Receive information about Sales and Specials by E-Mail. will never sell or share your information. You can unsubscribe at any time.

hose reel

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Hoses and cords are commonly used in many different types of operations. Whether they are water hoses, air hoses to power mechanical equipment, or even electrical cables, hoses and cords provide a valuable service.

Yet hoses and cords also create a potential safety hazard, especially when sprawled across high traffic areas. They are a serious trip hazard. Plus, when they are run over by forklifts and other heavy equipment, they can easily fray, become worn, or burst.

Hose and cable reels help improve workplace safety. They also can save your business a lot of money.

Avoiding Accidents

A single trip and fall accident can cost a business big money in medical bills or workmen’s compensation claims. But if the accident victim can prove that the business left the hoses or cables lying around negligently, it also could result in a lawsuit.

Hose and cable reels can improve workplace safety by reducing the risk of trip and fall accidents. They also can minimize liability by creating a safer, more secure workplace.

Another consideration is leakage. When hoses are left out, they can become easily damaged by equipment or other hazards. If hoses carrying gas or live electrical cables are split open, they can create a serious safety hazard.

Hose and cable reels help prevent leakage of gas, water, oil, and other workplace hazards by allowing hoses to be stored safely when not in use, or only extending just enough hose or cable to get the specific job done before retracting back after work is finished.

Improving the Environment

Using hose and cable reels to store these items when they are not in use can also make your workplace less cluttered.

When workers, vendors, and visitors to your worksite see hoses and cables unwound or, even worse, knotted up, they are going to think you don’t care about the conditions of your business. A messy workplace is also a less productive workplace.

Some hose and cable reels are spring-loaded, so they can automatically retract hoses and cables when they aren’t being used. Others need to be manually cranked or reloaded with cables or hoses. Both types help clean up work areas, providing a neater and safer environment.

Reducing Wear

Another benefit of hose and cable reels is that they reduce wear and tear on your equipment, allowing for longer use and minimizing replacement costs.

In these instances, hose and cable reels can actually pay for themselves in a relatively short time.


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Keeping employees happy while they work is one of the easiest ways to improve productivity, enhance job satisfaction, and reduce costly turnover.

Employers are constantly looking for new ways to make the workplace better for their workers while at the same time managing the costs of these the worker benefits that achieve this goal.

Today, one of the cheapest, fastest, and easiest ways to instantly improve work conditions for employees is by allowing them to use their smartphones openly in the workplace, or even facilitating workers to use their devices by providing charging stations.

Fighting Against a Rising Tide

The thought of allowing workers to use their personal smartphones and other devices on the job automatically makes many managers defensive. But the “battle of the smartphones” is not one management is likely to win, at least not in the long run.

In many businesses today, managers and supervisors today spend more time policing their employees’ use of smartphones than they do other more important supervisory tasks. Some companies even ban smartphones altogether, requiring workers to leave them in their lockers or locked up in their cars.

But what are they really accomplishing? First of all, people are going to use their smartphones. They’re going to sneak them in, use them in secret, and generally push the limit as far as they can. That’s human nature. It’s just too easy and too tempting not to check that Facebook account or look at the text that just came through.

Think about your own smartphone use: It’s just too easy and too tempting not to check that Facebook account or look at the text that just came through.

Second, the reality is that smartphones are now a permanent part of just about everybody’s lives, both inside and outside of work.

So rather than fighting against rapidly improving, highly-addictive technology that makes it easier than ever for people to remain connected to their family, friends, and the internet itself, effective organizations might benefit by looking for new and innovative ways to empower workers to use the same technology for the organization’s benefit.

Using Smartphones to Your Benefit

There’s little value in playing “Gotcha!” with workers and their smartphones. Supervisors are expending a lot of time and energy trying to prevent workers from doing what they are inevitably going to do anyway: Look at their smartphones. It’s a lot like herding cats.

But what if rather than taking the hard line, reasonable, mutually agreed upon limits were placed on smartphone usage, such as allowing them to be used in the workplace during breaks, at mealtimes, and before and after shifts.

Or what if workers were actually rewarded for using their smartphones and other devices to find new ways to improve operations, reduce costs, and increase customer service? That’s a win/win/win for most employers!

