KION North America

Warehouse Best Practices: Maximize Throughput, Minimize Damage

To maximize throughput in a typical warehouse with pallet storage use these simple best practices. By using these guidelines, you will maximize storage space and throughput, while minimizing product and pallet rack damage.

Best Practices – Material Storage

Front View – the pallet rack design should provide enough room (side-to-side) to allow a minimum of 5 inches of space between the maximum load width and the inside of the uprights with a minimum of 6 inches of space between each load. This allows for safe load placement and minimizes load/pallet rack damage.

Side View – the pallet rack design should provide for uniformly distributed load placement within the rack to allow either:

  1. 3 inches of overhang (front and back) within each beam level, or
  2. Loads placed flush to the rack face

By allowing for 3 inches of overhang or placing loads flush to the rack face, you have what is called a Clear Aisle. A Clear Aisle is defined as the available space between either the loads or the racking (i.e. Load to Load, or Rack to Rack).

The rack design should also provide a Row Space (also known as flue space) between back-to-back rows. This Row Space can vary from 6 inches to 12 inches and provides a safe distance for load placement in back-to-back rows.

Lift Truck Types

Counterbalanced Lift Trucks

When thinking of the best truck to use in your warehouse environment, consider a counterbalance lift truck. A counterbalanced lift truck is a conventional-style lift truck, either 3-wheel or 4-wheel, equipped with a counterweight to offset carrying a load. Capacities range from 3,500 lbs to over 40,000 lbs and can be battery, liquid propane or diesel-powered. 

Required aisle spacing for warehouse use is typically 12 feet to 14 feet (with a 48-inch load length).  Counterbalance trucks are quite versatile and can be used in a variety of applications such as warehousing, loading docks and general-purpose environments.

Linde Model HT25CT
Linde Model E20

Narrow Aisle Lift Trucks

Reach Trucks and Order Pickers are designed for full pallet putaway/retrieval or order picking in warehouse applications. These trucks are typically 3,000 lb to 4,500 lb capacity and are battery-powered. 

Reach Trucks, designed for full pallet storage can operate in a 9 ft to 10ft aisle.

Order Pickers, designed for partial pallet order picking and case picking allow the operator to be raised to the level of the load in what is also called a man-up lift truck for ease of order picking. This eliminates the need to replenish low-level picking locations.   

Linde Model R17SX Reach Truck
Linde Model V15 Orderpicker

Very Narrow Aisle Lift Trucks (VNA)

Turret Trucks are designed for full pallet putaway/retrieval or order picking in warehouse applications.  These trucks are typically 3,000 lb to 3,300 lb capacity and are battery-powered. 

Turret Trucks can operate in a 5‘6“ to 7‘6“ aisle, and require aisle guidance for safe operation. Aisle guidance can either be wire (a wire is installed in the floor) or rail (rail guides are installed at the base of the pallet racking). Additionally, Turret Trucks can either be man-up (also allows for order picking) or man-down (full pallet only).

Linde A Mod Turret Truck (Man-Down)
Linde K Mod Turret Truck (Man-Up)

Typical Wire Guidance Layout

Pallet Trucks

Pallet Trucks are designed to transfer materials across distances greater than 150 feet either within the warehouse/production area, or loading/unloading trucks. Capacities range from 2,600 lbs to 8,000 lbs. 

When operating a Pallet Truck, you can choose between the walk-behind and ride-on styles (end or center controlled). Both options can be either manual or battery powered. Pallet Trucks can also be used for low-level order picking in addition to transporting pallets.

Linde Model EWR
Linde Model MT12 (lithium-ion)

Walkie Stackers

Stackers are designed to place pallets in pallet racking or operate in work-cell/production areas (as mobile work tables). These trucks are electric and range in capacities from 2,000 lbs to 4,000 lbs  Stackers will either have outriggers for stability or can also be counterbalanced in design. Additionally, Stackers can be equipped with a reach mechanism or side-shifter. 

Linde Model EWS12
Linde Model ML20A

Best Practices – Lift Truck Operation – Warehouse Aisle

Regarding best practices for operating a lift truck in a warehouse aisle, the pallet rack layout should provide enough room for the lift truck to safely operate in a clear aisle, and provide enough running clearance to maximize efficiency. The running clearance (as determined by the manufacturer and lift height) ranges from 4 feet to 8 inches. 

