Material Handling Experts


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

Warehouse Safety: Distracted Forklift Drivers

January 6, 2010

forklift distractions

If you’ve ever stopped at a traffic light, and shuddered at the texting, teenage (or all too often, an adult) driver in the next lane, you probably thought this is an irresponsible person who shouldn’t be behind the wheel. Given statistics that smart phone users are impaired as drunk drivers, it’s a serious and deadly issue; most states have laws specifically forbidding texting on the road. The question is, do you tolerate that kind of distractions for forklift drivers in your warehouse? Should you have the same rules? (Short answer: yes).

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Improve order picking processes without automation

November 20, 2009

Cliff Holste at Supply Chain Digest (opens in a new window) has a good piece on ways to improve picking productivity.

Distribution centers will benefit from emerging automated case picking technologies, but those don’t fit for every operation, at every level. They’re also expensive upgrades, so your ROI has to be considered as well.

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Protecting Overhead Dock Doors from Forklift Impacts

November 4, 2009

Dock door with overhead door protection system

Walk around any warehouse, manufacturing facility, or commercial storage operation of any size, you’ll almost always find two things — forklifts and dock doors. If that building has been in place for any substantial length of time, you’ll also find dinged, dented, ruined or replaced dock door guides, pallet rack frames, building columns, etc. It just happens that way. While many operations take steps to use guard rails or bollards to shield their critical machinery, dock doors can be left out.

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Getting the Load Right for your Pushback Rack

October 12, 2009

pushback rack applicaiton

Push back rack systems are excellent high density storage solutions — perhaps the most economical way to squeeze space out of a crowded warehouse.  All loads are stored and retrieved from the same aisle. This reduces the number of aisles needed in a facility, freeing up more space for storage. Aisles can take a great deal of space up in a typical warehouse, so by implementing a pushback pallet rack system, you essentially swap selectivity for space. Push back rack systems provide a Last-In-First-Out (LIFO) inventory rotation, so you have to be certain your load fits. If it does, congratulations — you’ve just saved a lot of space. But there are issues that can arise when pushback rack is inappropriately specified or utilized. Here are some of those…

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Designing workbenches for assembly, testing, packaging, or packing

September 24, 2009

technical workstation

It ought to be fairly simple, but specifying the right workbench for your application is something that deserves thought and pre-planning. Minor differences in the type of bench can provide critical benefits that add up to major productivity gains over time. Benches aren’t the simple, static equipment many believe. Here are some traits to consider

Application: A clear, flat surface is the basis for most workstations. The bigger question is this: how will it be used? Will you be packing orders? Repairing or assembling? Will it integrate with conveyors or assembly lines? Will you need access to certain supplies? Ergonomic considerations will play heavily into this part of the decision making process.

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Managing an Effective Warehouse Operation

September 18, 2009

This is a plug for WERC’s upcoming seminar, “Achieving Warehouse Success: Your Comprehensive Guide to Managing an Effective Operation.” Warehousing requires expertise on 3 basic resources — space, equipment, and labor. Understanding how to integrate them for maximum effectiveness can transform any warehousing operation. The seminar is 3 days (October 14-16 in Long Beach, California). According to WERC, it will cover the following aspects of warehousing:

  • How to identify the precise problems that are most troublesome in your warehouse
  • Which operations require your attention and how to prioritize work demands
  • Why leadership and communication skills are important to managing people, boosting morale, and solving labor/management conflicts
  • How to lay out your warehouse for good space utilization, material handling compatibility, and optimum flow efficiency
  • Which equipment and technology best suit your operations for storage and handling as well as order picking and order selection

WERC’s site says that it is good for Newly appointed supervisors and managers of warehouse, stockroom, storeroom and distribution centers, Supervisors and managers with little or no formal training, Plant storeroom, inventory, and materials managers, Stores, receiving, and shipping supervisors, or others who are interested in understanding the warehouse. It’s $975 for members, and $1,100 for nonmembers. Check it out at the WERC site if you are interested.

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What’s the Most Useless Space in your Warehouse?

May 20, 2009

space wasted above dock doorsNext time you’re standing there wondering where you’re going to put an inbound shipment while your dock is stacked with empty pallets, look at those doors (or at the void above them)  —  the copious space between the top of the doors and the ceiling is unused. Multiply each door by that amount of space, and in many operations, we’re talking serious amounts of unused square footage.

The easy solution: find a use for it with over-dock-door storage. You can’t really rack heavy stuff up there without some significant structure. The best thing to consider is empty pallets, which take up a ton of room and are relatively lightweight. And usually, they’re all over the floor and always in your way. Empty pallets clutter up the shipping & receiving docks or can take up positions in your racks that would be better suited to full pallets of finished goods or incoming shipments.

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Limiting Access to your Dock & Warehouse Areas

May 12, 2009

man trap driver security cage

Leaving a dock door open all day is an invitation to have someone stroll your aisles, check out your inventory, and perhaps take something. Most busy operations, particularly in good weather situations, leave those doors open. Often, the crew is busy with actual work; they don’t have the time to monitor visitors, delivery drivers, service providers, and every other person who strolls in.

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A Vinyl Strip Door Configuration Guide

December 3, 2008

Warehouse door  with vinyl strip door accessAt this time of the year, many companies find the need to maintain open access to dock doors and warehouses without letting heat and other environmental controls escape into the cold. The obvious solution has been to install vinyl strip doors, which allow easy access to foot and lift truck traffic while they also keep climate-controlled air in – and cold air out.

We’ve created a guide to specifying vinyl strip doors to help you understand what types of strip materials to use, how much is needed to cover a particular opening, and which mounting system might work best for you.

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