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Recycled Plastic Speed BumpIf you are experiencing an increase in the number of vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-pedestrian accidents at your facility, it may be because drivers aren’t slowing down when they should.

Installing speed bumps is an effective yet affordable way to slow traffic in heavily congested areas. The force vehicles to slow down otherwise risk damage by rolling over the steep bumps.

Short Yet Powerful Deterrent

Standing only three to six inches tall, speed bumps provide just enough of a deterrent to slow cars down without stopping or inhibiting traffic altogether. They are highly effective at lowering traffic speeds, resulting in slower drivers and less traffic to reduce accident rates.

Speed bumps also can reduce the volume of traffic moving through a particular area. When drivers realize that a street or roadway features speed bumps, they often will seek out alternate routes to get where they want to go.

Work Right Away

One of the best things about speed bumps is that they can provide instant results. While public streets often feature speed bumps made of asphalt or other construction compounds, in industrial settings and on private property speed bumps made of heavy-duty recycled plastic can be put into place immediately.

Not only are they faster to install, but recycled plastic speed bumps are also more affordable than asphalt or poured concrete speed bumps. Their product cost is lower and there isn’t the labor cost to consider.

Portability and Durability

Speed bumps are also portable. They can be placed anywhere you want to slow down traffic, from potentially hazardous driveways to parking areas where a special event is being held. They can be used individually or placed end-to-end to create a broader traffic deterrent.

Plus they are durable. Made of tough, hard plastic made from recycled materials, they are resistant to oil, salt, sun and moisture.

The Downside of Speed Bumps

There aren’t many drawbacks to speed bumps. Some argue that they can be dangerous to bicyclists and motorcyclists, but generally there aren’t going to be a lot of these types of vehicles in an industrial or commercial setting. And even if they are, drivers who use caution have nothing to worry about.

Another concern is increased noise associated with drivers hitting the brakes in order to avoid going over the speed bump at top speed. But this is a small cost to pay for the increased safety and security. If one person is saved from injury as the result of a speed bump, that’s probably worth all the barking brakes it causes.


Port of Shanghai

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia and in the public domain

Konecranes and Terex, two of the world’s biggest makers of cranes, forklift and other heavy-duty materials handling equipment, have announced that they will merge.

The all-stock deal will leave Terex shareholders with 60% of the stock in the new company, which will be called Konecranes Terex PLC.

Huge Tax Break

The new company will be located in Finland, home to Konecranes and where the corporate tax rate is only 20% compared to the 35% tax rate in the US. Prior to the merger, Terex was headquartered in Westport, Connecticut, and the newly formed company will maintain offices there.

The deal is expected to be completed during the first half of 2016. Konecranes, which has annual sales of $2.7 billion, builds cranes for factories, warehouses and ports. Its biggest competitors are Japan’s Kito, China’s ZPMC, and the US company Columbus McKinnon

Terex has annual sales of about $7.3 billion and makes cranes and equipment for miners and builders. Its biggest rivals are Caterpillar and Finland’s Metso.

The new company is expected to have annuals sales of about $10 billion. Within three or four years after the merger is complete, it will have projected sales of $10.6 billion with a projected operating profit of $1.1 billion, according to new reports.

The Changing Face of Terex

In recent years, Terex has attempted to expand its presence in the factory crane market by buying the German company Demag Cranes AG in 2011 for $1.36 billion.

But Terex since the global economic slowdown, Terex has struggled to deliver higher sales and profits because the global demand for heavy equipment has been inconsistent. In response, the company has sold equipment lines and cut costs.

The new company will be one of the biggest players in the industrial and port crane markets. But these industries have been slow to respond to the economic turnaround and global annual sales have expanded at a paltry 2% to 4% in recent years.

While cranes are something companies buy infrequently, there is always a strong market for replacement parts and maintenance services. And as ports, factories and other facilities become more automated, there may be an increased demand for newer, better performing cranes in the coming years.

Good Timing for the US Heavy Equipment Maker

The merger couldn’t have come at a better time for Terex. In addition to the tax benefits, there also are market forces at play.

Most of the new company’s revenues – about 45% — will come from industrial and port cranes. And the merger with Konecranes means Terex will be less reliant on its work platform division, a product line that includes motorized lifts for window washers, painters, and workers moving materials at construction sites.

Work platforms are often one of the first things to be cut from purchasing lists when the economy struggles. Terex officials have publicly indicated that the demand for work platforms is likely to decrease in the next year but denied rumors that the market is on the verge of collapse.

