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Combating the Manufacturing Labor Skills Shortage

The manufacturing industry boomed throughout the 20th century, providing 19 million jobs during its peak in the 1970s. Today, however, manufacturing is experiencing a labor skills shortage, despite the prevalence of jobs in the field. With many baby boomers retiring, manufacturers are struggling to recruit millennials.

Manufacturing jobs appear not to have the same appeal to the latest generation to enter the workforce, forcing companies to find new ways to recruit talent.

Partnering with colleges

Millennials grew up in the digital age, so they’re comfortable withand interested in technology. To match millennials’ interests and promote manufacturing, colleges are starting to invest in manufacturing programs. The programs prepare students to work with manufacturing systems and develop the skills required of the field. Colleges across the country are participating by creating programs and degrees in manufacturing, dedicating millions towards training, offering certification from the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council, and more.

Redefining “manufacturing”

Many millennials are deterred from a career in manufacturing because they perceive it as hands-on work that’s “grimy and dangerous.” However, leaders in the field are changing the public’s perception of manufacturing through education. Millennials are the most educated generation, with around 61% having attended college, so they’re looking for a job where they can apply their knowledge. Manufacturing offers career opportunities in a wide array of fields, including but not limited to biochemistry, aerospace, industrial engineering, and supply chain management.

Embracing technology as a communication tool

While technology is advancing manufacturing, hands-on work is still necessary, which is where the majority of millennials lack crucial experience. This absence of apprenticeship among the next generation of manufacturers is called the skills gap. However, the gap can be filled through the use of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. The system allows all employees to access important supply chain management information anytime they need it on any electronic device. The ERP will help reduce training time and close the skills gap.

Through education, embracing technology, and redefining common notions of manufacturing, it’s possible to reverse the existing labor skills shortage. Like the rest of the world, the manufacturing field is evolving with new, advancing technologies and practices every day. At KION North America, we not only want to recruit the next generation of manufacturers, but also get them excited about the industry and its plethora of opportunities.

Interested in a career in manufacturing? See if working at KION North America might be right for you.

Questions to Ask When Purchasing a Forklift

A forklift is more than just machine—it’s an investment for the good of your business. Purchasing a forklift is not a decision that should not be taken lightly. Every forklift model has its advantages and choosing the model that best suits your material handling needs takes time and careful consideration.

Asking the right questions is vital when investing in new equipment. Whatever your forklift needs may be, make sure to ask these five questions when considering your next purchase.

What is my budget?

Deciding on a budget will not only save you time and resources, but it will also narrow down your options. If you’re not sure whether purchasing a new forklift is the right option for you, other possibilities include leasing, renting or buying used.

While buying a used forklift may seem tempting, keep in mind that buying used means you’ll get shorter life out of the machine. A new forklift is a larger investment, but purchase ensures brand new parts.

Will I be driving the forklift inside or outside?

It’s important to know where you will be operating to determine what type of forklift you should purchase. Electric forklifts are often thought of for use indoors. However, a Linde forklift with its splash-proof electrical system can also be a great option for outdoor use.

When it comes to the difference between indoor and outdoor forklifts, it comes down to the tires versus the power source. Electric forklifts commonly have cushion tires, which are ideal for smooth surfaces or loading docks. They also offer a smaller turning radius and last longer than their pneumatic counterpart.

Internal combustion engine forklifts with pneumatic or super-elastic tires have strong traction on rough or uneven terrain, making them the perfect choice for outdoor applications like construction sites or lumber yards.

What are the maintenance costs?

Owning a forklift is a big responsibility, so make sure to ask about maintenance costs when considering the purchase of a new machine. Typically, there are two types of maintenance agreements that are offered by the forklift dealer.

Planned Maintenance (PM) is a basic plan that states the dealer will perform service to the forklift over a determined schedule. Full Maintenance (FM) charges the customer a monthly fee to cover breakdown and maintenance over a certain period.

Does the brand of forklift matter?

