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holiday rewards and recogitionMost warehouses, docks, and distribution centers are in the midst of their busiest time of the year right now.

How successfully they deal with the challenges of the holiday rush often depends on how organized, clean, and efficient their operations are throughout the rest of the year.

Neatness Counts

During the holidays, most operations are stuffed to the ceiling with inventory. Regardless of whether you are handling food and beverage, Christmas toys, chemical products, or industrial equipment, storage is likely to be filled to be capacity this time of year.

When your workspaces are more crowded than usual, it’s critical that you follow best practices in terms of keeping your operation neat, clean, and efficient. Keep aisles clear of debris like empty boxes or trash from packing materials.

Keeping floor space clear will give your employees more room to work and possibly even give you more valuable storage space. At this time of year, every square foot counts.

Organize and Label Your Storage Space

During the holidays, many businesses will expand their staff or onboard temporary employees to help deal with the rush. Because these workers haven’t worked in your business before, they probably aren’t going to be familiar with where everything goes.

Delays in storing and retrieving items due to ignorance and confusion on the part of new employees can be overcome by carefully organizing and labeling shelves, racking, and other storage spaces before the busy season begins.

But if you haven’t already organized your storage space already, doing it now may be challenging. But at least you can get some benefit from it, at least in the short run.

Streamlining Operations

Your operation will be more efficient if it runs like a well-oiled machine. In order for this to happen, all the moving parts must work together. And there needs to be adequate and capable supervision to spot and correct problems before they occur.

Make it your goal to move items only once, rather than handling the same item multiple times. Fewer trips increase efficiency and help keep the operation running smoother and faster.

Recognize Great Work

This time a year when demand and high there can be a tendency to skip niceties and be more direct with line level employees. But they are probably as stressed out as you are when your operation is in full swing.

Take the time to recognize and reward workers who are doing a great job. Make an effort to show your appreciation to all of your employees, even temporary and seasonal workers. And don’t forget to say “thank you”.

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The Hidden Costs of Workplace Accidents

28 Nov 2017

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Police Line Do Not CrossIf there is an accident in your workplace, it can result in damaged products, hospitalization costs, and perhaps some lost productivity while the aftermath is cleaned up. But once everybody is back to work, that’s the end of it, right?

Wrong! The truth is that even a single workplace accident can cost businesses an astronomical amount of money. And the costs can keep on piling up for months or even years after the actual accident has been forgotten.

Productivity Costs

When an accident occurs, business as usual typically stops — at least temporarily. But this momentary pause in productivity can cause timeframes to be thrown off schedule, deadlines to be missed, and customers left without the products or services they are expecting.

If there is an injury that requires recovery time, the business can be left shorthanded, affecting productivity even further. Completion of projects may be delayed.

Maintenance and Equipment Costs

A direct result of a workplace accident is damage to equipment or the physical property of the business. The cost of repairing or replacing damaged or destroyed property can be high.

There can even be long-term bookkeeping consequences. If a particular piece of equipment such as a forklift, conveyor system, or other big ticket item has to be replaced, the accrual of that property has to start all over from scratch. That not only will affect the business’s annual operating budget for the current year but for many years to come, not to mention the potential tax implications of lost depreciation of the damaged equipment.

Legal Costs 

In many instances, a person injured in an accident may sue the business, which can result in high legal expenses. Attorneys fees, court costs, and settlements can cost huge amounts of money. And even if the business successfully defends itself against the lawsuit, the company’s legal expenses will likely go up, along with its insurance premiums.

At the very least, the company may have to pay an injured employee’s salary during their recuperation. And because the worker is not adding anything to productivity, that expense comes right out of the bottom line.

Reducing Costs by Reducing Accidents

All of these costs can be avoided altogether if the workplace accident never occurs. Implementing workplace safety programs, employee training, and careful supervision can eliminate dangers and reduce accidents.

While these measures may require a little upfront investment on the part of ownership, it can be a drop in the bucket compared to the long-term costs of a single workplace accident.