At the same time, Terex’s construction crane business has been in a prolonged slump since 2008, when the economic downturn caused the plug to be pulled on many big commercial construction projects.



Inventory That Should be in Warehouses

25 Aug 2015

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There are retailers who need warehouse back up to assure that the shelves stay full. (Courtesy: Habitat for Humanity in LaCross, WI.

There are retailers who need warehouse back up to assure that the shelves stay full.
(Courtesy: Habitat for Humanity in LaCross, WI.

There are businesses who can stock a lot of inventory on site and then there are businesses that need to rely on a warehouse for back up. The question begs to be asked. What type of inventory is warehouse inventory?

Warehouse managers who have knowledge in inventory management say that raw material; maintenance, repair or operation (MRO) inventory; merchandise; and finished products are ideal items to store in a warehouse.

Raw Materials

Manufacturing plants that use raw materials to make finished products are ideal candidates for having warehouse support. The plant doesn’t have to waste space that may be necessary on something that they don’t need immediately. An off-site warehouse permits the plant to handle variations in production due to the orders it receives.

For example, let’s say a plant unexpectedly receives a large order. What happens if they don’t have enough of the finished product inventoried on site to fill the order? They have to make more products. Instead of having to order the raw materials it needs to make those products, which can add down time to the production process, the manufacturer can simply call the warehouse for the additional raw materials it needs.

Raw materials can be defined as anything that needs to be purchased from an outside source that is necessary for use in the production process. That can include chemicals, minerals, or grains as well as nuts, bolts, wheels, or ball bearings.

MRO Inventory

Manufacturing facilities rely on their machines to work. However, when one breaks down, they need a replacement part pronto. Well, it’s going to be the warehouse that saves the day. Any items that are used in the maintenance, repair, or operation of a production facility are included in this category. That not only includes spare parts for the machinery, it also involves oils, lubricants, and other items that are needed to service the production process.


Retail stores that rely on having merchandise available risk the possibility of lost sales and unhappy customers if those products are not present when the shopper wants to buy them.  A warehouse assures that the items are available when the customers want it. Having enough inventories on hand or in the warehouse means that retailers don’t have to back order items causing customers to wait. And that means that the selling and shipping process performs smoothly.

Finished Products

Then there are manufacturers who must produce products based on orders. These manufacturers may run their operation continuously so that there are always enough products available. This business needs a warehouse where it can transport and store the finished product so that it has enough space for the production of the next batch of products.

The warehouse cannot only store the products, but it can also receive and ship out orders so that the manufacturing facility doesn’t have to worry about it.

In short, a business needs warehouse back up to supply assistance to the manufacturing segment in the production process and to fill orders when the production facility can’t.

(Next: How to set up inventory in a warehouse)


Here’s a special sneak preview of some of the stories you will find this week on the Bahrns blog:

  • Stocking your warehouse? We’ll take a look at some of the must-have items every warehouse can’t do without …
  • A small Indiana town just got a big boost from one of the world’s largest heavy equipment manufacturers. We’ll tell you where it happened and what it means for local residents …
  • Two of the world’s biggest heavy equipment makers are tying the not. We’ll show you the long-term implications for the material handling industry from the latest corporate merger …
  • Speed bumps save lives. We’ll show you how a tiny investment in this simple technology can substantially reduce the number of accidents at your facility …

All this and much, much more can be found this week on the Bahrns blog … so stay tuned!



forkliftToyota unveiled an expansion to its forklift manufacturing facility recently in the tiny town of Columbus, Indiana.

The Japanese company invested $11 million in its Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing facility in the town of 30,000 that lies about 45 miles south of Indianapolis. The expansion adds 108,000 square feet to the plant and includes a distribution facility and customer service center that offers “the ultimate experience.”

High Tech Customer Experience

A lot of carmakers and heavy equipment manufacturers often park one of the vehicles that are made at its plant out front as an example of the work that is done inside.

But Toyota has taken it a step further by including an interactive showroom where visitors can see, touch and climb into the vehicles that are made at the facility.

The company plans to fly selected dealers to the plant on its corporate jet so they can visit the expanded facility. Once they arrive, they will be able to tour a high-tech showroom that feature both the newest and the oldest forklifts, including the first lift truck made in the US, according to news reports.

Guests also will be taken to a theater where they will receive a personalized presentation. Afterwards, a the theater wall will recede into the ceiling to reveal lift trucks being field-tested in the plant’s demonstration room.

