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Image courtesy of Mikadiou (via Wikimedia Commons)

Image courtesy of Mikadiou (via Wikimedia Commons)

A 50-year-old  Texas man is behind bars after he apparently rented a forklift from an industrial supply company then turned around and sold it to another company for $3,300.

The incident occurred in Angelina County, in east Texas. According to police, Robert J. Duncan, of Lufkin, Texas, rented a Toyota forklift from Hugg & Hall Equipment, telling the company on that he was doing a job behind the Sun-N-PinesMotel.

Pickup and Delivery

Duncan arranged to have the forklift delivered to the motel on the morning of June 12 by Due’s Wrecker Services.

Meanwhile, Duncan was hired to do mechanical work for Lee Ridout, owner of LLR Enterprises, in nearby Nacogdoches. When Ridout mentioned to Duncan that he was considering buying a forklift, Duncan reportedly told him that he knew where he could find some forklifts, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by Angelina County Sheriff’s Pct. 1 Constable Tom Selman.

On the same day that Due’s Wrecker Services delivered the forklift to the motel, Duncan brought Ridout to the motel and showed him the lift truck, agreeing to sell it to him for $3,300. Ridout wrote Duncan a company check for $2,500, agreeing to pay the balance once the forklift was moved to his company’s location in Nacogdoches.

‘Let the Buyer Beware’

In an amazingly lucky coincidence, Ridout then hired Due’s Wrecker Service to transport the forklift from the motel to his business. That’s when the Due’s driver told him that he had just delivered the same forklift from Hugg & Hall Equipment to the motel on rental orders from the Bill Fence Company, of Cabot, Arkansas.

According to court documents, between the time the forklift was delivered and the time he showed it to Ridout, Duncan had spent several hours removing all of the decals from the vehicle that identified it as a rental belonging to Hugg & Hall.

Follow the Money

Realizing he had been conned, Ridout contacted his bank — the First Bank and Trust of East Texas — and learned that his $2,500 check had already been cashed. Ridout contacted the sheriff’s department and together they went to the bank to get a copy of the check. Investigators learned that Duncan had used an Indiana’s driver’s license to cash the check, which eventually led to his arrest.

With this information, police eventually were able to track  Duncan down and he was arrested in August. He was being held without bail in the Angelina County Jail on a state-jail felony charge of theft between $1,500 and $20,000.

Avoid Being Bamboozled

Unlike cars and trucks, not all forklifts come with a vehicle title. Instead, they have a bill of sale that includes the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

Before buying a forklift from an individual or business, you should always make sure that the lift truck comes with a bill of sale that is registered to prove ownership of the vehicle.

You should never pay money to buy a forklift unless the seller can produce the legal documentation. If there’s any ever doubt about whether or not a forklift transaction is legal, don’t take the law into your own hands. Instead, contact local law enforcement and let them sort it out.


Training should include classroom sessions. (Courtesy: Ken Pretell at

Training should include classroom sessions.
(Courtesy: Ken Pretell at

In my first installment of Hiring Forklift Drivers – Part I: Targeting the Right Candidate, I discussed the process of targeting applicants such as identifying and seeking applications from experienced, skilled forklift operators.

In Part II I will discuss how you can identify possible forklift operators from a reservoir of skilled individuals who have no experience driving forklifts.

To find a potential forklift driver who may not have experience with forklifts specifically, you need to consider workers who do jobs that require the same skills and knowledge. This could include:

·      Armed Forces veterans who have experience driving large vehicles.
·      Construction workers who operate large vehicles and/or equipment.
·      Non-traditional workers including the long-term unemployed, former convicts, and people who are looking to re-enter the workforce after a bout and recovery with substance abuse.

To help in your search, you may want to check out The National Association of Workforce Development Professionals. They list community colleges and training non-profit organizations that help the non-traditional candidates prepare to join the workforce. You might find a source through them that trains people for forklift jobs.

Of course, the interview process is essential. This gives you an opportunity to get to know the candidate on a one-on-one basis and seek additional information about his skills that may not appear in a resume or filled-out application form. Your interview can also focus on safety habits and whether or not the prospect is a team player.

Possible questions include:

·      Have you ever suggested how to improve an activity or operation at a previous job? If, he answers yes, ask for details.
·      Have you gone beyond the standards in assisting a customer?
·      Have you shown a concern with safety that has made a difference with fellow workers or to the company you worked for?

You should also ask experienced forklift operators job specific questions like: Explain what a stability triangle is, etc.

Of course, the hiring process must include a training program the prospective driver must go through before starting the job.