 

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package deliveryOne of the unintended side effects of today’s booming economic conditions is that business theft is on the rise. Because so many businesses are so busy filling orders and keeping up with customer requests, it’s easier for thieves to slip in, take a product, and slip out without being noticed.

Even if your business is setting record sales figures, it’s never a good idea to have your losses too high. Not only do these losses come right off the bottom line, but they also reflect poorly on your business’s reputation. And if thieves in your town realize your company is an easy mark, it’s only going to get worse.

Protecting your property and products is essential to the success of your business. Here are five fast and easy ways you can get started right now.

1. Nurture a Culture of Security

If you and your upper management don’t seem to care about security, it’s going to be impossible for your line levels works to do so, either. Leadership needs to prioritize security, including mandatory training, pre-employment screening, and encouraging all employees to watch for and report suspicious incidents.

2. Expand the Use of Technology

Tracking technology today is cheap and widely used. There’s no excuse not to use GPS or other tracking devices that allow your shipments to be monitored in real time. Most systems will give you instant warning alerts whenever anything goes off track.

3. Secure Your Property

Security equipment like surveillance cameras, fences, motion detectors, and other technology not only helps make your property more secure but also acts as a deterrent to potential thieves. If criminals see that you have invested in security equipment and your competitors haven’t, they are more likely to move on to another victim.

4. Have Drivers Pay Close Attention

The most likely time for a theft to occur from a truck is when it is unattended. Have drivers lock trucks whenever they leave their vehicle. Or better yet, use two drivers to ensure the truck is never left unguarded.

5. The 200-Mile Rule

Another common tactic for thieves is to follow a truck as it leaves a business, then steal from it the first time the driver stops and leaves it unattended. If practical, require your drivers to travel at least 200 miles before stopping their truck unless it is an emergency. Few thieves are willing to put in that kind of mileage and will likely look for another victim.

Protecting your business in boom times is just as important as it is when business is slow. Use these quick and easy techniques to improve your security and reduce your losses due to theft.

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winterLike it or not, the snowy season is right around the corner. Heavy snows and winter storms can affect the productivity of any business, possibly even halting it altogether.

Clearing snow from parking lots, entry roads, docks, and other work areas can keep your business running even in during the harshest winter weather. Before the heaviest snow hits, it’s always a good idea to review some basic snow plowing essentials that can improve both the speed and effectiveness of your snow removal operations.

Prioritize Work Zones

Like anything else, the best way to deal with heavy winter weather is to have a plan in place before it hits. Identify the areas of your business that are critical to your operations. These can include driveways, docks, and other essential operational areas.

These are the places you need to clear first. Secondary areas like parking lots, sidewalks, and less essential spaces can often wait until later.

It’s also a good idea to mark items like speed bumps, shrubbery, water drains, pipes, fire hydrants, and sidewalk edges so that you can avoid plow damage. Place a tall flexible pole topped with a plastic flag on objects that will be hard to see after a heavy snowfall.

Forward Thinking

Plan the routes your snowplows should take, keeping in mind that plowing patterns should allow drivers to drive forward as much as possible.

If drivers need to put their vehicles in reverse, they should bring the plow truck to a complete stop before shifting. When in reverse, it’s a bad idea to rely solely on the vehicle’s mirrors, especially if snow is still falling. Instead, turn around and look in the direction the vehicle is moving.

Slow and Steady

While you want to remove snow as quickly as possible, driver’s shouldn’t drive fast. Vehicles fitted with snow plows should never exceed 40 mph when moving with their plow in the up position, or 14 mph when the plow is at ground level.

When plowing on dirt or gravel roadbeds, the plow should be fitted with plow shoes so that it doesn’t scrape the surface away altogether. Plow shows should be removed when plowing asphalt or concrete so that the plow can scrape as close to the surface as possible.

When the plowing job is finished, the plow blade should be lowered to the ground. This helps take stress off its hydraulics.

Winter is coming. Being prepared by having a plowing plan in place can help minimize its disruption on your business.

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floor striping tape“Grab the tape, will you?”

