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Merging Warehouse Operations: The Pitfalls

May 28, 2013

merging an industrial operation is difficult

Merging two formerly separate industrial operations can be more difficult, expensive, and time consuming than creating an entirely new plant. After all, even in the best of scenarios, it’s almost always easier to start with a blank slate. But in these days of consolidations and cost cutting, this can happen to almost any company.  Planning and open communications is the key in general, but there are specific issues you should be aware of.

What are some pitfalls, and how can you avoid them?

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Posted in Inventory Management, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Supply Chain, Warehousing| No Comments »

Video: Seegrid Automated Industrial Truck

April 26, 2013

This video displays a Seegrid automated industrial truck, at our recent Open House and Automation Exhibit. The Seegrid truck navigated a large warehouse, interacting frequently with attendees to demonstrate its route learning and safety features. “I trust it more than many forklift drivers I’ve been around,” said one attendee. (Seegrid trucks have a 100% safety record, so that trust is well-founded).

Posted in Automation, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Robotics, Warehousing| No Comments »

Don’t Climb that Pallet Rack!

March 18, 2013

To save time, people  sometimes climb pallet racks to pick orders or do other things. This should never happen. While  it’s faster to climb than it is to bring a rolling stair ladder or a forklift in to do it right, it’s dangerous and counterproductive. Do it long enough and there will be injuries.

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Alternatives to New Facility Construction

March 14, 2013

New facility planning

There is nothing inexpensive about a new facility.

The cost of real estate (or lease costs), new equipment, people, regulatory compliance, and potential downtime add up very quickly, even for a relatively small operation. But reconfiguring your current operation has its own challenges. You have to deal with operating in a construction/renovation environment, the potential that the redesign won’t serve your needs through future growth, new equipment, and more. It’s a difficult choice.

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Posted in Inventory Management, Mezzanines, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Space Saving, Warehousing| No Comments »

Bridging the Gap Between Warehouse and Office

February 13, 2013

The Gap Between Warehouse and Office

The warehouse. The office.

Sometimes it’s as if one doesn’t exist to the other. As one customer told us, “it’s like we have two companies here, and one doesn’t know what the other is up to.”

But when you’re trying to improve your operation, or even to operate well, it’s impossible to separate the two functions. Decisions can be made in one area that can impact the other severely, so communication and cooperation are vital. Too bad it doesn’t always work that way. How can you improve it?

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Posted in Docks & Shipping, Order Picking & Fulfillment, ROI, Warehousing| No Comments »

Warehousing: Hidden Productivity Gremlins

January 31, 2013

box gremilin in a warehouse

Whether you’re operating a dedicated distribution center or the order fulfillment or stock warehouse of a manufacturing operation, most industrial facilities deal with storage and warehousing to some degree. In the not-so-distant past, warehousing was treated mostly as a cost center – a necessary evil that had to exist so that the more profitable parts of an enterprise could operate. Thankfully, more enlightened thought has prevailed recently.

Order fulfillment and storage are not just places you can save money – they can earn money. If the gremlins don’t get you.

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

Ideas for Cost Savings in E-Commerce Warehouses

December 6, 2012

Jay Moris has an excellent article in this month’s Inbound Logistics on ways you can cut expenses in your e-commerce operation. Some quick pointers:

  • Increase customer satisfaction. Moris explains that right-sizing your packages can reduce carton size and ensure customers receive the right package at the right time.
  • Reduce packaging costs. By using cartonization strategies, you can reduce parcel sizes – and by extension, shipping and packaging costs.
  • Decrease labor and increase throughput. By optimizing its sortation systems, one retailer cut 62 cents off every package shipped.
  • Reduce freight, sortation, and shipping costs. Reducing carton dimensions does all of these things in a world where just a single sheet of paper is capable of changing a carton’s shipping class.

We live in a world where weight and dimensional measurement of packages is becoming faster and easier to gauge. Shippers can and will be able to charge more for smaller and smaller differences, so every bit of the process you can automate and optimize, the better. There are more tips (and plenty more detail) at the article – check it out.

Posted in Automation, Docks & Shipping, Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Supply Chain, Warehousing| No Comments »

What Does It Cost to Store a Pallet in Third-Party Storage

September 24, 2012

If you’re paying someone to store a pallet for you, what’s reasonable? Are you overpaying for convenience or location? It’s not easy to compare 3PL vs. 3PL, or even your own warehouse so you know for sure if you are getting value for your money. But there are some basic assumptions you can make to help you understand what you’re dealing with, the costs the 3PL may experience, and reasonable costs for your storage projects.

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Posted in Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Pallet Rack, Warehousing| 2 Comments »

Tips to Prevent and Reduce Pallet Rack Damage

September 14, 2012

damaged rack post

Pallet racks are frequently subject to abuse, and even the toughest rack will need some cautious handling, processes, guarding equipment, and other help to remain in service. Racks can be overloaded, hit by heavy forklifts, misloaded, and otherwise impacted. These are some tips to help you avoid the frustration, expense, and danger of rack damage.

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

Video: Danger in the Rack Aisles

August 21, 2012

Although this incident took place in a big-box warehouse store, it could have happened in any number of industrial warehouses across the country. The presence of order pickers, shoppers, or others in a rack aisle is a top safety concern, in particular if the aisle on the other side of the rack row is being restocked. Most likely this accident was caused by a push from the opposite side of the racks.

In any case, a tragic accident was narrowly avoided by sheer luck.

If possible, these kinds of accidents should be guarded against with items such as rack safety nets or wire mesh safety panels. This isn’t always possible, since lifts may need access to both sides of a rack aisle.

Another thing you can do is try to remove pickers from aisles where trucks are working the other side. If they are executing each-pick or carton-pick from lower bays, is it possible to move those to their own area of the warehouse, away from lift truck traffic?

In the case of poorly constructed storage, it’s a matter of process. Inspect pallets before they go into the rack. Are they stacked for stability? Shrinkwrap or band them to shore them up. Don’t allow carton picks from those pallets if possible, as that can destabilize the load. If you must pick from them, bring them down, pick, re-balance, and restock them. That’s time consuming compared to a quick carton pick, but given what almost happened here, and what could happen any day in any warehouse, it’s a small price to pay.

You can also clear both sides of a bay when either side is being loaded or unloaded by forklift. This helps you keep people safe even if there is a spill. Of course training lift drivers to avoid these types of “push” accidents is mandatory, but you can’t count on training alone when there is this kind of danger to people in the next aisle.

 

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