Archives: Warehouse Equipment Tutorials
From managing logistics and layout to ensuring optimal safety and efficiency, warehouse workflow is more than just the speed of output. A quality warehouse manager knows how to utilize their best tools to achieve maximum optimization but even the elite need a refresher of best practices to keep things running smooth.
Here’s our list of 7 Tips for an Improved Warehouse Workflow:
1. Laying out the warehouse for optimum space utilization
The most important job of any warehouse manager is to determine how to best use the available floor space to store and move product. Especially in high dollar real estate markets, every inch counts! Ideally, the process begins with a complete drawing of the space including posts, sprinklers, windows, doors and any other architectural fixtures that will have to be taken into account. Then, the warehouse manager must clearly understand the inbound and outbound operations with the goal of maximizing space utilization while also saving time and reducing errors as product is moved in and out of the warehouse.
2. Using the proper type of storage systems
Choosing the proper type of storage system is an essential component of warehouse workflow efficiency. Understanding what is being stored, how much of it is being stored and how often it needs to be accessed will determine the most efficient storage system to use. Factors such as product expiration, temperature requirements and product demand must also be factored into the type of storage system chosen. Storage systems can be mixed and matched to meet the various product rotation needs within the warehouse. The speed and frequency of vehicles (such as forklifts) moving through the warehouse will dictate the durability requirements of any storage system.
3. Picking optimization
Within the warehouse layout, pick routes must be carefully planned. Minimizing travel through the warehouse will result in significant time savings and reduced potential for accidents. No matter how large the warehouse is, the amount of time spent picking product represents a significant part of costs. Organizing pick routes to match pick lists is a great way to reduce going back and forth through the aisles.
4. Properly managing inventory
A surprising number of companies do not know exactly how much inventory they have and exactly where it is stored. It is impossible to run an efficient workflow without this knowledge. More organizations that do a good job of inventory management are adopting lean inventory practices—only storing what is actually needed. The benefits of lean inventory management include time savings and waste reduction which translate to cost savings. Inventory must always be properly labelled to ensure proper counting, storage and retrieval. There are a number of different ways to keep track of inventory, from manual processes to highly automated, integrated systems.
5. Using Technology
While some companies are still using spreadsheets and other manual systems to manage their operations, the vast majority have adopted at least some technology to help them manage their warehouse. There are a plethora of WMS (warehouse management system) options available today that can help you manage standard as well as daily tasks such including labor, inventory, order processing, SKU handling, stock location and more. WMS’s can be standalone systems or part of a full ERP (enterprise resource planning) system. Always make sure WMS modules are linked and integrated to ensure smooth operation of the system as a whole and that users are fully trained on all software systems. Aligning IT and operations for a common understanding of business processes is a must.
6. Keeping the Warehouse Tidy and Orderly
Cluttered and disorderly aisles not only create safety hazards, they greatly impede the ability to move through the warehouse efficiently. Allocating even a little bit of time every day to clearing the aisles will immediately improve workflow. Consider posting SOP’s where appropriate, within the warehouse.
7. Maintaining Health and Safety Best Practices (including training)
Worker safety is of utmost importance to any company. Making sure workers are fully trained to do their jobs before they start doing them is always the best practice. Spending more time training will pay back many times over in not only accident reduction but error reduction as well. Consider cross-training workers to be able to perform more than one type of job so you can keep your operation moving at all times. Provide refresher training to make sure all workers are current in your processes and work standards. Clearly marking travel paths, for forklifts and people, and keeping them clear of clutter is essential to creating a safe work environment. Having proper lighting will reduce potential errors in product picking as well as improve the overall environment for the workers. Posting health and safety rules and regulations where everyone can see them is required by law.
Optimizing warehouse workflow is essential to optimizing profits. As inventory and storage needs change, warehouse design should be revisited and amended as practically as possible.
About the Author: Jeff Howard is the VP of Sales for Advance Storage Products, a structural rack systems manufacturer. Jeff has over 15 years in the material handling industry and holds a BA in Economics from Denison University.
