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How Forklift Dealers and Manufacturers Expand the U.S. Economy

A new report by the International Truck Association (ITA) and Oxford Economics explains how forklift manufacturing brings in billions of dollars and almost 210,000 jobs into the U.S. economy. Overall, the industrial truck and forklift industry contributed $25.7 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product in 2015. The industry also contributes to improving American services by paying $5.3 billion in taxes to local, state, and federal governments in 2015 alone. This massive industry has touched nearly every product sold in the United States at some point in its manufacturing or shipment.

Worker benefits

Industrial truck manufacturers directly employ around 60,000 people in positions such as sales, manufacturing, and customer support. Each worker directly employed by the industry supports 2.5 additional jobs in other economic sections. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that over 540,000 people are employed as forklift operators nationwide. Manufacturing jobs offer higher wages than the median income in most states. The industrial truck and forklift manufacturing employs more veterans than any other industry, according to the ITA and Oxford study.

Industry benefits

Without high-tech forklifts, warehousing giants such as Amazon would struggle to meet customers’ demands for fast shipping. An increase of two-day or overnight shipping orders means that Amazon needs organized warehouses and powerful forklifts that can keep inventory moving in and out. Food, furniture, transportation, and every other industry imaginable relies on forklifts and industrial trucks to meet customer demand.

Economic benefits

The industrial forklift and truck manufacturing sector also provides $3.5 billion to trade, transportation, and utilities. Forklifts have been compared to the “workhorses” of America in recognition of their enormous contributions to the transportation industry. Industrial forklift and truck manufacturing also contributes $2.1 billion in business and professional services. This industry employs far more than just drivers– managers, HR representatives, agents, janitors, and many more careers are all links in the chain. The truck and forklift manufacturing industry also funds  $1.1 billion in health and education services.

Forklifts power not just warehouses, but the entire world. Without the help of forklifts, anything from your morning cup of coffee, to your ride to work, to your dinner out would not be possible. At KION North America, we are committed to the continual improvement and advancement of the forklift industry. To learn more about our history and our mission, click here.

Forklift Attachments: Which Ones Are Right For Your Operation?

Forklift attachments replace the traditional fork with a product ideally suited to the loads you intend to work with. Without the proper attachment for your forklift, you risk damaging the products, the forklift itself, or injuring an employee. When selecting a forklift, be aware than an attachment will alter the capacity of your forklift, and you should make adjustments accordingly when deciding how heavy of a load you should attempt to transport. Smaller attachments are better suited for lighter loads. Ensure that operators are trained to safely use forklifts and their attachments, and never exceed the carrying capacity of a lift. Attachments can help you safely lift products, limit any damages, and improve productivity by saving time and money in your warehouse.

Side shifters

Side shifters operate with the forklift and are one of the most a popular attachments. Drivers can shift the product to the right or left without leaving their seat. If a load is improperly aligned, it can easily be corrected with the aid of a side shifter. Not only does this streamline the process and make it more convenient, it also saves the forklift unnecessary wear and tear. If you need to handle two pallets at once, side shifters are also available in double.

Fork positioners

These handy tools also help operators work more efficiently, since they automatically adjust the distance between the forks in order to accommodate different pallet sizes. Once again, drivers don’t even need to leave their seats.

Clamps

Paper roll and flat surface clamps help protect products from damage. Paper roll clamps are used for holding on to paper while its unrolled and are suitable for many different applications. If the load can’t be transported by a pallet, you should use paper roll clamps. Transporting heavy appliances such as washers, dryers, and refrigerators should be undertaken with the help of flat surface clamps.

Slipsheet attachments

If you are operating a food-processing warehouse, you may want to consider the cost-cutting push/pull attachments. These forklift attachments push the load directly off of the forks, eliminating the need for pallets. Multiple load handlers are also popular in the food industry since they allow you to double or triple the efficiency of your forklifts.

Forklift spreader

This commonly used attachment works best when lifting heavy loads such as plasterboard, timber, or roof sheeting. With a spreader, you reduce the risk of damaging a heavy load that may exceed the carrying capability of a regular forklift. Pallet forks are another useful attachment for lifting heavy loads generally up to 1800 kg. Increased operator visibility is an added benefit of pallet forks.