While it may be tempting to purchase a forklift based solely on price, the brand of forklift does in fact matter. You should never buy a forklift based on price alone. Brands like Linde and Baoli are backed by more than 100 years of material handling expertise, making them more reliable. Small or unknown brands may be less expensive, but what you may save in up-front price, you’ll most likely pay for in replacement parts when your forklift breaks down.

Should I try before I buy?

You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it, and the same should apply when purchasing a forklift. Before purchasing, request a demo to test the machine in your facility. Test driving a forklift will give you a good idea of how well it functions and how suitable it is for your needs.

By asking these questions and talking to a knowledgeable dealer, you can be sure that you are making a great investment for your business. At KION North America, we provide innovative forklift models to help your business become more productive and profitable. Check out our website to learn more about our models and find a dealer near you.

5 Essential Elements of Forklift Safety

Statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicate that approximately 34,900 forklift injuries occur every year. A number of factors contribute to accidents, including equipment and operator error. To reduce the risk of injury, it is crucial that operators understand the dangers asociated with improper operation of a forklift.

In honor of National Forklift Safety Day on June 12, KION North America urges facility managers to stress the importance of safe forklift operation throughout their facilities. Here are five essential elements of forklift safety that your company must put into practice.

Complete the required training

Only employees who have received proper training and certification can legally operate a forklift. Operators who fail to complete the necessary training have an increased risk of injury to themselves and those around them. Allowing an employee without the proper certification to handle a forklift can result in tens of thousands of dollars in fines for the employer.

OSHA’s training program entails practical training and a workplace performance evaluation. Additionally, OSHA requires that operators are evaluated every three years. An operator must meet OSHA’s training course requirements to continue operating a forklift.

Perform regular checkups

To maximize forklift safety, operators should perform routine inspections of their equipment. Items to check include seat belts, tires, lights, brakes, backup alarms, fluid levels and the forks. Any issues with equipment should be reported to a supervisor, and the forklift should immediately be removed from service.

Stay aware of surroundings

While operating the equipment, operators should be aware of their surroundings as well as worksite rules and guidelines. Carefully observe signs for maximum permitted floor loadings and clearance heights. Operators should also pay attention to the height of the load when entering and exiting the warehouse.

In regards to pedestrians, it’s important that operators slow down when approaching heavily-populated areas, such as intersections, corners, and stairways.

Maintain load stability

One of the leading causes of forklift-related injuries is tip-over, which can occur when a forklift carries an unstable load. Operators should ensure loads are completely balanced and secured on the forks before operating to prevent tip-overs.

Operators should also keep the load low to the ground to increase safety. When traveling on ramps and grades, the load should point up the incline regardless of the direction of travel.

Store forklifts properly

After a shift has ended, it’s important for each operator to park the forklift in its designated, authorized area. The forks should be fully lowered to the ground, and the parking brake should be applied. Finally, the forklift should be turned off, and the key should be removed from the ignition and stored in the proper place.

Proper operation of forklifts and other material handling equipment is essential to the safety of your warehouse. Let National Forklift Safety Day serve as a reminder to practice these and other elements of forklift safety year-round.

At KION North America, warehouse safety is a top priority. That’s why we provide facility managers with outstanding forklift models leading the way in efficiency and safety. Contact your local authorized dealer today to find the best forklift for your material handling needs.

7 Ways Fulfillment Centers Help Sell More Products

In a highly competitive market where customers expect to receive online orders with same-day or next-day shipping, fulfillment centers have become a smart solution for lowering costs. Both small startups and giant corporations can benefit from outsourcing shipping and handling to a quality fulfillment center. The center can take over the logistics of storing, labeling, sorting, packaging, and shipping your company’s inventory. Here are seven ways fulfillment centers can help your business sell more products and reach a broader base of customers.

1. Add new sales channels

Most small businesses start with a sales channel that delivers products directly to the customer from the store. Although less expensive, this practice is extremely limiting to businesses. It is difficult to grow the company and expand into new markets if the product must be stored in short supply at the business’ premises. However, a fulfillment center allows your business to enter the E-commerce market and reach broader customer demographics. To increase profit margins and to sell more products, your business must add new sales channels. Fulfillment centers are the most cost-effective strategy for increasing your customer base.