New North American HQ

The expansion prompted Toyota Materials Handling USA to move its North American headquarters to Columbus from Irvine, California.

Most of the Toyota forklifts used in the US are built at the Columbus plant. The latest expansion increases the size of the facility to more than 1 million square feet on 126 acres. It included 21,400 square feet of new office space.

The expansion enables better communications between workers, improved products and services, and a better experience for customers.

More Expansion Planned

While the paint has barely dried on the newest expansion, Toyota plans to spend $16 million to further expand its US new product development division at the plant to improve support for the North American market. Once completed, that 50,600 square foot addition will increase total facility size to 1.1 million square feet.

The new building and renovation will not only expand its production capabilities, but also will include room for human development activities, new product development, and the company’s Vision 2020 strategic initiatives. There will be a new two-story office building, cafeteria, storm shelter, locker room, and an expanded on-site medical center for Toyota employees and their families.

The Columbus plant employees 759 people but the second expansion will increase that number to more than 1,000.

While that may seem like a lot, Toyota employs about 5,000 people at its assembly plant in Princeton, Indiana, where it makes its Highlander, Sequoia, and Sienna vehicles.


DHL Article

Photo courtesy of DHL

The German-based package delivery service DHL has launched a pilot project in which customer’s Amazon orders are delivered directly to the trunks of their cars.

The partnership between DHL-Parcel, Amazon, and the German car manufacturer Audi is being rolled out this summer on a trial basis throughout Germany. If it’s successful, it could be used in the US and elsewhere to connect Amazon customers with their orders more quickly and efficiently.

Automated Delivery Service

The way it works is this: Amazon customers who own Audis place their orders on, the German version of the world’s largest online retailer.

DHL drivers then use a specially developed smartphone GPS app to locate the Audi.  Once they do, the trunk is automatically opened byAudi via a remote computer. Once the DHL driver places the package in the trunk, the car automatically locks itself.

An email is then instantly generated and sent to the customer notifying them that their package has been safely delivered to the trunk of their car.

German Engineering and Efficiency

The service will first be rolled out in the greater metropolitan Munich area over the course of several months. Amazon customers who also are Audi owners will be invited to take part in the trial program.

Jurgen Gerdes, a board member of DHL’s German Post, eCommerce and Parcel division, said the package delivery company is constantly seeking new ways to improve the quality of the experience for its customers.

“As an innovation leader in the parcel industry, we continually work with our partners to develop innovative solutions for the ever-growing number of parcel customers and to set new trends,” Gerdes said in a DHL news release. “This pilot project for car trunk delivery for private customers is unique in the German parcel industry. It demonstrates once again our market and innovation leadership as well as our commitment to parcel delivery services tailored more and more to the individual needs of our costumers.”

‘Hey, My Order’s Here!’

The service is expected to be popular among commuters who park their cars in Park & Ride lots. Once the service becomes popular, the DHL delivery person can theoretically deliver dozens of packages to cars in the same lot at the same time.

From the customer’s perspective, the service is designed to be simple, transparent and easily manageable throughout the entire process –from the ordering, to transport, to delivery to the trunk of their car.

Plus, who wouldn’t love finding a package in the trunk of their car when they get home from work?



DHL Article


(Editor’s Note: In today’s Thursday Feature, we travel deep underground to a subterranean cold storage facility where operators have been struggling with lighting costs for decades.)

File:Led flood outdoor lamp.JPG

Photo courtesy of Sokolshok via Wikimedia Commons

Deep below the surface of Johnson, Arkansas, is a former limestone mine and Cold War fallout shelter called “The Cave”. For nearly 50 years, it has served as a cold storage facility that boasts 280,000 square food and freezer space where temperatures fall below -36 degrees F.

Operated by the Zero Mountain Cold Storage Company, the facility and four other warehouses are responsible for freezing, storing and shipping more than 2 billion pounds of meat and other foods annually for such companies as Wal-Mart, Cargill, Tyson and ConAgra.

The problem with operating a warehouse underground isn’t the cold. Refrigeration units actually don’t have to work as hard as they do at Zero Mountains above-ground warehouses because the ground is a natural insulator.

The problem is light.

Lightless Underground Cold Storage

There is no natural light that deep underground. So every square inch of operating space needs to be illuminated using artificial lighting.

And that can be costly. At both The Cave and Zero Mountain’s gigantic 7 million square foot facility in Lowell, interior spaces were lit by old-school 400 Watt light bulbs in metal halide fixtures. There were 268 in TheCave and another 303 at Lowell.

