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.
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.
Loading and unloading goods as they come into the warehouse can be one of the more expensive and potentially problematic processes in the materials handling process.
A common question which often pops up when big capital acquisitions are being considered is - 'should we buy or lease?'
If you're looking to bring on new machines on a long-term basis, both options have their advantages, and bring many of the same benefits — but depending on the nature of your company and what your daily challenges are, one solution will likely be more beneficial.
For many of the most demanding warehouse applications, a stand-in stacker can be a fantastic choice, especially in narrower aisles. In fact, if you want to improve stacking efficiency and safety, there’s no better forklift truck than a stand-in stacker - and no, even though UniCarriers pioneered the stand-in stacker in 1961, we’re not biased!
Many other kinds of trucks can stack pallets just like a stand-in stacker, and if their purchase price is lower, they may seem like more attractive machines. But the stand-in stacker’s creative design offers some major benefits.
In an ideal world, all unit loads would held on standard pallets, in uniform weights and sizes, allowing for easy handling with all kinds of forklift. Unfortunately, that's not the real world - and in many warehouses, standard pallets are the exception.
Many types of goods - for example, pipes, construction materials or metal sheeting - are often quite long, and impossible to fit neatly onto a 1,200 by 800mm pallet. These loads can be difficult to get down warehouse aisles, even if they aren't particularly narrow.
Cantilever racking, as shown in the illustration above, solves the storage problem - this kind of racking is open-fronted, meaning there are no vertical bars to block the placement or removal of long goods.
But when you need to move these goods down an aisle, how do you get around the space problem? The simplest and most versatile solution is - with a multi-directional truck.
As we know, one small part of a logistics operation can have knock-on effects in other areas - and by improving and optimising these areas, you can increase productivity and efficiency with relatively little effort.
Moving goods around inside your warehouse and storing them in a rational way is a major challenge - but the process of actually getting the goods inside in the first place is also filled with potential problems. High costs, queueing and inefficiency can all arise when you're not unloading optimally. That's why making the process as smooth and quick as possible can have a positive 'knock-on' effect on the rest of your operation.