Benefits of Manually Operated Lifts

Running a warehouse, distribution center, dock, or any other type of materials handling business is practically impossible without the right equipment. Lifting and moving boxes, pallets, and equipment manually isn’t just unsafe, it’s also inefficient.

But when a business is just starting out, it’s not always possible to spend a fortune on powered equipment like forklifts and pallet jacks. Fortunately, there’s an affordable option that will still get the job done.

Manually Operated Lifts

As the name implies, manually operated lifts are powered by human muscle. Many feature foot activation that makes it easy to lift even the heaviest loads quickly but safely.

Yet manually operated lifts still offer the power of hydraulics for lifting heavy materials like cases of products or palletized boxes. Many work using the same principles as an automobile jack, using the force of muscle to lift materials incrementally — with a little help from interior hydraulics.

Unlike forklifts or power jacks, there are zero fuel costs for manually operated lifts. So you don’t have to worry about storing flammable gas tanks or taking your primary materials handling equipment out of service for recharging. With manually operated lifts, you are always ready to go.

For small businesses that are just starting out, manually operated lifts can be the best solution to their material handling requirements. They often cost a fraction of what businesses would spend on forklift or power jacks. And they are often affordable enough that they can be bought outright rather than entering into a long-term lease agreement.

Mobility and Productivity

Besides their affordable price tag, another benefit of a manually operated lift is its versatility. Many are narrow enough to fit through standard door frames. So they are ideal for working in smaller work areas.

They also are mobile enough to be used in crowded work areas. And because they don’t take up a lot of storage space, there is more room for warehousing products and materials.

Manually operated lifts come in a variety of sizes and styles so you can choose the right one for your specific needs. Even with the smallest pre-opening budget, many businesses can afford to purchase one or more of these helpful, efficient, and productive materials handlers that can instantly improve your operations.

As your business grows, your materials handling equipment can grow with it. In the meantime, small businesses on a budget can still be versatile and mobile with manually operated lifts.

 

 

Busy Holiday Season Presents Unique Dangers

holiday decorations

holiday rewards and recogitionFor many businesses, the holiday season is by far the busiest time of year. Most retailers prepare for holiday shopping by boosting their inventory levels, hiring and training seasonal staff, and even reconfiguring their showrooms to accommodate larger crowds.

But businesses should also get ready for the holidays by anticipating potential hazards and taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of their property, their customers, and their employees.

Holidays Affect Many Businesses

The holidays aren’t just busy for retailers. They also are busy for the warehouses and distribution centers that provide the products sold at their businesses. And they are busy for the manufacturers who make those products in the first place.

One of the biggest dangers for all kinds of businesses is the new employees that are hired to help with the holiday rush. In many instances, these employees aren’t experienced, aren’t provided the same training as year-round employees, and aren’t always as focused on the overall success of the organization.

As a result, they often require more supervision, more instruction, and more oversight to ensure they stay focused on the task at hand. They also need to be kept clear of potential dangers, especially fast-moving forklifts.

Dealing with Holiday Pressures

Another potential danger is the increased demand during the holiday shopping season. From manufacturers to wholesalers to retailers to delivery personnel, there is a lot of pressure to get products into the hands of consumers faster. This is especially true today when online shopping has added an expectation of next-day or even same-day delivery to the equation.

While it’s not always possible to slow down during the busy holiday season, businesses can take steps to ensure that everybody within their organization remains focused on safety first. Efficiency and productivity are important, but they fade in comparison to the health and safety of your employees.

Be sure to reinforce workplace safety rules, especially with temporary employees who may not be familiar with the way things are done within your business. Make sure supervisors and managers are vigilant in observing production and intervening immediately when they see somebody taking a shortcut or putting themselves or others in danger.

The holidays are the busiest time of the year. But they also can be the most dangerous. By staying on point and remaining focused on safety while not compromising on efficiency, you can ensure a happy and safe holiday season for everybody.

 

 

Trench Fatalities on the Rise

Trench boxes help protect workers from cave-ins (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Working in trenches and excavations has always been dangerous, but today it is riskier than ever.

According to a recent report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of workers killed in trench-related accidents nearly doubled in 2016 over the average of the previous five years. Part of that undoubtedly has to do with the increased number of infrastructure improvement projects currently underway.

More Construction Projects

The Great Recession of 2008-2009 put a slowdown on a lot of public improvement projects. With US banking in disarray and the economy sputtering, governments at every level were reluctant to issue bonds to fund infrastructure projects like bridge repair, water and sewer line replacement, and highway and bridge upgrades.

