Materials Handling to Reduce Operating Costs

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Co-presented this session with Alan Kirk Gray (Darien Library), Gretchen Freeman (Salt Lake County Library) and John Callahan (Palm Beach County Library). Session was sponsored by PLA. I provided the …

Co-presented this session with Alan Kirk Gray (Darien Library), Gretchen Freeman (Salt Lake County Library) and John Callahan (Palm Beach County Library). Session was sponsored by PLA. I provided the overview of the materials handling automation market and then each presenter talked about what they learned about how to reduce operating expenses as part of their implementation and operation of an automated materials handling system.

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  • 2012 © Lori Bowen Ayre / The Galecia Group. This work product is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 license.
  • Alan Kirk Gray, Chief Administrative Officer, Darien LibraryGretchen Freeman, Associate Director, Salt Lake County LibraryJohn Callahan, Palm Beach County Library Director
  • Trends • Prices for all AMH products going down. • Quality of AMH products going up. • Vendor marketplace is settling. • Kiosks filling a niche (but still evolving). • Automated check-ins with at least 3-bin sorters becoming standard.
  • Locations• outside wall (in place of or supplementing book drops) • entry way for 24/7 access • inside near service desks Access • no access door (dump) • button to start process • require library card to open door or scan library item Feeding • one-at-a-time (read each bar code or RFID tag) and decide to accept or reject, verify check=in • dump ‘em in (RFID only), may end up getting more than you bargained for, faster Interface • touch screen with instructions, verify success along the way • lights (dump now, wait) RFID or bar code or both • can have bar code reader on top and bottom 2012 © Lori Bowen Ayre / The Galecia Group. This work product is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 license.
  • Benefits 1. Items checked in before patron enters library – convenient for them, don’t ask staff to check-in their stuff 2. Check-in COMPLETELYeliminated from staff workflow – not just easier workflow3. Separate ready-to-shelve returns 4. Separate media (protect them from damage) 5. Separate items needing staff (e.g. holds, exceptions)
  • Space required: 8x10 • Lots of discharge options: trolleys, totes (bins), book carts, your own book bins • One pictured here (Lyngsoe) is “convertible.” • The totes are on a shelf which can be dropped to make space for more trolleys (for high-volume return days)
  • Entry Level 3-bin sorters: 3M Intelligent Return (not expandable)
  • Entry level 3-bin from Bibliotheca SmartSort 200 • No touch screen option• No receipt • No reject option • Inside and outside models • Pricing: $30K range with 3-bin sorter
  • Ideally 10x10 available in backroom
  • 3M FX Model - Expandable
  • Used to be you had to pay more to get the quality of Lyngsoe (formerly FKI Logistex). But now competitive price-wise. Great products. Three-in-One Lyngsoe Sorter at Cincinnati Public LibraryCapacity: 27 totes but can be converted to 2x that with half totes (being used for media). Tray can also be dropped and large bins can be put in place (13?).System has two sort plans: one for branch distribution (top picture) and another for the main library.Volume: 17,000,000 annual circ (4,000,000 at Main)Time Needed: All branch and library sorting is done within 8 hour work dayStaffing Requirements: 2.25 FTE (or 3 FTE at 75% utilization)ROI: Expected to be 1.5 years
  • High Capacity (350 items per Smart Bin)Hands Free – the Smart Bins empty onto the conveyorAlso, have the ability to sort items onto the cart (see video on YouTube of Seattle Public Library)This picture is old. It’s from their older Seattle sorter. Look for newer photos soon at
  • NOTE! AMH is affordable because it doesn’t require RFID… Biggest library sorter in USA is in King County – bar code based150 sort destinations with room for 50 moreSort 54,000 items a day
  • • What’s New – ISO 28560 established – US likely to go with ISO 28560-2 • Why it matters – Do more with RFID tags – RFID Interoperability! More info about RFID and Data Model at
  • Another new thing from Bibliotheca – SmartStock 600 • Fits onto existing library shelves • Includes antenna every foot plus reader at the end of the section • Connected to ILS via LAN • Powered by Ethernet • Pricing may change but now approximately $250 per 3’ section
  • New line from new Bibliotheca RFID or Barcode SmartServe 400 With RFID, put it in the box and it will read it.
  • Tech Logic MyMobileLibrary: App, Powered by Boopsie (Debuted in New Orleans) • mobile self check-out application • scan an item’s barcode using their smartphone’s camera to check out an item from anywhere within a library • manage their library account • powered by Boopsie• patrons privately and securely check out items from anywhere within a library using a smartphone. • MyMobileLibrary: Security Kiosk - Patrons place on kiosk shelf and the items’ RFID theft bits are automatically deactivated if the items have been properly checked out • Compatible with Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, and Windows Mobile.
  • Bio: Alan Gray is Chief Administrative Officer of Darien Public Library, Darien, CT, and was responsible for the planning of their 54,000 SF new library that opened in 2009. Darien's materials handling implementation was the first integrated RFID and materials handling system in New England.