So easing up on the smartphone police and even providing a place for workers to recharge their phones without fear of being busted is something many businesses probably should consider in the not so distant future.



Stretch FilmStretch wrap is one of the most widely used packaging products on docks, in warehouses, at manufacturing facilities, and other places where products and packages are prepared for shipment.

Plastic film is convenient for holding boxes and products together on a pallet, or preventing them from shifting or becoming damaged as they make their way through the supply chain.

But while most people are familiar with stretch wrap, they may not know that there actually are many different types of plastic packaging film, each of which has its own specific purpose and uses.

Types of Stretch Wrap

The most popular types of plastic stretch wrap include UV stretch wrap, vented pallet wrap, anti-static stretch film, and colored stretch film.

Most can be grouped into two categories: Cast stretch wrap and blown stretch wrap.

Cast stretch wrap is made using a cast extrusion process in which a thermoplastic material is melted and extruded through a flat die onto a chill roll, where it is quenched and then resolidified. This produces a more affordable type of stretch wrap with increased clarity.

Blown stretch wrap is made using a blown extrusion process in which the plastic melt is extruded through a vertical annular slit die to form a thin walled tube. Air is then blown through a hole in the center of the die to blow up the tube like a balloon. Then on the top of the tube an air ring blows onto the film to cool it down.

This produces a stretch wrap with a higher load and stretch capacity, as well as a higher degree of memory once stretched out.

Thicknesses of Stretch Wrap

Within these sub-categories, each type of stretch wrap comes in different widths and thicknesses for use in various applications.

One of the thinnest types of stretch wrap is 37 gauge, which is ideal for bundling two light uniform objects together.

Other thicknesses include 47 gauge, 60 gauge, 63 gauge, all the way up to 150 gauge, which is used when stretch wrap requires superior strength and puncture resistant properties, such as for wrapping steel, metal, and other heavy duty items.

Stretch wrap can be applied in a number of different ways. For larger, repetitive jobs, there are turntable stretch wrap machines that automatically wrap multiple loads per hour.

For simpler applications, some stretch wraps come inside packaging that includes applicators, such as cutting edges and rollers. The simplest type of stretch wrap, and one of the most widely used, simply uses a dowel or rod such as a broom handle to apply it to the packages or products that require wrapping.


Photo by Visitor7 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Photo by Visitor7 (via Wikimedia Commons)

More than most other products, food needs to be handled with special care and attention as it makes its way through the supply chain. From the moment it is produced to the time it is consumed, food needs to be carefully controlled in order to minimize the risk of illness to consumers.

Local, state, and federal agencies are devoted to monitoring and regulating the safe handling of food from manufacturers to stores and restaurants. The amount and complexity of regulations related to food handling can be staggering. But when it comes down to it, most food handling rules are based on common sense.

First In, First Out

Nearly every type of food produced is perishable. Some types of foods simply have shorter shelf lives than others.

Dried herbs and spices, for example, can be safely stored at room temperature for months or even years before their quality begins to decline, while dairy products, meat, and produce may last safely for only a few hours before they become potentially dangerous.

Regardless of the rate of their perishableness, nearly all food products benefit from “First In, First Out” — or FIFO – handling and storage protocols. FIFO rotation of food inventory promotes freshness because the first product loaded into storage is also the first product picked for distribution or preparation.

Line of Sight

Another important safety requirement is to visually monitor food quality whenever possible. For example, restaurant chefs will often cut open boxes of fresh produce as soon as they are delivered so that they can visually inspect for quality.

Highly perishable foods such as fish and meats are frequently moved from the cases in which they were delivered to clean, drainable storage containers so that chefs can maintain a continual visual inspection of perishable products.

The quality of many foods can be assessed visually. You can visually see when many foods are deteriorating, such as bruising in fresh fruits and vegetables, and discoloration of older meats, poultry, and fish.

Monitoring Control Points

Controlling and recording food handling conditions, such as refrigerator or freezer temperatures, is another effective way of ensuring food quality. Most commercial refrigerators and freezers produced today include automatic alarms that indicate when temperatures fall above or below safe levels for the foods they contain.

Similarly, temperature and quality of food products are also frequently monitored during transportation in trucks, trains, and other vehicles to ensure optimal conditions at all times.

