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

Avoid These Common Warehouse Layout Mistakes

May 10, 2014

warehouse layout

It’s not easy to understand when facility layout is causing significant problems for an operation.

Everything in a warehouse or distribution facility can be affected by the way the warehouse is planned and laid out. You may be suffering from over-forecasted demand for product and under-forecasted need for square footage. Executives may not fully understand what it takes to receive, store, and ship orders. What are some of the more common problems when it comes to facility layout?

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Posted in Conveyor, Space Saving, Third Party Logistics, Warehousing| No Comments »

The Case for a “Supersized” Receiving Area

March 3, 2014

Dock door in a receiving area

Receiving is an often-overlooked but critical component to warehouse workflow. Receiving  mistakes can flow through every other aspect of your operation.

If you can’t quickly and accurately break down landed shipments and send them to effective putaway, you can sabotage every other aspect of the operation. It has a direct impact on inventory accuracy (and security – in fact receiving is an area of particular vulnerability), throughput, and accurate fulfillment. Too little receiving space tends to become a root cause for many errors and throughput headaches.

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Posted in Docks & Shipping, Space Saving, Warehousing| No Comments »

When is a Mezzanine not a Mezzanine?

August 4, 2013

mezzanine or work platform

What a difference a name can make.

People tend to call any elevated platform a “mezzanine” in this industry, but that may be a mistake. When you are installing or otherwise specifying a platform, you need to be aware that the word “mezzanine” can cost you money and headaches when applied incorrectly.

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Key Considerations for Warehouse Aisle Widths

May 31, 2013

Forklift aisle widths are typically set when pallet racking is installed. In many cases, such as narrow aisle projects, these spaces are critically important. Typically, warehouse managers don’t attempt to lay out these types of storage facilities. But for reach truck, selective rack applications, these aisle sizes are often “eye balled”, or given a 12′ width no matter what type of forklift is using the aisles. If you are laying out a facility, what criteria should you use for rack aisle width?

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Posted in Lifts, Material Handling, Pallet Rack, Space Saving, Warehousing| No Comments »

How to Reduce Wasted “Walking” Time in Distribution Operations

April 7, 2013

warehouse worker walking in an industrial plant

There isn’t much value in a worker walking across a facility; value is realized at work areas, not in transit between them. In many operations, order pickers can walk as many as 12 miles a day. This level of walking makes workers tired and more prone to error, injuries, and declines in productivity. While some degree of walking is unavoidable, much of this is simply commuting time to retrieve supplies, or inefficient design that makes the job harder and less efficient than it should be.

How can you reduce time walking, and increase the time people spend getting things done?

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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 »

5 Sheet Metal Storage Alternatives for the Warehouse

September 18, 2012

sheet metal in a production facility

Above: how difficult is it access these sheets?

Sheet metal is one of the most difficult handling challenges out there. It’s simultaneously bulky, heavy, somewhat flexible, and prone to damage if handled incorrectly. It often has sharp edges and corners, making it dangerous to manually move and turn. At higher gauges or in bundles, it requires forklifts, cranes or scissor lifts for safe and effective handling. Even a thin sheet, if it’s 4 x 8, can be too much for a single worker to handle.

Yet, sheet metal is commonly used in manufacturing and fabrication, so finding better sheet metal storage and handling methods is key. What can you do to handle it better?

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Posted in Manufacturing, Material Handling, Safety & Ergonomics, Space Saving| 1 Comment »

How to Properly Store a Stack of Empty Pallets

May 4, 2012

Most distribution and many manufacturing operations must deal with empty pallets – sometimes it’s a lot of pallets. They take space you could use for something else. They clutter your receiving areas. Sometimes they’re splintery, with nails protruding from the sides ready to bite a passerby. People re-use their pallets of course, holding onto them for a period of time until you can ship them back out. But while they’re in your facility, they can at space, potentially injure people, and generally cause trouble.

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Posted in Docks & Shipping, Pack Expo, Safety & Ergonomics, Space Saving, Warehousing| 16 Comments »

How to Implement the 5S Approach in 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 »

Picking to Cartons vs. Picking to Totes

July 14, 2011

Order picking on a conveyor with carousels

In a pick-to-tote operation, you have the advantage of a dedicated packing function. Since totes can be “one size (or a range of them) fits all”, your pickers can easily pick and organize totes as they navigate the system, either on conveyor or in carts. They aren’t thinking of anything but getting the pick right. Trained packers at the end of the line cartonize the orders, often using state of the art packing stations and consolidated equipment & materials. This means that you’ll have at least two employees (the picker(s) and the packer) touching each order, and that the packing group will need more square footage.  What if you decided to pick directly to cartons, eliminating the totes and reducing or eliminating the packing group?

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