An operation like loading and unloading goods can be made much more efficient in various ways, like by using loading bays, or stand-on pallet trucks instead of pedestrian versions. Order picking, a repetive and expensive logistics process, offers even more possibilities for optimisation. But for the third main part of materials handling - the intake and retrieval of entire unit loads within the warehouse - what can you do increase efficiency and productivity?
Everyone could easily lift a package weighing a few kilograms, but what if you had to pick that same package hundreds of times a day, over the course of weeks and months, possibly from hard-to-reach places? You’d probably start feeling the strain quite quickly, and you’d end up hoping you had some equipment or solution to make the job easier.
This is what order pickers do, but unfortunately the strain and injury that can occur in this job over long periods is still not as well-known as it could be.
2018 is drawing to a close, and it's the time of year when we start looking back at everything that has happened in the last 12 months.
This year has seen a great deal of new articles on the Materials Handling Blog, and the launch of a number of new blogs in different countries — now, we're running blogs in Germany, Denmark, France, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
To mark the end of the year, here's a list of this year's five most-read blog posts.
When planning a new warehouse, or thinking about making changes to an existing one, it's possible to use some basic figures about the operation to make an analysis of how effective the solution will be.
Figures like the trucks' speed, the rack heights in the warehouse and rough travel distances can give you an estimation of how the operation will look. However, this result will only ever be a fairly approximate estimation - and there's a good chance it could be missing crucial details that lead you to the wrong conclusions.
The warehouse floor certainly isn't the most exciting part of a materials handling operation, but it's the part on which everything else is built — and flooring-related problems can be a big safety hazard.
At the very least, the warehouse floor must be able to bear the load of the racking and goods and the truck traffic. When you consider that a single piece of racking may be placing many tons of pressure on a small point on the floor, the importance of quality becomes clear.
In most warehouses, concrete flooring will be standard. It’s capable of bearing at least twice as much weight as asphalt, and can be much smoother and flatter, which is important - even small bumps and hollows in the floor can affect truck driving, and even cause accidents in some circumstances.
Depending on the height of the racks, the neccessary flatness can be different. A normal floor, which may vary in height by 5mm across a length of two metres, would generally be good enough for material handling at heights up to three metres. However, for high bay warehouses, that tolerance may drop to only 1.5mm or less. When heavy loads are moved at such high heights, even the slightest variations may be hazardous, so careful construction of the concrete flooring is essential.
Cold stores are extreme environments, but they're an absolutely essential part of the modern supply chain. Without these specialised warehouses, where temperatures can go as low as tens of degrees below zero, it would be impossible to store and distribute frozen goods. Even chill warehouses, which operate at much warmer (but still cold) temperatures are essential for the supply of perishable goods.
The forklift’s steering wheel is a component that is often taken for granted, but it’s usually the most-used. Navigating a busy warehouse requires a lot of manoeuvring, and the driver has to make constant adjustments in order to drive safely. In fact, according to research we have conducted with Gothenburg’s Chalmers University of Technology, a reach truck driver makes around 2,000 arm movements in an hour, which adds up to roughly 16,000 movements over an average shift.
IFRS 16 Leases is approaching fast, and if you lease forklift trucks in your business, the way you report your finances will have to change after the deadline on 1 January 2019.
Operating a forklift is a demanding job, and the stresses of a busy materials handling operation can put strain on drivers. This doesn't only make them uncomfortable and prone to injury, but also makes them less efficient and productive, harming the operation's bottom line.
Fortunately, the physical challenges of logistics work can be made much easier with the help of ergonomic design — not only does it make the job much safer and more comfortable for drivers, but also increases overall productivity. Let's take a look at the main causes of strain and injury in the warehouse, and how they can be mitigated with ergonomics.
Making the most efficient use of the available floor space in your warehouse is always important. However, when the density of storage increases, placing and removing unit loads when you need to typically takes more time.
There’s a number of storage options available that offer high density, but they vary in how easily the pallets can be accessed - depending on your operation and individual needs, the best option will be different. With the help of the Materials Handling Guide, we can look at a few options.