Properly handling food products helps reduce risk and spoilage while enhancing safety and freshness.


Actor/comedian Dana Carvey (Photo via ProMat 2017)

Actor/comedian Dana Carvey (Photo via ProMat 2017)

“Well, isn’t that special?!”

That was one of the most popular catchphrases of the 1990s. Now the comedian behind the “Church Lady”, “Garth” from “Wayne’s World”, and other popular characters is scheduled to address this year’s ProMAT materials handling conference.

That was one of the most popular catchphrases of the 1990s. Now Dana Carvey, the comedian behind the “Church Lady”, “Garth” from “Wayne’s World”, and other popular characters, is scheduled to address this year’s ProMat materials handling conference.

Thousands of materials handling industry professionals will converge on ProMAT 2017 when the annual trade show is held April 3 through 6 at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center.

Carvey will perform at the MHI Industry Night function scheduled for the evening of Wednesday, April 5. He is perhaps most famous for his time on NBC-TV’s Saturday Night Live, where he created some of television’s most memorable characters, including “Hans” from Hanz &  Franz. But he also has starred in such films as “The Master of Disguise” and as a voice actor in “The Secret Life of Pets” and “Hotel Transylvania 2″.

LA Laker Legend

NBA Legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson (Photo via ProMat 2017)

NBA Legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson (Photo via ProMat 2017)

Also appearing at ProMat 2017 will be former NBA star and successful entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who is scheduled to give a keynote address on April 5.

Johnson is perhaps best known for his years with the LA Lakers, a two-time NBA Hall of Famer, as well as being an Olympic gold medalist on the 1992 USA “Dream Team”.

But since leaving basketball, Johnson has been a successful businessman, launching his Urban America brand of streetwear — valued at an estimated $1 billion — as well as formerly being part owner of the Magic Johnson Theatres chain.

Johnson speech is entitled, “The Power of Magic: Know Your Customer and Where They Are Going”.

Other Notable Speakers

Also giving a keynote address during the conference is Markus Lorenz, partner and managing director of The Boston Consulting Group, who will speak April 4 on “How Intelligent Machines Are Transforming Supply Chains”.

On April 3, a panel discussion on “Building Supply Chain Sustainability for Competitive Advantage: Lessons Learned from Leaders in Innovative Facility Design” will be led by Andrew Winston, sustainability expert and author of “Green to Gold”.

And on April 5, MHI CEO George W. Prest and Scott Sopher, principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP, will offer a preview of the MHI annual industry report for 2017.

The trade show will feature more than 850 vendors as well as 100 show floor seminars, including new “town hall” style sessions on autonomous vehicles and sustainable facility solutions, according to the ProMat news release.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to spend $1 trillion to improve the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

Within a week of being sworn in, President Trump has compiled a list of the 50 most critical infrastructure projects he plans to tackle, three of which are major projects within Illinois — two in Chicago and one downstate.

The list was released to the National Governor’s Association by the Trump transition team, which is seeking input from state leadership before finalization.

While the proposed projects total only $137.5 billion in spending, they are thought to be just the beginning of the administration’s far-reaching plan to rebuild the country’s crumbling highways, airports, dams, bridges, and other infrastructure.

Fast-Tracking Infrastructure Projects

While the list, entitled “Emergency and National Security Projects” is preliminary and subject to change, it includes cost estimates and job impact numbers. Half the money for the projects was expected to come from private investment.

The 50 projects identified for fast-tracking is similar to a list of priority infrastructure projects distributed to the governor’s association in December, with a few notable exceptions. The Alaska Pipeline and LNG Project on Obama’s list was replaced with a Texas Central Railway project by Trump, and a Fort Mojave Solar Project in California was replaced with a Howard Street Tunnel project in Baltimore.

Both lists note three Illinois Projects as critical:

  • Updating the aging Red and Purple elevated/subway lines on Chicago Transit  Authority’s commuter rail system
  • Redeveloping Chicago’s Union Station commuter train facility
  • Rebuilding two locks along the Illinois River, one at LaGrange and one in Peoria

Governors Invited to Make Submissions

The list of infrastructure projects originally began with the nation’s 50 state governors, all of whom were invited to submit “big shovel” projects within their states that they would like to see prioritized.

