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Industry Knowledge Base

Using the 10 Principles of Material Handling in the Warehouse

If the work of a warehouse or distribution center can be boiled down to one activity, it is material handling. After all, getting products or materials or components or whatever they may be from the point of origin to its final destination is what the logistics industry is all about. Handling, packaging, transportation, and data tracking are all essential tasks, and they all require highly specialized equipment. Luckily, the warehousing industry doesn’t have to start from scratch each time. Industrial engineers have been studying material handling since the Industrial Revolution. The Material Handling Institute, the largest association for supply chain industries in the United States, distilled the insights of professionals and researchers down into a document they call “The 10…more

What Is the NIOSH Lifting Equation and How Can It Help?

By 1981, it had been clear for some time that musculoskeletal disorders caused by manual lifting tasks on the job were causing far too many injuries to American workers. That year, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published a technical report titled Work Practices Guide for Manual Lifting in an effort to reduce the number of injuries caused by unsafe lifting tasks at work. The conclusion of this nearly 200-page guide was a set of equations that would determine the “maximum permissible limit” and the lower, preferable “action limit” for the weight of a given lifting task. These equations included six variables that evaluators could use to figure out the ultimate limits of a given task. A…more

Improving Safety at Electrical Prefabrication Shops

These days, it’s rare to meet an electrical contractor who doesn’t do at least some prefabrication before heading to the jobsite. Many larger outfits run their own prefabrication shops. There are distinct advantages for contractors who operate in-house prefab teams, but there are also challenges, especially in terms of safety. Hazards in the shop environment can be quite distinct from those of an installation job site. But when did prefab get to be such a big part of the industry? Is dependence on a prefabrication shop really more efficient than completing pulls, cuts, and bends at the job site, as they arise? Most importantly, how can contractors reduce the risk of injury while prefabricating components? In this piece, we set…more

Ergonomics in Agriculture

Farm workers suffer from musculoskeletal disorders and lower back pain at a disproportionate rate. This won’t be a surprise to anyone who’s worked in agriculture; the job often involves awkward postures and repetitive motions. Musculoskeletal disorders caused by these workplace motions make up a third of the injuries that cause farm workers to take sick days. Back injuries make up a full quarter of them. This isn’t just tough on families and disastrous for productivity; it’s expensive for growers. In 2001, when the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied ergonomics in agriculture, workers’ compensation for farm workers cost more than $20 million — in the state of California alone. The…more

How Ergonomic Material Handling Increases Productivity

To improve productivity in material handling applications, make the job easier for your staff. That statement might sound overly simple, or even counterintuitive. In fact, safety and efficiency are closely linked in the material handling world. Sure, there was a time when safety and efficiency were placed on opposite ends of an imaginary spectrum — but the explosion of ergonomics research over the past half-century has proven that model false. In fact, by implementing key ergonomic improvements that protect workers, industrial facilities can achieve leaner, more productive operations every time. The central goal of ergonomics helps to explain this dynamic. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration describes ergonomics as “the science of designing the job to fit the worker, rather…more

Global Forklift Battery Companies to Enjoy 8.1 Percent CAGR Through 2020

It’s time for forklift battery companies around the world to prepare for growing sales. Lead-acid batteries will continue to be a leading supplier of motive power for the foreseeable future, analysts say. The latest in-depth report on the forklift battery market forecasts a significant growth rate over the next five years. According to Research and Markets’ publication Global Forklift Battery Market 2016-2020, the segment will grow at an average compound annual growth rate of 8.1 percent through 2020. This news overturns the assumption that competing technologies will soon take over the mainstream. To be sure, newer power sources, including hydrogen fuel cells and lithium ion batteries, are developing quickly. But according to the latest market analysis, electric forklift users will…more

How a Manufacturing Shift from China to India Could Change the Asian Warehousing Industry

Since 2010, China has been the world’s top manufacturing nation. If current trends continue, though, India could lay claim to that distinction in the near future. Thanks to a new government initiative to draw foreign investment, India is quickly becoming the world’s manufacturing powerhouse. This shift will alter the route of the global supply chain, presenting particular challenges to warehouses and distribution centers in Asia. In this article, we will briefly examine the dynamics of India’s manufacturing successes. We will discuss the trend’s impact on the global supply chain. Finally, we will identify strategies that warehousing operations in Asia can adopt to remain competitive in a changing business climate. Policy Changes Contribute to India’s Growing Manufacturing Sector India’s rise as…more

The Hidden Causes of the Hanjin Bankruptcy Crisis

Hanjin Shipping was South Korea’s largest maritime container carrier. It was the seventh largest shipping company in the world. The company handled more than 7 percent of the trade volume between Asia and the United States, and 3 percent of all the shipping containers in the entire world. And on August 31, 2016, Hanjin Shipping filed for bankruptcy in its home country. Two days later, it did the same thing in the United States. This unprecedented collapse continues to reverberate throughout the global supply chain, leaving its mark on every step of the fulfillment process. Ports were the first to take the hit. Stevedores and tugboat operators at every corner of the Pacific refused to unload Hanjin containers, fearing that…more

Choosing Lift Tables for Ergonomic Benefits

Industrial lift tables solve two major ergonomic challenges at once. First, they eliminate the need for manual lifts, a leading cause of workplace injury. Just as powerfully, they allow workers to position tasks within a comfortable range of movement. Together, these benefits can prevent the most common causes of musculoskeletal injuries in a variety of workplaces, from assembly lines to fulfillment warehouses. When business owners invest in mission-critical equipment, they need to know that these devices will perform flawlessly for years. But the market is flush with lift tables from competing manufacturers all over the world, and it can be difficult to judge relative merits at a glance. This paper will investigate the fundamental design characteristics that differentiate one lift…more

Environmental Benefits of Forklift Battery Handling Equipment

The environmental advantages of electric forklifts have been well documented. Compared to their internal combustion (IC) counterparts, electric industrial trucks have extremely low emissions, and make virtually no contribution to global climate change at point-of-use. According to a recent report published in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, eco-indicators (including carcinogens, respiratory inorganics, and carbon emissions) were nearly 48 times higher for LPG trucks than for electric forklifts. Environmental Benefits of the BHS Battery Room* Reduces energy consumption through right-sizing of fleet Extends forklift battery life by simplifying maintenance procedures Prevents loss of battery investments through breakage Harmlessly vents hydrogen during charges Collects and neutralizes electrolyte spills and drips Reduces battery room footprint, requiring less energy on lighting, heating,…more