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Designing the layout of your warehouse can be tricky. So to make your job easier, here are some common warehouse design mistakes you’ll want to avoid. If you currently see issues in your warehouse or areas that you want to improve, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’ll help you find the easiest solutions possible.

Warehouses are complex beasts with tons of moving parts, and a smart warehouse has an efficient design to make those movements smooth. So, what are some of the design mistakes to avoid?

 

Inadequate Spacing

When looking at warehouse design, there’s much more than just a “one-size-fits-all” answer. You need to nail down the specific measurements of your products and equipment so you’ll choose the best amount of space. Data is the roadmap to a more efficient warehouse, and that data will tell you how to design your warehouse to work for you, not against you.

For example, the size of the products you house will give you an idea of what types of racking to buy. That racking size and space will show you what types of forklifts fit within those spaces and which will be best for moving products around. Poor spacing in your warehouse design causes issues in your inventory management.

Check out this blog post for more info on how much warehouse space you need.

 

Poor Planning

Another warehouse design mistake comes with poor planning. This is occurs most often with seasonality fluctuations. Special holiday products, for example, may occupy 40 percent of a warehouse in the 100 days leading to the Christmas shopping season. If you do not plan accordingly, you may not have a place to put those seasonal products. And if they don’t sell, well, you could be stuck with extra products taking up needed storage or floor space. That will slow your operation way down if you aren’t careful.  

 

Congested Dock Areas

A dock area can be the most congested and potentially most dangerous area within your warehouse layout. If your employees don’t have adequate space to do their jobs, accidents can happen harm your people or equipment. When designing your warehouse facilities, take advantage of the newest ideas and technology, including just-in-time cross-docking.

Cross-docking is a technique where fresh inventory is unloaded directly from the inbound vehicle, then immediately re-loaded onto outbound vehicles — all without having to store the inventory in the warehouse. You’ll need to allocate additional space and multiple docks to perform these operations without impeding material flow.

Don’t allow non-storage areas to become storage areas. Make sure they are cleared out daily to avoid congestion and product damage.

 

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If you’re experiencing some of these problems, learn more about it through talking with outside experts regarding your layout. An experienced set of eyes can scan your warehouse design and spot signs of trouble. A poorly designed warehouse can be very costly. Even the smallest inefficiencies can unnecessarily drive up your costs. Send us a message and avoid these and other common warehouse design mistakes.

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Outfitting a warehouse with everything you need is a costly and heavy process. You can purchase some equipment used to help you save some cash. But, there are some dos and don’ts to consider. What are they? Let’s dive in!

Here are our suggestions when considering used equipment.

The DOs

– Uprights, the vertical supports holding load beams in place, are typically good to purchase used. Just make sure they are straight, have a solid base plate and don’t show any signs of dents or cracks. Be sure you have the right sizes. You don’t want to buy an under rated upright.

– Racking can certainly be a great purchase used, if they’re in good condition. As with uprights, some wear and tear is fine, but look for dents and cracks. Don’t forget that racking holds your inventory, so if it breaks, it could damage your products.

– Wire decking is a good purchase, just inspect it first.

– Conveyors are a risk but a small one. If a component within the conveyor fails, the system will just stop working with minimal risk of damaging other parts or products. If they do breakdown, you can always repair them.

– Automated storage systems are also a good purchase used. Similar to conveyors, they will stop working if a component fails, but they’ll leave other parts uncompromised. You can repair them if needed.

– Dock equipment is pretty straight forward. You can buy it used, but you need to inspect it carefully and know its limits.

If your docks don’t have good structural support, it could be costly. These docks will hold the weight of your forklift and a fully-loaded pallet, so make sure that the dock can handle that weight.

If the dock looks like it has been repaired in multiple places, odds are it has been abused.

– Overhead doors (sectionals) can save your bank by purchasing them used. As long as they are not damaged or dented, a quick preventative maintenance service can get them into good working order. Components are relatively cheap as well.

Overhead doors are not load-bearing and don’t provide structural support, so minimal specification is needed.

