Material Handling Experts


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

The Forest for the Trees – Does Your Operation Need a Review?

July 23, 2008


order fulfillment operation

Warehousing is tough. Manufacturing is tough. Order fulfillment is tougher; the longer the operation runs the more difficult it can get.

You deal with constant disruptions , and the system you carefully designed a few years ago may not be working as well today, after changes in your business climate, personnel changes, SKU alterations, new lines, changing storage requirements, corporate policy changes, or issues with key suppliers or customers. These things happen, and at some point, all or most of them will occur in every operation. If a series of small changes have added up to big headaches, what can you do?

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When racks collide: ways to minimize forklift impacts on pallet rack

July 3, 2008

pallet rack with end of row guard railsPallet racks take a beating over time. They get loaded with exceptionally heavy pallets, by exceptionally powerful lift trucks over and over throughout the course of years. Chances are that if you have pallet rack in your warehouse, it’ll get hit at some point. When it does, inspecting (and generally replacing) it is your best course of action. But what about avoiding that hit, or its dangerous aftermaths in the first place?

Rack is easy to ignore from a safety standpoint. In fact, it’s too easy. Other hazards might stick out like a sore thumb, so there are times plant managers or warehouse supervisors can be less concerned than they should for hundreds of tons of racks and load in a warehouse bustling workers and lift trucks.

Here are some ways to avoid (or minimize) lift truck/rack impacts…

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P.E. Seals and Calcs – what they are, and why you need them on mezzanine projects

June 19, 2008

structural mezzanineWhen you’re working on a mezzanine (or work platform) project, you may be provided P.E. seals and calculations. Here’s why you will get these elements…

What are P.E. Seals and Calcs?

  • Calculations are a hard copy document of the checks of the mezzanine structural components
  • Seals are a stamp placed on the calculations and drawings certifying that a state registered Professional Engineer (P.E.) has made or reviewed them

Who & Why might you need them?

  • To obtain building permits municipalities may require them
  • Required by municipality plan checkers to review for code compliance
  • The end user may require them to certify review of the structure
  • Some companies require them for their records

What is included?

  • 3 copies of the drawings and calculations (normal)
  • All with a P.E. seal for the state that the mezzanine will be installed

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Comparing Gravity Flow Rack Types

June 15, 2008

picking totes from flow rackWalk into any order fulfillment operation, and you’re probably going to see gravity flow rack.

The reason is obvious–it’s one of the best ways to pick orders utilizing first-in, first-out principles. It used to be that there was one kind of the stuff, the plastic-wheel tracks, but these days the choices are more diverse than ever. For the most part, these flow rack types act the same; they decline toward the picker and boxes or totes or even larger components flow toward him. They’re restocked from the rear and picked from the front onto a takeaway conveyor line, a cart, workstation, or another step in the process.

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Modular storage: when to use cabinets, when to use drawer inserts for industrial shelving

June 4, 2008

modular drawer - compartmental industrial drawersSomething we often recommend to save space for our clients is modular drawer storage — for certain operations, in particular those with components, assorted small parts, hardware, or even tool storage, we’re talking about recouping 50% -70% of floor space. Once people have ’em, they love ’em.

But there is more than one way to skin that cat. You can configure different kinds of cabinets to do different jobs. There are hundreds of possible combinations of drawer styles and sizes. Another wrinkle is what happens when you can merge the drawers with steel shelving. It can be new, it can be some you are already using. It begs the question: when is it better to have a cabinet, and when is it better to use shelving and compartmentalized drawer inserts?

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Summertime Tips for Better Warehouse Operation

May 28, 2008


There are many issues of productivity and safety that are stressed as the heat rises. As temperatures start to rise, it gets particularly hot in industrial facilities, warehouses, shops, and distribution centers where air conditioning isn’t always present, extremely costly, or very effective. Experts say that employee productivity increases when ambient temperatures are comfortable and plummets when they aren’t. Error rates climb and safety is compromised as workers fight through hot, sweaty conditions. Here are some ways you can go about combating the rigors of summer.

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Hytrol to hold the line on conveyor costs until June 30 despite escalating, unpredictable steel costs

May 22, 2008

conveyor system

Steel prices and fuel prices are headed nowhere but up in the coming months.

Price increases and surcharges have become commonplace, driven by increased steel costs and skyrocketing fuel prices. We look around and see manufacturers issuing price increases, steel surcharges and fees on a weekly basis. It’s industry-wide and it’s being driven by international demand and also some commodities market issues. We have seen manufacturers decline to provide a price – orders are priced at shipment. This is reminiscent of the 1970’s, and it’s welcome by absolutely nobody who runs an industrial facility or deals in material handling equipment.

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Comparing Pallet Rack Guards: Flexible Netting vs. Wire Mesh Panels

May 19, 2008

pallet rack wire mesh guardingUnguarded rack is flat-out dangerous if orders are being picked in the lower bays, or there is consistent foot traffic below. Safety managers know this, insurance companies know it, and if you have rack in your facility, you should know it too. Look, we have all probably seen pallets break. We’ve seen drivers make mistakes when loading & unloading. We’ve seen things fall off. If you’ve been in the business any length of time, you may have walked into your warehouse in the morning to find a case of something from the fourth level split open on the floor. It happens to everyone, and if you’re in the industry long enough, it’ll happen to you.

Stuff falls off of racks, and if we’re fortunate, none of the stuff hits someone. But you can also prevent that drop in the first place and maybe save the stored inventory as well. So if you buy into the fact that your racks should have some fall protection, then the question becomes: “what kind?”

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Seven ways E24 power rollers are better than Conventional Motorized Roller Conveyors

May 15, 2008

E24 powered conveyor rollerLast year, there was a big splash when Hytrol introduced its E24 powered roller conveyor system – and rightly so, it’s great stuff. (See the link above for video, datasheets, and more).

E24 is a brushless, gearless, low RPM, high torque motor that drives conveyor rollers reliably and efficiently. The external motor provides exceptional flexibility, superb heat dissipation, and a robustness that cannot be achieved with motors embedded in conveyor rollers. But what really makes E24 superior to the conventional motorized roller conveyor? Let’s explore…

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The top 10 OSHA violations for 2007

May 1, 2008

rack protected by steel guard railingFrom a total of 39,324 inspections last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found 88,846 violations. For warehousers, distributors and manufacturers, the list is familiar.

  1. Scaffolding
  2. Fall protection
  3. Hazard communication
  4. Control of hazardous energy
  5. Respiratory protection
  6. Powered industrial trucks
  7. Electrical (wiring)
  8. Ladders
  9. Machine guarding
  10. Electrical (general requirements).

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