• How to Manage Warehouse Safety Hazards

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    How to Manage Warehouse Safety Hazards

    Nearly one out of every 20 warehouse workers falls victim to a workplace injury or accident every year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    With numbers like that, it's no surprise identifying safety hazards in the warehouse — then finding ways to address and improve them — is an essential topic in today's warehouse management circles.

    Warehouse Accident Injury Statistics

    Yet maintaining a safe and effective warehouse is about more than loss-incident prevention. It's about integrity — walking the walk and talking the talk to keep your workers safe, your credibility sincere and your entire warehouse operations harmonized for profits and people. At Material Handling, we have compiled some industry-leading ways to do just that.

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  • Maximizing Vertical Storage in the Warehouse

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    Maximizing Warehouse Vertical Storage

    Take advantage of vertical storage to maximize your warehouse's efficiency. Look up to boost your warehouse's value in the space you currently have. By increasing vertical shelving space, you avoid the need to buy or rent another facility or construct additions to your warehouse. You'll find the return on investment in vertical storage solutions a pleasant surprise that makes it easier than ever to organize your warehouse.

    Unused Space in Your Warehouse

    With the rise of e-commerce, warehouses have become even more critical. But, the increasing need for warehouses makes finding space for new buildings problematic. In some major urban areas, vacancies for industrial buildings measure five percent or less. While finding an existing building for a warehouse is difficult, so is constructing a new one with rising land values. Additionally, many cities push back against the large trucks used for deliveries, making getting the permits required difficult. Rather than expanding outward, warehouses must build upward for more space.

    The largest warehouse owner in the United States, Prologis, solved this problem by constructing the country's first multistory warehouse. But this is not an option for many smaller warehouse owners who cannot take this expensive course. Instead, they must maximize their available space. Pallet racking and other vertical storage systems increase useable space more easily and cheaply than constructing a new building.

    Too often, warehouse owners purchase more building space when they already have plenty of storage room available in their current warehouse. Warehouse owners tend to ignore vertical storage space above levels that workers can easily reach. But this mistake could prove costly through unnecessary purchasing of more space. As in any room, better organization can maximize the storage value of the currently available space in a warehouse.

    There are two main methods of increasing vertical space. Constructing a mezzanine level in your warehouse requires pulling permits for the construction to ensure you do not violate lighting and other building regulations. While you may want to consider this for a long-term investment in your facility, it is not the best option for all warehouse owners, especially those who cannot afford the work suspension required during the building and reorganization of the facility. Construction disrupts operations, and the permanent structures may not produce the expected return on investment. Most warehouse operators will benefit more from equipment to increase vertical storage space without changing the building's construction.

    The average warehouse in the United States has up to 50 percent unused vertical space. This increase equates to only using 10 feet of the standard 32 feet of available height. Taking advantage of this unused space could increase efficiency by 40 percent. Storing items higher up reduces the travel time employees make through the warehouse. With less time spent walking, your employees can pull stored goods faster than before. Additionally, the increased use of vertical space allows for better organization of your warehouse, making it easier for your employees to find products.

    Warehouse Unused Space Statistics

    According to industry experts Charles D. Spencer and Lawrence R. Armstrong, inventory space will be in increasing demand, which will make warehouses need to make more use of their vertical space. Additionally, they predict more businesses will add e-commerce options to their traditional sales, which will further increase the need for warehouse space. If you're not already looking up, you could be missing out on maximizing your warehouse's space.

    Value of Going Vertical

    Yes, installing the necessary equipment to increase the vertical storage space in your warehouse will cost money. But you'll see a return on your investment in increased efficiency. It might take less time to install pallet racking than you expect. One company, Northwest Petroleum Services, opted to install pallet racking in its warehouse. Installation only took one week. After the new racks were in place, the warehouse's vertical space doubled from eight feet to 16 feet. Additionally, thanks to the improved organization, workers at the warehouse have cut their picking and inventorying time by 50 percent, reports Northwest Petroleum Service's CEO, Bob Fromm.