“Okay, which kind?”

The answer to that question will depend on the kind of job you are working on. There are literally dozens of different types of tape that can be used in the industrial or commercial setting, including tapes of different widths, thicknesses, and even materials.

The type of tape you choose to use matters. Today’s diverse tapes are specialized for their specific application. Here is a look at some of the types of tape you are likely to see in the workplace.

Polypropylene Tape

Polypropylene tape is most commonly used for sealing boxes and other containers. It has high tensile strength, is waterproof, and also abrasion resistant. It is great for packaging because it conforms well to smooth and uneven surfaces alike. It generally doesn’t stretch very well, however.

This type of packing tape usually is clear so the user can see through it to the box’s seams. But it also can come with either opaque or even printed surfaces.

Polythene Tape

The benefit of polythene tape is that it will peel cleanly from most surfaces, it has some electrical insulation, and it conforms easily to most uneven or unusual surfaces. It also is water resistant and halogen-free.

Polythene tape is used in the automotive, boating, and building industries, among others. It mostly comes in black, but can also be found in other colors, but not clear.

Foil Tape

Foil tape has acrylic adhesives which improve their bond with age. It is completely water resistant and creates a total vapor barrier, which is why it is widely used in plumbing and ductwork.

While foil tape can create a strong bond, it will peel cleanly if left for only a short period of time. It usually comes with a metallic finish.

Double-Sided Tape

As the name implies, double-sided tape has adhesive on both sides, which makes it ideal for holding carpeting, tarps, and other sheeted materials in place securely. It also can be used to hang photos, labels, and other items.

Double-sided tape usually has a release liner that protects the adhesive on one side of the tape until you need to use it. These liners are made from siliconized paper and can be easily peeled off from the tape.

Cloth Tape

Cloth tape has a fibrous backing that gives it the strength to meet the demands of many varied applications. Duct tape is an example of cloth tape.

There are nearly as many types of tape as there are jobs to use them.

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Photo courtesy of NVIDIA

Photo courtesy of NVIDIA

One of the problems with self-driving cars has been that the brain power required to run a single vehicle required a roomful of computers. But now a Silicon Valley tech company says it has created an artificial intelligence system that is as small as a car’s license plate.

The new system, code-named “Pegasus”, could finally enable Level 5 driverless cars, vehicles that can be operated entirely on their own using just sensors and computers.

No Steering Wheel, Gas or Brake Pedals

Pegasus-powered driverless cars would have no steering wheel, no gas or brake pedal, and no mirrors, according to Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA, the company that has developed the program.

“Creating a fully self-driving car is one of society’s most important endeavors, and one of the most challenging to deliver,” Huang said in a news release announcing Pegasus. “The breakthrough A.I. computing performance and efficiency of Pegasus is crucial for the industry to realize this vision.”

Powered by the Pegasus artificial intelligence program, new driverless cars will be able to “see” their surroundings through high-resolution, 360-degree surround cameras and light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensors that uses light in the form of pulsed lasers to measure ranges within centimeters.

Plus, the vehicle’s processing power will have to have multiple levels of redundancy to ensure the highest level of safety as they track vehicles and people in their vicinity and plan a safe and comfortable path to the rider’s destination.

All the Comforts of Home

Self-driving cars aren’t high-tech, science fiction fantasy. They are already in development and could arrive in car dealers’ showrooms within just the next couple of years. Car companies like Ford and Mercedes-Benz and even companies like Google and Amazon have invested millions in developing the technology to enable driverless cars.

Anticipating customer wariness to turning over the driving to robots, car manufacturers are reportedly trying to ease in the technologies by introducing elements one at a time, such as cars currently on the market that can parallel park themselves or that automatically brake in the event of an impending collision.

Eventually, nearly all passenger cars will be self-driving. And when they are, riding in cars will be a completely different experience, according to Huang.

“Driverless cars will enable new ride- and car-sharing services,” Huang said. “New types of cars will be invented, resembling offices, living rooms or hotel rooms on wheels. Travelers will simply order up the type of vehicle they want based on their destination and activities planned along the way. The future of society will be reshaped.”