Not only did these lamps eat up electricity like a fat man eating ribs at a church picnic, but they were constantly burning out, especially at The Cave, where moisture seeping into the facility is a real problem whenever it rains.

Changing out the light bulbs and repairing or replacing the fixtures was nearly a full-time job for the Zero Mountain maintenance staff, costing the company an estimated $5,000 to $10,000 annually in manpower to change out burned out bulbs, not to mention the cost of replacing lamps and ballasts, which require a man lift of bucket truck.

Harsh Subterranean Conditions

Plus, the lamps were more likely to burn out when they were turned off and had a slow warm-up time due to cold temperatures. So the company was forced to leave them on 24/7/365.

Not only was the company paying to light spaces that weren’t being used, paying more for electricity, and burning through their bulbs and lamps at a record rate, but the excessive heat from the metal halide lamps were causing the company’s refrigeration condensers to work harder to hold temperature.

Looking for a solution, the company turned to LED Supply Co., a local supplier of Dialight LED lighting fixtures. It replaced all 571 of its old-fashioned lamps with 456 LED High Bay fixtures in the two cold storage facilities.

Tony Parrish, facility manager at The Cave, said the switch has been welcomed by maintenance crews.

“Our crews were impressed by how quick and easy it was to change out each fixture and they’re looking forward to not having to change light bulbs all the time,” Parrish said in a Dialight news release. “This will definitely free up their time to perform more critical maintenance needs that contribute to efficient facility operation.”

Huge Cost Savings

The new lights cut energy consumption by 70% and are expected to provide a decade of service with zero maintenance. Plus, the feature electronic sensors so they are turned on only when there is somebody working in an area that needs to be lit.

Unlike metal halide lamps, the new LED lights don’t need to warm up. Instead, they offer full lumen output from the moment the motion detectors switch them on. And they provide more light for less money — nearly double the illumination of the old lights.

Due to the improved light output, Zero Mountain was able to cut back the number of fixtures it needed by 20%. Combined with the 70% increase in operational efficiency, the company cut 1.3 million kilowatt hours of its electrical bills at the two facilities, a savings of nearly $86,000 per year.

And because the LED lights run cool, both facilities noticed an immediate impact on the performance of their refrigeration units.

‘Who’s There?’

Tony Nichols, facility manager at the Nichols warehouse, said forklift operators are responding positively to the new motion-activated fixtures.

“The forklift drivers like the sensors because as the lights come on it gives them a heads-up that other operators are in the area,” Nichols said in the Dialight news release. “It’s like an advanced warning system that’s turned out to be a significant advantage when working in tight quarters where visibility is limited.”

As an added bonus, the company that provides electricity to The Cave — Southwester Electric Power  Company — gave Zero Mountain a custom rebate incentive for making the switch to energy-efficient LED lighting which paid for about 30% of the total project costs, including installation.

Zero Mountain already has approved plans to install the LED lights at its two other cold storage facilities in Fort Smith and Russellville.


Common Warehouse Problems

18 Aug 2015

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Warehouse problems that occur will probably not be the first or the last. That's why it is imperative to resolve problems as soon as they occur.  (Courtesy: Cynthia Vora at

Warehouse problems that occur will probably not be the first or the last. Still try to resolve problems as soon as they occur.
(Courtesy: Cynthia Vora at

If you simply work in a warehouse, then you know that there are a number of common issues that seem to pop up now and again. You think that the actions the managers take will solve the problem forever. However, deep down in your mind you know that’s not true. Those problems will continue to be problems.

Your warehouse is not the first or the last to experience these problems. Perhaps these tips will help you overcome them when they do occur.

Inventory Issues

Not all problems have roots in the warehouse itself. There are some circumstances that occur due to economics; weather issues; local, state or federal government regulations and more.

A major economic issue that warehouses all over the United States had to deal with was the Great Recession of 2008. One problem that spread during this time was simply running out of space.

There were many warehouses that actually increased their inventory because of slower sales. Many added new lines. Of course, there were problems.

First, all slots were already being used. Second, due to the recession employees were laid off. Because there were fewer hands on deck, it took more time to pick orders. Perhaps your warehouse manager tried to alleviate the problem by adding on more space. However, his efforts were impeded because the action would have been too costly and would have diverted money away from other needs.

So, what is this manager supposed to do to accommodate the new lines?

Some managers seek advice from consultants. They wonder if slow selling and dead merchandise is being stored in velocity appropriate locations. Let’s say that most of the items were stored a good distance away from the aisles. Let’s also say it was discovered that most of the slow-moving items were located near the head of aisles at eye or chest-level. While the fast-moving merchandise were at the back end of the aisles on the top portion of shelves.

