Material Handling Experts


Information on the products and techniques to better store, handle, and move products in your facility.

How to Avoid Loading Dock Injuries

August 3, 2012

loading dock from the outside

Since 25% of all warehouse injuries occur at the loading dock, warehousing and manufacturing operations need to pay close attention to this area. Shipping and receiving docks both suffer similar problems in that they are bustling places. At peak times they can get very busy, and when people are pressed for time, they become careless. So, what are the common injury types, and what can you do to avoid them?

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Factors for Distribution Center Sustainability

July 18, 2012

distribution center conveyor system

At Modex 2012, Hytrol Conveyor’s Boyce Bonham sat down with DCVelocity to discuss distribution center sustainability. We’ve linked the video below, which is worth a few moments of your time. How do initiatives to work greener, smarter, and better affect warehouses and distribution operations? Not surprisingly, these initiatives often save money, at least over the long term.

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Posted in Automation, Conveyor, Material Handling, Supply Chain, Sustainability, Warehousing| No Comments »

Conveyor Down in the 2nd Shift, On a Holiday Eve

July 13, 2012

This note came to us regarding one of our Service & Maintenance clients, a major retailer distribution operation in Dallas, TX, and the experience it had with our technician. With a power conveyor out during the evening, the night before a holiday, he needed fast assistance.

“Tuesday night (July 3) we experienced a significant conveyor failure on night shift. The belt on a straight conveyor section leading into a critical area had broken and wrapped around the drive unit. A huge mess on the night before a holiday.”

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Destratifying Air Layers: Cooler, Energy Saving Facilities

July 3, 2012

warehouse temperature stratification

Why air temperature gradients matter

Temperature gradients occur when air is not moving sufficiently to keep rising hot air mixed with descending cool air, creating warmer temperatures at the ceiling and cooler temperatures at the floor, with temperature variations equal to about .75 degrees per foot of rise. This means there could be six degrees difference from the floor to an 8′ ceiling. In a 40 ft ceiling room, temperatures can vary 30 degrees or more. At a glance this seems to be a good thing. The floor of your facility, where people have to operate is cooler than the air pressed against the ceiling.

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Posted in Manufacturing, Safety & Ergonomics, Sustainability, Warehousing| No Comments »

Reducing Inventory Errors Due to Order Picking

June 25, 2012

checking inventory at a warehouse

“We keep making mistakes”

Mistakes happen, but in order picking operations, reducing the number of errors is critically important. Order picking is the last touch point between you and your customers. When it comes to customer relations, it’s more important than any public relations, press releases, or websites your company can create. No matter if you’re shipping direct to consumers or to another processing operation, customers are directly impacted. Not only is the customer with the incorrect order harmed, so are potential future customers who suffer because of inventory errors delaying orders.

What are some ways you can increase inventory accuracy related to order picking?

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Posted in Automation, Industrial Shelving, Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Supply Chain, Warehousing| No Comments »

Protecting Order Pickers in Rack Aisles

June 22, 2012

Picking orders in a pallet rack aisle

“We need help before someone gets hurt”

The situation is familiar: in a busy warehouse or distribution center, you can have dozens or hundreds of order pickers that walk the floor with carts and clipboards or scan guns to pick orders for shipping. These are usually focused people who have the job in mind. After all, you’ve probably told them how speed is of the essence – which it is. The problem is that in many or most operations, there are also powered industrial trucks (forklifts, walkies, electric powered jacks) operating in the same space, often in cramped pallet rack aisles. And guess what? They’re busy and focused on the job, too.

And these two groups are working the same space, at the same time. It’s almost assured that if you have this situation, you’ve had accidents, or near-accidents — which you may never hear of, until the near-miss isn’t a miss at all.

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Posted in Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Pallet Rack, Security, Supply Chain, Warehousing| No Comments »

DCVelocity: The Top 12 Distribution Center Metrics

May 22, 2012

a picking operation with conveyors and carousels

This month’s DCVelocity magazine featured its annual report on DC Metrics – a great tool for benchmarking your warehouse operations. The survey was issued to the magazine’s readers and members of WERC, by researchers from Georgia Southern University and a consulting firm partner.
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Posted in Material Handling, News, Order Picking & Fulfillment, ROI, Supply Chain, Warehousing| No Comments »

Securing High Value Inventory on Pallet Racks

May 17, 2012

pallet rack aisle

It’s always difficult to secure high-value inventory in the warehouse, and it’s even harder when the load resides in pallet racks, which are larger, have a conventionally open design, and more difficult to secure than inventory that sits on shelves or in carousels or within tool cribs.  Pallet rack loads can be palletized or stacked on decking, but either way they are more “open” than other types of inventory.  What are your alternatives?

  1. Use upper bays to keep it out of reach.
  2. Utilize secure aisles.
  3. Store it in a separate area/facility.
  4. Utilize rack-mounted security cages.
  5. Utilize solid-side rack security enclosures.

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Posted in Pallet Rack, Security, Warehousing| No Comments »

Empty Pallet Storage: What Not to Do

May 4, 2012

Most distribution and many manufacturing operations must deal with empty pallets – sometimes it’s a lot of pallets. They take space you could use for something else. They clutter your receiving areas. Sometimes they’re splintery, with nails protruding from the sides ready to bite a passerby. People re-use their pallets of course, holding onto them for a period of time until you can ship them back out. But while they’re in your facility, they can at space, potentially injure people, and generally cause trouble.

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Posted in Docks & Shipping, Pack Expo, Safety & Ergonomics, Space Saving, Warehousing| 16 Comments »

Vertical Lift Modules vs. Horizontal Carousels

May 2, 2012

Horizontal Carousels vs. Verticla Lift Modules

When you are considering an automated picking solution, you have lots of choices. One of the more frequent comparisons is between horizontal carousels and VLM’s – vertical lift modules. Both promise similar efficiency gains: they bring products to pickers rather forcing pickers to move to picking stations in shelving or racks. But which is best? That depends on what set of criteria you use, and what’s important to you.
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Posted in Automation, Conveyor, Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Pack Expo, Safety & Ergonomics| No Comments »