KION North America

Electric Forklifts and Why You Should Use One

Like other forklifts, electrical forklifts don’t use an internal combustion engine, instead, the trucks are powered by an electric motor. Using an electric forklift can be beneficial in terms of operating costs, performance, and environmental advantages. Below we have listed a few things you should know and could benefit from by going electric.

Maintenance

Operating and keeping up the maintenance on electric forklifts are much lower than that of the Internal combustion forklifts. Since the truck is battery operated, there are less moving parts to worry about. Besides checking motor cable connections and watering the battery, the electric trucks require little maintenance. 

Operating Costs

Electric forklifts operate on a rechargeable battery lasting up to 8 hours. By using an electric forklift, you are not spending money on fuel. On average the price for a gallon of propane ranges from about $2.00-$3.00. The average forklift needs about 8 gallons. For every electric forklift driven in your warehouse, you are saving at a minimum of $16 a day per forklift. This can get pricey over time. For companies looking to cut costs, switching to electric forklifts will be more cost-effective in the long run. 

Performance

As nice as lower operating costs are, performance is the top factor when looking at what forklift works best for your warehouse. Electric forklifts take advantage in this category as well. Due to their higher voltage and higher frequency charging system, the electric works more efficiently. 

Environment

Electric forklifts are mostly used indoors, or if weather permits, they can be used outdoors as well. Using electric forklifts immensely cuts gas emissions. Not only is this bad for the environment, but the employees operating and working near forklifts. 

Electric forklifts are lower in terms of maintenance, cost-effective, rank high in performance, and are better for the environment. From counterbalanced trucks, narrow aisle trucks, pallet trucks at Kion group we offer a wide range of products for your company. Click here for more information on electric forklifts at KION North America.

Overlooked Aspects of Forklift Safety

No one is ever too safe in a warehouse environment. Being cautious, alert, and knowing the proper safety measures to take when operating a forklift are key. In most cases, the basics to forklift safety are obvious–know the type of forklift you’re using, keep an eye out for pedestrians, and be aware of how much weight the machine is able to hold–but there are still a number of overlooked aspects of forklift safety that need to be addressed. We’ve compiled a list of the top five things that are commonly missed when operating this heavy machinery.

The Batteries

Not only are the batteries used to operate forklifts large, buy they are filled with acidic chemicals that are dangerous when in contact with the skin. The danger lies in the sulfuric acid that could be splashed as well as the fumes that are released during the process of changing. Because the batteries must be charged often, be sure to only do so in the designated charging station that holds all of the necessary materials to both prevent something from happening and handle it if it does. For more details on how to properly and safely execute a battery change for an electric forklift, visit The United States Department of Labor’s website

Lowering The Forks 

When a forklift is not being used, the forks should always be lowered rather than elevated. Once the forklift is parked in its designated spot, (meaning it isn’t blocking an entrance, exit, or pathway) double check the parking brake and lower the forks of the machine to the ground. There are many reasons for this, but the primary one is to protect pedestrians from tripping, harming themselves, or being blocked in. 

How To Carry Non-Symmetrical Loads

Forklifts are used for stacking, unstacking, and transporting heavy loads. The maximum weight that a forklift can hold varies, but the same rules for handling the transported goods are the same. Symmetrical loads are easiest to stack, so when combining multiple items that aren’t, pay close attention to how one item will transport next to another. Capacity, the lift’s position of gravity, and the shape of the items should all be considered. 

Using Indicators

Tilt indicators, load weight indicators, damage indicators–they are all important and should not be overlooked. Each of these indicators serve a purpose. For instance, a load weight indicator is meant to notify the driver that the maximum weight is being reached and/or the forklift is in danger of tipping over. 

Doing It Solo

Because a forklift operates as a one-man machine, it can be tempting to want to do everything on your own. That being said, having an experienced partner to help operate and signal the task at hand can both make it easier and help complete it faster. Whether it be directing, assisting with loading/unloading, or simply being an additional operator, having another body around to assist with forklift regulation will reduce hazards and prevent potential accidents. 

Even if you think you’re an expert forklift operator, there is never any harm in double checking that you have all of your bases covered. From carefully exchanging a battery to listening to the indicators signal that something is wrong, always be aware of your surroundings and remember the details that are often overlooked. For more information on forklift products, details, and quotes visit KION at http://www.kion-na.com.

5 Ways To Make Your Warehouse More Green

Going green is more of a pressing issue now than ever, especially in spaces that are centered around manufacturing, technology, and energy consumption. It is incredibly important to be aware and informed of the supplies you’re using and the way in which you’re using them. In many cases, they could be negatively affecting the environment. Because warehouses are typically a ground for production and waste, it’s time to start making the switch to sustainable and eco-friendly methods. It’s time to go green.

