KION North America | Page 10

Tips for Handling Hazardous Materials

It’s no secret that safety should be a top priority in any warehouse. But in warehouses that handle hazardous materials, safety should be an even greater concern for management as well as employees. Hazardous materials include raw materials and finished products, and can be quite dangerous when handled improperly.

These materials are capable of producing harmful effects like fire or a sudden release of pressure that could cause an explosion, or health effects, from burns to chronic effects and organ damage. Additionally, hazardous materials can have harmful effects on the environment. It is important to handle these materials with the utmost caution in order to run a safe and successful warehouse. Here are some tips for handling hazardous materials.

Firstly, every warehouse worker needs to familiarize themselves and follow federal and state regulations concerning proper handling and disposal of materials. These organizations set regulations that ensure hazardous materials are handled safely and without danger to individuals or the environment.

When handling hazardous materials, safe transportation is extremely important. Be vigilant of your surroundings and travel at safe speeds. Faster driving can increase the likelihood for forklift or machine turnover or collision, which hazardous materials could make even more dangerous.

Proper labeling and storage is also an important part of safe material handling, as different materials have different effects and require specific handling. Certain materials also need to be stored separately from others, and storage areas should be dry, cool, and well-ventilated. If you see any damaged containers, mislabeled products, or improperly stored items, report them immediately.

The real key to safe handling of hazardous materials is proper training. Training employees to know about hazardous materials, from how they can be dangerous to avoiding incidents as well as how to respond to emergencies is the surest way to operate a safe warehouse.

These tips are just the foundation for proper handling of hazardous materials. Through familiarization with federal and state regulations as well as the specifics for the materials your warehouse manages, and of course with proper training, your warehouse can safely and efficiently handle hazardous materials. For more tips, check out our 2017 Warehouse Safety Checklist.

Finding the Right Forklift for Your Operation

Most people who run a warehouse are probably aware of the various types of forklifts that are available out there. However, warehouses are not always equipped with the right forklift for their specific material handling needs. With so many options out there, it can be hard to narrow down your options and find the perfect fit. But it is important to find and use the best forklift- or forklifts- for your warehouse operations, as this choice can have a serious effect on the efficiency and operation of your warehouse. Here are some factors you should keep in mind when determining the right forklift for your material handling needs.

Application and Environment

The first questions you want to ask are how and where will the forklift be used? The specifications for your forklift are impacted by the layout and environment of the warehouse in which the lift will be operated. Will it be used indoors or out, on rough or smooth surfaces? You will also want to consider the width of aisles in the warehouse. Forklifts vary in size, wheel type, turning radiuses, etc. and the layout and environment of your warehouse need to be considered when choosing a forklift that will fit your needs.

As far as application, what operations will the forklift be performing? Will it be used to stock items on high shelves or transporting materials over longer distances? The ways in which you utilize the forklift in the warehouse environment will affect the specifications of the appropriate lift. The following factors will go into further detail on these elements of choosing a forklift.

Load Capacity

Load capacity is one of the most important factors in finding the right forklift for your material handling needs. Choosing the correct lift depends on the size and weight of the load. If you choose a forklift with a load capacity lower than you require, you will be left with a useless lift. Think about the heaviest and widest loads your lift will be handling, and choose a lift accordingly. The specifics of the load will also determine what kind of attachments or clamps need to be included with your forklift.

Height

When considering load capacity, you should also consider height requirements for your forklift. Do you have high shelves on which you’ll need to stack materials? What are the height requirements for safely lifting materials onto your shelves? You also need to check the height of the mast when collapsed to ensure that it will fit through doorways and under beams or other fixed structures.

Fuel or Power Source

Forklifts are electrically powered or run on gas or diesel. Fuel or electric, each method has its benefits and drawbacks. Similar to the forklift itself, the right option is also quite dependent on environment. Fuel-powered lifts may be the right choice for outdoor work, as these powerful, reliable machines are faster and can move bigger loads, but require an open area with plenty of ventilation to keep operators and surrounding workers safe.

Electric forklifts work well in small, indoor spaces, working quietly and producing no emissions, but are ill-suited for outdoor operations. Electric lifts have higher initial and maintenance costs and require long periods of time to recharge, but typically have a longer lifespan than fuel-powered lifts.

