Material Handling Experts


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

Reducing Inventory Errors Due to Order Picking

June 25, 2012

checking inventory at a warehouse

“We keep making mistakes”

Mistakes happen, but in order picking operations, reducing the number of errors is critically important. Order picking is the last touch point between you and your customers. When it comes to customer relations, it’s more important than any public relations, press releases, or websites your company can create. No matter if you’re shipping direct to consumers or to another processing operation, customers are directly impacted. Not only is the customer with the incorrect order harmed, so are potential future customers who suffer because of inventory errors delaying orders.

What are some ways you can increase inventory accuracy related to order picking?

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

Protecting Order Pickers in Rack Aisles

June 22, 2012

Picking orders in a pallet rack aisle

“We need help before someone gets hurt”

The situation is familiar: in a busy warehouse or distribution center, you can have dozens or hundreds of order pickers that walk the floor with carts and clipboards or scan guns to pick orders for shipping. These are usually focused people who have the job in mind. After all, you’ve probably told them how speed is of the essence – which it is. The problem is that in many or most operations, there are also powered industrial trucks (forklifts, walkies, electric powered jacks) operating in the same space, often in cramped pallet rack aisles. And guess what? They’re busy and focused on the job, too.

And these two groups are working the same space, at the same time. It’s almost assured that if you have this situation, you’ve had accidents, or near-accidents — which you may never hear of, until the near-miss isn’t a miss at all.

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Posted in Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Pallet Rack, Security, Supply Chain, Warehousing| No Comments »

DCVelocity: The Top 12 Distribution Center Metrics

May 22, 2012

a picking operation with conveyors and carousels

This month’s DCVelocity magazine featured its annual report on DC Metrics – a great tool for benchmarking your warehouse operations. The survey was issued to the magazine’s readers and members of WERC, by researchers from Georgia Southern University and a consulting firm partner.
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Posted in Material Handling, News, Order Picking & Fulfillment, ROI, Supply Chain, Warehousing| No Comments »

Vertical Lift Modules vs. Horizontal Carousels

May 2, 2012

Horizontal Carousels vs. Verticla Lift Modules

When you are considering an automated picking solution, you have lots of choices. One of the more frequent comparisons is between horizontal carousels and VLM’s – vertical lift modules. Both promise similar efficiency gains: they bring products to pickers rather forcing pickers to move to picking stations in shelving or racks. But which is best? That depends on what set of criteria you use, and what’s important to you.
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Posted in Automation, Conveyor, Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Pack Expo, Safety & Ergonomics| No Comments »

Does Labor Cost you $2.24 an Hour?

May 2, 2012

Costs of warehouse labor

We all get it: labor is expensive. In distribution & warehousing  it’s one of the most expensive line items.

Automation and utilization of certain technologies (conveyors, as/rs, robotics) has helped alleviate these expenses and made companies more competitive, but there is no end in sight to cost pressures coming both from foreign competition and customer demand. Seegrid has created this graph, comparing the hourly costs of its driverless automated forklifts and that of a human operator.  The Seegrid trucks require no overtime, no dental insurance, and don’t take breaks. The unique thing about the Seegrid line is that it can deliver day-one ROI.

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

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 »

Ways to Reduce Product Damage in Your Warehouse

February 16, 2012

crushed box
In warehouse & manufacturing operations, things get broken. They break in a number of ways, and it’s expensive. You’ve probably seen product broken or damaged in amazing and improbable ways  if you’ve been in this business for any length of time.

We had a client once buy a bunch of mismatched, used industrial shelving (not from us), only to see it collapse and dump thousands of tiny aircraft components on the floor. It had to be swept up and discarded since it was all mixed up and visually impossible to sort.

Those are extraordinary examples, but everyday inventory damage that cost “only” a few hundred or thousand dollars can savage your bottom line.

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

To-Do’s For Moving Your Warehouse

February 7, 2012

warehouse reconfiguration

Over the past four decades, we’ve seen plenty of operations move. We’ve installed entirely new conveyor systems into functioning operations without disturbing the flow of existing work. We’ve seen companies pick up an entire distribution operation and move it across two hundred feet of parking lot into another building. It’s not new territory for us, and probably if you have managed a manufacturing or warehousing operation long, it’s not for you either.

Like moving your personal household, it’s chaotic, fast-paced, inconvenient and usually painful – in fact more painful than a personal move because there are so many moving parts, so many ways to get it wrong. How can you reduce the pain and get back into gear as fast as possible?

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Posted in Conveyor, Docks & Shipping, Industrial Shelving, Material Handling, Mezzanines, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Safety & Ergonomics, Warehousing| No Comments »

The 5S Approach to 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 »