Here’s a neat infographic about the inherent dangers of working in a warehouse. This image will show you some stats on warehouse safety measures as well as:
- Most Accident Prone Areas
- Top Injuries
- Forklift Safety Information
- Pallet Rack Failure Facts
- and more…
A business has to strike a balance between providing good quality service with proper investment and keeping costs low in order to make a profit. With rising costs, the challenge of maintaining this balance is becoming increasingly more difficult. With respect to handling of material, this is generally seen as consuming the most time in unproductive practices and take up approximately 40% of the staff’s efforts in the field. To deal with this and ensure timely and high quality installations, there are a few things that ought to be managed well.
Choose the correct equipment
Choosing the correct equipment goes a long way in reducing costs. Often, the same equipment is used to manage very different jobs, and in many cases this equipment may not be very appropriate for some of those jobs. This reduces the efficiency of work, so it is always better to invest in the correct equipment for the work undertaken. It must also be kept in mind that using certain equipment for purposes which it is not meant for can reduce its life and end up in loss in the long run.
Licenses are required for the usage and handling of different equipment, especially in an industrial environment. There can be stringent checks, especially for heavy duty equipment such as cherry pickers or forklifts, where a License to Perform High Risk Work is mandatory. If the license is found lacking or outdated, then heavy fines can be imposed on the operator and the business. This being the case, equipment is often kept unused and the staff not working while waiting for these licenses. It would be beneficial to have staff complete the necessary license training and assessments ahead of time so the license is in hand by the time work starts..
The life of the tire on a forklift is a difficult one. A forklift does not have suspension, so the tires alone are responsible for softening the ride for the cargo and the employee driving the vehicle. Forklift tires will have to traverse over some truly rough terrain at your factory or worksite and on average they will carry more than 9600 pounds at one time. In addition to all of the stopping, turning, reversing and accelerating that the forklift will do, the tires take quite a beating.
This is why it is important to keep a close eye on the tires of your forklift and to replace them when needed. Driving with damaged tires can cause a lot of issues, because the wear on the tires will not be even and will cause the vehicle to become unstable. Also, when the tires are low this means that you run the risk of hitting a dock plate or running into debris on the floor. Furthermore, the damaged tires will contribute to the greater vibration of the forklift, which results in increased driver fatigue and also wears out the forklift faster. The worn out tires will also be more likely to shake and jolt on harder surfaces, which can make the driver lose control or cause the load to become unstable.
Signs of Worn Out Forklift Tires
Driving a forklift with worn out tires is dangerous, so here are some signs to look for that will let you know that you should replace the tires as soon as possible.
- Take a look at the 50% wear line that is marked just above the tire size. If the top of the tire now meets the wear line, it is time to replace the tires.
- Examine the surface of the tire. Have pieces of rubber started to fall off? This can be caused by debris and litter on the floor or by the forklift driving over rough surfaces. If chunks of rubber have fallen off the tires, this can cause the forklift to rattle and become unstable when you are driving it.
- You might also notice tears in the surface of the tires, which is caused by debris on the floor of your workspace or by running the forklift over sharp machinery edges. If you see these, you should also replace the tires.
- Another sign to look out for are flat spots, which occur when the forklift tires are spun during acceleration or when it performs frequent sharp turns under heavy loads. This can cause the truck to start shaking when it moves.
- You should also watch out for tires that are under inflated or over inflated, as this can compromise their stability or accelerate the wear. Over inflated tires are more difficult to stop and under inflated tires make it challenging to turn the vehicle.
- Also, you should keep an eye on the wear of the tire tread. If the tires have started to become bald, this is a sign that they need to be replaced.
If you are concerned about the status of your tires, you can always consult the services of a forklift specialist to take a look at them. They will be able to give you advice on whether or not the tires of your forklift fleet need replacing. If the tires are worn or damaged in any way, they will likely recommend replacement so that the vehicle will not only function better, but also be much safer for you and your employees to drive while you are on the job.
Aki Hashimoto is a writer who believes that businesses who use heavy machinery and vehicles such as forklift trucks should consider the safety of their staff constantly. By monitoring and replacing forklift tyres when necessary, you will help to improve the safety of your business environment.
An Insider’s Guide to the parlor tricks auctions use to separate you & your money.
