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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.

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.

Tips for an Eco-Friendly Warehouse

The biggest energy expense for warehouse operations is lighting, according to a study by Smart Energy Design. Packaging materials, cooling efforts, and failing to recycle are other monetary and environmental burdens. However, both companies and consumers are becoming more eco-conscious in the face of climate change and overflowing landfills. Investing in sustainable warehouse practices will lower costs, help the environment, and impress customers.

Use eco-packaging

Biodegradable packaging protects customers from potentially hazardous materials and prevents your business from incurring fines for violating environmental regulations. Even if you switch to eco-friendly packing materials, try to reduce the amount of packaging used in boxes. Lighter packages cost less to ship, and save money by avoiding excessive packaging.

Improve lighting fixtures

Your warehouse’s electricity use presents an opportunity to lower operational costs and help the environment. While upgrading to LED lighting or other energy saving fixtures is initially expensive, it can save your warehouse up to 80%  on utility bills. Another sustainable strategy is turning off and unplugging your equipment at night. Try plugging electronics into surge protectors so you aren’t stuck untangling a mess of cords.

Initiate recycling programs

Warehouses consume high volumes of paper and cardboard, but failure to recycle or reuse means that you’ll continue buying materials you don’t need. Initiating a recycling program will keep unnecessary waste from piling up in landfills, and promoting your sustainability efforts will draw customers to your business.

Install high volume, low speed fans

Installing HVLS fans in your warehouse can keep the AC turned off even during the hottest summer days. The integrated control system uses massive fans with a 24 foot diameter to move large volumes of air while maintaining low speeds. The fans can reduce cooling bills between 12% and 50% since they draw on less electricity.

At KION, we are the leading innovators in technology, sustainability, and efficiency. Contact an authorized KION North America dealership today to revolutionize your warehouse operations.

5 Technologies for Improving Warehouse Efficiency

Today’s digital world is connected by constant communication transmitted primarily through mobile devices. Ideally, warehouse operations can maximize efficiency and profitability utilizing these tools, but many managers of complex systems are slow to adopt new technologies. However, the rising cost of labor and an increasing demand for products means that going digital is more important than ever. Software, automation, mobile technology, voice controls, and RFID are rapidly expanding technologies promising efficient use of time, labor and money.

  1. Software

    Customers in the ecommerce market expect faster and faster deliveries, which means that warehouses are under immense pressure to receive, record, and distribute inventory. Fortunately, software companies provide an extensive line of products and may even offer free trials. Choosing the optimum software program for your warehouse can make or break a production line. Current software models will track inventory, respond to orders, and monitor productivity.

  2. Automation

    Increased labor costs have ignited the robotics development. Automation saves both time and money by fulfilling millions of orders with minimal overhead. Advanced technology is available at a relatively affordable price, which is attracting more and more managers to automate their production. Robotics also make fewer mistakes than human workers, which lowers the operational cost and increases customer satisfaction. An automated labor force minimizes safety hazards, since robots are less vulnerable to injury and also avoid dangerous errors.

  3. Mobile technology

    Mobile isn’t limited to your smartphone: cloud-based technology, wearable barcodes, and powerful tracking are revolutionizing warehouse operations. Cloud-based storage is self-updating and doesn’t require the installation of a new, expensive system. A mobile barcode device is another timesaver as it automatically scans items as employees process them. Employees can review packing lists, locate inventory, and scan items hands-free. Advanced tracking methods with a mobile device can help prevent lost or forgotten merchandise.

  4. Voice controls

    With voice-controlled technology, spoken commands dictate when to replenish inventory or change the warehouse’s shipping methods. Voice controls improve picking productivity and accuracy, require less training to operate, and a bring a higher ROI. Voice controls can track operations in real-time and easily communicate with other warehouse distribution channels. As the size of warehouses expand to meet rising consumer demand, mobile devices and digital interfaces will make instant communication with employees at different locations possible.

  5. RFID

    With voice-controlled technology, spoken commands dictate when to replenish inventory or change the warehouse’s shipping methods. Voice controls improve picking productivity and accuracy, require less training to operate, and a bring a higher ROI. Voice controls can track operations in real-time and easily communicate with other warehouse distribution channels. As the size of warehouses expand to meet rising consumer demand, mobile devices and digital interfaces will make instant communication with employees at different locations possible.

Improve warehouse efficiency with technologically advanced material equipment from our Linde, Baoli, and STILL product line, and supply chain solutions from Dematic. Contact a KION Dealer representative today.

Electrical Safety in the Warehouse

Following safety guidelines is one of the most important aspects of properly running a warehouse. OSHA has clear guidelines in place and a checklist that warehouses can use to ensure the warehouse is running as safely as possible. When managers and employees fail to comply with safety guidelines, conditions in the warehouse can become hazardous, leading to potential injury and even worse.

Electrical safety is an especially important part of the overall safety of the warehouse. The factory floor is full of electrical tools and cords that can pose a serious hazard when not dealt with safely. Here’s what you need to know about electrical safety in the warehouse.

One of the most important things is to make sure that all electronic equipment is properly grounded. Doing so will decrease the likelihood of someone being shocked. But be careful of power cords- make sure they are not blocking aisles or in workers’ path. Falls are one of the most common workplace injuries, and these cords lying around can increase the chance of a fall.

You also need to make sure equipment is in good condition. Cords should not have any exposed fraying wire. Outlets should also be in prime condition, with no exposed wiring or other damage. When it comes to electrical tools, regularly check that they are working properly, conducting preliminary checks and appropriate tests when necessary.

Be sure to keep all electrical equipment away from any type of wetness, and always make sure that power tools are completely powered down when they are cleaned or serviced. The area surrounding electrical cords and equipment should be free of any potentially hazardous materials or conductors, such as water or metal.

And as always, training is an extremely important part of warehouse safety. Electrical safety training should be incorporated into your employees’ training. This may include teaching proper use of tools, alerting workers to the possible hazards that come with working with electrical equipment, and showing them where circuit breakers and electrical panels are located. Workers should never handle electrical equipment until they have received training, as inexperienced or untrained individuals may not be aware of the risks associated with using such tools. Employees working around electrical tools should also be trained in CPR in case of emergency.

These tips are a starting point when it comes to creating a safe and hazard-free warehouse. And while electrical safety is extremely important, warehouse safety includes so much more than just that. If you want to know more about electrical safety in the warehouse, check out OSHA’s checklist.

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.

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.

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.