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

“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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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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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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Manufacturing & Distribution Professionals Pressured to “Deliver More Value”

November 8, 2010

distribution center conveyor system

The Integrated Systems and Controls (ISC) Council of Material Handling Industry of America has released a new report titled An Evaluation of Operational Performance in Warehousing, Distribution and Manufacturing., and it has some interesting information for those who operate warehouses, distribution centers, manufacturing, and commercial operations.

The key thing? You’re still being asked to squeeze more value from your operation – and you need to be able to do it with fewer resources.

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

The E24 24-Volt Conveyor Roller Timing Belt Transfer

November 4, 2010

e24 power roller conveyor transfer

E24 CONVEYOR LOGOWe’ve explained the advantages of 24-volt roller conveyor systems in the past, and wanted to get to you with this new product announcement from Hytrol: the Timing Belt Transfer. The E24™ powered timing belt strands and a pneumatic lift make this conveyor accessory powerful enough to sort up to 40 cartons per minute. The neoprene timing belts are coated with urethane to ensure positive grip when transferring the product. The drive sheaves come standard with ABEC-1 bearings, contributing to longer transfer life. The modular design of the transfer allows for simple system configurations.

Integrating an E24™ Transfer into your system is easy, as the standard configuration bolts into 3-inch roller centers in just minutes. For full bed width and extended configurations, an optional E24™ lineshaft kit is available so roll-to-roll o-rings are out of the way.

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The Top Ten OSHA Violations for 2009 – and How to Avoid Some of Them

November 1, 2010

The National Safety Council has released its list of the top 10 OSHA safety violations for 2009, and there is plenty to chew on if you are running a warehouse, manufacturing facility, military installation, or distribution center. In fact, several of these categories drop directly into the laps of material handling operations. Worse news: violations are up over 30 percent.

The list is as follows:

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

A Quick Guide to Reducing Warehouse Costs

September 29, 2010

warehouse distribution center

Over at the Operations & Fulfillment site, Curt Barry has written a brief, informative piece on reducing warehouse costs. In particular during a difficult economic climate, cost reduction is at the top of mind for distribution operations.

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Conveyor systems: Total Cost of Ownership

September 28, 2010

conveyor system

Conveyors, like any capital investment have multiple costs. The amount on your invoice is hardly the last time you’ll pay for that conveyor. If a conveyor is correctly specified and designed for future use, significant cost savings can be realized.

The three costs a conveyor system carries:

  • Initial costs – the easiest to understand and quantify. This is the cost of equipment, installation, and controls.
  • Operational costs – electrical usage  & pneumatics usage
  • Maintenance costs – Spare parts, replacement parts, & labor costs

All of these costs are spread over the conveyor’s useful life, so a formula that might best express what your conveyor will cost is: TCO (total cost of ownership) = IC (initial cost) + OC (operational costs) + MC (maintenance costs)/ useful life of the system.

Higher initial costs may be recouped in lower maintenance and operational costs over time if the right decisions are made when the equipment is specified and ordered. The initial cost savings can be eaten up by higher operating and maintenance costs, but neither of those is as expensive as a system that cannot do the job it was deployed to do. Long term costs can easily outstrip the initial costs. What are the real, long term costs and what can you do to control them?

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Pickers, Packers, and Conveyor Reliability

August 13, 2010

Do your line employees help extend the life of your conveyors? If you don’t know the answer to that question, it’s probably “no.”

conveyor belt systems

Employees are the first line of defense when it comes to minimizing maintenance problems, according to Cliff Holste at Supply Chain Digest. Are you adequately preparing them to fulfill that role? Are they trained, equipped, and encouraged to help you prevent issues with conveyors and other equipment? Past the jump, a couple of ways to help your line workers become more aware of ways to keep your systems running…

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Cool your warehouse with solar powered “big” ceiling fans

June 24, 2010

solar powered HVLS fan

It’s that season – facilities across the country are facing mounting utility bills, workers drenched in sweat, and ferocious heat. Typically, an HVLS fan is one of the best solutions to these issues, but MacroAir has gone one better by producing these massive air movement ceiling fans in a solar configuration. This innovation does a couple of things. First, it cools your facility during the day, using the same method other HVLS fans use. But beyond that, it’s a very green product, one that reduces your energy costs and carbon footprint. Currently, these fans come in solar-only configurations. They won’t run when the sun is down, and they do not have battery backup systems. However, there is an option being designed to allow you to tie them to building power for night time or non-seasonal applications.

More information here…

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