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Getting lean (but not mean) in your warehouse operation

December 30, 2007

cover for lean warehousing book

Sure, we’ve heard all the talk of lean manufacturing, but what about lean warehousing? I’ve been in facilities that have straightened production lines in pursuit of lean principles, and those lines included storage factors and materials handling, but I’ve never seen it specifically done in a distribution operation. Many warehousing operations have probably applied aspects of lean in the warehousing process, but how many have, from top to bottom, implemented a lean warehousing program?

The original concept of lean was designed for mass production of identical or similar items, so a straight conversion to warehousing, where volumes aren’t massive or standardized, isn’t a given. You can’t apply the science of lean exactly the same way, but you can definitely apply it.

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What Are OSHA’s Safety Standards for Mezzanines & Platforms?

December 11, 2007

We see a lot of structural mezzanines in our business in a range of facilities. They range from professionally manufactured to home-made, with quite a few fabricated by a local shop. It’s a good business for the fabrication shops (although maybe not so much for end-users, given the potential pitfalls), and if you go that route, you need to be sure your mezzanine fabricator is complying with OSHA & local safety regulations, particularly on guard railing, stairs and gates. You also have to look at local building codes. If your fabricator doesn’t routinely work with mezzanines, this is something you’ll have to do on your own. It’s not something to dismiss lightly.

The best policy is to look at established vendors if you don’t want to micro-manage the details of building permits, code compliance, and OSHA’s blessings.

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Recently uploaded conveyor videos for your viewing pleasure

December 3, 2007

We’ve been busy adding video in various areas of the website, focusing first on conveyors.

There have been quite a few added in recent days. It’s all embedded in web pages (no media player needed!) so it’s easy to view and not worry about having the right player. The videos tend to be the first thing you’ll see when the page loads. Just click ’em and they play at your convenience.

In no particular order, here they are:

There will be lots more added in the next few weeks. Also, we have added case study videos heavy on conveyor. That includes Excel Beef and ATC Logistics at the moment. More of these coming as available.

To watch, just click the video screen that loads on each page. You can pause by clicking again.

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If you’re putting in a pushback rack system, you need this free booklet on safe operating procedures and usage

November 27, 2007

pushback rack enhances storage densityTo max out both storage and selectivity, warehouse managers are frequently moving to higher-density storage systems like pushback rack instead of floor stacking or selective racks. Whether a pushback system makes sense for you is something that depends on what you’re storing, how you are accessing it, and what you need to do with it once it’s picked.

Pushback rack systems can give you up to 90% more product storage than selective storage rack systems and up to 400% more selectivity than drive-in racking systems. They’re probably the best balance between selectivity and storage density.

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Don’t Forget The Building Permits

November 21, 2007

building permits are a necessary step in properly executed installations

Many people do not realize that when installing equipment such as pallet racks, mezzanines, shelving, in-plant offices, or many other pieces of common material handling and storage equipment that you may be required to obtain a building permit. If you ignore the building permit process it can cost you money in delays, fines, or even having to remove the equipment being installed until a permit is obtained.

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Is supply chain sustainability more than a marketing ploy?

November 12, 2007

“Being a good steward of the environment and in our communities, and being an efficient and profitable business, are not mutually exclusive. In fact they are one in the same.”
— Lee Scott, CEO Wal-Mart, Twenty First Century Leadership, October 24, 2005

Whatever you believe about the issues surrounding climate change, sustainability, and all things “green”, there are certainly people paying attention, and if your business serves consumers, they may be paying attention to the way you conduct business, from the way you make things, handle them in your operations, ship, and handle them.

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Hytrol E24™ Conveyor: here’s why it’s a big deal

November 5, 2007

E24 motor boxIf you’ve paid attention to the trade magazines, to this website, or to Hytrol recently, you’ve seen cryptic references to something called “E24”. This week, it’s no longer a secret.

I got to see this conveyor up close a couple of months ago when it was in development at the Hytrol Technology Center, and was sworn to secrecy–which is hard when your job is to tell people about things. Hytrol wanted to have it under wraps until this month and to debut it at their distributor convention. We had the privilege of giving PackExpo attendees a sneak peak at the Cisco-Eagle booth this year, and we were doubly excited after seeing how people reacted to Hytrol’s innovation.

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10 ways material handling can make your operation more secure

November 2, 2007

We’re preparing to release the latest Cisco-Eagle publication: “10 Ways to use Material Handling to Increase Security.” It’s common sense that the way you store, handle, segment, and track inventory has a great deal to do with security. Material handling is important because it’s a persistent, passive enhancement to regular security procedures and equipment. Material handling certainly doesn’t replace guards, careful hiring, a culture of honesty, and camera systems, but it can make all of them better.

  1. Store the most valuable, highest risk inventory & tools in secure areas
  2. Secure palletized loads, even when stored in racks
  3. Tightly control dock door access
  4. Secure valuable inventory as early as possible after receiving it, and prior to shipment
  5. Enhance security with automated material handling systems
  6. Lay out your plant with security considerations in mind
  7. Utilize cycle counts, irregular monitoring to detect & deter pilferage
  8. Separate staging areas from loading & shipping docks
  9. Secure inventory “where it sits” during receiving
  10. Erect a barrier between shipping and receiving doors

Sadly, most industrial operations suffer more from employee-based pilferage, since they don’t face shoplifters or other intruders. There is a fully developed industrial security area relating to material handling on our website, with articles, products, specifications, links and more information. Check it out. If you want to receive a copy of the upcoming paper, sign up for Material Handling Tips & Info, our award-winning newsletter. All subscribers will receive a link to the digital version when it publishes.

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Cisco-Eagle debuts E24 power roller conveyor at PackExpo 2007

October 30, 2007

Cisco-Eagle Pack Expo booth with E24 power roller conveyor demonstration

We met a lot of great people, saw some of the latest packaging and handling technologies, and were privileged to debut Hytrol’s innovative E24 conveyor, which can be seen in the foreground of this photo. It’s a revolutionary powered roller design that eliminates the limitations of conventional powered roller conveyor. It’s got about ten times the life of traditional MDR motors because the motors run only when needed. It also reduces the amount of heat in the process, and lowers maintenance dramatically. I’ll have more information, including video, product specs, and literature loaded soon. You can use 1-3/8″ rollers for the first time in a powered roller application.

We think this conveyor will be great in packaging lines, linking automation cells, machine feeding, in-motion weighing, assembly applications, food processing, and more.

Like I said – keep your eyes peeled, or subscribe to our Material Handling Tips & Info newsletter for updates.

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Are You Loading Pallet Rack Beams Near to Rated Capacity?

October 23, 2007

pallet rack loading diagram

It’s easy to understand the idea of pallet rack beam capacities. They’re listed, mostly, in a per-pair style and common in the 5,000 pound range so that you can rack a couple of 2,500-lb. pallets on a 96″ span. That’s probably the most common pallet storage setup in the world. But if you’re not loading pallets correctly, you aren’t getting your full capacity rating. This article on beam loading methods explains it in detail, but the basic story is that if your load does not fully overhang or rest on the tallest part of the beam, you aren’t getting the full capacity because you’re not using all the steel and your load isn’t setting flush in the horizontal space.

Loads that rest on decking or pallet support put more pressure on the thinnest vertical section of the beam, in the ‘step’. This can diminish beam capacities. I’m not saying you can’t load racks this way (people do it all the time) but that you need to check out the capacity of the beams when they’re loaded on the step, not the full beam.

Read the article. It tells the story better.

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