2. Protect against market fluctuations

As in almost any industry, prices are subject to dramatic increases and decreases. Fulfillment centers are a buffer against the market fluctuations that might otherwise harm your business. By storing a portion of your product in one of its warehouses, fulfillment centers can meet fluctuating consumer demand. Fulfillment centers are also experienced in the industry and can help new businesses plan ahead. Preparing for market fluctuations, which can occur at any time of the year, gives your business an edge over competitors and protection against profit loss. During times of peak demand, shipping costs will skyrocket for individual businesses. However, a fulfillment center can hold prices at a steady rate regardless of increased or decreased demand.

3. Grow your business

For small startups, entering the online retail market or expanding from regional to national can be extraordinarily difficult. Shareholders may hesitate to take on an increased risk of bankruptcy and prevent startups from becoming successful national or even global companies. Fulfillment centers allow businesses to access a wider base of consumers and retailers who are eager to support your products. By controlling the shipping, handling, and other additional logistics for your online and brick-and-mortar store, fulfillment centers can help your business grow exponentially.

4. Handle new inventory

Fulfillment centers have access to a wide pool of resources that can efficiently label and process your inventory. Updates are made in real time to meet consumer demand. A quality fulfillment center is also capable of handling customer returns and exchanges that might stymie a smaller company. By letting a fulfillment center handle complicated shipping logistics, you can focus on growing your business and satisfying customers. Outsourcing to a fulfillment center can help you efficiently distribute new products to an expanded customer base.

5. Create loyal customers

Instead of stretching your company thin to meet the demand for fast shipping and the cost of expensive storage units, hire a fulfillment center to free up more of your time. With this headache taken care of, you can focus your efforts toward developing a brand identity that connects with customers. Fulfillment centers help you retain the integrity of your services and products in a way that can impress customers. By quickly meeting shipping deadlines and processing returns and exchanges, you will satisfy consumers and create a loyal customer base. Sending customers a damaged product or the wrong item can harm your company’s reputation and prevent you from reaching new customers. A fulfillment center can keep up with shipping demand and cost with experienced methods for sorting, packaging, and sending your company’s products.

6. Reduce shipping costs

A fulfillment center can provide cheaper shipping rates to your business than if you tried to send products on your own. Since your products can be shipped faster at a lower cost, you can expand into new markets, sell more products, and earn more profit. With the money left over, your company can innovate new products, make investments, or hire additional employees. Reduced shipping costs help your business expand from national to international. With the help of a fulfillment center, the world is your company’s oyster.

7. Meet customer expectations

In the past, customers expected items to arrive at their doorstep in one to two weeks and were satisfied with this timing. Since industry giants such as Amazon have popularized same-day and two-day shipping, customers are expecting products to arrive faster than ever. When a customer sends an item back for a return or an exchange, they expect to receive a refund or a new product within days. Many customers will become anxious if a product seems to be taking too long to ship, especially if they have ordered from a new company whose reputation they are uncertain about. A customer may take to social media to complain about your company’s slow shipping which could dissuade other consumers from shopping at your business. Avoid these brand management crises with a fulfillment center that is equipped to ship products within days and include the proper tracking information to customers.

At KION North America, we are innovating the strategies and technology that will help businesses expand into new markets and reach more customers. With our high-quality Linde and Baoli forklift lines and tailored supply chain solutions from our sister company, Dematic, companies have the tools required for maximizing both productivity and profits. For more information about how our forklift models can revolutionize your warehouse operations, contact our expert team at (843) 875-8000.

Top Forklift Models and Why You Need Them

Although forklifts have been a staple in the material handling and logistics industry for over a century, the models on today’s market offer dramatic improvements in safety, carrying capacity, and fuel economy. With so many forklift models to choose from, it can be difficult and time consuming to decide which equipment is right for your facility. Linde, Baoli, and Dematic offer material handling equipment and supply chain solutions that can help your business increase its productivity and profitability.

Linde

A pioneer in technology and manufacturing, Linde has provided transportation and handling equipment for over 150 years. With its impressive history and reputation, it’s not surprising that Linde continues to provide outstanding machinery. Their electric truck models can easily navigate narrow aisles while the internal combustion counterbalanced pneumatic truck models boast unrivalled controllability. Linde’s quality models are durable and present a lower maintenance cost for managers.