The course should emphasize safety and can cover such things as:

·      How a forklift engine works.

Training should also include hands-on sessions. (Courtesy: 25th Combat Aviation Brigrade at

Training should also include hands-on sessions.
(Courtesy: 25th Combat Aviation Brigrade at

·      How to steer a lift.
·      How to use forklift attachments.
·      Vehicle capacity and stability.
·      How to power up the vehicle.
·      Troubleshooting operational problems.
·      Maintaining a forklift
·      What the differences are between a forklift and other vehicles.
·      How to deal with pedestrians in the work area.
·      How to negotiate narrow aisles and uneven surfaces.
·      Unsafe surfaces the driver should avoid.
·      Hands-on activity that includes performing the picking routine.
·      Location of and how to use controls and instruments.
·      How to refuel the lift.
·      How to charge its batteries.
·      Operation limitations
·      How to deal with load stacking, unstacking, and transport.

The new employee training should not be the only training curriculum available. You should also include a refresher course in how to operate a forklift and you should create a policy for when the refresher course is administered to all working forklift employees. For example forklift operators who have been on the job for 3 to 4 years should be required to take the course. In addition, forklift operators who have been observed operating a lift in an unsafe manner, who has been involved in an accident or has received a bad evaluation should be required to take the refresher course.

For more information on developing a training program, refer to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training program handout.


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

  • A new type of voice-controlled device can be integrated with automatic systems within your warehouse or factory to allow you to control everything from production to distribution from your smartphone or tablet. We’ll explain how this futuristic device works …
  • And speaking of the future, we’ll take a look at how the traditional office has evolved in the past few decades, and what type of changes you can expect in the not-so-distant future …
  • Plus, a Texas man recently sold a forklift to a man he was doing some work for. The only problem was that it was a rented vehicle, police said. We’ll tell you a freak coincidence caused this con job to go wrong.

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

Photo courtesy ofKarlis Dambrans via Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy ofKarlis Dambrans via Wikimedia Commons

Now automated material handling processes in manufacturing facilities and warehouses can be controlled by voice commands, rather than being handled manually or by running complicated computer programs on a PC or laptop.

New technology introduced recently by AccuSpeechMobile and Printronix utilizes global voice productivity and automation solutions to streamline production operations, warehousing and distribution of everything from Tootsie Rolls to high-end sunglasses.

Managers can simply say what they want to be done — for example, moving pallets from the end of a production line to a bay or waiting delivery trucks — and computers linked to everything from manufacturing equipment to driverless vehicles can instantly make it happen. In some instances, no human workers need to be involved in the process at all.

Giving Verbal Orders

Voice recognition programs that are integrated with microprocessors are nothing new.

In fact, Apple’s new iPhone 6S — which was introduced just last week — includes a standard feature that allows users to simply say “Hey Siri” and the company’s famous robotic personal assistant will instantly respond, ready to text or call anybody in the user’s phone book, answer questions about the weather or sports scores, and even research and report on complicated topics.

But this may be the first time this type of voice-integrated, device-intelligent application has been used in industry, according to Ron  Gillies, Printronix’s VP of sales and marketing.

“Our partnership with AccuSpeechMobile expands our ability to help customers streamline operations, reduce costs, and sharpen their competitive edge,” Gillies said in a news release.

Already Widely Used

The technology already has been adopted by a wide array of companies, including Tootsie Roll Industries, Oakley, Spears Manufacturing, Cabelas’ Outfitters, Quiksilver, RIDGID Tools, Colony Brands and many others, according to Bob Bova, AccuSpeechMobile’s president and CEO.

What makes this new system unique is its “server-less” approach: The voice-activated device intelligent system can control the user’s existing operations using smartphones, tablets, and mobile computers that run on many different operating systems. The system also can be integrated with existing RFID sensors, barcode scanners and other technology used to track and maintain inventory throughout the supply chain.

Say It and See It Happen

A single voice command can trigger sophisticated instructions that can be implemented across single and multiple applications. For example, when a run of a particular product line has been completed in a manufacturing plant, the distribution manager can simply speak instructions into his smartphone and the products can be packed up and shipped wherever they are needed.

This type of automation could potentially revolutionize the supply chain process, resulting in increased speed, more productivity, and less labor and paperwork. It probably eventually will make its way into retail and service applications.

Imagine walking into your local Wal-Mart and simply speaking into your smartphone and being instantly directed to the products you want. Or having your tablet order your pizza using only an emoticon. The technology not only exists but some of it’s already in wide use.