Laws and Regulations

Regulations and requirements for your warehouse and its operations are determined by both national and local organizations or authorities. Local agencies or government entities may dictate certain requirements and specifications for the forklift you use and operations a lift performs. OSHA also regulates safety regulations and similar specifications. Knowing the requirements from the onset will save you time and money, as adjusting the forklift or fitting it with necessary fixtures later on may become costly.

There are many factors you should consider when purchasing or renting a forklift, but considering these important elements will help put you on the right track to finding the perfect lift for your operational needs. If you have any questions regarding different forklifts and their material handling capabilities, KION North America is happy to help. Visit our website to view our product selector or learn how you can contact us.

Why You Should Invest in a Warehouse Manager

When it comes to improving productivity in the warehouse, many experts will tell you to invest in a warehouse manager. Having a manager is key to running a successful operation. From day-to-day operations to implementing strategic warehouse management systems, a manager will ensure that your warehouse operations run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

A warehouse manager is responsible for organizing and coordinating the receipt, storage, and dispatch of goods in a safe and efficient manner. A manager must preside over all activities within the organization that engage with the packing, storing, and handling of materials. Such activities might include enacting safety procedures and performing training, supervising employees and tracking employee engagement, and researching new trends and technologies for warehouse operations.

A good warehouse manager should be trained and experienced in a few areas, including but not limited to logistics, distribution, transportation, and of course, management. With expertise in a variety of fields, a manager will better be able to handle all aspects of warehouse operations and assure the most productive methods are in place.

Some might argue that technological advancements in the warehouse are a cheaper alternative to hiring a manager. Warehouse management systems and other helpful technologies are extremely useful tools, but what if these methods fail? A warehouse manager will know how to handle these situations and ensure that productivity does not suffer as a result of failed technological systems. Additionally, a good manager will be on top of the latest trends and be responsible for enacting such technologies.

In addition to technology’s tendency to fail, technological systems cannot form relationships with employees and effectively encourage team-building. A warehouse manager, on the other hand, sets the expectations for his or her workers’ attitudes, work ethic, and ultimate success. The happier employees feel and the more connected they feel to their coworkers, the more productively they work. A warehouse manager is an irreplaceable tool when it comes to developing a strong team and boosting morale.

Overall, a warehouse manager will make sure that the warehouse is operating at optimal speed and efficiency without sacrificing safety. When it comes to running a productive warehouse, hiring a trained, competent manager is one of the best investments you can make.

Tips for Properly Cleaning a Forklift

Forklifts make life in the warehouse easier in so many ways. In order for forklifts to keep doing their job, it’s important to keep these machines well-maintained, which includes keeping them clean. Proper maintenance and cleaning will also help prolong a forklift’s lifespan. Here are a few tips for properly cleaning a forklift.

Use a pressure washer

Soap and water just won’t cut it; a pressure washer is the only way to completely clean a forklift. Using a pressure washer is also safer than soap and water, as you can keep a safe distance from the machine. And in environments where forklifts come into contact with potentially hazardous chemicals, mixing these chemicals with soap could be dangerous.

Get rid of loose dirt and debris first

Before putting the pressure washer to use, get rid of any loose dirt, debris, and rust that can be removed with a broom or duster. Doing so will help get the forklift as clean as possible before you pressure wash the vehicle. Additionally, dirt, dust, and rust can hurt the performance of a forklift if left to build up over time.

Start at the top

When you begin cleaning, start at the top of the forklift. Since grime and dirt will flow downward, starting at the top and working your way towards the bottom of the forklift will prevent you from dirtying an already clean area. That way, you create a much more efficient cleaning process

Make sure it’s dry

While forklifts are durable, not every part and component is waterproof. Once you have finished cleaning a forklift, leave time for it to dry completely. Make sure that before its next use, every component is dry and there is no excess water hiding in hard to see or reach areas.

Wear protective equipment

Last but not least, practice safety first, even when simply cleaning your forklift. A pressure washer keeps distance between you and the forklift while cleaning, but that does not mean injuries cannot happen. At the very least, wear protective goggles, boots, and gloves to protect some of the most vulnerable areas.

