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How to Make Rack Aisles Safer for Foot Traffic

August 17, 2016

warehouse store loading water bottles

Above: Stock image of warehouse store and pallet rack

Pallet racks by nature are very safe storage equipment, but in any areas people interact with machinery, and heavy storage, there are dangers. A recent accident at a big box warehouse retailer helps illustrate some of the problems with busy pedestrian aisles between heavy storage racks.

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Posted in Pallet Rack, Safety & Ergonomics, Warehousing| No Comments »

In Tight Labor Markets, How Can Warehouses Thrive?

August 12, 2016

warehouse worker in a pallet rack aisle

Distribution is growing — booming, some would say — particularly in larger markets. This tend is being driven by many factors, including a sustained economic recovery and low unemployment rates. Also, e-commerce powers like Amazon are in the midst of one-day or same-day delivery guarantees that require larger, more capable distribution networks that can serve major markets faster and usually within close proximity. These factors help to create stress on labor shortages in these cities, as newer distribution facilities open and existing ones expand. Add to that, the ongoing woes with skilled labor and a generally aging labor force.

How can you cope with a tight labor market?

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Posted in Automation, Order Picking & Fulfillment, ROI, Warehousing| No Comments »

Ergonomics and Hand Tools

July 19, 2016

manufacturing activities
Ergonomics should be wired into the design of all the processes of a modern industrial operation. Whether that means designing conveyor workstations with ergonomics in mind, utilizing work benches and stations that are adjustable for “right height” operations, adding turntables to rotate product, finding ways to reduce order pickers’ bending and stretching, or designing storage areas so that bending and stretching are minimized, well-designed operations bake ergonomics into their work processes.

One of the common areas you can attack is hand tool use. In many operations, strong younger workers may not complain about using heavy, hand-held tools for 8+ hours a day, but that stress is taking its tolls.

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Posted in Lifts, Manufacturing, Safety & Ergonomics, Workbenches & Stations| No Comments »

What Causes a Pallet Rack Collapse? How Can You Prevent it?

June 24, 2016

Pallet Rack Collapse

When heavy loads are stored on multi-level pallet racks, collapses and product falls are a primary safety concern. Busy warehouses with many workers who drive or walk between aisles of rack should find ways to reduce the chances of a disastrous event.

Stopping a collapse is an order of magnitude easier and less expensive than a single incident. Due to its interconnected nature, when pallet rack falls, it’s usually an entire row, or a series of them. Costs, in terms of damaged product, lost production time, and injuries can be extreme. In many “just-in-time” manufacturing operations, losing components means losing days of production time.

So: what can you do?

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Improving Customer Experience Through Manufacturing

June 16, 2016

manufacturing activities

Today’s consumers know what they want — and they want it fast.

The global online marketplace has placed infinite possibilities at customers’ fingertips and competition is stiff. This is no longer a consumer trend; B2B companies have to change how they approach customer experience. Buyers are not only looking for a superior product, they also want great customer service and an efficient sales process.

Hue Schlegel of Wildeck put the current trend in the most succinct way possible: “The customer is king, so you have to give them what they want.”

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Posted in Manufacturing, Material Handling, Supply Chain, Warehousing| No Comments »

Technology’s Impact on Manufacturing & Distribution Center Industry

June 14, 2016

conveyor system automated

Automation comes sharply into focus at industry shows like this year’s Modex 2016. It’s an opportunity to see the latest innovations in technology up close and hear from vendors the new ways they are incorporating automated material handling systems into their own facilities, as well as serving their customers.

Manufacturing, distribution and supply chain companies are doing everything they can to keep pace with the rapid change of technology, from the Internet of Things to 3D printing to highly intuitive software. As we made our way around the show floor, we were curious how the increase of automation is affecting the workforce, updating facility processes, and changing how manufacturers do business. Let’s take a look:

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New Ways Manufacturers Are Attracting and Retaining Talent

June 8, 2016

manufacturing employees

If there’s one takeaway from Modex 2016 that will stick with us it’s that the supply chain industry is evolving at a rapid pace. From automated material handling to software that harnesses and makes sense of big data to safer and more ergonomic products, the show was rife with innovation.

While the technology is improving, most companies are facing challenges in another critical aspect: Hiring skilled workers. As the workforce ages and veteran employees look to retire, companies are struggling to fill positions. We’ve written about the manufacturing skills gap before and it was a topic that came up repeatedly in our conversations with industry colleagues at Modex. After all, the Manufacturing Institute research shows that by 2025 the skills gap will result in 2 million unfilled jobs. It’s a great concern across the industry.

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Interview: Proximity Detection for Forklift Safety

June 1, 2016

ZoneSafe Pedestrian Safety System

Safety has always been important to warehousing and manufacturing, but in recent years, the emphasis has grown – and it’s no wonder.

The forklift has always been at or near the top of these concerns, due to its common use. There are nearly 900,000 forklifts in use in the United State. Forklift accidents are always in OSHA’s top ten  safety violations lists. But the reality is that despite the dangers they can present, forklifts are indispensable for material handling operations.

We sat down with Donald Prater, Cisco-Eagle’s Safety Division Manager, to discuss some common questions involving ZoneSafe, a proximity detection technology that helps alert drivers that pedestrians are nearby as they do their work.

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Posted in AisleCop, News, Safety & Ergonomics| No Comments »

Modex Interview Series: Hytrol’s Perspective on Today’s Manufacturing Industry

May 25, 2016

shipping dock area

“The Greatest Supply Chain Show on Earth” – that was the slogan for Modex 2016 – and this year’s event at Atlanta, Georgia did not disappoint. During the busy four-day conference, we were fortunate to get a few minutes with Boyce Bonham, Director of Integrated Systems and Controls at Hytrol, a leader in the design and manufacturing of advanced conveyor systems.

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Posted in Lean, Manufacturing, Material Handling, Safety & Ergonomics| No Comments »

How to Make Shipping Docks Safer and More Efficient

May 19, 2016

shipping dock area

Loading docks are often the busiest area of any distribution facility. When trucks are being loaded or unloaded, they become a center of activity with a number of people and forklifts operating within proximity to each other. Usually this is fast work, with the need to quickly load or unload a truck. Everyone involved, from forklift drivers to warehouse workers to truck drivers to bystanders has a role to play in a safer dock operation. Here are some common issues and solutions.

OSHA lists some of the potential threats on its official workplace hazards resource.

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Posted in Docks & Shipping, Safety & Ergonomics, Warehousing| No Comments »