But now that the economy has bounced back and then some, it seems like public works projects are making up for lost time. It seemed like motorists are delayed by construction projects at practically every turn this summer.

Because there have been so many more big public construction projects in recent years, it’s just math that more workers would be injured or killed in accidents. Still, the rise in trench-related accidents has caught the attention of the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration. And now the federal safety watchdog is taking aim at reducing the amount of trench-related deaths.

Preventing Cave-Ins

Reducing trenching and excavation hazards has been named OSHA’s Priority Goal. That means resources and attention will be devoted to moving the needle to reduce trench deaths. A public awareness campaign also has been launched to promote ways to reduce the risk of workplace cave-ins.

OSHA identified three ways to keep cave-in accidents from happening:

  1. Slop or bench trench walls
  2. Shore trench walls with supports
  3. Shielf trench walls with trench boxes

These safety measures can strengthen trench walls and help protect workers.

Common Trench Hazards

Project managers also need to ensure that workers can enter and exit trenches safely, as well as keeping materials away from the edges of a trench — especially heavy equipment that could fall in and injure or kill a worker inside.

Another common hazard when working with trenches is standing water. When rainwater or runoff pools in the bottom of a trench, it can weaken the walls. It also creates a potential electrocution hazard.

Atmospheric hazards like lightning or flash floors also put trench workers at risk.

Some predict the number of infrastructure improvements will continue to rise with the economy. By focusing on trench safety, OSHA hopes to reverse the number of trench fatalities and help keep workers safe.

Use Trusted Sources When Searching Online

Bahrns Equipment

If you are like most people, you probably use the Internet to find the products and service you need more often than not. Thanks to the Digital Revolution, whether you use a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, just about anything you want or need is only a few taps away.

Yet it is still relatively early in this new way of conducting business. All the bugs haven’t been worked out yet. And there’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of oversight and regulation — especially because online commerce allows customers and vendors to easily cross international boundaries.

As a result, there are still a lot of scammers, spammers, and dishonest players. The Wild West environment that exists as e-commerce figures itself out can lead to a lot of frustration. That’s why when it comes to the materials handling products you need, you should always rely on trusted sources such as Bahrns.com.

Caveat Emptor

The phrase, “caveat emptor” — Latin for “let the buyer beware” — is more relevant today than at any other time in business history. When you type a keyword describing the product or service you are looking for s into Google, Yahoo, or another search engine, you instantaneously get hundreds, thousands, or even millions of results.

But how can you tell which are trustworthy and which are not? Google is simply an algorithm, not a gatekeeper. While it may work toward protecting its users against dishonesty, it deals with literally billions of searches a day. So it’s hard for Google to provide security on every single one of them.

Use Trustworthy, Reliable Businesses

You probably have heard horror stories about people buying something online only to discover that the seller used a “bait and switch” scam, that the product wasn’t delivered at all, or that returning the product was next to impossible.

That’s why it’s so important to do business online only with trusted, reliable companies. Bahrns has been providing its customers with the finest materials products and equipment since before the Internet was even invented. We have built our reputation one customer interaction at a time, whether it is in person, over the phone, or online.

There’s still a lot of details to work out before e-commerce can be trusted to provide 100 percent of the products and services you want. Until then, you can rely on Bahrns.com to offer you the top-quality materials handling products you want with the outstanding personalized customer service you expect.

Thinking Outside the Box

Photo by Ndungukamau via Wikimedia Commons

Boxes have always been a primary to any successful business. Whenever you have to move anything from one place to another and you want it to arrive in the same condition that it was sent, a box usually offers the ideal solution.

The problem is that today there aren’t just one or two kinds of boxes. There are literally hundreds of box types that can be used for transporting products or parts. And the difference isn’t just size. It’s always material type, shape, and more.

Cardboard Boxes

When most people think of boxes, they usually think of the ordinary brown cardboard box. And the cardboard box is probably still the most common type of box used by businesses. Companies that delivery a lot of different kinds of materials lots of places — such as Amazon, UPS, or DHL, for example — go through literally millions of cardboard boxes per month.

Cardboard has the advantage of being recyclable, which is of primary importance to a lot of business and customers. But generally, cardboard boxes can only be used once before they have to be remade as a brand new box. This recycling process takes a lot of steps — from the baler to the recycler to the cardboard box plant — that can take a long time before the box is reintroduced into the supply chain. And each step requires more energy, which undercuts the original purpose of recycling.