At KION North America, we provide the equipment and skills needed for creating a safe, efficient facility. We offer an impressive line of state-of-the-art forklifts that make your handling and logistics operations significantly easier. Linde and Baoli forklift brands are ideally suited for the modern operation.

Creating a Slotting Strategy for Your Warehouse Inventory

Whether you are looking to increase profits or improve efficiency, regularly assessing your slotting strategy will help your warehouse meet customer demands and process as much inventory as possible. Efficient product placement reduces handling costs and allows for packages to move quickly in and out of the warehouse. When developing a slotting strategy for warehouse inventory, consider whether random, fixed, or dynamic slotting best meets your business’ needs.

Random slotting:

As the name implies, a random slotting method designates inventory to multiple picking locations. The advantage of random slotting is reducing replenishment time. If the inventory at one pick zone is running low, then it can be immediately collected from a new location. To design a warehouse with a random slotting strategy, build putaway lanes that directly lead to pick locations. However, the downside to this approach is that it is not always time-efficient. Inventory assigned to multiple pick locations will not move as quickly as it would under the fixed slotting method.

Fixed slotting:

With a fixed slotting approach, inventory is assigned to bins or specific locations and picked directly from there. Each pick slot will configure the minimum or maximum quantity of the item within its bin. If an order is placed that will deplete the item below its minimum fixed quantity, then a replenishment team will be dispatched to restock the product. New items are pulled from a reserve inventory and should be stored near the item’s fixed location.

Dynamic slotting:

Dynamic slotting is similar to random slotting since it doesn’t mandate a static location for inventory. Unlike random slotting, a dynamic approach uses Warehouse Management System software to calculate where to place items depending on their demand. If an item in your inventory is especially high-moving this week, then dynamic slotting will place it next to the shipping dock. These quick calculations are made through advanced software which can keep track of the demand for inventory in real-time. If inventory movement is very sensitive to changing conditions, such as consumer preference, then dynamic slotting may be the best strategy for your warehouse.

Regardless of which slotting approach you choose, it is important that your strategy is reducing the costs of manpower, maximizing storage space, and meeting inventory demand. An efficient slotting strategy should improve productivity and minimize replenishment runs. Coupled with the right slotting strategy, KION’s impressive brands of Linde and Baoli forklifts can help your warehouse increase its profits.

How to Use a Pallet Dispenser

A pallet dispenser is a simple, cost-effective machine which stacks pallets vertically and then dispenses them at ground level or on conveyor belts. The machines are easy to operate and reduce the risk of employee injuries. Incorporating pallet dispensers into warehouse operations lengthens the lifespan of pallets and increases productivity.

Almost all dispensers can work with wood, plastic, and CHEP pallets and can be customized to fit a range of sizes. Choose from manual or auto-loading dispensers based on your warehouse’s budget and size.

To stack pallets manually, use a pallet jack or forklift to insert pallets one-by-one. As each pallet is fed into the machine, it will lift the stack up to allow for another pallet to be inserted. When you’re ready to dispense the pallets, adjust the controls to allow you to pull out each pallet while the machine holds the remaining ones. You can also remove all of the pallets at once. Most machines hold 15-20 pallets.

More sophisticated machinery uses a conveyor belt to load and dispense the pallets.  This requires an operator at the controls instead of an employee on the ground. A pallet truck or a conveyor feeds a stack of pallets into an auto-loading machine. These pallets are stacked onto a forklift and can be dispersed by placing each pallet onto a conveyor belt and moving it to another location. Some automatic pallet dispensers can cycle through 360 pallets an hour—or roughly six per minute.

Load transfer stations use an automatic pallet dispenser to separate and dispense pallets. Advanced robotics can move boxes down conveyor belts, place the boxes onto the pallets, and prepare them for shipping. They can integrate with existing systems and provide a significant ROI if your warehouse moves large amounts of inventory.

Pallet dispensers require high-performance forklifts like those from our Linde and Baoli product lines. Contact one of our authorized dealerships for more information today.

Recap: ProMat 2017

MOVING FASTER TOGETHER

The goal for all KION Group companies represented at ProMat was to make a statement. With the largest combined footprint of exhibit space at the show entrance, coordinating signage and aisle lighting directing attendees down KION Boulevard, we achieved that goal.