In Very Narrow Applications, VNA Turret Trucks require aisle guidance to allow for proper load retrieval/put-away and safe operation. If the layout is designed properly, product and rack damage is virtually eliminated while increasing product throughput.


Each application presents unique characteristics that need to be addressed when designing a lift truck/storage layout. Evidence of damaged product or pallet racking is generally caused by either misapplied lift trucks, operator misuse, or a combination of both. It‘s good to review material handling best practices from time to time and incorporate them into your own safety policies and procedures. 

This summary provides a very generic approach to best practices and is not application-specific. For a deeper analysis of a specific application, please contact your local KION North America authorized dealer.

Proper Lifting Techniques

A forklift operator must always be considerate and aware of the dangers that can come with lifting, loading, and unloading materials. Hazards, blindspots, damaged floors are just a couple of safety concerns that can affect how effectively an operator can properly handle a load. To avoid injuries and maximize productivity, here are some tips that all of your machinists should be utilizing when operating forklifts.

While Loading

You want to ensure these things while you are still loading your goods.

  • Make sure that the load weighs within the forklift’s capacity weight; It is not advised to carry a load that exceeds a forklift’s weight
  • For even distribution and stability, spread forks as wide as possible
  • Use the proper lift fixture for your load. Lift fixtures can include timber grippers, drum clamps, hydraulic scoops, etc. The correct lift fixture will make loading materials much easier and less time consuming
  • It is best to  approach position and insert the forks into the load from a squared angle; this will help to minimize any damage
  • Ensure that the load is as stable as possible; If the load seems unbalanced, drive the forklift with the heavier side facing towards you

While Carrying

Now that you have successfully loaded your materials, here are some tips to follow when carrying the load.

  • Always keep the forklift 6 to 10 inches above the ground. This helps to avoid any potential hazards
  • Be aware of your environment, especially if the floor is damaged or if you are going up/down a ramp
  • If you have stacked the load too high and is blocking your vision, travel in reverse. It is also advised to have a spotter to increase visibility as well
  • If you are going up a ramp, move forward. If you are going down a ramp, move in the reverse direction
  • Do not speed

While Unloading

You have successfully transported the load to its correct area. Here is how you successfully unload it to minimize possible damage.

  • You should also unload your load from a squared angle
  • Check your surroundings to ensure the load will be safe and secure
  • Allow at least 2 to 3 inches of clearance space
  • Move slowly, tilt the load forward, then lower
  • When you feel comfortable, lower the load 2 to 5 inches off of the floor if the floor is flat. If the floor is not flat or leveled, lift the forks higher to sustain a proper delivery

Safety First! 10 Ways to Make Your Warehouse Safer

Employee safety is essential to warehouse productivity and upholding the values of the company. With warehouse injuries rising, it is very important for employers to make sure they are staying up to date on training and finding ways to reduce warehouse related injuries. On average, there are over 34,000 non-serious forklift injuries and over 61,000 serious forklift injuries per year in the United States. This is due to the fact that many people are not being properly trained on how to operate a forklift, and warehouse hazards only intensify the probability of there being an accident. Here are ten ways for employers to improve overall warehouse safety:

Keep warehouse floors clear of debris, garbage, and all obstacles; Keep the aisles clear at all times.

Floors should be clear of anything that can pose a potential risk; this includes extension cords, loose wires, trash, hoses, etc. These items can cause harm and potential danger to the machines and also employees.

Inspect often for floor damage and rack damage; Repair immediately.

Uneven, rough floors that are not paved or smooth can damage machine tires. Tire damage can prevent operators from properly loading and unloading equipment, or cause materials to fall off the machines and cause further damage.

Set reasonable deadlines for employees to avoid time pressures that may lead to unsafe practices or substandard work that can cause any accidents.

Extreme time pressure can cause more harm than good to companies. Overworking employees and creating stressful environments can lead to physical stress, less productivity, and serious injuries.

Recertify your forklift operators with updated training every three years per OSHA guidelines. Have panels, meetings, and training every year to discuss more effective and safer practices for forklift operators.

An effective way to minimize potential forklift-related injuries is to constantly train and evaluate all forklift operators. Those who know how to properly handle and operate forklifts, combined with town hall meetings, will ensure that operators are following safety procedures and reducing risks.