“Now through the reach and expertise of Printronix’s global sales and channel partner network, mobile voice productivity and automation can reach even deeper into the global supply chain market,” Bova said.



Packaging MaterialsStretch wrap is something that is widely used both in industry and at home. It is used for everything from wrapping stacks of products piled onto a pallet so that they remain intact during transport to preserving and extending the life of a bowl of chicken salad that will be stored in your refrigerator.

But how does stretch wrap work, anyway?

How Stretch Wrap Is Made

Stretch wrap is made from a substance known as linear low-density polyethylene, or LLDPE for short. Made from petroleum, it is the same type of material that is used to make a wide variety of products, from garbage bags to plastic toys to Tupperware containers.

What makes LLDPE so perfect for stretch wrap is its flexibility. LLDPE stretch film can be pulled over  a large surface area without puncturing or tearing. It is is even tough enough to be pulled around corners of products, boxes and pallets.

Increasing the Strength of  Stretch Film

Stretch wrap comes in different densities, depending on how it is to be used. Wrap that will be used to hold pallets full of products together is relatively thick while the type you use in your home or kitchen is much thinner.

The thickness of stretch film can vary from 60 gauge to 150 gauge. Lower gauge stretch film is ideal for loads weighing up to 1,300 lbs. and for shorter loads where only the top and bottom need to be wrapped.

Heavier gauge stretch film is used for loads up to 3,500 lbs. and for taller and heavier loads.

Stretching the film increases the load stability, but it also can increase the strength of the film. Some types of stretch wrap are able to be stretched up to 200% of their original size.

Types of Stretch Film

While different industries use many different types of stretch film, they all can generally be divided into two distinct types.

Cast stretch film uses rollers that cool the film while it is being produced. It is the least expensive type of stretch film and has the most uses, both in industry and in the home.

Blown stretch film is produced using air, which is blown into the film during production to cool the material. Blown stretch film has more strength and is much more difficult to puncture, but it also tends to be more costly than cast stretch film. Usually, it is used for heavy-duty industrial applications.

Puncture Resistance

A new type stretch film is cheaper, thinner yet stronger than the type of product traditionally used to wrap products. But the downside of this new type of stretch film is that because it is thinner, it is more prone to being punctured, especially when applied to sharp corners of pallets, boxes or stacks of products.

Still, this new type of stretch film is ideal for wrapping boxes and crates without sharp corners because it costs much less than standard stretch film.



linde a subsiduary of KION

Photo Courtesy of Lukas Horacek via Wikimedia Commons

An Italian man working as a forklift operator in New Zealand has become something of a national celebrity after he was fired for being too fresh with his female boss.

Luca Cicioni was hired as a temp worker to operate a forklift at Gerard Roofs, in Auckland. When he showed up to work on his first day, he greeted the first person he saw by saying, “Hi, darling, can you help me?”

Unfortunately, that person was the female manager who had hired Cicioni, who became very upset by the overly familiar way he greeted her. He was let go the following day, supposedly on the grounds that his English was not good enough,

From Unemployed to National Celebrity

But the story doesn’t end there. Word of Cicioni’s firing became national news in New Zealand when a story about the incident appeared in the national newspaper, the New Zealand Herald.

Cicioni told the newspaper that he wasn’t trying to be rude and that he was surprised by how angry the supervisor became. He said perhaps his true meaning had become lost in translation, but he wished that the woman had simply explained that although such greetings may be common in Italy, hey weren’t appropriate in New Zealand.

Taking His Side

Many readers were outraged that Cicioni lost his job as a forklift operator as a result of the misunderstanding. He was even offered a new job a few days after the firing by an Auckland pizza restaurant.

Gina’s Italian Kitchen owner Alessandro Fantoni offered to let Cicioni work in his restaurant as a server, a position the forklift operator accepted.

Now people from all over New Zealand are reportedly flocking to the business in order to meet Cicioni, who has become something of a cult hero among Kiwis, who are referring to him as the “Hi Darling Guy”.

Meanwhile, the regional general manager for the roofing company tried to spin the incident by issuing a statement emphasizing that the company doesn’t discriminate against employees based on their nationality or culture, but that the company has “very clear” expectations regarding workplace standards.

A Working Holiday

Cicioni and his girlfriend, have been traveling throughout New Zealand on a working holiday, taking temporary jobs to pay for their travel expenses. He said he is enjoying interacting with the public in his new position, even though he has never worked as a server before.

Cicioni is an experienced forklift operator, having owned and operated his own lift truck in his hometown of Perugia, Italy, just north of Rome.