On day one, we hosted a joint press conference along with Dematic. Gordon Riske, CEO of KION Group, spoke about how far our companies have come and our direction for the future as we leverage our synergies. Scott Watts, executive vice president of Dematic North America, shared how to leverage software and automation to respond to today’s ever-challenging business requirements.

The three closed the press conference by answering questions from members of the media. In their coverage, Materials Management & Distribution magazine wrote “KION stole the show at ProMat.”

If you haven’t had a chance to view, you can watch the replay of our live stream from the press conference on KION North America’s Facebook page.

 

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MAKING HISTORY

KION North America made history with the release of five new forklifts at ProMat—the largest product release in both company and material handling industry history.

The Linde Series 1347 is an electric, cushion tire truck powered by either a 36V or 48V battery. The Linde Series 1219 and 1319 are two internal combustion, counterbalanced torque converter trucks. Powered by a Ford 2.5L fuel-injected engine, the 1219 is suited for outdoor applications whereas the 1319 is suited for indoor use. All three trucks feature load capacities ranging from 5,000 to 6,500 lbs.

The Baoli KBD Series features a Kohler Tier 4 Final diesel engine and load capacities up to 7,000 lbs.

Prior to the show, KION NA also introduced the Linde Series 1279—an electric Class I truck with pneumatic tires with a load capacity of 13,000 to 17,500 lbs. Two additional Baoli models and a Linde Class I stand-on electric will be added to the company’s product line later this year.

With these additions to its Linde and Baoli product lines, the company now has a more comprehensive product portfolio of industrial trucks.

 

Promat 2017 Foto: KIONGROUP/Oliver Lang

 

DEALER MEETING & AWARDS

On day three of ProMat, KION North America hosted a meeting for its dealer distribution network. In addition to product information, attendees learned about new services including Lithium-ion battery technology and Linde’s fleet management tool—Connected Solutions, and the company’s new retail financing program.

During the meeting, dealers who do not carry other OEM product lines were presented with KION North America blazers in recognition of their dedication and commitment to the company’s mission. Recipients were as follows: Tim Balint of Advantage Materials Handling; Michel Lavoie of Equipment Industriels Bdl, Inc.; Gene Brogan of Homestead Materials Handling; Ed Mauser, Sr. of Industrial Parts and Service; Chris Reynolds of IPW Lift Techs; Garrett Casey of Kaweah Lift; Mark Milovich of Lift Atlanta; and Greg Radonich of Lift Truck Service, Inc.

Afterward, the company hosted a hospitality event at the original Harry Caray’s location—an iconic Chicago establishment—where guests were treated to a meet and greet with Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. At this event, KION North America awarded their top dealers based on their 2016 performance.

 

Promat 2017Foto: KIONGROUP/Oliver Lang

 

Promat 2017 Foto: KIONGROUP/Oliver Lang

 

TEST DRIVE EXPERIENCE

To complement our booth display at ProMat, KION North America hosted a product showcase and test drive experience at Illinois Material Handling’s new Bolingbrook location on the final day of the show. Other dealers who attended ProMat, as well as customers located throughout the Chicagoland and Rockford areas, traveled to see the latest in lift truck technology. The electric, LP and diesel-powered trucks forklifts available included those featuring Linde’s patented hydrostatic drive and advanced 80-volt technologies. It was also a special opportunity to drive the new Linde 1411 Series 35,000 lb. capacity lift truck—one of the largest forklifts on the market.

 

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ProMat 2017 attracted more than 950 exhibitors and thousands of attendees from around the world to Chicago’s McCormick Place. Overall, the show was a huge success and major milestone for KION North America.

 

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.

Tips for Reducing Warehouse Costs

The list of costs required to run a warehouse is long. From labor to handling inventory to equipment and more, running a warehouse can get very expensive very quickly. However, there are practices that can reduce costs without diminishing productivity and efficiency. Check out these tips to reduce warehouse costs while maintaining and even improving productivity.

Labor management

Labor costs are one of the largest expenses when it comes to managing a warehouse. The following are just a few of the many ways to effectively reduce labor costs and improve employee productivity.

Employee training is essential. Employees should be trained not only in their specific line of work, but also informed about the organization’s goals and expectations of its employees. Cross training is another way to improve productivity and ensure the warehouse operations continue to run smoothly in someone’s absence.  