Constantly have maintenance checks on forklifts and other machinery for repairs, damages, and updates.

Newer versions of forklifts are equipped with safety features that alert operators on battery life, and needed repairs. Constant inspection of these safety features will keep injury rates low.

Ensure that PPE and other safety equipment is being used at all times while on the production floor and in the warehouse.

PPE is very important when it comes to handling equipment or other hazardous material. Equipment such as hard hats, special glasses, and gloves are some appropriate personal protective equipment to use when handling dangerous materials.

Use crash barriers and pedestrian barriers on the production floor. Crash barriers help to create traffic lanes specifically for the machinery and act as a barrier between the machines and the workers. The pedestrian barriers do the same as the crash barrier by preventing forklifts to come in contact with employees.

Crash barriers, pedestrian barriers, and guard rails are provided to protect employees from interacting with forklifts and other machinery. These barriers keep machines in their traffic areas to prevent collisions.

Clearly label hazardous zones and proper signage throughout the warehouse.

Proper signage throughout the facility is a great way to inform employees about potential hazards. All hazardous materials need to be properly labeled and identified, and loading zones should be clearly marked and sectioned off.  

Ensure that work stations are being kept clean and free of litter.

Accumulation of litter can cause falls, trips, chemical spills, and jeopardize someone’s safety. Implement better cleaning standards for all your employees to follow to avoid these potential risks.

Implement training sessions for all employees that focus on innovation and safety. Take employee suggestions on how to improve overall employee safety in the warehouse.

New employees are not the only ones who can benefit from training. Training can help employers assess their employees’ strengths and weaknesses, and improve the safety of the facility. Train employees on potential risks, ways to avoid these risks, and tips to improve current practices. Make sure this is documented and signed by employees to hold them accountable. 


Tips for Equipment Theft Protection

Buying fully operated capital equipment is more than a large purchase; it is an investment. This is the exact reason why companies need to make sure that using all possible resources to monitor this equipment to avoid the possibility of theft. In spite of companies increasing security; there has been a rise in equipment theft throughout the United States, with forklifts being of high interest. No company is exempt from facing theft; however, there are measures your company can take to upgrade your current security system and decrease the chances of your equipment being stolen from your site.

Registering Your Equipment

Registering your equipment is a very crucial step to ensuring that your inventory will be returned to the correct owner if it were ever stolen. There are different databases that allow you to register the VIN numbers of equipment pieces. This is very beneficial for two reasons; the police can track down your items if they were ever stolen, this allows you to maintain a standard inventory process of all your equipment that the administration and operators can adapt and continue. 

Fleet Tracking Technologies

It may be in the best interest of your company to invest in machines that come equipped with telematics systems incorporated into the machines. These tracking properties allow operators to track the location of the equipment, and get a sense of who, when, where and where the equipment is being used within the facility. Some telematics systems also include a GPS fencing technology that allows the owner to set boundaries as to how to far the piece of equipment can travel and notifies you if the equipment leaves pasts the geofences. This fully equipped monitoring system relieve the worries of many companies.

The Importance of Recording Equipment

Security cameras should always be kept up to date at companies at all times. Proper recording equipment is just as important as the first two tips. If your property were to be stolen or vandalized, security cameras set at the correct locations and angles throughout the site would help to better assist in rescuing your properties and identifying those responsible for the theft and damages. Security cameras should always be kept up to date at companies.

Maintaining Security Around the Perimeters of Your Site

The security cameras are helpful to catch the potential thieves, but locks and proper fencing will dissuade vandals from even entering your site because it’s too much of a hassle. Conversely, broken fences, and unlocked locks are the perfect way to tell criminals to enter your site and steal your property. The best type of security to have on the outside of your building or site include; chain-link fences or gate, no trespassing signs, a possible security service, and badge only access after a certain time of the day.

Equipment theft can cause a lot of worry and frustration because of how much companies rely on their machinery to optimize their productivity. Taking the proper steps with these tips will help minimize the potentials of theft and vandalism to your company site.