Letting your forklift build up dirt and grime will not only harm its performance, but the performance of your warehouse operation as a whole. Save time, energy, and money by properly cleaning and maintaining one of your most essential warehouse assets.

How Technology Can Improve Your Warehouse Operations

The benefits of technological advancements touch nearly every aspect of our lives and daily activities, including warehouse operations. For anyone looking to increase the productivity of their warehouse while saving time and money, adding certain technological methods is the way to go. Here are just a few of the ways that technology is making warehouses more productive and efficient than ever.

Warehouse Management Systems

WMS is a special software that helps better manage products when it comes to packing, handling, and stocking inventory. The software allows you to keep track of items and easily find the location of a product. WMS requires less hands on labor when it comes to finding, sorting, and handling inventory.

Dock Door Scheduling

Another helpful technology in the warehouse is dock door scheduling software. This technology helps schedule and assign doors to trucks carrying product. Truckers often spend longer waiting for a dock door to open than it takes to unload items for the truck. Avoid more traffic jams at your dock doors and save both your warehouse and truck drivers time and money.

Scanning devices

Most warehouses likely already use scanning devices in their operations, and for good reason. This simple technology locates and keeps track of inventory, therefore increasing productivity as workers do not have to take the time to locate an item manually. These devices also allow for more visibility for workers, telling them where a package has been or is supposed to be. The portability of these devices also makes for easy, convenient usage.

Communication

Warehouses can be quite large, but thanks to mobile communication devices, individuals do not have to search the stacks and various areas to communicate with a coworker. With mobile communication, employees from opposite ends of a warehouse can have instant, efficient access to one another. Just make sure that communication devices or methods are consistent across departments to ensure efficiency.

By implementing just one or two of these technological methods in your warehouse can help save you time and money. With easy access to information about inventory, instant communication tools, and systemized scheduling and tracking, your warehouse can be more productive than ever.

When adopting technology into your warehouse operations, remember that proper training is necessary to properly utilize the advantages that such systems offer. You should also consider putting training and alternate systems in place in the event that any of these technologies fail. Technology is evolving everyday, so take advantage of the technological methods available to warehouse operations and help make your warehouse more productive and efficient.

Forklift Maintenance Checklist

Unsafe forklift operations are one of the biggest safety hazards in warehouses. Whether due to improper training or lack of maintenance, forklifts can cause damage, injury, or even death when used improperly. That’s why regular maintenance and operational checks of forklifts are extremely important. OSHA requires that forklifts be inspected daily. In order to create a safe warehouse, make sure you look for these issues when conducting a pre-operational inspection:

Firstly, perform visual checks

  • Tire condition and pressure
  • Visible spills or leaks, including underneath the forklift and near hoses
  • Obvious signs of damage, such as cracks or other visible defects
  • Condition of gauges
  • Safety decals and nameplates are visible and legible
  • Examine the forks for signs of damage and appropriate height and thickness
  • For electric forklifts, there are no exposed or fraying wires

Next, conduct physical checks

  • Brakes and steering controls are operating properly
  • Safety devices like seat belt and horn are functional
  • Other operations and controls are working

And lastly, check liquid levels

  • Fuel
  • Brake fluid
  • Hydraulic fluid
  • Engine oil coolant

In addition to pre-operational checks, forklifts should undergo further inspection and maintenance based on days, months, or hours of operation. The following are the best practices for conducting more comprehensive maintenance checks:

Conduct forklift maintenance or service in safe conditions

  • Area of service is clean and free of clutter
  • Forklift engine is off and battery disconnected
  • Emergency brakes are set and wheels are blocked

After making sure the area is clean, begin servicing the vehicle

  • Change engine oil based on manufacturer’s specifications
  • Replace air filters
  • Examine brakes and replace brake fluid
  • Examine the cooling system, checking radiator hoses and clamps
  • Replace tires if damaged
  • Inspect chains and other parts for rust, damage, or misalignment

Protect your warehouse and employees by following these simple steps for forklift maintenance. This checklist is just a starting point for conducting appropriate forklift maintenance inspections. Read the manufacturer’s manual, look at OSHA’s guidelines, and contact professionals when servicing your forklift in order to prevent damage and injuries. In doing so, your warehouse can enjoy a safe and productive year in 2017.

