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Forklift Safety: Don’t Blame the Driver

June 24, 2010

hurtling forklift in a warehouse

Environmental factors are often ignored

One percent of factory accidents involve forklift trucks, but the forklift accidents produce ten percent of the physical injuries. That’s an astonishing ratio, but not all that surprising given the nature of forklifts and the way they are utilized. Forklifts are dense, heavy-mass vehicles. When they collide with something – or someone – the results are devastating, even at low speeds.

Some leading types of lift truck accidents are:

  • Workers struck by forklifts
  • Loads are dropped onto employees
  • Driver catches his body between the forklift and other objects
  • The forklift is driven off the loading dock

Kind of a terrifying list, don’t you think?

Most forklift accidents are blamed on operator error, but that is just partially true – and something of a cop-out. Rough estimates say that a quarter of forklift accidents could be avoided by addressing environmental concerns. When you eliminate those, it helps you understand better when a driver is truly ineffective, or just hamstrung by the way your warehouse is set up. In other words, before you point the finger at the driver, take a look at your operation…

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

Lean Logistics Summit Kicks Off in June

June 2, 2010

The Lean Logistics Summit kicks of on June 22 in Cincinnati. The Summit will gather the world’s leading authorities on the subject of lean logistics. Authors, researchers, and company representatives actually on their own lean logistics journey will share their insights. Learn from them and learn from your peers as you network with like-minded professionals. Sessions of interest to warehousing and distribution professionals might include “A Case Study in Lean Distribution,” by Sarah Giffin, Sr. Operations Improvement Manager of CEVA Logistics on 6/22. Also, check out “Implementing Lean Inside the Logistics Facility” later that day. The summit costs $995, but use the code “leannation” for a 25% discount.

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Button Control Vertical Carousels Application Guide & Videos

May 17, 2010

button controlled vertical carousels

(Videos after the jump)

Vertical Carousels have always been one of the most efficient ways to improve order picking productivity while saving floor space, but they have always been an expensive proposition. Automated carousel systems have their place, and can provide a high return on investment in the right application, but there are lower-volume applications, or specialized operations where a manually controlled vertical carousel may offer the productivity enhancing & space-saving advantages without the higher cost of automation. These carousels are good for operations where it is desirable to minimize forklifts &  ladders usage for a more ergonomic functionality.

So, when is the right time to use a manually controlled system?

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Carts vs. Conveyors in Product Transport Operations

May 10, 2010

conveyors vs. carts for transport

When you are moving items such as cartons, bins, or components through a facility, several methods are available. Most of the time the choice is between non-powered carts & trucks or conveyors, whether power or gravity. (If you’re moving pallets, there are other methods and issues). Generally, conveyors deliver a less manual, safer operation with added efficiency across the board. Products are moved faster and fewer employees are required to accomplish the same tasks. Conveyors minimize fatigue and reduce potential manual lifting injuries. This improved handling has the potential to reduce worker compensation claims and expenses

But when do you make the leap from a manual, cart-driven system to a conveyor transport system?

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Posted in Automation, Conveyor, Docks & Shipping, Manufacturing, Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, ROI, Safety & Ergonomics, Space Saving, Warehousing| No Comments »

Extenda conveyor belt pusher is an excellent choice where space is minimal, but the load requires 90-degree sortation

April 21, 2010
90-degree sortation pusher

Hytrol PIB Extenda Pusher

The construction of the Extenda Pusher lends itself to both speed and strength. The robust cylinders – stabilized by tandem aluminum guides – provide the power, while the lightweight aluminum pusher face enhances the speed. With throughput rates of up to 50 cartons per minute, it is easy to see why Hytrol’s Extenda Pusher is the smartest choice for your system. Available in 4 stroke lengths, it mounts to units with overall conveyor widths of 18″, 24″, 30″, and 36″. Unique to this style pusher are proximity sensors for both extend and return signals, which allow you to adjust the stroke length. Its black composite guards are secure yet lightweight and simple to remove. Another standard feature is the emergency stop that when activated immediately empties air pressure stored within the pusher, ensuring safe operation. This space-saving design makes it a great choice for systems where mounting space is minimal, yet products require 90 degree sortation.