Lifting America One Forklift at a Time: The Economic Impact of the Industrial Trucking

In just a century, industrial truck manufacturing has become a top-ranked sector driving the American economy. Industrial trucks are amongst the top five industries driving the American economy with promising job growth. The industry is more than just tow tractors and pallet jacks moving wood or large metal equipment in a warehouse. Forklift manufacturers are key in making sure that all equipment and materials are delivered safely and intact to their destination. Many Americans do not realize how much of an integral part that industrial trucks and distributors play in handling many household items from the warehouse to their front doorsteps. Aside from delivery services, forklift manufacturing can be involved in supply chains, residual marketing, and sales.

Impact on American Economy

How impactful is the forklift industry?

  • The industry’s economic distribution has grossed approximately 25.7 billion dollars since 2015 and continues to exceed economic goals every year
  • The industry contributes the equivalent GDP of a small country to America’s economy
  • The workforce has a greater share of veterans, 10%, compared to any other industry
  • More than half a million people drive forklifts every day, and over 200,000 are employed in the forklift industry

KION North America

KION North America is very fortunate and thankful to be a part of an industry that provides so much service to Americans all across this continent. We have been able to be a part of an industry that not only aligns with our values but employs them in their everyday practice. These values include integrity, collaboration, courage, and excellence. In recent years, we have been ranked as one of the top industrial lift truck suppliers and continue to rank amongst top competitors. In 2017, KION Group invested close to 6 million dollars into different community partnerships while adding 50 more jobs to our local branch in Summerville, South Carolina. One of our recent projects includes the launch of full-line equipment that we feel will help KION excel in North America even more. The launch includes eight Linde brand warehouse vehicles that will focus on improving and enhancing the energy efficiency, motor automation, and digitization of our current products. We are ecstatic to see where this industry will be in another 100 years.

Forklift Battery Types & Battery Charges

Forklifts are a critical part of your warehouse; therefore, understanding the basics about forklift battery types as well as battery charges will help your company run more efficiently and effectively. Most forklifts come with standard flat plate batteries, but, there are a variety of other types that can be helpful. Read below to gain a better understanding of forklift batteries.

Types of Batteries

Tubular plate batteries offer longer run times and higher voltages under larger loads in comparison to the standard flat plate batteries. These tubular designed plates have fast charging capabilities which are great for high production applications. Each week these batteries require a finish and equalization charge for continued success.

High amp-hour batteries are more dependable batteries than tubular plates. If operation occasionally experiences higher demand than normal of if it is on the edge of needing a secondary battery, these high amp-hour batteries are especially helpful.

Waterless batteries sound deceiving, when in fact they do need water to function; however, less frequently in comparison to other batteries. Waterless batteries can also reduce labor costs, which can be beneficial to a company using these forklift batteries.

Maintenance-free batteries do not require watering and are considered clean or green for applications that handle more precious products such as food or pharmacy.

Battery Chargers

Charges are necessary components of the functioning capabilities of your forklift’s battery that allow you to quickly charge your battery without decreasing the battery’s lifespan. Battery chargers not only charge your battery but also monitor overheating or overcharging. Charging batteries are a necessary part of the function of a forklift as well as the overall function of a warehouse, helping it run more efficiently. Of course, different types of batteries require certain types of chargers to allow them to function properly and significantly help lengthen your batteries their lifespan. 

Understanding the different types of batteries can help you make the best decision in regards to how to power your forklift. Becoming knowledgeable about the different types of batteries, as well as how they are charged is important to your business. Get knowledgeable.

Why You Should Use Daily Safety Checklists

Safety checklists may seem like repetitive or even unnecessary actions; however, using them not only helps the safety of your employees, but they also positively influence the overall function of your warehouse itself. Understanding the purpose behind daily safety checklists is something you should check off your list. Read more below to gain a better understanding of the importance of using daily safety checklists and how to implement them:

Utilizing Checklists

There are a variety of general checklists that are offered to companies to ensure warehouse safety. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, provides safety checklists that correspond to laws and regulations that help to keep employees working their workspace safe. Following the checklists that they offer will help guide your warehouse’s general safety. These checklists also assess employees to ensure they are properly handling materials and equipment and following procedures set by the warehouse.

Making Warehouse Specific Checklists

By creating your own warehouse specific checklists, you are helping to ensure the safety of your warehouse. Tailoring checklists to your own work environment helps to ensure more safety. By including employees in the process, discussion and feedback can result in even stronger safety protocols. Evaluating safety checklists periodically helps to cover all areas of a warehouse, making sure nothing is left unsafe.

