Material Handling Experts


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

A Vinyl Strip Door Configuration Guide

December 3, 2008

Warehouse door  with vinyl strip door accessAt this time of the year, many companies find the need to maintain open access to dock doors and warehouses without letting heat and other environmental controls escape into the cold. The obvious solution has been to install vinyl strip doors, which allow easy access to foot and lift truck traffic while they also keep climate-controlled air in – and cold air out.

We’ve created a guide to specifying vinyl strip doors to help you understand what types of strip materials to use, how much is needed to cover a particular opening, and which mounting system might work best for you.

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Pallet rack frame and overall rack capacities – how to deal with larger, bulky items in rack storage

November 20, 2008

pallet rack overall capacitySince overloading is a common source of pallet rack collapses, (in fact misapplication, including capacity issues, is the top cause) it’s important to understand how much weight your rack – not just your beams – can bear.

For a piece of storage equipment that is relatively simple, ensuring that the rack can hold what you want it to hold is sometimes complex – particularly on very heavy loads, or large but not so heavy loads. This article focuses on upright frame capacities. Beam capacities are pretty simple – they’re listed per pair of beams by most rack sellers, and you just adhere to them with your pallet loads. But frame capacity is not as straightforward as a beam capacity…

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Posted in Industrial Shelving, Material Handling, Pallet Rack, Safety & Ergonomics, Warehousing| No Comments »

OSHA releases Forklift eTool

October 27, 2008

forklift-operation.jpgOSHA has released an eTool (which is basically just an informational web page) for powered lift trucks that you might find useful. It has drill-down information on the following categories:

  • Basic  Types and Fundamentals – The differing types and fundamentals of powered trucks
  • Operating the Forklift – the basic operating rules and safe work practices
  • Understanding the Workplace – how workplace conditions can affect safe operation
  • Training Assistance – operator training required by OSHA

This information specifically addresses OSHA’s Powered Industrial Truck requirements [29 CFR 1910.178]

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Posted in Lifts, Material Handling, News, Pallet Rack, Safety & Ergonomics, Warehousing| No Comments »

Intermingling new & existing pallet rack parts

October 3, 2008

pallet rack beam and upright connectionWhen you are running an operation with lots of racking, it isn’t uncommon to have to replace an occasional upright or beam, or to add new bays onto an existing row. Sometimes you cannot avoid it, as the rack was purchased years ago, by someone else, from a source you can’t even locate. It might be that you bought used rack and need to fill some gaps in, or it may be perfectly good, 15-year old rack that just needs some expansion or damaged components replaced.

This is done all the time, and although it isn’t an optimum situation for rack stability and safety, you can minimize the issues by following the following guidelines:

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More pallet rack safety tips

September 9, 2008

rack-aisle.jpgJust some tips we’ve picked up along the way when it comes to keeping pallet racks safe:

  • The majority of pallet rack structural failures result from just three sources – know them, and most of the rest takes care of itself. Those include (1) impacts from a lift truck collision; (2) Misuse and overloading (3) Lack of comprehension that racks can be dangerous, and the lack of a safety oriented mindset. Really, the focus is on #3 gets you to #1 and #2. Operations with a safety mindset will also understand that impacts are deadly, and they know how to safely load their racks.
  • Check out “When Racks Collide” for more information on protecting your racks.
  • Know how your rack will be used when you spec it. “The two main rack safety points are the proper initial design of the structure so it doesn’t collapse, and proper training of personnel to ensure a clear understanding of the structure’s operational characteristics,” said Rack Manufacturer’s Institute (RMI) President John Nosfinger in a 2008 Modern Materials Handling article. If you inherited the pallet rack in your operation from someone else, find out the details of the rack system and its design. File that so that anyone can access it, and enforce your capacity ratings so that your racks will not be overloaded or mis-loaded.

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Wire Pallet Rack Decking Capacities – What you Need to Know

August 17, 2008

pallet rack wire decking

Craig Chamberlain has an article over at the MHEDA Edge website that you need to read if you use pallet rack wire decking.

Here’s the money quote:

“Decking can, and often does, directly bear the total weight of the application’s load and transfers that load to the beams of the pallet rack. Regardless of the weight-bearing capacity of the rack’s beams, an improperly overrated deck can and will jeopardize the load-bearing capacity of the entire system and result in a failure.”

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When racks collide: ways to minimize forklift impacts on pallet rack

July 3, 2008

pallet rack with end of row guard railsPallet racks take a beating over time. They get loaded with exceptionally heavy pallets, by exceptionally powerful lift trucks over and over throughout the course of years. Chances are that if you have pallet rack in your warehouse, it’ll get hit at some point. When it does, inspecting (and generally replacing) it is your best course of action. But what about avoiding that hit, or its dangerous aftermaths in the first place?

Rack is easy to ignore from a safety standpoint. In fact, it’s too easy. Other hazards might stick out like a sore thumb, so there are times plant managers or warehouse supervisors can be less concerned than they should for hundreds of tons of racks and load in a warehouse bustling workers and lift trucks.

Here are some ways to avoid (or minimize) lift truck/rack impacts…

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Palletizers: ergonomics and justification issues

June 30, 2008

lifting from the “golden zone”As interest continues to grow in automated palletizing, let’s take a brief look at a few of the issues surrounding these applications.

Over the next couple of months, I’ll be providing a handful of blog postings relative to palletizers. We will begin with what is driving the growth in the use of these products, then a look at basic systems, cost estimates, what you can expect from a properly applied palletizer system, and then share specifics from a couple of actual implementations in distribution centers.If you are experienced in palletizer systems, you will likely be familiar with much of what is covered here. If you are new to palletizing, or considering your first system, hopefully this information will help you understand what the issues are and how you can navigate them.

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This article is part of a series of articles on Palletizers. Click on a link below to view one of the other articles.
  1. Palletizers: ergonomics and justification issues
  2. Palletizer Perspectives: Is Palletizing Suitable for My Operation?

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Posted in Automation, Material Handling, Palletizers, Safety & Ergonomics, Space Saving, Supply Chain, Warehousing| No Comments »

Summertime Tips for Better Warehouse Operation

May 28, 2008


There are many issues of productivity and safety that are stressed as the heat rises. As temperatures start to rise, it gets particularly hot in industrial facilities, warehouses, shops, and distribution centers where air conditioning isn’t always present, extremely costly, or very effective. Experts say that employee productivity increases when ambient temperatures are comfortable and plummets when they aren’t. Error rates climb and safety is compromised as workers fight through hot, sweaty conditions. Here are some ways you can go about combating the rigors of summer.

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Posted in Conveyor, Manufacturing, Material Handling, Safety & Ergonomics, Supply Chain, Warehousing| No Comments »

Comparing Pallet Rack Guards: Flexible Netting vs. Wire Mesh Panels

May 19, 2008

pallet rack wire mesh guardingUnguarded rack is flat-out dangerous if orders are being picked in the lower bays, or there is consistent foot traffic below. Safety managers know this, insurance companies know it, and if you have rack in your facility, you should know it too. Look, we have all probably seen pallets break. We’ve seen drivers make mistakes when loading & unloading. We’ve seen things fall off. If you’ve been in the business any length of time, you may have walked into your warehouse in the morning to find a case of something from the fourth level split open on the floor. It happens to everyone, and if you’re in the industry long enough, it’ll happen to you.

Stuff falls off of racks, and if we’re fortunate, none of the stuff hits someone. But you can also prevent that drop in the first place and maybe save the stored inventory as well. So if you buy into the fact that your racks should have some fall protection, then the question becomes: “what kind?”

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