Material Handling Experts


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

“Undercover Boss” Underlines the Difficulties of Large Scale Distribution

December 26, 2010

Tonight’s Undercover Boss on CBS features GSI Commerce CEO Michael G. Rubin, and as my wife and I were watching it, the loading, order picking and packing segment brought home the difficulties of these operations. It’s a somewhat rare mainstream glimpse into large scale distribution operations.

The order picking segment from GSI’s Lexington, Kentucky distribution center in particular stressed the disadvantages associated with walking in order picking operations. Armed with RF guns, the pickers tow order picking shelf carts between picking aisles. They leave the carts in a center aisle and move down rack aisles where inventory is stored in bins.

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The E24 24-Volt Conveyor Roller Timing Belt Transfer

November 4, 2010

e24 power roller conveyor transfer

E24 CONVEYOR LOGOWe’ve explained the advantages of 24-volt roller conveyor systems in the past, and wanted to get to you with this new product announcement from Hytrol: the Timing Belt Transfer. The E24™ powered timing belt strands and a pneumatic lift make this conveyor accessory powerful enough to sort up to 40 cartons per minute. The neoprene timing belts are coated with urethane to ensure positive grip when transferring the product. The drive sheaves come standard with ABEC-1 bearings, contributing to longer transfer life. The modular design of the transfer allows for simple system configurations.

Integrating an E24™ Transfer into your system is easy, as the standard configuration bolts into 3-inch roller centers in just minutes. For full bed width and extended configurations, an optional E24™ lineshaft kit is available so roll-to-roll o-rings are out of the way.

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Conveyor systems: Total Cost of Ownership

September 28, 2010

conveyor system

Conveyors, like any capital investment have multiple costs. The amount on your invoice is hardly the last time you’ll pay for that conveyor. If a conveyor is correctly specified and designed for future use, significant cost savings can be realized.

The three costs a conveyor system carries:

  • Initial costs – the easiest to understand and quantify. This is the cost of equipment, installation, and controls.
  • Operational costs – electrical usage  & pneumatics usage
  • Maintenance costs – Spare parts, replacement parts, & labor costs

All of these costs are spread over the conveyor’s useful life, so a formula that might best express what your conveyor will cost is: TCO (total cost of ownership) = IC (initial cost) + OC (operational costs) + MC (maintenance costs)/ useful life of the system.

Higher initial costs may be recouped in lower maintenance and operational costs over time if the right decisions are made when the equipment is specified and ordered. The initial cost savings can be eaten up by higher operating and maintenance costs, but neither of those is as expensive as a system that cannot do the job it was deployed to do. Long term costs can easily outstrip the initial costs. What are the real, long term costs and what can you do to control them?

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WERC Council of North Texas Warehousing Resource Convention

September 14, 2010

werc logoJust a quick tip of the hat to the The North Texas WERC (Warehousing Education and Research Council) Chapter. They are planning a 1-day convention on Thursday, September 23, 2010. Even if you’re not a member, you’re welcome to go. Cisco-Eagle will be there, so come by and see us if you attend. Besides our booth, you can visit 8,000 square feet of exhibit showroom and attend four educational presentations with a total of 12 topic options. For an inexpensive, quick, but informative day, it’s hard to beat. There will be raffles, continental breakfast, a hot lunch, and excellent networking opportunities.

The conference is sponsored by TCU and DCVelocity.

  • Where: Grapevine Convention Center, 1209 South Main Street, Grapevine, TX 76051
  • When: Thursday, September 23
  • Cost: $20 to WERC Members, $25 to non-members. Free to students & faculty with ID’s (must submit info prior to the 23rd).
  • More information: Visit the North Texas WERC site

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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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Extenda conveyor belt pusher is an excellent choice where space is minimal, but the load requires 90-degree sortation

April 21, 2010
90-degree sortation pusher

Hytrol PIB Extenda Pusher

The construction of the Extenda Pusher lends itself to both speed and strength. The robust cylinders – stabilized by tandem aluminum guides – provide the power, while the lightweight aluminum pusher face enhances the speed. With throughput rates of up to 50 cartons per minute, it is easy to see why Hytrol’s Extenda Pusher is the smartest choice for your system. Available in 4 stroke lengths, it mounts to units with overall conveyor widths of 18″, 24″, 30″, and 36″. Unique to this style pusher are proximity sensors for both extend and return signals, which allow you to adjust the stroke length. Its black composite guards are secure yet lightweight and simple to remove. Another standard feature is the emergency stop that when activated immediately empties air pressure stored within the pusher, ensuring safe operation. This space-saving design makes it a great choice for systems where mounting space is minimal, yet products require 90 degree sortation.

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Podcast: 5 Easy Ways to Save $100,000 in Distribution Costs

April 9, 2010

Cost vs. Service

The folks at the Material Handling Institute of America have thrown all of last year’s ProMat sessions in Podcast/Webcast form onto their website, for free. This presentation is intriguing – who doesn’t want to save a hundred grand? It’s presented by Louis J. Cerny, Vice President of Sedlak, and lasts about 37 minutes; it’s easy to listen to in the background if you don’t feel the need to watch the slide presentation.

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E24 Power Roller 24-volt Conveyor: Transfers & Merges

April 1, 2010

E24 Powered Roller Conveyor from Hytrol has become very popular with conveyor users due to its advantages over conventional conveyor and motorized rollers.  This quiet, energy-efficient conveyor fits the green mode that many operations are following, and can deliver exceptional flexibility, superb heat dissipation, and a robustness that cannot be achieved with motors embedded in conveyor rollers.

Below are two examples of  creative application of E24 technology…

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Safety Rules for Pedestrians & Forklifts: Help them See You

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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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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