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Safe Material Handling and Storage for Marble, Granite, and Stone Slabs

Construction materials are often heavy and irregularly shaped, leading to considerable material handling challenges. In any facility that houses building materials, though, slabs of marble, granite, and stone may be the toughest items to store and transport. These unique materials require specialized equipment and proper training to keep staff safe. Luckily, experts at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have put together a comprehensive Safety and Health Information Bulletin that addresses this issue head-on. Here are the most important takeaways from that publication, along with a few other tips we’ve learned along the way: Choose Storage Racks That Are Designed for Heavy Sheet Materials Perhaps the most dangerous thing about stone building materials is that they’re incredibly heavy. Larger units…more

Improve Material Storage Safety in Industrial Settings

“Material storage” is a simple term for a pretty complex topic. If all the materials that workers in factories, warehouses, and construction sites use fit onto pallets, everything would be much simpler. Here in the real world, though, industrial staff have to learn how to handle and store cylinders, drums, heavy bags, bundles, tubes, and just about any other configuration of matter you can think of. Handling these materials is hard enough. Storing them comes with a whole new set of challenges. Luckily, experts have studied the issue of storing materials that can’t be simply built onto a pallet. Here are a few tips from OSHA and other material handling specialists about how to improve safety while storing common industrial…more

Industrial Racks for Landscaping Materials: The Ergonomic Benefits

Landscaping is a growing field, and that’s not just a grass pun. In 2016, the IBIS World Market Report listed an annual growth of 3.9 percent for the landscape services industry. Landscaping already employed nearly 1 million people in the U.S. that year; it wouldn’t be surprising if we surpassed the 1 million mark in 2017. That’s a lot of people to teach about proper material handling techniques. You can’t automate the building of a retaining wall, so manual material handling is just part of the landscaping job for the foreseeable future. If we’re not careful about education, a lot of people may end up with strains, sprains, and bad backs this summer. It may seem strange, but one of…more

Ergonomic Solutions for Electrical Contractors

The risk of shock isn’t the only occupational hazard that electrical contractors face on a daily basis. Like many construction trades, electrical work is full of ergonomic hazards that can cause serious injuries. Spools of wire, bundles of conduit, and tools themselves can cause significant stress on muscles when workers try to lift them. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has called lifting heavy items “one of the leading causes of injury in the workplace.” Two factors typically play into a musculoskeletal disorder caused by working in the electrical industry: overexertion and cumulative tissue damage. Avoid both risk factors with these simple ergonomic tips: Use a forklift to lift and transport the heaviest materials on the job. These…more

Southeast Asia Logistics: Competing with Larger Economies

Southeast Asia borders China, which has the world’s second largest economy and is a world leader in logistics. So how can these relatively small nations compete with an economic juggernaut like China? An unprecedented act of unity among 10 Southeast Asia countries could be the key. In 2007, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) announced a plan to create an official economic community in 2015. The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) had a number of goals, including: Establishing the free flow of goods, services, investment, and skilled labor. Offering more consumer protection and intellectual property rights. A unified approach to enhance participation in global supply networks. The ASEAN economy made a tremendous amount of progress from 2007 to 2015. Its…more

Warehouse Space in Brazil Doubles Just Before Downturn

If you’re looking for industrial storage in Brazil, you have a lot of options. A deluge of investments in warehouse facilities collided with an economic downturn in 2016, leaving 40,000 square feet of storage space empty in Sao Paulo alone. Here’s how it happened, and what logistics professionals can do to wait out the lean times while preparing for better days ahead. A Time of Promise for the Brazilian Warehousing Industry In 2014, Brazilian retailers had a problem — in many ways the opposite of the one they’re facing today. E-commerce was surging. Online sales grew by 28 percent in 2013, and at the outset of the following year, analysts were predicting a further 20 percent increase. The e-commerce market…more

The Future of Forklift Batteries in Southeast Asia: Li-Ion, Lead-Acid, or Both?

As the economies of Southeast Asia mature, companies will look for ways to gain the competitive edge through modernizing their supply chains. Could investing in lithium-ion lift truck fleets provide that edge? The short answer is “not yet.” Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and even electric cars take advantage of the efficiency of lithium-ion batteries, but the majority of forklift batteries still rely on lead-acid batteries for a number of reasons. Li-Ion Batteries Are More Efficient, So Why Aren’t Forklifts Using Them? It is said that li-ion batteries have two major advantages over their lead-acid counterparts: they provide high-density storage and are lightweight. The high-density storage is attractive to forklift manufacturers, but the light weight complicates the situation. Lead-acid forklift batteries are…more

Preventative Maintenance for AGV Batteries

Automatic guided vehicles (or automated guided vehicles, depending on who you ask) are touted as the future of material handling. They’re driverless forklifts or carts that follow paths through floor implants, pre-programmed routes, or by using cameras or laser guidance. As advanced as AGV technology has become in recent years, one thing about these devices will be familiar to anyone who has worked with traditional electric forklifts: the battery. Many AGVs use batteries that are very similar — even identical — to electric forklift batteries. Some may use NiCad, lithium ion, or even hydrogen fuel cell batteries, but AGVs that rely on counterbalance to lift loads overwhelmingly favor flooded lead-acid batteries. That’s why users of electric forklifts will already be…more

Switching from Liquid Propane to Electric Forklifts in the Produce Industry

In the mid-1990s, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) noticed an alarming trend. The state is the country’s largest provider of 11 types of produce, including apples, Concord grapes, and pears. In fruit-packing warehouses across the state, workers were being exposed to dangerous — and sometimes even poisonous — levels of carbon monoxide on the job. A major cause of this exposure turned out to be the operation of internal combustion (IC) forklifts in controlled atmosphere rooms, a mainstay of the produce handling industry. Ventilation doesn’t really work in cold rooms; they’re designed to hold in cold air, which also traps the carbon monoxide released by IC engines. Between 1994 and 1999, about 41 percent of the…more

What Type of Forklift is Right for Your Warehouse?

When it’s time to build a forklift fleet, start by choosing the right power source. The choice between electric and internal-combustion (IC) trucks is not just an issue of expense. It’s also crucial to running a safe business. That’s because internal combustion engines — whether they’re powered by diesel or by propane — emit carbon monoxide. This dangerous gas can accumulate in enclosed areas, poisoning anyone in the vicinity. Electric forklifts, on the other hand, have close to zero emissions, and they don’t produce any carbon monoxide at all. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other safety regulators recommend using electric forklifts in all enclosed areas. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries is very clear about the…more