Investing in employee training pays off in the long run, so long as employees stay with an organization long enough. Hiring someone is an investment, and if an employee doesn’t stick around for too long, your company can lose money. By focusing on employee retention, your investments can pay off.

Reducing space and optimizing storage

Another large contribution to overall warehouse expenses is land costs. It’s possible to work in a smaller, less expensive space by optimizing storage. Here are a couple of helpful storage practices to keep in mind.

Racking allows you to optimize storage space and store inventory efficiently. Use racking to increase the number of pallets stored in your space and the square footage it allows. There are different ways of racking, but one common use is to build tall and narrow. The right racking system depends on your inventory, so make sure you are using the safest method possible.

Aisles are imperative when it comes to navigating through a warehouse and allowing forklifts and other equipment to get to inventory, and they can unfortunately be quite a space consumer. But by knowing the dimensions of various lifts that need to move through your aisles and get to certain items, you can reduce aisle space for optimal use. Different lifts are required for different products, so sort your inventory accordingly with the equipment required to handle and move it.

Inventory management

After optimizing your storage space, inventory management is the next step to reduce warehouse costs. Racking and sorting items in aisles according to the equipment that needs to reach them is a start, but there are other ways to manage your inventory in a cost and production efficient manner. Slotting refers to figuring out where each item should be located in your warehouse. An effective slotting strategy will ensure that products are in the right place at the right time, making handling of materials easier and faster.

Optimize equipment use

From forklifts to storage structures and more, equipment is another expense that can become quite costly in a warehouse. Here are a few things to keep in mind to get the best out of your equipment without paying an arm and a leg.

First, consider renting or leasing equipment rather than buying. There are different advantages for renting and buying, so evaluate your options and see which would option would work best for your organization.  

Another cost to keep in mind when it comes to equipment is repair expenses. Use preventive maintenance to avoid equipment failure. Be sure to regularly check the conditions of your equipment to avoid failure and any possible incidents or injuries that may result.

Creating a Warehouse Safety Checklist

In a warehouse, there are many safety hazards that can be dangerous if they are not properly addressed. Having a safety checklist is a great way to identify any potential hazards in the workplace. Once those hazards are identified, they can be dealt with to prevent any harmful incidents and maintain a safe work environment. There are many aspects of warehouse safety to take into consideration, from handling materials correctly to electrical and fire safety.

The following are some important aspects of warehouse safety to keep in mind when creating a checklist.

General Warehouse Safety

When it comes to general warehouse safety, there are easily preventable hazards that can result in injury if not dealt with properly. Some items on your checklist should include:

  • Exposed or open loading docks are blocked or roped off, as well as any other areas where employees could potentially fall four feet or more.
  • Floor and aisles are cleared of clutter such as spills, electrical cords, or other items that might cause an employee to slip or fall.
  • Employees performing physical work are given adequate time for rest breaks to avoid fatigue.
  • The warehouse is well ventilated.
  • Employees are trained to safely work in the environment (hot/humid or cold).

Materials Handling Checklist

As safety concerns become more specific, checklists become more extensive. This is true of the list for safely handling materials. Here are just a few of the important items to include on your checklist:

  • There is safe clearance for equipment and materials through aisles and doorways.
  • Motorized vehicles or mechanized equipment are checked daily or prior to use.
  • Vehicles are shut off and the brakes are set before loading/unloading.
  • Securing chains, ropes, slings, etc. are adequate for required job to be performed.
  • Covers and/or guardrails have been provided to protect workers from stair openings in floors, equipment pits, and other hazards.

Electrical Safety

There are many essential safety steps to take when it comes to electrical equipment, exposed wires, grounding, and more. Some items on this checklist include:

  • Employees are instructed to perform preliminary inspections and/or appropriate tests before beginning work on electrical equipment or lines.
  • Portable electric equipment and tools are either grounded or double insulated.
  • Exposed wiring or cords with frayed or damaged insulation are repaired or replaced immediately.
  • Flexible cords and cables are free of splices and/or taps.
  • Employees who regularly work around energized electrical equipment or lines are instructed in CPR methods.

While these guidelines are important in beginning to create your warehouse safety checklist, they are just the tip of the safety iceberg. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has some great guidelines and templates for general warehouse safety, as well as specific safety concerns, such as fire safety, floor and wall openings safety, and much more.