    When you know you want to add shelving or pallet racking, use the opportunity to evaluate your current warehouse organization. Consider rearranging your warehouse's inventory, making the products you retrieve most often the most easily accessible. Even in warehouse storage, the 80/20 rule applies — about 80 percent of the time, you'll pull 20 percent of the products you store. Goods pulled less often can fit on higher shelves. Better organization can make picking inventory faster for your employees.

    Improve Warehouse Organization

    Further improve your warehouse's efficiency with an upgraded inventory management system that tells employees exactly where to find a specific product. Using such a system speeds retrieval times. Software programs to direct your employees combined with scanners that update the database in real time creates a cost-effective means of taking charge of your warehouse. When combined with a well-organized warehouse that has frequently pulled products in an easily accessible place, the software system allows your employees to reach peak efficiency.

    One of the most well-known Latin food and beverage companies, Goya Foods, implements specialized pallet racking and forklifts to maximize its warehouse efficiency. To make the most of the available space, Goya Foods' New Jersey distribution center employees will stack pallets six to nine high, when it is safe to do so. Higher stacks maximize the use of available space. But not all goods are stacked directly on top of each other. Goya Foods uses pallet racking to improve its distribution center's organization while protecting workers.

    With pallet racking, employees have a safer working environment. Stockers stand behind the racks to restock from the back while forklifts pull pallets from the front as needed. Stockers are not working in the same aisles as those pulling inventory. With specific spots for stockers and pullers, the corridors have less traffic on them, reducing collisions. Apply this idea to your warehouse by dedicating particular aisles for forklifts and pedestrians. You may also restrict stockers to one side of the aisle while product pullers work exclusively on the other side.

    The lift trucks used across the company's many distribution centers have multiple functions and dedicated employees specially trained to operate the vehicles. Forklifts designed for very narrow aisles can maximize use of horizontal floor space by reducing the area required between aisles. Goya uses its very narrow aisle storage for rarely pulled or specialty items. For more frequently pulled products that have a safely stackable design, such as canned goods, the warehouse employees stack several pallets on top of each other on the floor. Using floor space for frequently used items makes retrieval much faster. By implementing strategies to increase vertical space in its New Jersey distribution center, Goya improved its operations and allowed for future growth and expansion.

    Even if you don't have a billion-dollar company like Goya Foods, you can still use vertical storage solutions to improve your warehouse's use of space. The right equipment makes the difference in your storage capabilities. And you probably won't need to invest as much money as you might think to get a quality vertical storage organization system when you use pallet racking systems and accessories.

    Equipment for Vertical Storage

    The right gear can make more efficient use of the space in a warehouse. Pallet racking, wire decking, forklifts and more can make organizing a warehouse much easier. Unlike permanent structures, pallet racking systems and their accessories are a more cost-effective means of improving your warehouse's organization.

    Warehouse Vertical Storage Equipment Pallet Racking Improves Warehouse Safety

    1. Pallet Racking Systems

    Pallet racking systems must have a secure design to ensure proper support for the pallets stored on them. Each component must have a long-lasting, sturdy structure. When selecting parts for a pallet racking system, you'll need to consider the size of the pallets and whether you will need customized systems.

    Selective pallet racking systems have two main components — the uprights and the beams. The sizes and strengths of these parts will determine the load the system can tolerate. Most selective pallet racking systems hold pallets one deep. One-deep storage facilitates the conventional method of first-in, first-out stocking and picking.

    2. Pallet Racking Uprights

    The uprights support the beams. Upright heights depend on how far your lift trucks can reach. Heights for standard uprights are available in measurements between eight and 20 feet. For customized systems, you can purchase taller uprights. Always select pallet racking systems your employees can easily access safely. For instance, 20-foot-high racks may not serve you well if your facility lacks the equipment to reach the highest shelves.