Enforce Recycling

This one should be a given, yet it is ignored all too often. Having a system for recycling amongst employees is one of the simplest ways to positively contribute in how “green” an organization is. In the case of a warehouse environment, considering having various labeled bins throughout the space for different materials. While one bin could be dedicated to paper, another could be dedicated to glass, electronics, etc. There is no need for faulty equipment to wind up in traditional landfill. A little organization can go a long way. 

Go Electric

In a space that functions off of the use of devices and machines, it is crucial to consider what the power source for them is. Switching to electric power sources means two things: a decrease in cost and a decrease in emissions. It’s a win/win. The advantages of converting to an electronically powered forklift are endless. 

Clean Wisely

If you haven’t read the back of traditional cleaning products lately, then you should definitely do so now. The majority of products on the shelves are composed of harsh chemicals that eventually make it into the environment via rivers and streams, harming animals and polluting the water. They can also be toxic to your own employees through air contamination. For more details on the ways basic household cleaning products can damage the environment and decrease your health, this article breaks it down.

Fan It Out

If your energy bills are sky high and your employees are still feeling sticky, consider incorporating industrial fans into the mix. The air movement produced by industrial fans actually surpasses air conditioning, as they don’t take anything from the air, just circulate it. While you would be avoiding the costs of conventional air conditioning, you would also be decreasing overall energy usage by investing in a high volume, low speed (HVLS) fan. 

Landscaping

The materials used to build your warehouse can contribute to what occurs within it. Something to consider is both the location of your operations and the roof that is built above it. The more a location is centralized, the less employees and vehicles have to travel to commute to and from, reducing what is omitted into the air. Likewise, consider what roofing materials might decrease the temperature of your space. Is your roof reflecting sunlight or absorbing it? If you’re considering your options, think solar panels and their many benefits. 

KION North America is one of the world’s largest two leading leading manufacturers of industrial trucks and the largest manufacturers of forklifts, priding ourselves on innovative technologies, reduced energy consumption and low operating costs. While some transformations are more extensive than others, making the necessary steps to transform your warehouse into a green space is beneficial for everyone. Eco- friendly products and reusable energy are creating a lasting future, which is the ultimate goal of going green.

How to Stretch Wrap a Pallet

When it comes to shipping and handling techniques for commercial loads, quality stretch wrapping is a must. Similar to shrink wrapping, stretch wrapping involves continuously wrapping pallets with a film material to protect from dust, moisture, etc. Many companies run into paying excessive damage and accident fees on their products due to improper wrapping and packaging. Since loads can become easily damaged due to constant shifting and moving, proper stretch wrapping pallets can determine how effective your loads are shipped and sent to their destinations. Use these tips to perfect your stretch wrapping before you ship a load off. 

Tips on How to Stretch Wrap a Pallet Load 

1. Prepare Your Load 

Ensure that your load is properly stacked in a uniformed position and that they are supported by a durable pallet. Make sure that the contents in your load are as close as possible to avoid any spaces. Open spaces will make the stretch wrapping very difficult and ultimately ineffective. 

 2. Elevate 

A pro tip to keep in mind; by wrapping your load on a raised surface it makes your stretch wrapping a much simpler process. This process involves much bending and squatting, and having an elevated surface is easier on the technician’s back and legs.  An easier way to wrap the corners of your load is to have your pallet set an angle. 

3. Preparing & Starting the  Stretch Wrap 

Now that your load is prepared and ready, it is time to start wrapping. Start by grabbing your stretch roll or roll tool a tie some of the film around one corner of the pallet. Continue to wrap the base while going in a forward motion to stay clear of any risks or hazards. 

4. Start from the Base

This step is very pertinent in securing your base and avoiding content from falling off. Wrap your base several times for security and ensure that your edge of the film goes underneath the corners of the pallet. 

5. Work towards the top, then back down. 

Continue to wrap from the base upwards towards the top of the load. Each new layer should overlap the last layer by at least 50%. The weight of the load determines how many layers of film you use to wrap your load. Make sure that the amount of film stays consistent between at the base, middle, and top of your load. Once you have reached the top of your load, layer the film downwards. This will make the film pull down on the load and ensure more stability and eliminate the chance of the load shifting. 

6. Finish Wrapping

Continue to wrap downwards back to towards the base of the load to stabilize your load. Again, overlap each layer by 50%. Once you are done the wrapping, tear the film off with a sharp object. Press it on firmly to the load and fold the end of the wrap under a corner of the pallet so that it will stick firmly. Once everything is done, tidy up your area and prepare the load for shipping.

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.

Summary

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.