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warehouse portable lightingThe most common workplace danger cited by investigators from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration last year was the failure to provide adequate protection against worker falls.

It was the seventh consecutive year that fall protection led the federal safety agency’s list of most common citations, which was presented last month at the 2017 National Safety Council’s Congress & Expo, which was held in Indianapolis.

The Most Common Citation by Far

With 6,072 citations for failure to prevent workers falls during 2016, the violation was the most commonly cited problem by OSHA by far. The next most common violation — failure to properly issue hazard communications — resulted in only 4,176 violations.

While fall protection/general requirements topped the list, failure to provide proper training to prevent falls came in ninth on the Top 10 list.

The top five violations on this year’s list were exactly the same as last year’s. In fact, 9 out of 10 violations on this year’s list were the same as the previous year. The only newcomer to make the list was fall protection/training requirements, which was a newcomer to the list of top violations.

Using the List to Protect Workplaces

The purpose of the annual list is to inform businesses of the most common violations so that they can take steps to prevent them in their workplaces. The list should serve as a guide to businesses seeking to improve workplace safety, according to Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council.

“The OSHA Top 10 is more than just a list,” Hersman said in a news release. “It’s a blueprint for keeping workers safe. When we all work together to address hazards, we can do the best job possible to ensure employees go home safely each day.

The Full Top 10 List of OSHA Violations

Here is the full list of the top 10 violations cited by OSHA last year:

1. Fall protection, general requirements (6,072 citations issued)

2. Hazard communications (4,176 citations issued)

3. Scaffolding (3,288 citations issued)

4. Respiratory protection (3,097 citations issued)

5. Lockout/Tagout (2,877 citations issued)

6. Ladders (2,241 citations issued)

7. Powered industrial trucks (2,162 citations issued)

8. Machine guarding (1,933 citations issued)

9. Fall protection, training requirements (1,523 citations issued)

10. Electrical, wiring methods (1,405 citations issued)

The preliminary version of the list was released by Patrick Kapust, deputy director of enforcement programs for OSHA, at the NSC’s annual congress and expo, which was held September 23 through 29th at the Indianapolis convention center.

The final version of OSHA’s Top 10 violations will be published in December, according to the agency.

 

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holiday rewards and recogitionMany, if not most, businesses are seasonal. And the busiest season of the year is usually the holidays.

Whether you own a retail business, a warehouse, manufacturing facility, or another type of enterprise, odds are the velocity of your business will increase during the next couple of months.

The time to prepare for the busy holiday season is well before it begins. Here are some suggestions to help you anticipate the coming holiday rush with the fewest possible problems.

1. Anticipate Labor Shortages

When business ramps up, more labor is usually required. The problem is that finding extra help during the holidays isn’t usually as simple as posting a help wanted ad.

Today, there is more competition than ever for temporary holiday help. Businesses like Amazon and UPS are more aggressive than ever at swooping in and hiring all the available temporary workers in the markets where they operate. So you may have to be more creative than ever in luring part-time or temporary workers to your business.

It’s also a good idea to put your permanent workforce on notice that things are about to get very busy and that they should be prepared for increased workloads, overtime, and other necessary measures to get the job done.

2. Roll Out New Processes with Care

Generally, the busiest time of the year is not the best time to roll out new procedures, install new equipment, or change things up within your business.

A better plan might be to get through the holiday season with the resources and processes you already have and then focus on making big changes once things settle down in the new year.

If you absolutely must implement new processes or procedures, it’s a good idea to do it as early as possible before the busy holiday season is in full swing. This will give you more time to deal with the inevitable problems and complications that will arise as a result of the new way of doing things.

3. Learn from Last Year’s Mistakes

If your business didn’t run as efficiently as it could have last holiday season, don’t repeat your mistakes. Learn from them and make the necessary changes to improve and streamline operations.