Equipment Safety Checklists

Using warehouse safety checklists daily helps to ensure general safety; however, by following equipment specific checklists for machinery such as forklifts can help avoid potential safety concerns. Operating forklifts pose numerous hazards; however, using daily checklists to make sure they are functioning properly will help prevent major issues caused by these machines. Conducting safety checklists for all equipment in your warehouse will further help keep employees free from danger.

Using daily safety checklists are essential to the overall safety of your warehouse and your employees. Safety is of utmost importance to us at KION; therefore, we understand the importance of using safety checklists.

What to Do When You Run Out of Warehouse Space

Running out of space in your warehouse can be a result of various situations. Sometimes it means your sales are up with more space for growth, or sales are down with stagnant products piling up. Whatever the case may be for your company, a solution must be found for the lack of warehouse space, the most valuable asset. There are a few things to consider when you are faced with a full warehouse:

Evaluate Inventory

When faced with little warehouse space, sometimes, the build-up of unnecessary inventory has occurred; therefore, evaluating the inventory in your warehouse can help you free up space. Managing inventory allows for more space availability. When evaluating your inventory consider reorganizing the space as well as cleaning up any clutter that is adding to the lack of space issue will not only help solve the problem, but it will also increase functionality and efficiency.

Utilize Floor Space Properly

Re-evaluating how you manage your space is essential in utilizing your warehouse space properly when faced with a lack of space. By using stackable and resealable containers, aisle space has been proven to increase. However, narrow aisles can be just as efficient; therefore, measuring your aisles can help you to minimize space used and maximize space available. Keep the size of your material handling equipment in mind when to plan out floor space specifically within the aisles.

From the Ground Up

Not only is floor space important to utilize, but also vertical space in your warehouse. Looking up when faced with an issue like warehouse space, will expand your possibilities and space. With regulations in mind, expand up to help clear more space on the ground. Properly using stacking methods will also increase efficiency within your warehouse while maximizing the air.

Change Your Rack Design

Another way to solve the problem of limited space within a warehouse means putting your thinking cap on when it comes to your storage system, specifically pallet rack design. With safety in mind, think about ways to potentially reposition, add or remove, or change the pallet racking design altogether. Utilize different pallet racking systems to maximize your warehouse space.

Running out of warehouse space happens often; however, understanding solutions to the problem will help prevent it from occurring in the future. A full warehouse means a re-evaluation is necessary to open up space as you move towards future success for your company.

Pallet Jackets and Trucks: Electric vs. Manual

Contrary to popular belief, the biggest machine is not always the most reliable, in terms of getting the job done. Although forklifts are made in varying sizes, they are not always the most efficient in material handling due to their inability to fit in all spaces in a warehouse. That is why pallet jacks are also very common in warehouses because they can handle most goods and deliver to any area regardless of space or size. They are a very versatile piece of handling equipment and are a valuable additive to a warehouse. Similar to a forklift, the purpose of this machine is to efficiently transfer pallets and other heavy material goods to various locations within the warehouse and loading dock areas. Similar to our post forklifts, pallet jacks have advanced since their beginning, and offer a variety of features, weight and pull capacities, and size. Below are a few of the differences between electric and manual pallet jacks for those who may be interested in purchasing a new one.

Things to Consider with Manual Pallet Jacks

Manual pallet jacks are amongst the most commonly used in warehouse for simple reasons; anyone can use it as it does not require any specialized training to operate, and it is much less expensive to use and maintain than an electric pallet jack. They are usually a fan favorite because; they do not require a motor; they are powered by human force and are smaller, making them more conveniently stored. They are usually able to carry up to 5,500 lbs; which is favorable for warehouses with large loads.

The downsides to using only a manual pallet jack are worth considering depending on the type of environment of the warehouse. If the facility is large or is usually handling large loads, one person operating the pallet jack may become difficult or tiring. The risk of danger and injury is greatened with a manual pallet jack. For example, if a worker has to carry a large load up an incline or rough surface, without the help of someone else, the worker could lose control of the load and face serious injuries. If you work in a large facility, the possibility of different departments needing to use these manual pallet jacks is high, since they are so accessible, and you may find that they become unavailable when you need them the most. 