Baoli

An internationally recognized brand, Baoli appeals to the economy segment with cost-effective, high quality forklifts. The forklifts can be purchased with diesel, electric, or LPG engines with load capacities ranging from 3,500 to 7,000 lbs. For the budget-conscious manager, the electric counterbalance sit-down truck provides comfort and an energy-efficient design. The internal combustion counterbalanced cushion tire truck exceeds the fuel efficiency standard for economy segment trucks. KION provides unmatched product support and a standard warranty.

Dematic

With its cutting-edge line of Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs), Dematic is revolutionizing the manufacturing industry. The robots, which are autonomous and fully mobile, can boost warehouse productivity and efficiency. With the ability to reduce product damage, AGVs can help your warehouse become more profitable and respond to labor challenges. Dematic AGVs are available in Standard, Hybrid/Series/Dual-Use, and Custom models for the tech-savvy warehouse. The Hybrid/Series/Dual-Use model begins as a manually operated Series vehicle from KION. Dematic adds a full automation pack to the vehicle that allows it to operate manually or as a top-of-the-line AGV.

KION North America is leading the industry by providing innovative forklift models that help businesses become more productive and more profitable. To learn more about our technologically advanced models, check out our Linde and Baoli forklift lines and tailored supply chain solutions from our sister company, Dematic,

Where to Recycle Pallets

Although pallets are essential for warehouse management, some businesses struggle with regularly disposing of them. Pallets can accumulate in storage rooms or outdoors, presenting an occupational hazard and a waste of valuable space. Here are four methods for recycling pallets and clearing out the back room once and for all.

Contact the shipper

One of the easiest strategies for disposal is to contact the shipper to pick up empty pallets. If you can’t contact the shipper directly, you can arrange for pallet disposal with a third-party company such as CHEP or PECO. Pallet retrieval is a mutually beneficial arrangement since it clears unwanted pallets from your shipping deck while lowering the cost per trip for shippers.

Find a local recycling company

You may be able to find a local recycling company who is willing to come and retrieve your used pallets. Depending on the size and condition of pallets, a local recycling company can either pay you for desirable pallets or charge a fee for picking up undesirable ones. A benefit of a local company is that they can usually schedule regular removals that save your business the time of finding a new disposal service.

Reach out to hobbyists

Hobbyists interested in clean and unweathered wooden pallets for craft projects are often willing to take unwanted pallets away for free, but there are a few legal and health risks to consider. If a member of the public is wandering around your warehouse, you will need an employee to provide oversight and hopefully prevent any accidents. If someone is injured while on your premises or as a result of your pallet, you may find yourself tangled in legal difficulties. Managers should carefully weigh the costs and benefits of reaching out to hobbyists.

Prevention

One method of solving the logistics of wooden pallet disposal is switching to a more durable material. Heavy duty wooden or plastic pallets require less maintenance and repairs and can still be recycled when needed. Corrugated paper pallets can be recycled with other cardboard materials and are easier to dispose of than their wooden counterparts. Large companies such as IKEA have recently replaced their wooden pallets with corrugated paper, eliminating a significant logistics problem.

KION North America’s line of Linde and Baoli forklifts can help your warehouse manage inventory more efficiently. Visit our website or contact us at (843) 875-8000 for personalized service and more information about our products.

5 Important Tips for Warehouse Efficiency

Warehouses often manage thousands of dollars worth of inventory that must be sent and received under tight deadlines. To ensure maximum efficiency, inventory must be labeled, sorted, and retrieved with speed and accuracy. An unproductive warehouse can damage customer or business relationships by wasting time and money. Thrive in today’s highly competitive environment with these five tips for warehouse efficiency.

Stay organized

Organization is key to smooth warehouse operations. A large team of employees managing a wide variety of inventory can quickly become disjointed if managers aren’t careful. Labeling all inventory is the first step of organization. Forgotten or lost items are wasting money and storage space if they cannot be easily located. All inventory should be organized in a way that is understood by employees and safe to access. When scheduling shifts, give employees half an hour at the end of their day to clean up and finish order processing before leaving. This helps your warehouse stay organized and keeps workers on the next shift from becoming confused.