  • Gretchen FreemanAssociate DirectorSalt Lake County Library Gretchen Freeman has spent 25 years applying technology solutions in libraries. She is currently the Associate Director for Technology for the Salt Lake County library system in Utah and directs technology strategy, implementation and operations for its 21 facilities circulating 16 million items. Gretchen implemented RFID to reduce processing time and improve customer service. She is particularly interested in maximizing the benefits of new technologies to change workflow and staffing patterns.
  • Salt Lake County Library system serves 800,000 residents in 20 facilities in the largest metropolitan county in Utah. We circulated 16.3 million items in 2011 and handled 2.3 million hold requests.In 2005 we established goals for implementing RFID system-wide.Offer customer-friendly self checkout to reduce linesStreamline workflow at the desk and in the backroom to reduce dead inventoryEstablish RFID security as our standard (migrating from 4 other types)Install sorters in new libraries to improve efficiencies and customer serviceUse RFID to assist in shelf management (inventories, pull lists, exception lists)RFID is fully implemented now, but the work to streamline and maximize benefits is ongoing. The return on investment hasn’t been without deliberate workflow decisions and changes in staff assignments. Strategies to increase self checkout use—currently 96% system-wideMove staff away from the desk and move handling tasks to the backroomRe-focus on customer contact—at entry points, roving, assisting with self checkoutConsciously revamp handling of delivery—75% of which is holds for customer pick-up7 sorting systems in place6 as part of building projectsLargest branch major remodel  
  • What do we need to do to use the sorter for every check-in to maximize labor savings? External drive-up or walk-up dropsInternal lobby book drop, especially if your library sets limits on number of loans per customerNot only labor savings, but also reduces number of staff assigned to the deskDelivery from other branches, materials pulled for holds and new materials check-inBuilding layout—ideally both external and internal on the sorter [Slide #1]Sorter design—ideally a sorter built to handle multiple feeds and conveyors efficientlyAs many sorts/bins as you can afford—no fewer than 5 if you have multiple branches (holds/transits, adult, children’s, A/V, and exceptions). Staff induction/feeding of materials—at a sorter designed to let staff load materials quicklyHandling holds—print one identification slip and retain throughout transit and onto the hold shelfAnalyze exceptions as to cause and remedy—decide who deals with exceptions—the library or the customers? Foil bound materialsMaterials not tagged (donations, materials during conversion)Materials belonging to other libraries in the areaEmpty DVD or CD cases Materials not able to be read by the antennaMaterials stacked and not separated during sorter handlingMaterials tagged for deletion or call number changes in the ILS
  • Key take-awaysDon’t leave key decisions about your sorting system to your vendor—stay involved in decisions about design, layout, configuration and the user interface. Having the sorter on an external drive-up bookdrop should be a priority both for customer convenience and a 24/7 return on investment .  Push as much work as possible through the sorting system with multiple drops for customers and staff feeding materials onto the sorter behind the scenes. If customers trust the sorter, they don’t care about check-in receipts; if they need receipts, it’s the result of materials not being checked in by staff in their past history. Actively monitor workload after adding a sorter to determine when to change staffing levels. [Slide #2]Create a report of the primary tasks the staff perform and “weight” them according to average time each task takes. Show total work divided by number of FTE assigned to that function in each library. Compare workload per FTE of sorter and non-sorter libraries with each other.Sorter libraries will ultimately (over time) be able to 1) handled increased workload and 2) transfer vacant positions to non-sorter libraries. Workload at sorter libraries is 18% higher per FTE than non-sorter libraries (so far) Report on both financial and indirect returns on sorter investment to library stakeholders.We save 2 FTE per sorter library so farMove circulation staff to customer contact rolesProcess hold requests more quickly to deliver within 24 hoursCustomers love the speed of the service and lack of linesMaterials cycle back to the shelves within 1 dayThe library is perceived as leading edge (the “coolness” factor)
  • 40 years of public library experience in Virginia, California and Florida. Library Director since 1990Has been involved in over 30 library construction projects including 17 in the last six years.


  • 1. Welcome to thisPLA-sponsoredprogram!
  • 2. Materials Handling Automation toReduce Operating CostsJune 24, 2012ALA Annual ConferenceAnaheim, CA
  • 3. +Presenters Lori Bowen Ayre, Alan Kirk Gray, Gretchen Freeman, John Callahan,
  • 4. Materials Handling Trends Prices for all AMH products going down. Quality of AMH products going up. Vendor marketplace is settling. Kiosks filling a niche (but still evolving). Automated check-ins with at least 3-bin sortersbecoming standard.