The whole incident prompted the newspaper to publish a list of “do’s and don’ts” regarding workplace behavior:

  • Don’t be too vocal on any job until you’ve proven yourself to be a good worker
  • Do smile and extend a handshake
  • Don’t be too forward of friendly until you have established a more solid working relationship
  • Do keep calm when conversing with your colleagues and don’t let your emotions get the best of you.
  • And, finally, don’t use pet names … particular not for your boss!

Oops! This wasn't the plan. (Courtesy: Polly Hutchinson)

Oops! This wasn’t the plan.
(Courtesy: Polly Hutchinson)

The most important, if not one of the most important jobs of a warehouse manager or human resources director is to hire forklift drivers. It is essential that people with the proper skills and appropriate experience is considered and ultimately selected for the job.

The process of finding a competent forklift driver involves three elements –-targeting the people who have the skills and experience to drive a forklift, getting more information about their skills during the interview process, and training the new driver so he can perform his job efficiently and safely.

Targeting Applicants

First, you need to be sure that the right people apply for the job.  So one thing you should look for in possible applicants is that they have some skills in driving a forklift and has some knowledge of how to maintain them.

One way to find out if a potential applicant has the skills is to seek out people who have experiences essential for a forklift driver. For example:

·      Does the applicant know what to expect in the workplace including how to drive a lift along different surfaces? How loads affect the stability of the lift? Is he a safe driver?
·      Does he know how to deal with pedestrian traffic that might be walking through his work area?
·      Is he aware of how the typical forklift works and does he understand the mechanical things that can go wrong with one?
·      Does he have knowledge of how to perform basic maintenance?
·      Does he have an understanding of physics and load mechanics?
·      Is he aware of OSHA safety standards?

It would also help if prospective drivers knew what OSHA requires from forklift drivers. This includes:

·      Employer certification that the driver has gone through a training course and knows that he is to be evaluated at least once every three years.
·      Re-training when the driver exhibits dangerous operation of a lift.

Sources that could help you get a leg up on your search for a competent driver include local training programs that hold sessions on driving lifts. Check your area for training companies and develop a relationship with them. They can help you identify good potential drivers in your locality and can assist in developing an on-site training course.

Key Forklift Driving Skills

As mentioned earlier, it would sure help if the potential driver already has skills in driving forklifts. This includes:

·      The ability to drive the style of forklifts you use.
·      The ability to calculate loads and whether or not he understands a bill of lading and freight quotes.
·      The ability to learn the process of inventory control.
·      Is the prospective applicant reliable? Remember, he is expected to be able to pick the right products and deliver them to the right place so that orders can be fulfilled efficiently and on time.

It might even be a good idea to ask a prospective driver to actually operate a forklift as you watch. A little thing like observing how he gets in and out of the lift can be extremely helpful in determining how important safety is to him in the performance of his job.

(Next time: Interviewing a prospective forklift driver)


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

  • With Congress reluctant to take action on the gas tax used to pay for highway improvements, about a third of all states are now asking their residents to pay more in fuel taxes. We’ll tell you what it could mean for you …
  • One of the most important jobs of a warehouse manager or human resources director is to hire forklift drivers. How to find the right operater.
  • A forklift operator was fired after he was too fresh with his female manager. Now the “Hi Darling Guy” is a national celebrity …

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

Bayonne Bridge Raising

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons (in the public domain)

Apparently fed up with Congress’s unwillingness to increase fuel taxes to fund highway infrastructure improvements, about a third of all states this year have gone ahead and done it themselves.

According to a survey by the Associated Press, nearly 16 states have raised their fuel taxes or incorporated other types of levies to help cover the cost of maintaining highways and bridges. Bout half of these states are run by governors who are Republicans, a party usually reluctant to increase any type of taxation.

Congressional Inaction on Fuel Tax

The state fuel tax increases come as Congress continues to struggle with the Highway Bill, which controls the federal fuel tax that is used to repair and maintain the interstate highway system, bridges, and other national infrastructure.

The federal fuel tax — which taxes gasoline at 18.4 cents per gallon and diesel fuel at 24.4 cents per gallon — hasn’t changed since 1993. Since 2005, Congress has voted 34 times to kick the can down the road with short-term funding solutions.

The current Highway Bill is scheduled to expire Oct. 29 if no action is taken. But many observers believe yet another two- to three-month extension will be passed to delay a spending decision once again.