Similarly, it’s important to schedule some post-holiday season analysis time at the end of operations this year so you can improve next year’s holiday operations. Running a business is a continual learning curve. Identifying your shortcomings is just as important as celebrating your successes.

 

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bookshelvesThe digital revolution has caused a lot of changes within our lifetime. Most people no longer have landline telephones in their houses. A majority of shoppers buy at least some of their products using their phones, tablets or other wireless devices. And physical paper and cardboard books are becoming a relic of the past.

So will there still be a need for bookshelves in the future?

Practical Uses for Bookcases

In the home, probably not. Many people no longer read physical books, preferring instead the convenience and affordability of digital readers such as Kindles, iPads, or even their smartphones. Audiobooks — which can be listened to while on the go, working out, or during your morning commute — are also becoming more popular.

But in a business or industrial setting, there is a need for some types of books, especially repair manuals, owner’s manuals, and reference materials such as dictionaries or technical volumes sitting on bookshelves.

The kind of hands-on people who work in warehouses, docks, manufacturing facilities, and other industrial settings often prefer the “old school” approach of opening up a repair manual or dragging a heavy volume out to the job site for easy reference. While these heavy volumes may eventually disappear, they probably will last longer than other kinds of books.

Psychological Uses for Bookcases

But books have always been more about simply reading. The walls of attorney’s offices, for example, are frequently filled with legal volumes that rarely, if ever, get opened.

Executives, journalists, university professors, and other people whose job is to appear smart will often fill their workspace with bookcases filled with books on a wide variety of subjects.

Having a lot of books can project an image of intelligence and curiosity, which are essential qualities in many different professions.

For the Love of Books

Then there are the people who simply love the look, the feel, and even the smell of physical, printed books. Reading a book on the commuter train or subway, carrying a book in your backpack, or keeping a book on your bedstand to help you relax at the end of a long day are simple pleasures that aren’t likely to go away anytime soon.

While books themselves may eventually go the way of vinyl LP records — of interest mostly for collectors and curiosity seekers — the transition to digital will likely take longer than other technological innovations. Too many people just aren’t willing to give up their books, at least not yet.

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(Courtesy: Kokonutpacific at flickr.com)

(Courtesy: Kokonutpacific at flickr.com)

Investing in heavy equipment usually requires a substantial capital investment. So it’s not something most businesses want to rush into.

Obviously, getting the best price is important. But there is more to capital equipment expenditures than just getting a great bargain. You also want to ensure that the equipment you are buying is durable, that your purchase is protected by a comprehensive warranty, and that you are going to get the most for your money.

The last thing you want when spending big bucks on heavy duty industrial equipment is to experience buyer’s remorse. To help you ensure you are making the best possible decision, here are some essential questions you should ask before signing that big check.

Before You Buy, Talk to Current Users

When you were growing up, there probably was always that one person on your block who was the first to buy the latest gizmo. While this may have made them cool while you were in school, in business it pays to be more cautious.

Before you buy any major piece of industrial equipment, ask the dealer for the names and phone numbers of other people who have recently purchased and are using that same vehicle or tool. Then give them a call to see how they like it, what problems if any they are experiencing with it, and whether or not they would recommend that you buy it.

This gives you the benefit of learning from other people’s mistakes or benefitting from their positive experiences with that particular piece of equipment.

Look at Longevity

From an accounting perspective, the value of your new equipment likely will be accrued over a long depreciation, possibly as long as 10 or 20 years. Consider whether or not it actually is designed to last that long and if your business will be configured in such a way that you will still be using that same vehicle or tool in 2027 or 2037.

Think about what changes you anticipate in your production and operations process over the course of the life of the equipment that could affect its use or performance.

Ask for Technical Specifications

The more you know about your purchase, the better informed you will be. Ask the dealer to provide you with the technical specifications or owner’s manual before you buy. If they can’t provide it for you, ask to be connected with the manufacturer.

Give these technical specifications to your facilities and maintenance people so that they can assess the complexity and durability of the equipment. After all, they are going to be the ones who will have to maintain and repair it should you decide to buy.

 

 

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