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Moving Material Vertically – VRC’s, Conveyors, and Other Options

February 2, 2011

mezzanine and conveyor picking area

The easiest space to recoup in most every operation is overhead space – the vertical cube. Expanding out costs more than expanding up. Over time, that means utilizing mezzanines, suspended overhead conveyors, pick modules, taller rack systems, the space over dock doors, etc. That space is available in most every warehouse or manufacturing facility, but utilizing it means that you have to be able to move material between levels without creating bottlenecks.

What are your options?

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Posted in Conveyor, Lifts, Mezzanines, Warehousing| No Comments »

What’s it Cost to Run a Warehouse in Your City?

January 19, 2011

warehousing operationsThe Boyd Company has released a useful document on the comparative costs of operating a warehouse or distribution center around the United States, “Comparative Distribution Warehousing Industry Operating Costs”. It takes multiple factors into account and provides an annual operating cost for many cities and regions. The report bases these costs on a hypothetical 175,000 square foot facility with 75 nonexempt workers. This warehouse would ship over-the-road to a national U.S. market.

The factors taken into consideration include:

  • Total annual labor costs
  • Electric power costs
  • Natural gas power costs
  • Amortization costs
  • Property and sales taxes
  • Shipping costs

Some markets of interest and their annual operating costs:

  • San Jose, CA (most expensive): $12,064,961
  • Sioux Falls, SD (least expensive): $7,417,487
  • Chicago, IL $10,351,816
  • St. Louis, MO: $8,808,609
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX $8,430,605
  • Oklahoma City, OK $8,119,512
  • Tulsa, OK $8,089,925

Obviously these numbers won’t be an exact fit for every operation, but they can give you a good idea of costs in a given city or state.

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11% of Forklifts are Involved in Accidents Annually. What Can You Do?

January 14, 2011

hurtling forklift

There isn’t much other way to say it: If you have a forklift, it is almost surely the most dangerous piece of equipment under your roof. If you have many forklifts, that danger us multiplied.

How dangerous? According to OSHA estimates, there are 61,800 minor injuries, 34,900 serious injuries and 85 forklift related deaths in the United States every year. Since there are almost 900,000 forklifts operating at any given point in the United States, this is something that every operation needs to consider when your forklifts start moving on a busy day. 11% of them stand a good chance of being in an accident or collision every single year. Those aren’t great odds, considering that a forklift in a given warehouse is heavy, moving, and in a noisy and often visually crowded environment.

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

Cisco-Eagle Expands Robotics and Automation Offerings

January 10, 2011

Robot intengrated with conveyorsCisco-Eagle has always provided integrated material handling systems, but we’re entering a new phase by partnering with companies like SSI Schaefer, HighJump WMS, Orion Packaging, Fanuc Robotics, ABB Robotics, von Gal, and more. We recently invited Dr. Sam Chen to join us as Senior Robotics and Software Engineer. Dr. Chen will complement our existing controls and implementation services, allowing us to integrate robotics, palletizers, packaging machinery, and other equipment with conveyors and other material handling solutions.

We have engineered and implemented hundreds of systems in distribution, manufacturing, order fulfillment, and other applications. We can now help clients to a greater degree by providing advanced control systems, robotics, and more.

More details on these partnerships are coming soon.

Posted in Automation, Conveyor, Manufacturing, Material Handling, News, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Palletizers, Warehousing| No Comments »

“Undercover Boss” Underlines the Difficulties of Large Scale Distribution

December 26, 2010

Tonight’s Undercover Boss on CBS features GSI Commerce CEO Michael G. Rubin, and as my wife and I were watching it, the loading, order picking and packing segment brought home the difficulties of these operations. It’s a somewhat rare mainstream glimpse into large scale distribution operations.

The order picking segment from GSI’s Lexington, Kentucky distribution center in particular stressed the disadvantages associated with walking in order picking operations. Armed with RF guns, the pickers tow order picking shelf carts between picking aisles. They leave the carts in a center aisle and move down rack aisles where inventory is stored in bins.

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5 Ways to Avoid Costly Conveyor Breakdowns

December 17, 2010

:Power roller conveyor

Conveyors are exceptional in their productivity enhancement for manufacturing and distribution operations, but they need attention – and not just from your maintenance group. Everyone involved with them should be aware of the safety and performance issues involved. Here are five practices for happy conveying…

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ProMat 2011 is 3 Months Away

December 14, 2010

proMat 2011 logo

ProMat, the Material Handling Industry’s bi-annual trade show, is coming in March 2011.

The show will feature over 700 exhibiting companies featuring cutting-edge equipment and systems solutions. Choose from 2 keynote addresses, 2 educational tracks and 80 educational sessions that deliver valuable insights into the latest trends, technologies and innovations. The show is March 21-24, 2011 and as usual, is located in Chicago at McCormick Place South.

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Posted in Automation, Material Handling, News, Pack Expo, Warehousing| No Comments »

Pallet Rack Wire Decking: Calculating Gauges and Capacity

December 7, 2010

Wire gauge is a crucial element in wire pallet rack deck design and is also one of the first places manufacturers look to when needing to cut costs, meaning it’s one of the first places you should look when comparing decking for your pallet rack project. Lower cost is great, but only if you’re getting the capacity and durability you need.

Just because two decks are the same size in no way makes them the same deck. That can be all right, so long as both can hold your load and last for the long term.

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Posted in Manufacturing, Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Pallet Rack, Safety & Ergonomics, Warehousing| No Comments »

Why Warehouse Employees Ignore Safe Lifting Advice – and How to Help Them

December 5, 2010

lifting boxes and cartons correctly

The most common advice that ergonomics experts, OSHA, and other researchers provide to people in warehousing or other jobs that require manual lifting is that you should always bend your knees and lift that way, rather than bend at the waist to pick something up. Repetitive stress on the lower back is staggering: 20% of workplace injuries are related to lower back issues. Lifting right is essential to employee safety, and also to preventing Worker Compensation claims.

Even when you train employees to lift right – and we know that not everyone does – they frequently ignore the advice. Why?

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Saving Space in Rack Storage Areas

December 3, 2010

pallet rack rows

Pallet rack storage is relatively inexpensive and extremely common. In many facilities, it also consumes the majority of square footage. When you can cut down on this space, significant gains can be made that allow you to use the square footage for other purposes. Here are some ideas for reducing your rack storage footprint while maintaining storage capacity.
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Posted in Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Pallet Rack, ROI, Space Saving, Warehousing| No Comments »