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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.

How to Get the Maximum Trade-In Value for your Forklift

Selling a used forklift can give you or your company extra funds to upgrade an existing fleet or invest in a new make or model. Knowing what your forklift is worth “as-is” can be a difficult task because there are many things to consider. Understanding these top four selling criteria will ensure every re-seller gets their maximum trade-in value.

Age

The age of your forklift should be your first consideration. Forklift ages are typically done by the number of hours used in operation. 7,500 to 9,500 hours is optimal for high selling prices. Anything above 12,000 hours will get a lower asking price, and the type of forklift matters also. For example, if the forklift is electric, the condition of your battery will matter more than the hours spent. However, just like a car – the more they all have been used the less valuable it becomes.

Appearance

Of course, the appearance of the forklift matters a great deal during a resale. The fewer scuffs the better and it’s a good idea to clean it up before showing it to any potential buyers. A quick clean and technician tune-up can boost your potential sale price. Honesty is the best policy here, so be sure to explain any dents, marks, or scratches to anyone inquiring. Appearance isn’t the sole factor, though. If you have a well-functioning forklift, many buyers will prefer optimal functionality over a perfect appearance.

Maintenance

If you’ve maintained your forklift well you can expect a better market value. Unfortunately, this cannot be done before the sale so to ensure top dollar for your machine – value the maintenance of your fleet over time. Have routine checks and tune-ups to extend the forklift’s lifetime and re-sellability. A faulty forklift will do poorly on the resale market, so make sure it’s operational and functioning before selling.

Type

The type of forklift you’re selling will affect the market value. Electric forklifts get the best market value, but only if the battery is healthy and working. Gasoline and propane forklifts are lower in value, but can still be resold. Propane forklifts may be especially taxing to sell due to the over-saturation of availability. The accessibility of these forklifts makes them the least valuable.

Whether you’re selling a gas, electric, or propane forklift, it is important to know what will get you the most for your money when reselling. Being sensible to the current state of your machinery in terms of age, history, and type of forklift you’re selling will guide your valuation and ultimately secure you the maximum trade-in value.

How Forklifts Help After Natural Disasters

Natural disasters are an inevitable part of life. Preparing for them and cleaning up after them are two of the main options we have in response to an unstoppable hurricane, flood, or forest fire. Forklifts may be operational for the most part, but in times of need, they excel at picking up the pieces of a natural disaster. Here are some ways forklifts prove instrumental in our response to emergencies.

Preparations

The calm before the storm can be a critical time to make arrangements for the impending disaster. Forklifts aid in preparation in various ways. For example, KION helped haul large amounts of sandbags to help prevent flooding in the Lowcountry of South Carolina during the last hurricane scare. Most importantly forklifts prepare and help to brace communities when facing the aftermath of what’s to come.

Utility

The pneumatic tires on most forklifts are perfect for driving over rugged terrain and uneven surfaces. This makes them invaluable in the wake of a hurricane or earthquake. Cleaning up debris is the first step to rebuilding a community and forklifts offer the tools to efficiently do this. Hand pallets are also immensely useful to provide the supplies in an organized and quick fashion. Access to food, water, and supplies is the most vital form of relief in these affected communities and forklifts help them get there.

Relief

It’s always important to keep the safety and operational standards up to date in case of an emergency relief project. Warehouse managers can contribute to relief by supplying forklifts to the affected areas. Getting supplies to the location, transferring them quickly to the communities, and ensuring a quick clean up is something forklifts provide in the face of a natural disaster.

Forklifts are useful before and after a natural disaster strikes. Aiding in preparation for the storm and supplying relief efforts afterward can make a huge difference in the lives of those affected. Forklifts help communities recover from the disaster and make it possible for them to thrive again.

Spring Forklift Maintenance Checklist and Inspection Guide

With spring officially set to commence on March 20th, there is no time like the present to get a head start on spring cleaning. Follow this instructional guide to get a head start on your forklift inspection and possible subsequent maintenance to ensure safe, clean, and workable conditions for their employees.