Make sure you have the right motor for the size and weight of the doors; you don’t pull a trailer with a compact car.

– Rollup and high-speed doors can be problematic if you’re not careful. Ensure that the manufacturer is still in business and that they still make that model (or something similar). This way you can order repair parts if needs be.

If the manufacturer is out-of-business or they stopped the specific product line a decade ago, that might be a good reason to walk away.

used warehouse equipment

Photo by Charlize Birdsinger on Unsplash

The DON’Ts

Never buy something before you’ve seen it. You always want to inspect the condition of the item before you purchase it. If a seller doesn’t give you time to look at it and won’t meet you for it, it probably won’t last.

– Don’t buy without measuring the item(s) yourself. Measurements can sometimes be listed incorrectly, so when you go to inspect the equipment, bring something with which you can measure it. Make sure you also know the measurements at your warehouse before measuring the used item, so you know the exact amount of space you have available.

Having undersized equipment can make your purchase nearly worthless if you can’t use it. You don’t want to get in a situation where your forklift won’t work with an under-rated dock.

Don’t focus too much on saving a few hundred dollars. If you’re too focused on saving cash, you could wind up paying thousands on repairs. Do your research on the items you’re considering and make the best decision based on the quality of the item, not just the price.

– A load beam, being one of the most important pieces of hardware on the warehouse floor, holds all the weight of your precious inventory. These beams run horizontally between uprights.

Any dents, bends or cracks could easily cause a disaster. When a beam fails it will almost always cause a chain of other components to fail, which can cause an entire row to buckle and fail.

For example, would you ever tell your home builder that you wanted to save money? Yes. Well, would you try to save money by replacing 2×10 floor joists with 2×4 studs and thinner plywood? We sure hope not!

You never want to skimp on structural supports in order to save money. Skimping on cosmetic areas is a better way to save money in the long run rather than skimping on structural supports. Structural support issues can cause bigger problems and bigger headaches down the line, so don’t buy a used load beam.

– Used forklifts. You can find them all over the place. Purchasing a used forklift is like buying a used and worn out dirt bike. Damaged areas can easily go unseen by the naked eye.

If you purchase one used, only consider certified forklift dealers. They typically keep things to certain standards and offer warranties. Walk away if the reseller won’t stand behind a warranty or if they’re willing to drop their price substantially. This could mean that something is terribly wrong with the forklift.

 

The MAYBE

– Overhead Cranes can be tricky. Consider asking the seller, “Have the cranes been stressed beyond capacity? Do they have all the service documentation? Do they have the engineering specifications?”

Cranes have specific OSHA regulations, including annual inspections. So, if a seller can’t produce the service history, assume the crane has been overworked and neglected. Any wear on bearings, brakes, wire rope and motors is hard to detect. A used crane with good and regular service documents could be a solid purchase.

 

You want to have the best equipment in your warehouse. Here are some additional tips to consider when buying used warehouse material:

– If possible, try to use the equipment before you buy it. Kind of like a test drive.

– Trust your gut and don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal that sounds too good to be true.

If you’re unsure about a product, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Use our 50 years in the business as a resource. We’ll help you get the best deal out there.

 

Disclaimer: The statements above are merely suggestions and should not be taken as literal advice. Hoj is not responsible for any damages that may occur from the advice given.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmailThere is little dispute that conveyors are a critically important piece of equipment in a warehouse or distribution center. But why spend the money to implement them? Let’s quickly review why they are so important.

With so many moving parts on the floor of your warehouse, it can seem impossible to manage everything all the time. Without the proper conveyor solutions your warehouse may suffer from decreased productivity with inventory being sorted incorrectly or workers picking inefficiently.

Adding conveyors can increase efficiency and productivity by preventing the labor fulfillment team from running back and forth between sections of the warehouse. Lost time in their transit compounds, creating unnecessary setbacks. Thirty minutes of lost daily productivity per employee hurts your tight margins.