Caring for Your Forklift Battery

In order to get the best possible use out of a forklift, it is necessary to practice proper maintenance so that it lives a long, productive life. One of the keys to helping your forklift live a long life is to care for its battery. A well-maintained battery should last a number of years, meaning you should get good use out of the forklift for that long. Here are a few steps for caring for the battery to help keep your forklift running for years to come.

Charge properly

Correctly charging a forklift battery is one of the most important factors when it comes to ensuring its longevity. You do not charge the battery when it is convenient for you or the opportunity happens to present itself. Charging a forklift battery drains its life cycle, and charging when you feel like it can reduce a battery’s lifespan significantly. The battery should only be charged at certain times and to a certain extent. It is recommended that you only charge a forklift battery at the end of an 8-hour work day or once the charge goes below 30%. Do not allow the battery to totally die before charging, as it could take up to three days for the battery to reach full charge. If you follow correct charging practices, your forklift’s lifespan should reach 5 years. OSHA recommends that users find and designate a battery-charging area. The area should be well-ventilated and neither too hot nor too cold.

Consistently check fluid levels

In order to work properly, batteries need to have the right amount of water. Most experts recommend you should check fluid levels every five to ten uses. If fluid levels need to be topped off, fill until the water covers the plastic element protector. Be careful not to overfill, as this can cause damage during the next run. Only cover the element protector by about ¼ of an inch. If fluid is running low, only fill with water after the battery has been charged, not before.

Practice safe storing and handling

As in all aspects of the warehouse, safety is extremely important when it comes to caring for and handling a forklift battery. While batteries can handle extreme environments, using and storing the forklift in harsh temperatures, especially extreme heat, can diminish battery life. The battery needs to have plenty of air circulating around it to ensure it cools properly and does not overheat. Batteries are designed to be safe, but as battery acid can be very dangerous, it is important to practice safety and caution when working with or handling a forklift battery. Be sure to wear protective gear, and take the recommended safety precautions.

Even the most effective and recommended batteries require proper care and maintenance in order to function to the best of their abilities. By following these steps, you can ensure that you are getting the most out of your forklift’s battery, helping make operations in your warehouse as productive and efficient as possible. Read our Forklift Maintenance Checklist for even more tips to improve your operation.

2017 Warehouse Safety Checklist

The new year is upon us, which means a chance to start fresh when it comes to proper warehouse safety practices. Creating a safe warehouse is one of the keys to running an efficient and productive operation. If you’re not sure where to start, we can help. Use these warehouse safety tips to make 2017 a safe and productive year in the warehouse.

Training

Perhaps the most important aspect of warehouse safety is proper training. Forklift operators should be properly trained for the specific vehicle they will be using. Supervisors should regularly monitor and assess operators and provide refresher training if they witness any issues.

Training does not only apply to forklift operators, but the entire staff of a warehouse. Managers should outline the safety standards for the warehouse as a whole, fostering an environment that puts safety above all else.

Training is not a one-and-done system. Regular safety checks and training sessions should be performed throughout the year. As a warehouse grows, evolves, and acquires new equipment or systems, so should its training methods.

Maintenance

Safe maintenance applies to a number of areas in the warehouse. Firstly, there’s machinery. All forklifts and trucks should receive routine maintenance and service, as well as pre-checks before each use. If any issues are found, do not use the machine and have it serviced as quickly as possible.

Maintenance also applies to maintaining a clean, organized environment. Warehouse aisles should be clear of any clutter, debris, or spills to allow easy access and maneuvering for both employees and forklifts.

Operations

Safe operations in the warehouse depend in many ways on proper training. Forklift operators and employees working in fields that require special training should only operate the systems or models they have been trained to use.

Safe operations also depend on signage and the appropriate safety measures in place. Emergency exits and routes are clearly marked, stairs are accompanied by hand railings, areas where employees could fall more than four feet are roped off, and employees use the necessary safety equipment, such as hard hats, gloves, and protective eyewear footwear.