In order to be considered, the projects had to meet specific criteria:

  • They had to improve national security or resolve a public safety “emergency”
  • They had to be “shovel-ready”, with a minimum of 30% of design and engineering work already completed
  • They had to be direct job creators
  • They needed to have a proven potential for improving US manufacturing capabilities

The most expensive Illinois project on the list is rebuilding the Illinois River locks, which would cost an estimated $1.8 billion and create 1,800 direct jobs.

Updating the CTA’s Red and Purple lines would cost an estimated $2.1 billion and would create 2,100 direct jobs, according to the list.

Redeveloping Chicago’s Union Station has a price tag of $1 billion and would create 1,000 direct jobs.

Soon after Trump’s list was sent to the governors, Senate Democrats unveiled their own $1 trillion infrastructure list, which they said would create more than 15 million jobs.


4504292121_da15085745_zIf you haven’t had to buy new office furniture in a while, you might want to prepare yourself for a case of sticker shock.

The expense of top quality desks, ergonomic chairs, prefabricated workstations, and other office furniture can add up very quickly, especially if you are furnishing a large office.

And that’s before you even take into account the computers, smartphones, WiFi, and all the other technical gear most employers are expected to provide their office workers.

Some employers balk at writing the check for office equipment and other overhead. But they shouldn’t. Providing high-quality office furniture is a good investment in your employees and will likely pay huge dividends later.

Worker Satisfaction

One immediate benefit from providing your employees with a comfortable, productive office workspace is improved employee retention. While few employees are likely to quit on the spot unless you provide them a good desk,

While few employees are likely to quit on the spot unless you provide them a good desk and comfortable chair, they may be more open to offers from competitors if it seems like you don’t care about their comfort and security.

And with employee turnover on the rise in almost every industry, it benefits employers to do anything they can to hold onto their best workers. When people leave your organization, all the money you invested in training and seasoning them goes with them — not to mention the added expense of training a new person to replace them.

Productivity and Attitude

Outdated, inefficient, and uncomfortable office furniture will invariably negatively impact worker morale. It also can lead to discontented workers poisoning your business’s reputation with co-workers and outsiders alike.

Investing in top-quality office furniture that is engineered to minimize distraction and maximize productivity can have the opposite effect. It shows that 1.) You genuinely care about your employee’s comfort and happiness, and 2.) You are willing to spend money on the people who actually interact with clients, vendors, and others rather than exclusively on manufacturing processes or line items that don’t directly touch your human workers.

The long-term benefits of investing in high-quality office furniture generally far outweigh the short-term costs.

Like all overhead, office furniture can be amortized. You may even be able to claim a tax credit.

But the immediate benefits of improved employee morale, increased productivity, and lower turnover of experienced workers often make investing in new office furniture a no-brainer.


Fire ExtinguisherThrow water on a grease fire and it will get bigger. Use a fire hose on an electrical fire and you could put everybody in the vicinity in danger of an electrical shock.

Knowing how to extinguish different types of workplace fires does more than just cut down on property damage. It also could prevent small fires from turning into major disasters.

Here are the proper ways to distinguish several different types of fires you may encounter in the workplace.

Electrical Fires

If a fire erupts in an electrical breaker box or a piece of electrical equipment starts burning, the first thing you want to do is cut the power source, if possible.

For breaker boxes, try to cut the main power supply. For appliances and other electrical equipment, pull the plug. Then try to smother the fire using a blanket or a Type C fire extinguisher, which is rated for electrical fires.

Cooking Fires

One of the most common locations for workplace fires is the community kitchen. If a pot or pan catches fire, shut off the stove or oven then smother the flames with a lid. Don’t turn on the exhaust system because this can pull the flames up into the hood.

If there isn’t one available, you can use salt or baking soda to smother small oil fires. Or you can use a Type B fire extinguisher.

The last thing you want to do is to throw water on an oil fire. The flash point of water is lower than that of most oils, so this can cause the water itself to erupt in flames.

Ventilate the area only after you are sure all the flames are put out.

Gas Fires

If a gas fuel source such as propane or natural gas catches fire, shut off the gas supply. You can try to smother the flames with a rug, blanket, or class B extinguisher, or cool with water.

