When planning a new warehouse, there's a huge amount of different factors that have to be considered - the type of items being stored, the available floor space and height in the building itself, and the correct storage system that will both maximise the use of the space available but also make it easy to access pallets.
All trucks require maintenance sometimes, especially in high-intensity materials handling operations. The important thing is how quickly you can get the truck back in operation afterwards. This is where your service supplier's first visit fix rate becomes important.
With proper service and maintenance, a high-quality forklift truck can put in years of service, even in a busy materials handling operation. And depending on the unique requirements of your operation, an older used machine could potentially do the job just as well as a brand new truck.
However, it can sometimes make sense to upgrade to a newer model. Manufacturers release new trucks and upgraded versions of existing models on a regular basis, and the improvements in these updated models could potentially make a big difference to your operation.
Across Europe, the United Kingdom's approaching exit from the European Union is a major talking point among logistics professionals. The full impact of the change is still not known, and it's causing concern on both sides of the English Channel.
Some British firms, such as food distributors and manufacturers are worried about the problems that possible disruption to imports could cause in their well-managed supply chains. And groups in the rest of Europe that deal with logistics between the UK and EU are equally concerned about potential delays to their goods on the way into Britain.
When the time to purchase new forklifts comes, the focus is always on costs. This makes sense — no-one in business would want to spend money unneccessarily, and if a machine can do the job, then the lower the cost, the better.
Costs will always be an important factor. But which ones? When thinking about the money you're going to spend on your forklift over its lifetime, you'll only make the best decision if you consider your hard and soft costs.
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.
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.