    Aside from the height of the uprights, you will need to consider the width of the pallet racking uprights. Uprights have standard widths of 36 inches, 42 inches, 44 inches and 48 inches. Of these, 42 inches wide is the most popular. With 42-inch wide uprights, 48-inch wide pallets have a slight overhang on both sides, which firmly places the weight of the pallets directly over the beams, for more secure support. Lift drivers also appreciate the overhang as they have an easier time of moving the pallets to or off the racks.

    3. Step Beams

    Step beams are one of the 2 most common styles of pallet racking components. They easily affix onto each side of the uprights to form a level shelving system for pallets. The name "step" is clearly demonstrated from the in-step design of the beam. They are compatible with step wire decking and most pallet support bars which will be discussed momentarily. Load capacities range depending on the construction, length, and height (face) of the step beam.

    4. Box Beams

    Box beams have a rectangular or square shape, which distinguishes them from step beams. They have the added benefit of providing a slightly larger flat top surface for pallets to sit on as compared to step beams. Box beams are compatible with flared or "universal" wire decks and pallets support bars specifically customized for box beams.

    5. Pallet Support Bars

    Support bars fit at a right angle to step or box beams. Though not required, adding support bars to a pallet racking system improves safety by holding up the middle of pallets that may sag under their loads. Ideally, two support bars are used to support a standard 40" x 48" pallet. Our two-inch wide support bars have capacities ranging from 1,250 lbs. to 1,550 lbs. per pair.

    6. Wire Decking

    Wire decking fills in the gaps between beams in a pallet racking system. Due to their wire mesh design these decks prevent product from falling in between the parallel beams bringing additional safety to the work place. Universal or flared wire decks fit over both step and box beams. Step wire decks get their name from their design to fit perfectly in the step of step beams. When purchasing wire decking, remember that the first measurement given indicates the depth of the decking in inches. The second number gives the width of the decking. For example, a 42" X 46" wire deck means a 42" deep by a 46" wide deck.

    7. Forklifts

    Forklifts are critical for safely picking and stocking products on high racks. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) governs the use of forklifts and other industrial trucks in warehouses. When purchasing and using forklifts for your warehouse, always follow all regulations to avoid fines and disruptions.

    Forklifts have multiple options, depending on their application. For instance, Goya Foods uses turret trucks and specialty articulated lift trucks for very narrow aisles (VNA). The flexibility to use an articulated lift truck in both VNA and standard corridors makes the specialty design a wiser choice. If you use forklifts, you will need certified drivers as well as maintenance crews for them. You can lease the trucks and hire contractors or permanent forklift employees to provide around the clock operations.

    Vertical Storage Safety Tips

    Warehouse storage can create a dangerous situation if you do not carefully follow the required rules for safety. OSHA outlines regulations for all industrial facilities. These regulations govern all operations in a warehouse, not just when you construct vertical storage space.

    Not all these safety regulations will apply to every warehouse. For instance, you may not need fall protection for your workers if you do not have elevated workspaces. Aisle safety and clearance requirements will apply to any warehouse or storage facility.

    OSHA Aisle Marketing Requirements

    1. Aisle Safety

    OSHA requires permanent aisles used for traffic to have clear markings. Additionally, the marked walkways should not have products accumulate in them. Keeping the traffic lanes clear and open prevents accidents from vehicles or people moving out of the way to avoid obstacles. To prevent collisions between vehicles and personnel, consider creating separate lanes for pedestrian traffic and vehicle movement. Separating the two in an aisle may prevent accidents in your warehouse.

    Do not store products in permanent aisles. Even frequently pulled items should not block the regular flow of traffic. If you intend to store your most commonly used inventory items on the floor, keep the products under racks or in a space that does not restrict the movements of forklifts or people. Additionally, do not stack items on the floor so high that it impedes the view of a forklift driver. To allow for better viewing around corners, install mirrors at the ends of aisles to give pedestrians and lift drivers a way to see if the area around the corner is clear of traffic.

    To ensure the safety of the aisles, regularly keep the spaces well swept and free of debris. Even too much dust could pose a slipping hazard for workers. Any product spills require immediate cleanup to prevent accidents. Do not allow anyone in the aisle until the area is clean and dried.

