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

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 »

Securing High Value Inventory on Pallet Racks

May 17, 2012

pallet rack aisle

It’s always difficult to secure high-value inventory in the warehouse, and it’s even harder when the load resides in pallet racks, which are larger, have a conventionally open design, and more difficult to secure than inventory that sits on shelves or in carousels or within tool cribs.  Pallet rack loads can be palletized or stacked on decking, but either way they are more “open” than other types of inventory.  What are your alternatives?

  1. Use upper bays to keep it out of reach.
  2. Utilize secure aisles.
  3. Store it in a separate area/facility.
  4. Utilize rack-mounted security cages.
  5. Utilize solid-side rack security enclosures.

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Posted in Pallet Rack, Security, Warehousing| No Comments »

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 »

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 »

ICWM Issues New Caster & Wheel Standards

April 30, 2012

Casters & WheelsThe ICWM (Institute of Caster & Wheel Manufacturers) has created a new set of standards for industrial caster manufacture and usage.  The standards, which cost $50 as a download from the ICWM’s website. It’s an excellent resource for engineers, designers, fabricators, and caster users.

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Posted in Manufacturing, Material Handling, News, 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 »

Inspecting Your Pallet Racks for Damage

April 1, 2012

drive in rackWhen was the last time you had your pallet rack inspected?

Every operation that operates mechanical lifting equipment is required by the  Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to inspect and document the safety of their racking systems. It’s the most common storage equipment in the world, and an inspection can not only help you comply with the law – it can help you see other issues in your warehouse. We have created a checklist of items to check and ways to check them.

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

How to Benchmark Your Warehouse

March 26, 2012

Warehouse measurement

Everyone likes to see how they’re doing vs. their industry peers.  This isn’t just a natural urge to compare yourself, it’s a vital part of doing business.

Benchmarking, at the heart of it, is comparing your performance to others like you. You look at your business processes and outcomes, and how they stack up to the performance metrics of industry leaders, your peers, and the best from similar operations. In warehousing, it is particularly important to understand where you are, and where you could be with reconfigurations, tweaks, and innovations that others are using to improve their numbers.  What do you specifically measure? Typically this can include quality, cost, and time. Specifically, it can get much more complex.

At the end it helps you understand the success of your peers and how you can reproduce that success.

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