Material Handling Tips & Info
January 2010 Material Handling Tips & Information Newsletter - The Best of 2009
February: Case Study (with video) - Electric Boat utilizes vertical freight lifts to create safer, more efficient operations
As part of a $20 million upgrade, Electric Boat, Inc. wanted to make access to submarines in the assembly process easier, faster and safer. Before the upgrade, workers at the final assembly building were forced to climb scaffolding stairs to build submarines. The top of a Virginia class submarine can be as high as 40 feet, meaning that workers had to constantly climb stairs. Here's how the company used vertical reciprocating conveyors to slash costs and ramp up efficiency...
If you’re squeezed for space, and the load is right (components, hardware, small parts, tools, or other items), you can save tons of space by consolidating shelves into modular storage drawers. Drawers have an unmatched amount of storage density compared to a bin on a shelf...
Modular drawer space savings
Achieving more with less is a core goal of most businesses. In the warehousing and industrial world, that means building more, shipping more, doing more – controlling more – with fewer resources. The typical issue is labor in many of these operations. It takes people to run a shipping operation, and plenty of them.
“In economically challenging times like now, you’re being asked to produce more per person than ever,” said Cisco-Eagle’s CEO, Steven W. Strifler. “You’ve probably had to let people go. You may have shut down some areas, cancel contracts, cut a shift, and take the steps necessary to emerge from this downturn. But the big question is, how do you emerge stronger?”
We recently rolled out a series of website-based conveyor tools.
The calculators include: Incline calculator: Helps you determine the dimensions or angle of an incline conveyor. It has 5 different calculators and plenty of supporting information; Box tumbling calculator: Another incline tool, it helps you determine the maximum incline angle before your load will tumble; Skewed Roller Conveyor: Helps you determine the necessary length a package needs to travel on skewed rollers to move it to one side of the conveyor; Minimum Curve Width: Calculates the minimum width of a conveyor curve to ensure that a package will not jam as it turns on the curve.
With the advent of widespread e-commerce fulfillment, just-in-time principles, lean management, supply chain collaboration, globalization, the need for ever-faster response, and constant pressure to reduce expenses through headcount and shift reductions, today’s warehouse manager is being asked to do more than ever before. How are warehouse managers coping?
The Material Handling Industry of America has posted a video that may be helpful if you are starting the process of “greening” your supply chain. We have it linked here, along with the 10 steps toward a green supply chain outlined in the video.
Next time you try to figure out where you’re going to put an inbound shipment, and your dock area is stacked with empty pallets, look at your shipping dock doors and the void above them. In many facilities, the copious space between the top of the doors and the ceiling is unused. Multiply each door by that amount of space, and in many operations, we’re talking serious amounts of unused square footage.
Many operations utilize pallet or slip-sheet to convey bulked material, whether in manufacturing, work in process, to convey from a palletizer, or in shipping areas. While some applications require these palletized items to only be carried the last few feet of their process, many rely solely on the pallets to carry their product throughout a facility. Today’s processes require a smarter and often unique footprint for these palletized items. However, historically these unique footprints have been difficult for the material handling, namely conveyors, to handle effectively. This paper presents general guidelines for pallet and conveyor types.
Push back rack systems are excellent high density storage solutions — perhaps the most economical way to squeeze space out of a crowded warehouse. All loads are stored and retrieved from the same aisle. This reduces the number of aisles needed in a facility, freeing up more space for storage. Aisles can take a great deal of space up in a typical warehouse, so by implementing a pushback pallet rack system, you essentially swap selectivity for space. Push back rack systems provide a Last-In-First-Out (LIFO) inventory rotation, so you have to be certain your load fits. If it does, congratulations — you’ve just saved a lot of space. But there are issues that can arise when pushback rack is inappropriately specified or utilized...
Mobile lift tables are increasing in popularity in many operations for a number of reasons. Using this flexible material handling device must be approached correctly, and with your eyes open. They provide more flexibility, since you can move them where you want them. They’re great for flexible production lines or lean manufacturing lines or work cells where the ability to lift and move something is at a premium – in particular if you need to frequently reconfigure work areas. Obviously, a lift table you can roll to where you need it is highly desirable, but how does that mobility limit you? And when should you choose a stationary lift table over mobile?
Distribution centers will benefit from emerging automated case picking technologies, but those don’t fit for every operation, at every level. They’re also expensive upgrades, so your ROI has to be considered as well. Supply Chain Digest recently published an excellent article on how to optimize order picking without automation that might be worth reading.