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

Steel (and Material Handling) Prices might be on the Move

May 12, 2009

Steel millAlthough most metal markets are still depressed from their all time highs of the last few years, it’s quite likely that steel pricing is going to increase in the near term. What’s that mean? It means that pricing for steel goods like warehouse racks, conveyors, shelving, mezzanines, and other material handling equipment will be on the rise.

“We are clearly going to see higher prices for May,” said Marty Forman, president of Forman Metal Co.  in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Things aren’t going to explode, by any means, but the scuttlebutt is that steel prices are going up $15 to $20 a ton.”

The takeaway? Prices are as low as they will be for the near future right now.

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Workbench supply placement should be constantly evaluated

May 4, 2009

Packing operation with conveyor lines

There isn’t enough room at your average industrial workstation. In fact, many order pickers, packers, shippers, and other professionals might tell you that you could have a 10′ long workbench, and they’d still be squeezed for space. In a busy operation, it’s a constant battle between availability of materials and space for doing the actual work. So what’s the solution? A larger workbench top? According to Packmaterials.com (registration required, but a pretty useful resource from Dehnco – we have reprinted the entire piece here, with permission), if there is not enough workstation storage area a bigger table won’t help – and may hurt.

The tabletop surface should not be considered storage space in the first place. So that leaves the unanswered question: how do you get more storage space for needed materials?

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Doing more with less: the core mission of material handling

April 27, 2009

Cisco-Eagle CEO Warren Gandall discusses ways to do more with less in a struggling economy

order picking at a warehouseAchieving more with less is a core goal of most businesses. In the warehousing and industrial world, that means building more, shipping more, doing more – controlling more – with fewer resources. The typical issue is labor in many of these operations. It takes people to run a shipping operation, and plenty of them.

“In economically challenging times like now, you’re being asked to produce more per person than ever,” said Cisco-Eagle’s CEO, Warren Gandall. “You’ve probably had to let people go. You may have shut down some areas, cancel contracts, cut a shift, and take the steps necessary to emerge from this downturn. But the big question is, how do you emerge stronger?”

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A variety of material handling equipment guides

April 2, 2009

conveyor optimization guideHELP SPECIFYING JUST ABOUT ANYTHING

Over the years, we have compiled a large number of guides for everything material handling related. These are things that can tell you everything from what caster wheel works best on a particular surface (on a floor with oils and greases you would want phenolic wheels, for instance) to safe ladder usage, to mezzanine decking advice.

Conveyors are extensively covered in our guide areas (MHIA has recognized this resource in its annual content awards). There are lots of guides, and if you’re trying to specify a particular kind of equipment, it’s a good bookmark to have.

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Gravity Conveyor: How Many Skatewheels do You Need?

March 6, 2009

skatewheel conveyor straight section - Hytrol

Gravity skate wheel conveyor is probably the most economical conveyor option around for quick, portable movement of lightweight boxes, totes, or trays. You see it used in shipping & receiving areas, in assembly operations, or as a transitional piece between workstations and powered conveyor lines. You can even slap casters on it for a conveyor that can be rolled in & out of use areas. We even plug it into gravity flow racks to create heavier-duty, FIFO flow storage.

For such a simple piece of conveying equipment — in fact the simplest — errors can and do crop up when it’s ordered incorrectly.

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Ergonomic considerations for designing conveyor workstations

February 6, 2009

conveyor workstation considerations

Designing your conveyors and workstations to work together gives you significant safety and efficiency advantages. Using conveyors is a good way to reduce the risks of musculoskeletal injury in tasks or procedures that involve manual handling because conveyors reduce the need for repetitive lifting and carrying, but implementing conveyor into workstations requires some basic understanding of how to prevent stress. As a bonus, well-implemented conveyor workstations also boost productivity.

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Selecting The Right Conveyor Motor

January 25, 2009

powered belt conveyor

Electric motors are available to suit most conveying  applications, and have multiple variables to consider when making a selection. Understanding the terms used with electric motors is important to making a selection.

Basic Electric Motor Terms:

  • Horsepower: Determined by the equipment requirements, total load, operating conditions, and speed.
  • Voltage: The voltage of a motor is determined by the supply to which it is attached. The common voltages are 115, 200, 208, 230, 460, 575.
  • Phase: The most common power supplies are either single-phase or three-phase.
  • Common Motor Types: Totally Enclosed (TE), Totally Enclosed Non-Ventilated (TENV), Energy Efficient (EE or XL), or Totally Enclosed Fan Cooled (TEFC).
  • Cycles: 60 Hz (cycles per second) AC power is common throughout the US and 50 Hz is common in many foreign countries.

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Optimizing Your Distribution or Manufacturing Operation During Slow Economic Times

January 21, 2009

warehouse storage

It isn’t news that the U.S. has been in a recession for most of the last year. It also isn’t news that you can utilize certain equipment and process improvements to upgrade at lower costs, and even return your investment more quickly in an environment like this one. Here are some ideas.

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Transferring onto belt conveyors

January 12, 2009

belt-transfer21.jpg

Transferring onto belt conveyors isn’t recommended due to box tracking issues. When you use belt conveyor, boxes will probably drag the belt as they enter, which will push the belt toward the far side. (Above: boxes may cause tracking problems)

belt-transfer1.jpg

If you can’t avoid using belt conveyors to transfer, the transferring conveyor should be positioned so that it overhangs the belt conveyor, as shown above. Boxes will drop onto the conveyor. If your load cannot be dropped, another solution may be necessary. For assistance with these kinds of transfers, contact us.

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When it Comes to Order Picking, Don’t Walk the Walk

November 3, 2008

picking & restocking from shelvesIn a recent Catalog Success magazine, the following facts were reaffirmed: Three areas – picking, packing and returns – take anywhere from 60% to 80% of labor costs in your typical distribution operation. 60% of the average pickers’ time is spent walking. Not picking, not packing, not checking for quality and accuracy – walking. This is an activity that cannot add value to your operation or to your customers, so you should strive to eliminate it whenever possible.

Not only does it waste time, it makes people tired, and tends to cause a loss in focus and can increase error rates.

Here are some ways to go about removing “walk time” from your operation…

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