In some cases, it is better to let gas fires burn rather than try to extinguish the fire because this can cause the gas to fill the room or building, creating a higher explosion hazard.

For larger fires that can’t easily be controlled, evacuate people from the building and call the fire department. Your local firefighters are trained on how to combat any type of fire, explosion, or gas leak.

Remember that the lives and safety of your employees are always more important than property. You can replace things, but you can’t replace a lost human life.


Hydraulic jack (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Hydraulic jack (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

When you need to lift a car to work underneath it or move a heavy piece of industrial equipment, you wouldn’t risk injuring yourself by trying to hoist it with your bare hands.

You probably would use a specialized lifting tool such as a hydraulic jack to safely lift and move heavy object. But how can hydraulic jacks allow users lift everything from crates to trucks to even houses?

The answer is right there in the tool’s name: Hydraulics.

How Hydraulic Jacks Work

Hydraulic jacks rely on force that is generated by pressure. While there are all types of hydraulic jacks, nearly all of them work on the same principle.

A hydraulic jack has two cylinders, one larger one and one smaller one, that are connected. As force is applied to one cylinder, due to this connection an equal pressure is generated inside both cylinders.

But because one cylinder has a larger area, the force produced by this cylinder also will be higher, even though the overall pressure produced in the two cylinders remains the same.

To lift heavy loads, a pump plunger will move a liquid through the two cylinders. Despite the hydraulic jack’s name, this liquid usually is oil, not water.

When the plunger is initially drawn back, it opens a suction valve ball which draws oil into the pump chamber. As the plunger is pushed forward, the oil then moves through an eternal discharge check valve into the cylinder chamber.

As the suction valve closes, pressure builds within the chamber, producing the force that can be used by the pump to lift heavy weights.

Bottle Jacks and Floor Jacks

The two most common types of hydraulic jacks used in industry are bottle jacks and floor jacks.

Bottle jacks resemble the type of car jack most people used to have in the trunk of their car. Shaped like milk bottles, bottle jacks can lift anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand pounds, depending on their size and rated lifting capacity.

Bottle jacks are still widely used for lifting vehicles, but their use is increasingly spreading to other industries. For example, many hospitals will now use a type of bottle jack to move and lift heavy medical equipment.

Floor jacks use a shaft that pushes on a crank that connects to a horizontal lifting pad. Floor jacks generally have a higher range of vertical lift than bottle jacks.


A Hybrid Pick System

18 Jan 2017

No Comments.

HYBRID_ControllerIn previous articles we have described the Pick to Light and Pick to Voice systems. One company, Wynright Corporation, a provider of material handling systems with corporate headquarters in Elk Grove, Illinois, has come up with a Hybrid Picking System that combines Pick to Light and Pick to Voice.

The company claims that the system offers a number of benefits including:

·      Less search and faster picking
·      Twice as fast as paper system
·      Pickers don’t have to memorize anything
·      The Light System exhibits pick quantities and voice provides instructions
·      Reduces foot traffic provides increased pick density
·      Maintains inventory accuracy
·      17% increase in productivity and 21% reduction in errors
·      Scalable and flexible
·      Handles 100 to more than 15,000 SKUs
·      Configurable zone control
·      Algorithms offer fast and efficient order selection, grouping, and processing in real time.
·      Easy to configure, install and maintain
·      Faster fulfillment
·      Improved cash flow
·      Low installation costs
·      Runs on Windows, OS, Oracle DBMS, and CANbus network
·      Comprehensive analytics and reporting

Hybrid system hardware include headset and pick module. (Courtesy: Wynright Corp.)

Hybrid system hardware include headset and zone controller.
(Courtesy: Wynright Corp.)

The Hybrid Picking System visually indicates the products to be picked and also offers voice instructions to help complete the pick. According to Wynright, the Hybrid System can be integrated into an existing light or voice picking system.

The lighting display on the module at the shelf from which the product is to be picked displays what and how many items to pick. Once the pick is complete, picker presses “OK” on module to verify completion of the task.

Hardware includes headset; color-coded lamp to identify zones; module to indicate shelf where pick takes place, and what and how many items to pick; and a zone controller that displays when the order is completed.