Many members of Congress are reluctant to ask Americans for more taxes out of fear that voters will take their revenge at the ballot box. Yet without additional funding, maintenance and improvement of the country’s 166,000-mile interstate highway system could be at risk.

Many States Take Action

Numerous state legislatures have taken up the issue on their own, voting to increase state fuel taxes in order to fund infrastructure maintenance and upgrades.

Among the states taking action this year include:

  • Connecticut, where Gov. Daniel Malloy (D) signed a $2.8 billion bond project as part of a $10 billion transport plan that will be spread out over five years. Malloy has said he wants a $100 billion overhaul of the state’s infrastructure spread out over the next 30 years.
  • Iowa, where Gov. Terry Branstad (R) agreed to increase the state fuel tax by 10 cents per gallon, the first time the Iowa fuel tax was increased since 1989. The move was part of a $215 million transportation bill passed by the state legislature
  • Delaware, where Gov. Jack Markell (D) signed a bill to increase the state’s vehicle sales tax by 4.25%. The move is expected to raise $330 million in new funds over the next six years
  • Georgia, where Gov. Nathan Deal (R) agreed to a deal that raises the state’s gasoline tax to 26 cents per gallon and its diesel tax to 29 cents per gallon. Combined ith other fees, the move is expected to raise $1 billion for infrastructure improvements over the next five years.
  • Idaho, where Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R) agreed to raise the state fuel tax by 7 cents per gallon, as well as other fee increases which will raise an estimated $95 million per year for infrastructure.
  • Louisiana, where Gov. Phil Bryant (R) issued bonds that will raise $200 million to rebuilt the state’s bridges.

Meanwhile, other states are considering increases in fuel taxes and other fees to raise money for rebuilding roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.

Choosing The Right Pallet Racks

24 Sep 2015

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Pallet Rack such as Husky Rack and Wire's Invincible Rack Systems are key to keeping you warehouse up to par.

Pallet Rack such as Husky Rack and Wire’s Invincible Rack Systems keep your warehouse up to par.

Pallets are a necessity for the proper operation of a warehouse. So it is paramount that these tools are protected from damage. Various forms of pallet racks achieve this.

Racks are usually columns that are structurally supported by beams and include multiple levels of shelves and a wire mesh deck that supports the pallets that are piled upon them.

There are four styles –- selective racks, drive-in or drive through racks, push back racks, and flow or gravity flow racks.

Pallet Rack Styles and Structures

A selective rack is probably the most common style of rack used. They are open in front to permit easy accessibility and include beams that provide the support system that holds the pallets. The system can be used in a variety of storage applications that include narrow aisle, standard, and deep reach arrangements.

Generally speaking, specialized narrow lift trucks are used with this type of rack and they are ideal for creating optimal space. The standard variety permits single deep loading; and deep reach is capable of handling double the storage amount of the standard system.

The Drive-in and Drive through racks are designed and constructed for high-density storage and are made of steel. They include space (or bay) for a forklift to gain access to the pallets stored on them.

Drive-in racks include only one entry or exist way for the forklift while the drive-through configuration allows the forklift to enter on both sides of the bay.  Racks are generally loaded by the last in, first out process. Because of this these racks are ideal for nonperishable and low turnover products. Both types of racks rise from floor-to-ceiling.

Racking systems are a must for any warehouse, but educating yourself and choosing the right one for your application is key.

Racking systems are a must for any warehouse, but educating yourself and choosing the right one for your application is key.

Push back racking systems are manufactured of roll or structural form and are best for bulk storage. They can accommodate stored products that occupy or run two to five pallets deep and are several levels high. When a pallet is laid on the rack, the next pallet is pushed back on to the rails of the system. When the pallets are unloaded from the rails, they are pushed to the front of the assembly. The last-in, first-out process is also used to load them. Constructed with double lanes, these structures include inclined rails and sliding carts.

Flow racks a.k.a. gravity flow racks are commonly used for high-density storage. Items are stored in the last-in, first out method at the high end and

removed at the low end. The flow of the rack assures that the rotation of the products is performed automatically.

The system includes a gravity roller that forces the movement based on the load and a sloped plane. The lanes include brakes that control the movement of the items. It works on the principle of gravity, so there is no electric operation.

Choosing the Proper Pallet Rack Configuration

Experts like the American National Standards Institute suggest that you consider the cost of materials, the space and height available, and what inventory will be stored when selecting a pallet rack. Be certain that the different loading processes (first in, first out or last in, first out) must be matched with products that benefit from the method. Experts also suggest that you take into account environmental factors because some locations and outdoor conditions call for heavier or stronger structures.