The solution now becomes obvious.

First, identify dead items that still have value, and then sell them at clearance events or to surplus buyers. As more space becomes available, re-locate the fast-moving items to locations where those slow-moving items were stored. In addition, assign storage locations based on the velocity potential of the item.

Then there are problems due to a flaw in the manner the warehouse operates. For example, inventory builds up because there are no procedures to determine what is in stock. This leads to excess and obsolete inventory building up on the shelves. That means there is no space for new lines and unexpected shortages occur. Be aware that excessive inventory can adversely affect cash flow, create space issues, cause a rise of expenses to accommodate the overabundance of merchandise and result in insufficient customer service. However, this issue can be resolved simply by including an automated distribution system in your operations.

Picking Issues

It is fairly common to find warehouses using picking procedures that actually affect the speed of the process. For example, the picker passes the pick order ticket to the checker, who passes it to the stager, who passes it to the loader, and on and on. Utilize a system like barcodes and the problem of multiple touches is over.

Warehouses that utilize manual picking procedures discover that there is no common route taken to pick orders. This results in time lost in the warehouse’s operation. This problem disappears when efficient pick and put away routes are created and automated, thus decreasing wear and tear on equipment and your labor force.


Here’s a special sneak preview of some of the stories you will find this week on the Bahrns blog:

  • The US Postal Service is on track to lose $5 billion this year. So why are taxpayers willing to tolerate the kind of steep losses that would cause private investors to go ballistic? We’ll take a look …
  • In this week’s Thursday Feature, we’ll take you to an underground deep freeze facility in Arkansas, where operators have developed a unique solution for their lighting problem …
  • Looking for your Amazon order? If you live in Germany and drive an Audi, you might want to check the trunk of your car. We’ll explain why …

All this and much, much more can be found this week on the Bahrns blog … so stay tuned!

US Postal Service

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and in the public domain

During the fiscal third quarter of 2015, which ended June 30, the US Postal service lost an estimated $586 million. If it were a publicly-held company, shareholders might start clamoring for the CEO’s head.

Yet it’s business as usual for the USPS. In fact, a half a billion dollar loss in a single quarter could actually be seen as good news: It was $1.4 billion less than the $2 billion the postal service lost in the same quarter last year.

And the P&L is less in the red this quarter than it was the first and second quarters of the year, when losses were $754 million and $1.5 billion, respectively.

According to a US Postal Service news release, quarterly operating income remained at $16.5 billion, about the same as the previous year. Because the postal service tends to be busiest during the holidays, the fiscal third quarter of the year is when it traditionally performs at its best. And operating expenses for the year have fallen $1.3 billion, or about 7.2%.

Why Such Poor Performance?

Like many cities, states and other government entities, the USPS is hampered by the retirement benefits it must pay its former employees. Because it can’t meet its obligations due to a lack of capital, it has to borrow.

Plus if the postal service wants to do anything to improve its bottom line — such as cutting back benefits payments, implementing a smarter delivery schedule, or raising its prices — it has to ask Congress, whose constituents are loathed to change anything that will affect their service or jobs within their districts.

Needless to say, like everything else at the post office, change comes slow.

A Glimmer of Hope?

The only upbeat news in the postal service’s latest financial report card was that its Shipping and Packages division posted revenues of $3.561 billion, up 10.6%

Shipping and Packages grew as a result of successful efforts to compete in ground shipping services with companies like FedEx and UPS, as well as aggressively pursuing “last mile” delivery services for such online retailers as Amazon, including Sunday delivery.

While Shipping and Packages accounted for 21.6% of the postal services revenues, it represents only 2.9% of the total volume.

“The continued growth of our shipping and package services is a direct result of the Postal Service’s continued efforts to offer consumers more choice, excellent value and reliable service in a growing and competitive marketplace,” Postmaster General and CEO Megan Brennan said in the news release. “We are investing in our network and continually enhancing our services to best compete for America’s shipping and package delivery business.”

US Postal Service Not Going Anywhere

While no company can afford to lose more than $5 billion in a single year and not feel the heat, the postal service benefits by being a federal agency. As a result, there are no angry stockholders screaming for the heads of its top management.

It’s also a treasured part of US history and tradition, so most taxpayers — who ultimately end up holding the bag when the agency loses money — are reluctant to approve of any drastic action, such as dismantlement or even major reductions in service.