Supervision

The final key to creating a safe warehouse is competent, regular supervision. Managers and supervisors are responsible for catching and remedying any unsafe practices employees may be performing, ensuring that only the best practices are being used throughout the warehouse. And of course, supervisors should be trained and familiar with all of the safety practices put in place in the warehouse.

Warehouse safety is about informing, educating, and communicating. These steps are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to warehouse safety. OSHA provides detailed checklists for a range of warehouse safety measures, which can be found here. Follow these tips to get the ball rolling on warehouse safety for the new year.

Best Safety Boots for Manufacturers

When you think about safety in the warehouse, protecting your feet may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But with all of the heavy lifting that goes on in warehouses, your feet can be injured very easily. Thankfully, there are different varieties of safety boots made to keep your feet from harm. The following information on different kinds of safety boots can help you decide which pair is the best for your manufacturing needs:

Steel-toed

Steel-toed boots are one of the most common types of safety footwear, especially in the warehouse. The toe area is capped with steel to prevent injury or harm to the toes. Steel is also generally recommended over other kinds of safety-toed shoe materials, like aluminum or plastic.

Metal instep

Footwear with metal insteps protects the foot from all outward injuries. Metal insteps are especially helpful for protecting against sharp objects like nails or glass, keeping them from penetrating the shoe and reaching the foot. This type of safety footwear is also especially helpful in large industrial warehouses.

Steel insole

Steel insoles can be inserted into the a boot to help prevent joint problems and strain. Steel insoles are more common for those already suffering from joint issues and for employees’ whose jobs put strain on their joints. Those who operate heavy machinery with pedals may find comfort from putting steel insoles in their boots.

Metatarsal

Shoes with metatarsal protection are also known as drop hazards because they protect the upper part of the foot, meaning they are especially helpful in preventing damage from falling equipment or objects. This type of footwear protects the toe area as well.  

Electric hazard

Electrical hazard boots have special soles designed to help reduce the potential of employees getting shocked from high voltage circuits and electricity. Employees that work around circuits, high voltage machines, and wiring should wear these protective boots. Electric hazards are extremely common and can lead to serious injury, even death. 

Following appropriate safety procedures is essential to the safety and productivity of a warehouse. Remember that safety procedures go beyond what your employer or supervisor mandates, and that you need to look out for yourself as well.

When to Retire Your Forklift

Forklifts are invaluable pieces of machinery necessary for the efficiency of any warehouse. A good forklift can last up up to around 10,000-20,000 hours without needing major repairs, but unfortunately these machines do not last forever. When a forklift has exceeded its economic life, meaning the cost of operation exceeds the value it provides, or the forklift has become unsafe to operate, the forklift is ready to be replaced. Waiting too long to retire a forklift can cost organizations considerable money. Here are a few signs that indicate it’s time for your forklift to retire.

Increased Maintenance Costs

As mentioned above, if the cost of maintaining a forklift has become higher than the value of its performance, it’s time to trade the lift in. Think about a forklift like you would a car- if making repairs or maintenance costs more than the value of the car, you know its time is over. Small repairs will be necessary after the first few thousand miles and several years, and major repairs are typical once the lift reaches about 10,000 hours.

Hours

Keep track of the number of hours your forklift is in operation. When the lift has exceeded 10,000 hours, you may want to pay attention to how it’s performing and keep an eye out for any issues. It would also be a good time to look into options for your next lift. Once a lift reaches 20,000 hours, retirement and replacement should be a priority. However, these numbers will vary based on the intensity of the lift’s usage.

Decreased Productivity

If a forklift is down for repairs more often than it is out on the floor lifting loads, it’s probably time to retire it. You can lose a considerable amount of money due to the lost hours of work as well as the costs for repairs.

High Number of Work Orders

A high number of work orders indicates that a forklift has been down more than its being used. If a lift has needed many repairs in recent months, even small repairs, it indicates there is a problem and the lift is nearing the end of its working days.

Out of Date Features

An out of date forklift is an unsafe forklift. A telling sign that your lift is too old is if its features are not up to date with the most recent changes and improvements. Especially when it comes to safety features, having an out of date machine can be very dangerous and leave warehouses liable for any issues that may result.