    2. Storage Capacity

    If you purchase a pallet racking system for storage in your warehouse, the storage capacity listed indicates how much a pair of uprights or a pair of beams can hold. Always select a racking system that has a higher load-bearing ability than you will need. Never exceed the storage capacity of your racking to prevent severe injuries to your employees or severe damage to products. Keep your workers aware of the load bearings of all storage shelves with clear labels.

    The labels in your warehouse not only have to inform your workers of the load capacities of the racking but also of clearance space in the area. Labeling clearance makes it safer for lift truck drivers, who need to know maximum heights allowed in the space. Federal safety standards also require these clearance labels.

    Warehouse Racking Load Bearing Capacity

    3. Forklift Safety

    Industrial trucks or forklifts have strict requirements in the OSHA guidelines. Operators must prove competence in driving a forklift by finishing a training program and test. This process includes training in specific locations on the site such as VNA or in areas with hazardous materials. Anytime an industrial truck driver does not have visual clearance at a crossing, he must honk his horn to alert other vehicles or pedestrians in the area. Additionally, should the load restrict the driver's view if carried in front, it will need to be pulled from behind instead.

    Other rules governing the operation of forklifts include restricting the fuel type based on the materials stored in a warehouse to prevent combustion and operation procedures for when the truck is not in use. When parked, the forklift must have its fork locked in the down position, and it cannot block an aisle, stairway or fire exit.

    You are not required to use forklifts in warehouse space, but the higher you build, the more safety precautions you must take for your workers. Forklifts allow them to pull pallets safely from high shelves. If you don't already have a forklift in your warehouse, consider renting one to see the difference it can make in warehouse efficiency, especially when retrieving or storing items on high vertical racks.

    Forklift Safety Requirements

    4. Fall Protection

    When building vertically, you may have workers on platforms above the ground. Whether you construct platforms or more permanent mezzanines, you must have fall protection measures in place. Per OSHA regulations, you must install guardrails that measure at least 42 inches high on upper walkways. Guardrails need to have smooth surfaces that won't snag clothing or lifelines. The flat surfaces of the guardrails also prevent skin abrasions that could occur from brushing against the railing.

    For workers on scaffolding, you must install fall arrest protection. Horizontal fall protection tethers keep workers from falling off scaffolding, but if they do fall, the ropes become vertical fall protection. Per OSHA guidelines, vertical fall systems must have at least a 5,000-pound breaking strength. All workers also need separate lifelines and cannot be tethered together. Keeping your workers protected from falls makes your vertical storage and workspace safer while preventing work stoppages due to accidents.

    Warehouse Fall Protection Requirements

    Get the Equipment Your Warehouse Needs for Better Storage

    The future of material handling looks bright. With e-commerce and more companies shipping from warehouses rather than stocking brick-and-mortar stores, your space will become even more critical. Take advantage of the vertical space in your facility by building up and not out. Vertical storage can improve your facility's efficiency without the need for purchasing more real estate or constructing permanent structures such as additional stories or mezzanine levels.

    Pallet racking systems are a cost-effective means of maximizing your space. At Material Handling, we stock all the pallet racking system components and accessories you need and even offer customized systems if you cannot find exactly what you want on our website. If you're ready to improve your facility's efficiency and usable storage space, contact us or give us a call at (877) 350-2729. We're here to help you make the most of your warehouse space.

    Cherry's Industrial Pallet Racking
  • Cherry's Industrial Equipment Celebrates 35 Years

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    Cherry's Industrial Celebrates 35th Anniversary

    Cherry's 35th Anniversary

    Cherry's Industrial Equipment has long been a trusted industry source for material handling equipment, and we're excited to announce that October 18, 2018, marks our 35th anniversary. From our leading capital machinery solutions to the introduction of our convenient Material-Handling.com site for our allied products, we're proud of what we've been able to accomplish over the past 35 years.

