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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 »

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

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 »

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 »

Guide to Forklift Safety for Pedestrians

January 18, 2010

This is a great video from WorkSafeBC on how to prevent forklift injuries from a pedestrian’s point of view.


As a pedestrian in a forklift environment, it’s your responsibility to keep yourself safe.  Anyone who runs a warehouse or industrial facility understands the dangers, and drivers should be trained. But do you train the pedestrians, the order pickers, the managers, and vendors who sometimes roam your facility?

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Posted in AisleCop, Material Handling, Safety & Ergonomics, Warehousing| No Comments »

Warehouse Safety: Distracted Forklift Drivers

January 6, 2010

forklift distractions

If you’ve ever stopped at a traffic light, and shuddered at the texting, teenage (or all too often, an adult) driver in the next lane, you probably thought this is an irresponsible person who shouldn’t be behind the wheel. Given statistics that smart phone users are impaired as drunk drivers, it’s a serious and deadly issue; most states have laws specifically forbidding texting on the road. The question is, do you tolerate that kind of distractions for forklift drivers in your warehouse? Should you have the same rules? (Short answer: yes).

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Posted in AisleCop, Docks & Shipping, Safety & Ergonomics, Warehousing| No Comments »

Protecting Overhead Dock Doors from Forklift Impacts

November 4, 2009

Dock door with overhead door protection system

Walk around any warehouse, manufacturing facility, or commercial storage operation of any size, you’ll almost always find two things — forklifts and dock doors. If that building has been in place for any substantial length of time, you’ll also find dinged, dented, ruined or replaced dock door guides, pallet rack frames, building columns, etc. It just happens that way. While many operations take steps to use guard rails or bollards to shield their critical machinery, dock doors can be left out.

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Posted in Docks & Shipping, Material Handling, Safety & Ergonomics, Warehousing| No Comments »

Getting the Load Right for your Pushback Rack

October 12, 2009

pushback rack applicaiton

Push back rack systems are excellent high density storage solutions — perhaps the most economical way to squeeze space out of a crowded warehouse.  All loads are stored and retrieved from the same aisle. This reduces the number of aisles needed in a facility, freeing up more space for storage. Aisles can take a great deal of space up in a typical warehouse, so by implementing a pushback pallet rack system, you essentially swap selectivity for space. Push back rack systems provide a Last-In-First-Out (LIFO) inventory rotation, so you have to be certain your load fits. If it does, congratulations — you’ve just saved a lot of space. But there are issues that can arise when pushback rack is inappropriately specified or utilized. Here are some of those…

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Posted in Docks & Shipping, Material Handling, Pallet Rack, Safety & Ergonomics, Space Saving, Warehousing| No Comments »

Designing workbenches for assembly, testing, packaging, or packing

September 24, 2009

technical workstation

It ought to be fairly simple, but specifying the right workbench for your application is something that deserves thought and pre-planning. Minor differences in the type of bench can provide critical benefits that add up to major productivity gains over time. Benches aren’t the simple, static equipment many believe. Here are some traits to consider

Application: A clear, flat surface is the basis for most workstations. The bigger question is this: how will it be used? Will you be packing orders? Repairing or assembling? Will it integrate with conveyors or assembly lines? Will you need access to certain supplies? Ergonomic considerations will play heavily into this part of the decision making process.

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Posted in Docks & Shipping, Manufacturing, Material Handling, Safety & Ergonomics, Warehousing, Workbenches & Stations| No Comments »