  • 5. The New Self Check-out:Automated Check-in
  • 6. Variations in Automated Check-ins Location (inside, outside, foyer) Access (restrictions, or not) Induction (one-at-a-time, or not) Patron interface (touch screen, or not) Number of sort discharges RFID (or not)
  • 7. Automated Check-in with 3-Bin Sorters Cost: $40,000 - $70,000 Benefits:1. Items checked in before patron enters library2. Don’t just optimize check-in, eliminate it from staffworkflow entirely3. Separate ready-to-shelve returns4. Separate media (protect them from damage)5. Separate items needing staff (e.g. holds,exceptions)6. Small footprint (10’x10’ room min with big bins)7. 1.5 FTE in savings
  • 8. Lyngsoe SortMate Capacity: 200items per “ErgoTrolley” Flexible – totes ortrolleys Expandable – addmore sorts
  • 9. 3M Intelligent Return Plus NOT expandable Optional Add-ons Touch Screen Outside induction
  • 10. Bibliotheca SmartSort 200 Entry level No touch screen No receipt No reject option Inside and outside models
  • 11. Envisionware WhisperSort Claim to fame: Quiet(< 55 db) Integrated holds-handling Expandable
  • 12. Larger SortersCost: $50,000 and upBenefits: Same as 3-bin but require more space Expandable More sorting done so even less handling by staff
  • 13. 3M Intelligent Sorter System FX
  • 14. Envisionware at Las Vegas – ClarkCounty
  • 15. Lyngsoe
  • 16. Tech-Logic
  • 17. AMH Doesn’t Require RFID Don’t combine the twoin one procurement If you are sure youneed both, do RFID first But make sure you DOneed both.…
  • 18. RFID: We finally have meaningful standards!U.S. Data Model: ISO 28560-2
  • 19. Your Job: Demand Compliant RFIDSystemsWhy it matters INTEROPERABILITY! Do more with RFID tagsHow If you have ISO 18000-3, Mode 1 tags, you canuse your existing tags. Talk to your vendor Insist on ISO 28560-2 in your next procurement
  • 20. New RFID Materials Handling Productsfrom BibliothecaSmartStock 500 RFID “tunnel” that reads 50 tags atonce Use: ReceivingSmartStock 600 Detects items on shelf in real-time Use: Search for items and find outwhere they actually are
  • 21. Bibliotheca Smart Serve 400: Thenew look of self-check?
  • 22. Or this? Tech Logic MyMobileLibrary Mobile self-check-out application Uses Boopsie Check-out with smartphone Requires security kiosk to turn offsecurity
  • 23. Learn More About Ramifications of U.S.Data ModelSee the July, 2012issue of LibraryTechnologyReports“RFID: One StepCloser toInteroperability”
  • 24. More on Library AMH & RFID including this presentation…
  • 25. Alan Kirk Gray
  • 26. Gretchen Freeman
  • 27. Salt Lake County LibraryGoals for RFID Customer-friendly self checkout to reduce lines Streamline workflow, reduce backroom dead time Establish RFID as system security standard Install sorters to improve service & turnaround Use RFID for shelf management
  • 28. Sorter Pay-Back Strategy Drive-up drop and internal lobby drop where possible for24/7 check in Easy for customers to throw and go Staff induction for all backroom check in Check in all materials on the sorter Five or more bins per sorter Holds as first priority for check in and shelving
  • 29. Branch circulating 900,000 items per year7-bin sorting system with internal & external drops andstaff induction areasDrive-updropLobby dropStaffinductionStaffinduction
  • 30. Workload per circulation clerk
  • 31. John Callahan
  • 32. Palm Beach County Background Revenue down 26%, Circ up 50% Adding 175,000 sq. ft. of new space including 3 newbranches, 2 larger replacement branches, 2expanded branches, 9 renovated branches. Looking at 60-75 new hires $2 - $3 million available in capital funds
  • 33. ApproachIdentify solutionsIssue RFP for self-checkChoose security/RFID vendor Able to piggyback on existing contractChoose AMH vendor Sought vendor with proven track record who couldhandle our needs Again, able to piggyback on existing contract
  • 34. Outcome No layoffs Eliminated need for 60+ jobs Self check-out up to 68% Self check-in up to 90% Interlibrary delivery turnaround time reduced from 2-3 days to same or next
  • 35. Key Take-Aways
  • 36. PlanningDo it and do it thoroughlyAMH can provide significant savings.RFID and self-check improve customerexperience but don’t necessarily save money.Push as much work through sorter as possible.Get staff buy-in.Don’t leave key decisions to your vendor.
  • 37. Avoid the RFP/RFQ Process Work with vendors. Study options. Make choices. Then, get quotes from vendors you are interested in.
  • 38. Figure Out Your PaybackHow? Take capital cost plus maintenance. Determine how much you need in staff savings toachieve payback in X years. You pick X.Look for 3-5 years ROI.Realistic?
  • 39. Going Forward Actively monitor workload after adding sorter andmake staffing changes as needed (money doesn’tsave itself). All new construction projects should include an AMHsystem. Report on both direct ($) and indirect returns oninvestment. Look for new materials handling opportunities withRFID.
  • 40. Survey Says?Review this program