

Logistic Tech Outlook provides an annual listing of 10 companies that are at the forefront of providing material handling system solutions and transforming businesses.  The magazine is read by over 68,000 subscribers who are key decision-makers in the logistics sector.

The magazine also features contributory articles from senior management executives from distribution, warehousing, manufacturing, supply chain experts, logistics professionals, and other technology decision makers on how material handling solutions improved operational performance in their organizations.

Read The Article Here

The Future of Robotics Solutions & Automation

The Future of Robotics Solutions & Automation

As the world begins to adopt more forms of automated systems, it raises concern for the impact on job loss.  While robotics can automate and improve efficiency it is not a substitute for all operations and human labor in the industry. A study conducted by Deloitte shows that 60% of companies are utilizing robotics as an assist to with current workforce rather than to replace it altogether.

This will lead to a fundamental change in the duties assigned to human roles.  Repetitive, labor-intensive, and oftentimes potentially dangerous tasks will be replaced by robotics while more crucial and analytical roles will still need a personalized touch of human involvement. Robotics and AMRs help boost productivity, efficiency, resilience, and even safety within a facility, however, humans are still needed to play critical roles in the overall system. The ideal solution is a blend of human involvement and robotic automation.

The pandemic showed the world that the current supply chain model was modeled after a world that does not exist anymore. Customers demand easy access to products, speed of delivery, and high-touch customer service.

AutoStore automated fulfillment solutionsBusinesses must evolve quickly to navigate the ecommerce demand and to stay ahead of their competitors. Convenience and social distancing take precedence over the in-store shopping experience. Businesses that can serve eCommerce customers efficiently and effectively will win market share.

Today’s competitive businesses are seeing that the use of Robotics is becoming cost effective for order fulfillment. More retailers are relying on automated fulfillment and robotics to lower costs, ensure accuracy, and decrease processing times. eCommerce continues to account for a larger percentage of market share each year. Grocers must meet demand with grocery fulfillment that works for both the business and the customer. Customer expectations have evolved, and efficient grocery fulfillment solutions are quickly becoming necessary for a competitive market. Online shoppers expect to locate the same variety of products, with little to no change in price points. Consumer needs and tastes are rapidly changing, and the dominance of eCommerce has changed customer expectations. New technology enables your business to futurize processes and increase the utilization of existing assets.

PULSE Integration partnered with OTTO Motors to complete the largest at scale deployments of AMR technology in North America. The Business Case for AMR's in ManufacturingDuring the study, PULSE compared AMR performance to existing technologies and human load factors. The result, AMR’s represented 10% of the equivalent manual handling labor costs and 20% of the cost of a forklift.  It is important to note the situational aspects associated with this study. At higher speeds and with advanced safety features, AMR’s outperformed manual carrying, and driver operated pallet loaders over long distances. However, humans have more agility moving goods for short distances or around stations.  It was determined that a blend of both would create the optimum result with output and efficiency. AMR’s would conduct the heavy lifting and repetitive labor while humans would operate at stations carrying out tasks of picking, sorting, or quality control.

Reducing the number of people moving around a facility compounded with the risks of human driver error, and injury related to repetitive “heavy lifting” tasks helped alleviate some of the many key hazards companies continue to face leading to costly accidents in their facilities.

Read More About PULSE Integration and OTTO’s deployment of AMR Solutions in the attached white paper.

Read More Here

AMRs in Manufacturing

AMRs in Manufacturing

OTTO Motors and PULSE Integration have partnered to implement one of the world’s largest deployments of AMR technology. The OTTO material handling platform was deployed at a billion dollar company that is a household name in consumer goods. This was in part because of the ability for the AMR platform to flexibly, reliably and safely move materials but the strength of the business case was a deciding factor in the choice to implement OTTO.

The following conclusions were drawn after a detailed analysis of the OTTO platform vs alternative material handling methods for the customers. When compared for productivity and costs:

  • OTTO was 10% the cost of a full-time equivalent for manual cart movement
  • OTTO was 50% of the costs associated with a driver and a forklift.
  • OTTO was 66% the cost of an AGV equivalent
  • OTTO was 50% the cost of a conveyor equivalent

When the customer began its work with PULSE to transform its operations, four methods of material transport were considered. The customer needed a flexible, reliable and safe solution that would optimize materials movement. OTTO AMRs were found to be more flexible than a conveyor and safer than a forklift. The deployment resulted in an ROI of less than two years, and significant cost savings for the operation. The payback drivers included labor savings, increased productivity, improved safety and ergonomics for operators, lower capital costs, and a more compact facility design.

Competitive Advantage Through Automation

Automation has long been used to improve efficiencies within manufacturing as a way to gain competitive advantage. To see how automation has made an impact we need only look at the automotive industry where automation made Ford’s mass production possible and profoundly changed the world.

Today, lights out production–where entire factories are automated–promises the highest efficiencies, but remains elusive for many manufacturers. One of the last forms of automation to make its way onto factory floors is materials handling. Moving materials has remained predominantly a human task. And because it has been considered one of the lowest valued tasks on the factory floor, materials handling has been ripe for automation.

Advancements in robotics, computing power, and AI have made way for a new class of automation for material handling to emerge. The autonomous mobile robot or AMR combines the flexibility of a human with the efficiency of a conveyor while safely moving materials in pedestrian-heavy areas. The first industrialized implementations of the technology have in the last decade. Yet, there have been few examples of meaningfully scaled deployments in manufacturing.

One Company.
Two Scaled AMR Deployments.

OTTO Motors, one of the pioneers of the AMR industry, partnered with PULSE Integration to implement one of the world’s largest deployments of AMR technology. The companies deployed the OTTO Materials Handling Platform at a billion-dollar company that is a household name in consumer goods.