Things to Consider with Electric Pallet Jacks

Although not as common, electric pallet jacks are still a favorite for equipment operators. These machines are not as strenuous on workers because electric pallet jacks operate on a motor rather than human power. They can handle more weight with their weight capacity being 6,000 lbs. Unique to the electric pallet, the motor in the jack assists in lifting and lowering the forklift, whereas the manual pallet jack is restricted to staying on the ground. Due to this, the electric jack increases productivity for warehouses because they can carry larger loads, go farther distances at a faster rate, and move loads to high or low areas.

The cons of electric pallet jacks cannot be ignored when comparing the costs to manual pallet jacks. One factor that deters buyers from purchasing an electric pallet jack is the cost. One electric pallet jack will cost you anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 depending on the brand and the features. You also have to consider maintenance fees as well for the motor and the wheels. Another way that electric pallet jacks can pull at your pockets is with their constant need to have their fuel resupplied. Even if the motor is battery operated, it will still need to recharge, meaning you will need a charging station. Lastly, another con to having this equipment is that it requires a strict operating training and certification process. Unlike manual pallet jacks, OSHA states that those who are not trained on how to operate this equipment will not be able to use it. This requires employers to fund training, which requires extra time and money.

Although both types of pallet jacks offer their own benefits and disadvantages, it is still a wise investment to make for your company.  It is a huge asset that can help to drive your productivity results and help your facility operate at a higher level. The smallest tool can make a significant impact on your company, and this proves true with the pallet jack.

Top 6 Forklift Options to Reduce Maintenance Costs

One of the biggest keys to having a profitable business is to find ways to reduce costs without sacrificing quality or customer satisfaction. Buying a forklift, regardless of size, is expensive enough so the maintenance can be even steeper in price. We have compiled a list to help your company save some coins in maintenance costs to make sure you are providing quality as a standard to your company and your customers.

Repair Floors and Eliminate Sources of Tire Damage

Worn out floors can cause serious damage to your forklifts’ tires if the floors have holes or are badly worn down. Debris and waste such as plastic, wooden pieces, and other trash can also cause tire damage, which eventually leads to your machine needing new tires. Making sure that your manufacturing site upholds cleanliness standards and investing in smooth, even floors can eliminate the chances of employee accidents and machine damage.

Introduce Forklift Operating Safety Training

When is the last time your forklift operators participated in a forklift operating safety training? If you could not answer immediately, that means that it is time to plan for a training session. These sessions act as a refresher on safety protocol, while also update operators on any new driving/handling techniques when operating the forklifts. The benefits of these training sessions are that they increase forklift operator awareness and significantly decrease the amount of damage to the machines and any inventory.

Sticking to One Brand of Forklifts 

Various companies make forklifts, and not all of these machines are made the same. Different companies like to add on signature gadgets to build their brand stand out, and these additions can come additional costs. It may be a smart investment to be consistent with the brand of forklifts that your company uses to ensure that you do not have to kick out extra maintenance fees for different brands of forklifts.

Replace Tires and Wheels Frequently

Due to the lack of suspension that forklift machines have, their tires and wheels are prone to become worn down very easily and require frequent maintenance. An excellent investment tool would be to invest in shock absorption pads and replace tires and wheels frequently. Even the most skilled forklift driver is bound to have an incident on while operating the machine. These minor accidents can accumulate damages very quickly, and soon, you will need to replace an expensive machine. Investing in shock alarms to help indicate and absorb some shock will help keep track of how often to replace tires.

Setup a Maintenance Program

Having a contract with a maintenance provider could help companies maintain repair costs. Instead of having unexpected, or large repair bills, Have a monthly fixed price with a service provider to address any problems and eliminate the potential for any significant issues in the future. This is why sticking to one brand of forklifts is essential because this one factor could help to regulate the monthly cost of your maintenance bill. Even if there are no significant repairs one month, the constant upkeep on your machines will save you a ton in the long run.

Investing in Multi-Function Display Screens

Multi-function display screens are vital to any machine. Their primary function is to display the performance of forklift, determine its current condition, and if it’s time for any maintenance checks. It can control and regulate the speed of the forklifts and even measure oil levels. This is a brilliant investment to have seeing as it does most of maintenance monitoring for you.