As the COVID-19 crisis continues all over the world, materials handling professionals are focusing on how to make it through the crisis and ensure their businesses returns to full strength once things return to normal.
Many businesses are operating at reduced capacity and with fewer resources, or even completely shut down. It's natural that at a time like this, investing in forklift training for operators might be low on the list of priorities.
But eventually the crisis will be over, and when things return to normal, many businesses will want to strengthen their operation for the future, increase their efficiency, and ensure that they can continue to perform well if similar crises happen in future.
Forklifts are durable machines, and they can stand still for long periods without creating too many problems. However, during the ongoing crisis, it's important to make sure that your equipment will be able to return to work quickly and smoothly once things return to normal.
We've already given you advice on how to maintain your forklift batteries if they're not in use over a long period. Here are some similar tips on how to treat the machines themselves if your business is operating at reduced capacity or even shut down.
The coronavirus crisis is creating huge amounts of disruption for business and society all over the world. Companies are having to deal with high levels of staff absence, reduced demand for services and products and even mandatory shutdowns in some countries.
Many businesses' services have become even more vital - for example, in the food distribution or medical equipment industries. However, other sectors are experiencing a serious slowdown, and for companies that have a materials handling operation, their forklift fleet may be at a complete standstill or utilised much less than normal.
Shuttle racking certainly isn't the cheapest storage system available, but if you want to maximise the capacity of a warehouse, it's a fantastic option.
In shuttle racking systems, pallets are moved within the racks by a robotic shuttle, a kind of sled which runs on tracks just underneath the beams that the pallets sit on. An ordinary, manually-operated forklift places the shuttle into the rack at the desired height and pallet position, and the load to be put away is placed on the shuttle.
As we've shown in other blogposts, forklift ownership can have advantages in certain operations over other financing options, such as short-term rental or leasing.
When your leased materials handling equipment reaches the end of its contract, it’s often difficult to decide what your next steps should be. Is it best to invest in new equipment that you haven’t used before, or should you just extend the contracts of the trucks you already have on site?
The correct answer will depend completely on the needs and requirements of your operation. But in many situations, bringing on new equipment can often be the best decision in the long run, once you consider the benefits that technological advances can bring.
Out of all the different tasks you complete in your materials handling operation, order picking is by far the most expensive. When you look at the cost involved with handling 1000kg of goods in different stages of the materials handling process, the contrast becomes clear.
Loading and unloading is quite cheap – in this example, we can put the cost of handling 1000kg at around £1- £2, depending on the equipment you use. Putting away and retrieving goods takes slightly longer, and the cost of handling the same quantity of goods is around £10- £20. However, picking 1000kg of items can cost up to £100, simply due to the amount of labour required.
If you’re looking to make your operation more cost-effective and efficient, it makes sense to focus on improving your order picking.
There is no such thing as an ‘off the shelf’ forklift. Instead, the buying process involves speaking with a representative from your supplier, analysing your operation and business needs with them, and agreeing on a suitable solution. While this may take time, the result is well worth it – you get exactly the right truck, perfectly suited to your operation.
Automated guided vehicle (AGV) technology has been used in materials handling for decades, but with more recent developments in technology it's becoming a more affordable and flexible solution than it used to be.
However, in some operations full automation may not be appropriate. This is especially true if the materials handling work that needs to be done is different from day to day, if it needs some level of human decision making or if order picking of many varied items makes up a big part of the work.