In my previous two articles on auction buying secrets, I have exposed the common ways that auction houses get the pigeons to part with their money and actually buy (some of) the junk they are selling. In part three, I’ll discuss some common practices that I have come to rely on that usually drastically increase my chances at paying less and getting more.
Tip #1: The Devil is in the Details
Every auction starts and ends with paperwork. 99% of all of the people at the auction never read the fine print at the bottom of the terms and conditions of bidding at registration time. These terms will lay out ALL of the costs that will be associated with bidding on and purchasing items at this particular auction. Extra expenses that most auctions include that will be tacked on over and above your winning bid prices can include but are not necessary limited to:
- Sales tax (This can be an additional 3 to 13%.)
- Buyers premium (Often 10% to 15% or more)
- Removal fees
- Loading fees
- Security Fees
Many of the details that will affect what you can afford to bid will be determined by what is in those terms and conditions. It’s vital that you think through these details before you even bid as they can greatly increase the cost of the equipment to much more than it’s worth.
Points to think about:
- Is the equipment being auctioned still standing/installed?
- If so, Who will be responsible for the removal?
- If it’s you, the buyer, what will it cost to get it removed?
- Is there a deadline for removal?
- If so – what are the penalties or consequences if it’s not removed within before the deadline?
- Will you lose ownership of the material?
- Will you be fined?
- Will it be removed for you at an exorbitant expense that you will be responsible for?
- Can you remove it yourself or must you use a pre-designated removal crew?
- If so – what will they charge?
- Do they have to be certified? Union?
- When, with whom, and how will you remove and/or load the equipment?
- What expenses will that entail?
An Insider’s guide to the parlor tricks auctions use to separate you & your money.
In part 1, I reviewed the 4 very simple auction facts that most insiders don’t want you to know.
- Auctions are designed to sell stuff. All. The. Stuff. Good, bad and even really bad stuff.
- Auctions are designed to sell items for more, not less, than it’s really worth.
- Auctions are designed to confuse you into making bad decisions and mistakes.
- Auctions are designed to get as much of your money as fast as possible with no possibility that you can ever get it back. (This is all done completely transparently and 100% legally.)
In part 2, I’ll expose these top 4 auction secrets that net more and more pigeons every day. Here’s the good news. After you read this article, you’ll trade in your pigeon wings to some other sucker standing next to you who didn’t read it.
Let’s start with the basics…
(1) Auctions are designed to sell stuff. All the stuff. The good, bad and even really bad, stuff.
The main purpose of any action is to sell all the stuff. This includes all the good stuff, but what we’re concerned with here is all the bad stuff (I’m talking about the broken, manufacturer is out of business stuff). The next priority is to get the most money possible for the stuff on sale. The more bidders bidding the better the chances that the seller will obtain higher bids.
All auctions are comprised of good and bad stuff. The good stuff is purposely dispersed evenly among all the bad stuff (filler) to keep as many people engaged for as long as possible. Unfortunately for you, they don’t have tags or any sign saying what’s good and what’s bad. Mixing the good and bad stuff together assures a steady stream of bidders from the beginning to the very end of the auction.
An Insiders guide to buying the jewels while avoiding the junk at auctions.
Everyone likes a deal right? There’s always that chance that you’ll get something for nothing. You too can pay pennies on the dollar for prime merchandise. No other place gives the little guy the buying power of the professional than an auction…right?
Not unless you believe in fairy tales!
I’ve been buying used material handling equipment at auctions for over 30 years. Over that period of time I have purchased literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment. The art is to find, bid for and buy the hidden jewels amongst a wide variety of worthless junk. I am about to share some of my best personal insights and advice on how to avoid ending up with the junk and avoid the parlor tricks designed to get you to overpay for the good stuff.
The material handling industry, as discussed in this article, represents a whopping 50-billion dollar/year business in the U.S. alone. Even so, very few people know everything necessary to make optimal buying decisions. Some people in the industry like it this way, but in this article, I’ll reveal some of the secrets these dealers don’t want you to know. I have been in this industry for over 30 years and I have learned many things that I think you, the customer, ought to know. Though I wont tell you what decision to make, I’ll give you the tools to make the right decision.