PULSE Integration was initially retained to evaluate various materials handling technologies for two facilities, one greenfield and one brownfield. AMRs, conveyors, forklifts, and automated guided vehicles (AGVs) were evaluated for comparative productivity and costs. The OTTO Materials Handling Platform was selected for both sites. The decision was made because of the ability for the AMR platform to flexibly, reliably, and safely move materials. The strength of the business case was also a deciding factor in the choice to implement OTTO.

OTTO Autonomous Mobile Robots:

10% THE COST

of a full-time human labor equivalent

20% THE COST

of a driver and forklift

Cost savings resulted in:

ROI of <2 YEARS

and

IRR of >50%

OTTO Autonomous Mobile Robots were found to be 10% the cost of a full-time equivalent for manual cart movement and 20% of the costs associated with a driver and a forklift. OTTO was also compared against fully automated technologies. Again, when directly compared for productivity and costs, OTTO was a fraction of the cost of traditional conveyance and automated guided vehicles (AGV). These cost savings resulted in an ROI of fewer than two years and an IRR of >50%. To achieve these results, the payback drivers included labor savings, increased productivity, improved safety and ergonomics for operators, lower capital costs, and a more compact facility design.

Deployment Considerations

A number of deployment considerations were taken into account for the deployment of the OTTO Materials Handling Platform.

OTTO Materials Movement Platform

Design

A critical part of the project was in the design phase. The goal of this phase was to design the optimal flow of materials. Simulation was used to compare machine and material staging layout configurations to aid the customer in making decisions about facility layout. By simulating the process options ahead of time, the customer was able to make the best decision for layout and process while de-risking the deployment well before the commissioning of the fleet started.

The teams also used simulation to test how AMRs would react in every scenario. For example, they were able to model the physical constraints of the operation when testing against various parameters like vehicle speed, traffic management, and opportunity charging. Simulation allowed the system designer to stress test the AMR fleet and check for “corner cases.”

A thorough design phase can also be used to prepare for the following situations:

  • Restarting a facility after a prolonged shut down (holiday shut down)
  • Manufacturing line change over from one product to another
  • Recall of goods in an eCommerce operation requiring reverse logistics
  • “Cut-over” of plant from manual to autonomous operations
  • Introduction of new work process

Safety

The downside to manual material handling goes beyond poor utilization of a limited human workforce, it also presents health and safety risks. According to the US Department of Labor, materials handling is the number one cause of compensable injuries. The various mechanisms for transport that are human-powered, such as traditional fork trucks, are fraught with safety issues that can result in injury or death.

OTTO was designed to work around people and other vehicles.

OTTO AMRs are pedestrian-safe robots and use safety-rated sensors. Simply put, OTTO was designed to work around people and other vehicles. This is made possible through sensor fusion and onboard AI to enable local route planning and collision avoidance. OTTO routinely navigates traffic with other vehicles at intersections and passing scenarios using OTTO Fleet Manager. “Rules of the road” can be custom configured per site, including speed limits and sensor sensitivity. Further, OTTO can be programmed to understand the overhang of a load and to account for oversized loads while maneuvering.

Payload

At the Greenfield facility, OTTO 100 was used to replace the human labor of transportation carts of materials and goods. The equivalency between humans and AMRs in terms of transport workload is at parity. AMRs travel faster over long distances and their maximum speed is 4.5 miles per hour (a light jog). In short transports and docking maneuvers humans are faster and more nimble.

OTTO Motors Payload

As a general conversion factor for a large workspace (>100,000 SF) a designer can use an AMR to Human equivalency factor of 1:1. For smaller spaces (<50,000 SF) a more detailed study of maneuvers may be needed to establish the true relationship. The findings from the design was that the OTTO platform generally outperformed simulation expectations.

At the Brownfield facility, OTTO 1500 was selected to replace forklift labor of transporting loaded pallets of finished goods and raw materials. OTTO 1500 can carry a payload of 3,300 lbs on a pallet. OTTO 1500 is compatible with all of the pallets in the facility which included:

  • Common wooden pallet types
  • Plastic pallets
  • Supersack on pallets
  • Vendor supplied raw material pallets
  • Manufactured WIP and finished goods pallets

The OTTO 1500 is capable of interfacing with manual or automated forklifts via the use of pallet stands, which enable load transfer and for the OTTO1500 to drive underneath the pallet load. While in transport the AMR is beneath the pallet load, meaning the space requirement for maneuvering is little more than the pallet dimensions. Automated processes can be implemented with retrofits to existing equipment or AMR interface design of new equipment.

The Network Effect of Scale

As more AMRs are deployed in the system, the more efficient the entire fleet becomes. As an example, consider that in an operation with substantial human labor, the humans cannot simultaneously communicate to each other. Instead, humans rely on hearing, line of sight, and communication devices like radio. One human that is idle is not instantaneously alerted to a condition of extra work being required somewhere else in the operation. With AMRs, the communication is immediate and the dispatch from Fleet Manager to an idle AMR is done using a combination of computer logic and artificial intelligence. Therefore, as the AMR fleet size grows the efficiency of the fleet improves. For large footprint operations at scale, AMR efficiency can exceed human efficiency.

Largest AMR Fleet Deployment

Largest AMR Fleet Deployment

PULSE Integration partnered OTTO Motors, to undertake what is the world’s first in-depth analysis of automated mobile robots (AMRs) deployed at scale in industrial facilities. With hundreds of facilities across North America, this billion dollar organization is a household name in Consumer Packaged Goods. In 2 facilities spanning over 1.7M sq ft, this Fortune 500 company is 100% reliant on OTTO technology for their material transport.

Watch the video here

View the business case here