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

5 Sheet Metal Storage Alternatives for the Warehouse

September 18, 2012

sheet metal in a production facility

Above: how difficult is it access these sheets?

Sheet metal is one of the most difficult handling challenges out there. It’s simultaneously bulky, heavy, somewhat flexible, and prone to damage if handled incorrectly. It often has sharp edges and corners, making it dangerous to manually move and turn. At higher gauges or in bundles, it requires forklifts, cranes or scissor lifts for safe and effective handling. Even a thin sheet, if it’s 4 x 8, can be too much for a single worker to handle.

Yet, sheet metal is commonly used in manufacturing and fabrication, so finding better sheet metal storage and handling methods is key. What can you do to handle it better?

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Posted in Manufacturing, Material Handling, Safety & Ergonomics, Space Saving| 1 Comment »

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 »

ICWM Issues New Caster & Wheel Standards

April 30, 2012

Casters & WheelsThe ICWM (Institute of Caster & Wheel Manufacturers) has created a new set of standards for industrial caster manufacture and usage.  The standards, which cost $50 as a download from the ICWM’s website. It’s an excellent resource for engineers, designers, fabricators, and caster users.

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OSHA, Whistleblowers, and Safety Bonuses

April 9, 2012

carrying cartons in a warehouse, wearing safety vest

OSHA has recently released a guide to safety incentives, disincentives, and reporting issues. It’s worth a quick read if you manage a manufacturing, warehousing, or industrial facility.

This document focuses on reporting/non-reporting workplace injury issues. OSHA says that “Reporting a work-related injury or illness is a core employee right, and retaliating against a worker for reporting an injury or illness is illegal discrimination under section 11(c).”  Of course, smart companies want to know if there are unsafe conditions or practices. But what if your safety rewards program is discouraging employees from reporting incidents, or even near-misses?

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Posted in Docks & Shipping, Manufacturing, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Safety & Ergonomics| No Comments »

Visitors to your operation: how to make them safer

February 29, 2012

Are your warehouse visitors paying attention?

Safety is always a concern for industrial operations, but visitors take the dangers to another level.

In a fast-paced distribution center, there is plenty of forklift traffic, moving conveyors, packing machines, carousels, and dock doors. Same with manufacturing; you have all kinds of production machinery, welding (human and robotic), and heavy material being handled, stacked, or processed, along with the forklifts and other handling equipment. It’s hard enough to keep your own people – the ones who should know the lay of the land – safe in these environments. But what about visitors who haven’t had the benefit of your safety training and the situational awareness that your employees develop over time?

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Posted in Conveyor, Cross Docking, Manufacturing, Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Safety & Ergonomics, Warehousing| No Comments »

Automation More Important Than Ever

February 3, 2012

Manufacturing - motors at an automotive plantPresident Obama’s State of the Union address focused on manufacturing in the United States – which everyone, no matter their political persuasion, can agree is a vital part of our economy. Countries that don’t make things aren’t world powers, period.

And the numbers, on the surface, can look dire. According to Forbes Magazine,  22 million manufacturing jobs were lost globally between 1995 and 2002. The U.S. lost hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs in that timeframe.

The common belief is that these jobs were palletized and shipped east to China or south to Mexico. While that has happened – we’ve seen it in our client base more than once – it’s only part of the story. The reality is more complicated, and may help us to understand why manufacturing output has increased in the U.S. while jobs have been reduced. Manufacturing output didn’t just grow; it rocketed 30% since 1995. China – the supposed vampire of manufacturing employment – has lost a whopping 16 million manufacturing jobs.

In a word, the “culprit” (if you want to call it that) is automation. Robotics is less expensive and significantly more capable – and continues to improve. The same goes for other automation of other kinds.

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Posted in Automation, Conveyor, Manufacturing, News, Robotics, Supply Chain| No Comments »

Justifying AisleCop Forklift Safety Gate Systems

January 13, 2012

AisleCop warehouse pedestrian safety systemWe see two kinds of operations that have shown interest in, or implemented an AisleCop® forklift safety gate system. The first are those companies who have defined traffic plans and are looking to prevent possible accidents in high-risk, limited-visibility, or heavy-traffic aisles. They foresee potential accidents and are taking measures to prevent them. The second kind are companies who have had an incident, or a near-miss.

In both cases, the question has been “how can I justify this system?”

Aside from the fact that it could help save a life, or help prevent horrific injuries (the only kind that a forklift-pedestrian accidents seem to produce), AisleCop® can also save money in a variety of ways.

We have created a document, free for download, that you can use if you’re pitching a safety system to your management. It’s a short, but informative read.

Check it out here: “AisleCop®  return on investment” (PDF file)

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Posted in Manufacturing, Material Handling, News, Pallet Rack, ROI, Safety & Ergonomics, Warehousing| No Comments »

How to Implement the 5S Approach in Workcells & Workstations

January 4, 2012

workstation with 5S implementation

Based on 5 Japanese words that begin with ‘S’, the 5S Philosophy hones in on effective work place organization and standardized work procedures. When correctly implemented, it reduces waste, increases efficiency, and overall work quality. You’ll also have a safer, more effective operation and employees who are more checked in than they were before. It simplifies work flow and helps you find inefficiency.  You may see things like empty flow racks, needless processes, over stocking, redundant operations,  looming maintenance problems, and more.

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Posted in Docks & Shipping, Industrial Shelving, Manufacturing, Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Safety & Ergonomics, Space Saving, Supply Chain, Sustainability, Warehousing, Workbenches & Stations| No Comments »

6 Ideas to Keep Your Warehouse Clean

January 3, 2012

One easy way to gauge a warehouse or manufacturing plant ‘s effectiveness is to check how clean it is. Cleaner facilities are more productive, tend to be safer, and tend to be more organized.

Whether your facility features gleaming floors or just keeps debris from packaging materials, pallets, and accumulated junk under control, being cleaner is well worth the time investment. People who work in a disorganized facility where things just feel sloppy won’t work as well. They may make more errors. They won’t have pride in the operation.  An inch of dust on rack beams or beneath conveyor legs sends a message to workers. You don’t need a sparkling facility with floors so clean you could have lunch on them, but a well-lit, organized, pleasant place to work can be helpful in employee attitudes and retention.

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Posted in Docks & Shipping, Industrial Shelving, Manufacturing, Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Pallet Rack, Safety & Ergonomics, Warehousing| 5 Comments »

Robotics and End of the Line Packaging

November 18, 2011

End of line case packing robot with conveyor

The end of a manufacturing or distribution line is where the rubber meets the road for many operations. It’s potentially the last place where you have direct control of your product before it ships to retailers or direct customers. It’s where you can add a lot of value…or spoil a lot of value. The end of the line in many ways is more important to your company’s image as all its public relations, its websites, its brochures. It is often where your reputation can be made.

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Posted in Automation, Docks & Shipping, Manufacturing, Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Palletizers, Robotics, Safety & Ergonomics, Supply Chain| No Comments »