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Posted in Automation, Conveyor, Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Space Saving, Warehousing| No Comments »

How Much Difference do Fully-Enclosed Pallet Rack Frames Make?

April 5, 2010

How much difference can a fully enclosed pallet rack upright make? When it comes to the kind of significant injuries, product damage, and overall safety of a warehouse or commercial facility, the minor cost differences are insignificant compared to the potential savings if you prevent just one accident over the next decade. Imagine suffering an accident like this one.

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Another completely preventable forklift accident

February 16, 2010

You can see some of the mistakes happening in this video. Others aren’t so obvious.

What were the problems here?

#1: The driver is traveling too fast. That said, he’s not racing, but that doesn’t matter. He’s carrying a wide load through a narrow space. He was either distracted or he went faster than he should have through a tight spot, or both.

#2: The aisle is cluttered. Why create a pinch point with stacks of drums? Poor housekeeping in a warehouse is dangerous. One of the best things you can do for safety in your warehouse is to make sure there is adequate — or more than adequate — aisle space. It should be clear, it should be clean, it should have space and it should be highly visible. It should never be close to this tight. If you need space, find it elsewhere.

#3: The pallet racks were possibly overloaded. That forklift was moving too fast for the situation, but it wasn’t pedal-to-the-metal-fast. Although the weight of a forklift can turn a slow impact into devastation, a properly loaded, undamaged rack with upright post protectors should not necessarily collapse when struck slowly.  While you never want to smack an upright, exceeding rack capacities can make them much more susceptible to collapse, even to minor impacts. Always know your listed capacity, and stick to it.

#4: The uprights may have suffered previous damage. This can cause a collapse. I’ve been in warehouses where you could walk for five minutes and find a dozen bent uprights. That’s insanity. There isn’t any way to tell whether or not the upright was dented from this video, but the point is this: routinely inspect your racks and assess your uprights. They’re cheap to replace, and doing so could prevent injuries and major accidents.

#5: The driver should not have fled the forklift. It has a cage for a reason — to protect him from falling objects. He was much safer inside than he was doing the “Die Hard” jump out.

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

Did Wood Pallets Cause the Tylenol Recall?

February 11, 2010

wood pallets

According to DC Velocity, the answer may be yes.

The maker of several over-the-counter drugs, including Tylenol, Motrin and Benadryl, announced a broad-based recall of these and other drugs after receiving complaints of an “unusual moldy, musty or mildew-like” odor. Johnson & Johnson received what the company described as a “small” number of complaints of issues including nausea, stomach pain, vomiting or diarrhea.

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Posted in Manufacturing, Material Handling, News, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Pallet Rack, Safety & Ergonomics, Supply Chain, Warehousing| No Comments »

The Best Manufacturing Plants in America: What They Have in Common

February 9, 2010

Industry Week ran a recent article on the best manufacturing operations in the U.S.

IW says that these operations have the following traits in common…

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WERC Sets 2010 Annual Conference

January 26, 2010

WERC Conference logo

WERC (Warehousing Education and Research Council) has announced its 2010 Annual conference, geared for the needs of warehouse and distribution management. The conference is set for May 16-19, 2010. The WERC conference offers on a strong educational program for warehousing/distribution professionals from long-time to just-starting-out. Practitioners, subject matter experts, industry suppliers and academics freely share their experience and ideas. You’ll walk away with new insights on the best ways to optimize resources, maximize productivity and optimize performance. For more information or registration details, visit the official WERC site.

Posted in Automation, Docks & Shipping, Material Handling, News, Order Picking & Fulfillment, ROI, Safety & Ergonomics, Supply Chain, Sustainability| No Comments »