Conveyors can also help your team avoid accidents. If you have multiple pickers trying to move heavy products in the same place at the same time, you risk them running into each other. Conveyors eliminate these types of incidents from occurring.

Alex Banner at Medium adds one more reason to use conveyors: they are faster than other systems. He says, “While they [conveyors] can take up the most space out of all the methods the result and speed at which they transfer any item from A to B is well worth the space.”

Conveyor systems are vitally important to improve the function of your warehouse. Our skilled team has decades of experience in installing all kinds of systems, so talk to us about your project, and we can help you find out the best fit.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmailIf you’re looking to improve the function of your warehouse, a crane can be a great solution. That said, there are so many types of cranes that you’ll want to be sure of which will give you the best results. To know what to consider when choosing a crane, let’s start with the basics.

A crane is a machine that can be used to easily lift and move materials and to improve your material handling abilities. In general, cranes are equipped with a hoist rope, wire ropes, a hook, a trolley, a bridge and controls. For a deep dive on what an overhead crane is, Mazzella Companies has a great explanation video. They say that cranes improve efficiency and safety in your material handling, and we strongly agree.

With the basics out of the way, let’s look at what considerations must be made. Ask yourself some questions like, “How much weight do we need to move around on a daily basis? What is the maximum? How much space do we have for the crane? What are we using the crane for?” Asking these types of questions will help you determine what type of crane you need.

As a guide in this process, refer to the crane service classes established by the Crane Manufacturers Association of America (CMAA) listed below. These classifications are based on the crane’s number of lift cycles and its average load intensity. It is important to choose the right crane classification to ensure safety and longevity of the crane solution.

Our experts at HOJ have years of helping businesses determine these parameters of crane selection, so don’t hesitate to reach out with your questions.

CMAA Crane Classifications

– Class A (Standby or Infrequent Service) – Includes cranes that are used at slow speeds for precise operations, such as installation and maintenance. These cranes have long periods of idle time between lifts and maximum capacity lifts may be required for installation and infrequent maintenance.

A few examples of these cranes would include transformer stations, installation and maintenance cranes in turbine rooms and public utilities.

– Class B (Light Service) – Includes cranes where the speed is slow and service requirements are light. Loads will vary from no load at all to occasional full capacity.  Duty cycle is two to five lifts per hour, at an average of 10 feet per lift.

Some examples would include repair shops, light warehouse and light assembly operations are a few examples of light service use.

– Class C (Moderate Service) – Cranes mostly fall into this service class. Cranes that are generally handling loads that average fifty percent of the rated capacity. These cranes have duty cycles of 5 to 10 lifts per hour, averaging 15 feet per lift.  Not over 50 percent of the lifts are at rated capacity.

A few examples of where these cranes would be used include machine shops, fabrication and metalworking shops and assembly shops are a few examples of moderate service class.

– Class D (Heavy Service) – Includes cranes that are used in heavy service applications. Loads at fifty percent of the rated capacity are handled constantly during the crane’s working period. In general, high speeds are desired and the duty cycle is 10 to 20 lifts per hour, averaging 15 feet per lift. Not over 65 percent of the lifts are at rated capacity.

Some examples of these include foundries, steel warehouses, heavy machine shops and lumber mills often fall in the heavy services class.

– Class E (Severe Service) – Includes cranes that handle loads that approach the rated capacity throughout the crane’s lifetime. The duty cycle is 20 or more lifts per hour at or near rated capacity, at any height per lift. Maintenance for these cranes is more frequent. Cement plants, scrap yards, lumber mills and container handling are common.

– Class F (Continuous Severe Service) – Includes cranes that are capable of handling loads that approach the rated capacity continuously and under severe service conditions throughout the lifetime of the crane. These are cranes with the highest reliability and maintenance frequency. These cranes are engineered-to-order, custom designed cranes that perform a specific function constantly.

These are just some of the variables to consider when purchasing a crane. Deciding which crane is right for a specific purpose can be an overwhelming task. Send us a note and we can help you ensure you are considering the right aspects and help you create a short list of cranes to select from. Or, check out our cranes page to learn more.