    Continue reading to learn more about our rich company history, our material handling expertise and the solutions we offer businesses like yours for an improved material handling experience.

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  • Added Efficiency with Portable Container Tilters

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    When Stephen Watkins was hired as manufacturing coach at Best Diversified Products' busy plant in Jonesboro, AR, the production rate, as measured daily in person-hours per foot of conveyor section assembled, was averaging .250 or slightly higher. His job, he was told, was to "hold the line" at .250.

    The folks at Best have a reputation to match their name, since they design, build, and install expandable conveyor systems for some of the biggest names in retailing, including Wal-Mart, Sears, Lowe's, and Circuit City. But to sustain that success, Best had to maximize the efficiency of its own as well as its customers' operations. Read More  

  • Tips for Improving Warehouse Picking Efficiency

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    Tips for Improving Warehouse Picking Efficiency

    Every warehouse manager knows how important efficient order picking is. Order picking is a complex process with varying dynamics that continually change by the day, hour and minute. No matter how efficient and productive a warehouse manager tries to be, you know there’s always room for improvement.

    It’s no warehouse industry secret that order picking is the most labor-intensive part of every warehouse operation. Over and over, statistics show the picking process accounts for about 55% of your warehouse labor burden. Under-performance in your picking method results in diminished customer service, high overhead costs and a weakening in your supply chain. Naturally, improving your order picking methodology will boost your bottom line.

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  • Roller Skids vs. Machinery Skates vs. Transport Dollies

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    Roller Skids vs. Machinery Skates vs. Transport Dollies

    Moving heavy machinery in a warehouse or industrial facility is a hazardous task. Often, machines weighing thousands of pounds must relocate from one position to another. Massive objects in motion need efficient managing. That can be difficult, if not dangerous, when you don’t have the proper material handling equipment.

    We at Cherry's Industrial offer three material handling options that will serve to safely transport heavy loads in your warehouse or workplace. Although their names sound different, all three tools serve the same general purpose: rolling your products from one spot to another. These moving devices are roller skids, machinery skates and transport dollies.

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  • Warehouse Racking Buyer’s Guide

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    Guide to Purchasing Warehouse Racks Buying the right warehouse racks is one of the best business investments you can make. Your racking system delivers an enormous return on investment by maximizing your space usage, minimizing your product turnover time and delivering a safe working environment for your employees. This guide to buying warehouse racks will help you make that right investment.

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  • Custom wire containers brighten the warehouse and allow quick visual identification of work in process inventory

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    A leading manufacturer of single use dinner ware & plastic cups needed help with a way of improving workflow through the manufacturing and packaging process. One of the biggest challenges that they faced was the visual identification of components needed for packaging. Read More  

  • Food Safety Material Handling Tips

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    Food Safety Material Handling Tips

    The American food industry is enormous. It takes a lot to feed American consumers safely. Food is the one common denominator 330 million of us have. Every day, we dine on food to stay healthy and enjoy life. To do that, it’s critical we safely handle our food supplies as well as protect our food-handling workers.

    According to the United States Food and Drug Agency (FDA), over 48 million Americans fall ill after consuming tainted foods. FDA statistics say 1 in 6 U.S. citizens get sick every year from bad food products. The agency reports 128,000 are severely impacted annually and end up hospitalized from some form of food poisoning. Sadly, 3,000 of these innocent people die after ingesting dangerous food.

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  • Pallet Buying Guide: How to Choose the Right Pallets for Your Business

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    Pallet Buying Guide

    Effective material handling is a crucial component for shipping and storage businesses. This massive industry serves American and international needs to get goods from point A to point B. It’s vital to maximize product flow in a safe and regulatory-compliant manner while maintaining cost-effectiveness. At the core of this process sits the lowly pallet.

    If you’re in the material handling business, you know just how important pallets are. It’s not just having a stock of readily available pallets. You need constant access to the right pallets for your business. That could be good, old wooden pallets that have been around for a century. Or, you might need more modern pallets made from plastic, aluminum, steel, wire mesh or presswood.

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