Prioritize high volume inventory

Top-selling items should always be located near the front of the warehouse and within easy reach of the picking team. If a new item becomes a top seller, make sure your team is aware of its location to save time searching through the warehouse. Consider storing less popular items toward the back and relocating them if performance continues to diminish. Color coding orders or pick lists to reflect high- or low-volume inventory can help employees quickly locate and package the materials that are valuable to customers.

Train managers in quality control

If a customer receives the wrong item, it could potentially damage your business’ reputation and can cost time and money fixing. Quality control is a safety net that all managers should practice. Double-check all orders by comparing the picked item’s SKU number and quantity against the order the customer placed. Quality control also involves evaluating the item for damage to make sure the customer receives an order in the expected condition.

Utilize technology

Radio-frequency identification tracking has become integral to many warehouses. It allows you to digitally track all incoming and outgoing inventory while dramatically saving labor. Another option is voice-enabled technology that is incorporated into your warehouse management without any modifications to your WPS. Voice enablers improve inventory control and can be used in various operations including shipping, returns, and receiving. Other technology such as digital twins can help you manage your warehouse more efficiently and provide better customer service.

Designate a damages bin

To prevent damaged items from returning to shelves and accidentally getting sent out to a customer, make sure that employees have designated a section to dispose of damaged items. It is also important to make sure that this section is accessible to the managers or employees who are running quality control on inventory. The more simplified this process, the more quickly inventory can be checked and disposed of if needed.

The team at KION North America is helping businesses grow and operate more efficiently by providing warehouse managers with outstanding forklift models from our Linde and Baoli product lines and tailored supply chain solutions from our sister company, Dematic.

How to Invest in Material Handling Equipment

Although necessary for manufacturing and warehouse operations, material handling equipment can be expensive and overwhelming. However, taking the time to research equipment and choose the right investments can help your business grow exponentially. Your facility has individual needs and preferences that will determine the appropriate material handling equipment. Identifying the type of forklift and engine needed, purchasing from a reputable dealership, and strategizing your financial commitments will help you make the best investment.

Choose the type of forklift needed

In the material handling equipment market, there are many forklift models available. When choosing the best machine, you’ll want to consider the size, load capacity, and height limit. If you are operating indoor forklifts, choose machinery that is the right size for your facility. For example, if your warehouse has narrow aisles or tight spaces, you’ll want to invest in a forklift that can operate safely. When determining the load capacity for your forklifts, overestimate rather than underestimate to avoid a potential accident.

Pick an engine

Forklifts usually run on either an internal combustion or an electric engine. When determining which is right for your operations, first ask if the forklift will be operated inside a building or outdoors in the elements. Forklifts with electric engines are typically used indoors. The machines burn cleaner and run more quietly, making them better suited for operating in a busy, crowded environment. An electric counterbalanced forklift is energy efficient while an internal combustion truck has the advantage of lower maintenance expenses.

Purchase from a reputable dealership

Once you are confident in the type of forklift you need, you’ll have to decide who to purchase it from. You’ll want to choose an internationally recognized, experienced company with an excellent reputation. Next, verify that the machinery comes with a warranty that the dealer will honor. Most dealerships are willing to help you choose the right machine and ensure that the transaction runs smoothly.

Strategize financing

When adding new or used forklifts to your fleet, you have several financing options: purchase, lease, or buy in bulk. When purchasing a new forklift, you may be able to negotiate a monthly payment plan that fits in with your budget. To test out a machine or to hire one for a quick job, consider leasing a forklift from a reputable company. If you decide to buy a fleet of forklifts at wholesale price, you may save time and money. Selling outdated or unwanted machinery for extra funds can help you finance your next investment.

At KION North America, we provide high-quality forklifts at reasonable prices. Our widely acclaimed dealership network can help you invest in the material handling equipment that will save your warehouse time and money. Call (843) 875-8000 or visit our website to find the authorized dealer nearest you today.