How to Properly Stack Pallets

In any warehouse you enter, you are likely to find wooden or plastic pallets that are used to store goods and materials. Pallets help warehouses make ample use of space and therefore become more efficient. While pallets are incredibly helpful to the warehouse, they can also be dangerous. If pallets are stacked or loaded improperly, they may become unbalanced and fall, leading to possible injury or even death. That is why it is extremely important for warehouse employees to know the proper methods for stacking pallets.

Before loading any materials onto a pallet, everything must be thoroughly inspected. The pallet itself needs to be in good condition, free of any damage, rotting, or other structural issues. Even if the pallet only seems to have a small issue, handling materials will take a toll on the pallet, worsening its condition and creating the potential for a dangerous incident to occur. Employees must also inspect the material to be loaded on the pallet, making sure it will fit and does not exceed the pallet’s weight limit. And of course, any equipment used to handle the pallet, such as a forklift, needs to be in safe working condition.

After inspecting the pallet, goods, and equipment, it is time to start loading. Balance is extremely important when it comes to the security of a stacked pallet, so make sure the weight of goods is evenly distributed. Materials should be stacked according to a uniform shape and size, which will make the stacks fairly even and level. Typically, the materials should be stacked in a square shape in order to make full use of the pallet. If the goods do not allow for a square shape, try to centralize the weight of the materials on the pallet to ensure stability.

It’s also important not to stack goods too high. The higher a stack goes, the more likely it is to topple and damage goods or injure people. The stack also needs to be short enough for the load to fit on the pallet rack. Overloading a pallet, whether by stacking too high or exceeding the pallet’s weight limit, is a recipe for disaster.

Once the materials have been loaded, they need to be secured. This is commonly done by securing the load with straps followed by stretch wrapping the entirety of the product in plastic.

Empty pallets often need to be stacked for storage between handling. Empty pallets need to be properly stored in order to keep clutter from accumulating in the warehouse and to avoid any accidents or injuries. The first important rule of stacking empty pallets is to always stack horizontally. While it may seem convenient to stick a few pallets vertically or on their side between piles of horizontal stacks, this can be extremely dangerous. When employees begin pulling those pallets, they risk the pallets stocked the opposite way catching and coming down too, which could cause serious injury.

Stacked pallets need to be loaded in an even, uniform manner. Pallets need to be stacked together according to size and weight, and never stacked crookedly. Not doing so can lead to danger when pulling pallets from storage. And similar to stacked goods, empty pallets stacked too high on one another risk toppling over.

Different stacking methods apply to different kinds of materials, but these general rules are an important basis for understanding safe pallet stacking methods. Make sure your warehouse employees are trained in the proper stacking methods, so that your warehouse can remain safe and incident-free.

How to Properly Load a Forklift

One of the most important aspects of forklift safety is properly loading and unloading the forklift’s load. An improperly loaded forklift can cause instability and potentially lead to an accident. Take the following steps when loading, operating, and unloading a forklift:

First, check the lift’s load limit, which can be found on its data plate, and make sure you are not exceeding the weight listed. An overloaded lift may result in tip over. Also try to distribute the weight of the load evenly, and spread the forks as widely as possible in order to do so.

When it comes to positioning the load, place it according to the recommended load center, and keep the load as close to the front wheels as possible. Be sure the load is secure and stable before moving, using the appropriate fixtures for the type of load, like a carpet spike or drum grappler. When lifting heavier loads, tilt the mast of the forklift back and keep the load close to the wheels to avoid the possibility of tipping. Also be sure to tip the mast back a bit before moving the lift.

Once you have the load in place and are ready to carry, keep the forks six to ten inches above the ground to avoid any potential hazards and keep the load tilted back. Do not raise or lower the load while in motion, travel at an appropriate speed, and be sure to stay aware of your surroundings, looking in the direction you’re moving.

When you are in position and ready to unload, move the load slowly into position. Check your surroundings to make sure you have adequate room for overhead clearance and have two to three inches of clearance at the sides and back of the load. Tilt the load forward and then lower it. Next, level the forks before pulling them back slowly.

Lastly, always be sure the lift and other required materials are up to date and aren’t damaged or deformed. Keeping up with proper maintenance schedules will ensure the forklifts are operating at their best.

While following these steps will help ensure safe and stable forklift operation, operators should be trained regarding the specific needs of their workplace and loading requirements.