Forklift Statistics

Some statistics are important to check intermittently. Your forklift’s service history will tell you a lot about the systems prior issues and possible concerns. Another useful piece of information will be the level of your forklift’s oil.

Search for Wear and Tear Plus Leakage

Forklifts do the grunt work for us, therefore they are bound to wear and tear over time. Check the battery, electrical cables, as well as the spark plugs for degradation. Time can also cause the metal to corrode, which may result in leakages. Check for both of these factors to ensure your forklift will work for years to come.

Check the Cooling System’s Radiator Hose

If your forklifts radiator hose clamps and caps, you’re in the clear. Ensuring the forklift does not overheat is a crucial factor in the longevity of your machinery.

Inspect the Air Intake System

Inspecting the air intake system is important to ensure the forklift will continue working as intended. Seeing that the air intake system is sealed is a good sign your forklift is operating smoothly.

Examine Breaks

Examining the break height and pressure will help determine the safety of them. If they give little resistance, it may be time to replace them. Brakes are an essential safety feature in warehouse operations, so be sure to check them out!

Examine the Forks

Now, this may seem obvious, but you’re looking for any visible cracks to the fork. There are a few other considerations to this inspection, though, including fork height and thickness. If your forklift is experiencing extreme wear and tear, the forks will begin to bend lower and become thinner.

Check the Steering Wheel

The steering wheel directs the entire forklift and is a vital function of the machinery. Checking the valves within, the rubber that encases, and the hoses that connect to the steering wheel will allow you to see if it is functioning properly.

Check the Transmission Fluid

Not only should you be checking the transmission fluid’s levels, but the color and odor as well. The transmission fluid should still have a bright pigment to it. If it appears dark in color, you may have reason to believe the fluid is contaminated.

Check the Tire Pressure

Checking the tire pressure ensures that no tire-pops will ensue due to a heavy weight load. While checking the tire pressure, be sure to check out if the front and rear-end tires have any holes or tears on them, as well. Ensure the safety of your staff by having regular inspections and safety checks. Following this checklist and maintenance guide will help gauge which forklifts are on their last leg and which ones are reliable, safe, and running smoothly

What Is an Order Picker and Why Do You Need One?

What is an order picker? If you’ve ever wondered this, you probably work in a warehouse seeking innovative solutions for narrow aisle capabilities while simultaneously achieving high reaches. Order pickers can be a sound investment for many businesses seeking to boost productivity. Here we’ll cover what an order picker is, why you should invest in one, and things to consider beforehand.

What Is It?

An order picker does just that – helps to pick orders. They help you to pick orders from up to 35 feet in the air! There are a variety of ranges for order pickers, ranging from mid to high-level reaching. Mid-level reaching can range from 15 to 25 feet and typically has a capacity for 3,000 lbs. The high-level order pickers still only hold 3,000 lbs capacity, but extend to reach anywhere from 20 to 35 feet! These higher models must be wire or rail guided for added support and safety.

Why Do You Need It?

Order pickers allow you to access heights ranging between 9 to 35 ft high. Increased storage is invaluable within a warehouse, so investing in an order picker is ultimately an investment in your profits. Not only does the order picker reach great heights, but it also allows for a more narrow aisle as well. More space means better operational efficiency, and that’s why you need an order picker.

Things to Consider Beforehand

These machines are designed to extend 30 or more feet in the air, and there are a few things to consider before bringing one to work. Obviously, ample height is needed in relation to the max extension of your model. Also, your load requirements should be considered seeing as though these don’t exceed 3,000 lbs capacity. If you anticipate needing the high-level order picker, think about ways to optimize for the railing guidance previously mentioned.

We hope this information is helpful when deciding if an order picker is a beneficial purchase for you or your company. If you have any questions regarding order pickers, need more insight, or if you are considering your purchase, please contact us via our website or by calling us at 843-875-8000.