Other Types of Boxes

As a result, many businesses today are using sturdier more rigid boxes that can be used again and again without having to be put into the recycling process. Boxes made of hard plastic can be used to ship materials in all directions in the supply chain, from the manufacturer to the distributor, from the distributor to the retailer, and from the retailer back to the manufacturer.

They also are often stackable and lightweight, reducing shipping costs and saving costly truck space.

Wooden boxes are another option for some types of businesses. While wood is more costly than cardboard or plastic, it has absorbing properties that make it ideal for transporting delicate and fragile materials, such as glass bottles.

Wood is also tough. It can take a beating and still be used multiple times as it passes through the supply chain.

Boxes aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. They are an effective and important tool in transporting materials. But the types of boxes used by businesses is always evolving.

 

Bulb Siphon Pumps Offer Convenience, Safety

Bulb Pump Siphon

Anyone who has ever had to siphon gas out of a car or truck can testify to the value of having a bulb siphon pump. The alternative — using your mouth and lungs to get enough suction to start the gas moving through the siphon hose — is not only distasteful, it can also be dangerous.

Bulb siphon pumps are the ideal way to initiate any type of siphoning procedure, whether it’s getting fuel out of a gas tank, draining liquid chemicals from a barrel, or any other type of liquid transfer. They are safe, effective, and convenient tools to have around any shop or warehouse.

With a bulb siphon, the hand-pumped bulb begins the process of pulling the liquid into the hose so that it can travel up the side of the container before being pulled down into the spillway, whether it’s into a sewer, a bucket, or some other landing place. In other words, the bulb does the work of your mouth and lungs, preventing the liquid from accidentally getting into your mouth.

While a little gasoline probably won’t hurt you, it’s certainly not going to taste very good. But trying the traditional method of siphoning a more caustic liquid such as a high acid or dangerous chemical just isn’t practical.

How Siphon Pumps Work

Interestingly, not all scientists agree on how liquid can be forced to flow uphill by means of a siphon. There are two theories about how it works.

The first is based on hydrodynamics, or the idea that water and other liquids will always seek its own level. Once the liquid has been pulled up and over the side of the tank, barrel, or another container via suction, gravity will pull the liquid down the hose where there is reduced pressure.

Atmospheric pressure pushes the liquid from the upper container into the reduced pressure at the top of the siphon in the same way a straw will pull soda up into your mouth. Then it flows downhill naturally.

The Problem with Siphon Physics

But this theory is undermined by the fact that siphons will work in a vacuum, where there is no atmospheric pressure. They also work at heights higher than the barometric height of the liquid.

Which brings us to the second theory, called cohesion theory, which says the liquid is pulled over the siphon the same way a chain model works. In a chain model, the lower section is heavier than the top section, so it pulls the top section down.

Which theory is correct? Modern science can’t agree. But one that everybody can agree on is that just about every workplace needs to have a bulb siphon pump for when it’s needed.

 

 

Hot Weather, Direct Sun Can Be Dangerous to Workers

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

As summer heads into the “dog days” — with prolonged high temperatures and unrelenting sun — businesses need to protect their workers. Heat illness can cause permanent injury to people and can put employers at risk of liability if they don’t take steps to prevent it.

The key to preventing heat-related injuries can be reduced to three simple words: Water, rest, and shade.

Materials Handling and Heat 

While about 40 percent of heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry, employees working in the materials handling industry are also at risk of heat illness. Moving products on and off trucks, into and out of storage facilities, and even on the open road can expose workers to dangerously high temperatures.

You don’t have to be old and out of shape to be affected by high heat. Anybody can become a victim of heat illness, regardless of their age or physical condition. All it takes is prolonged exposure to high temperatures without doing anything to mitigate the risks.

Shared Responsibility

Both employers and their workers have a responsibility to helping prevent heat illness. Workers need to be aware of their environment and to take special care when it’s hot.

They can pay attention to the weather forecast and not wear heavy clothes when it’s going to be hot, for example. Or they can let their supervisor know when their worker conditions are getting too warm so that they can drink more water and take more frequent breaks.

Employers can provide workers with cool water throughout their shift. You don’t have to wait until the mercury rises to the point where conditions are uncomfortable. It’s a good idea to have chilled bottled water or access to cold tap water available at all times.

Working in Warm Weather Conditions

People are able to work more productively in hot conditions if they allow themselves to become acclimated to higher temperatures. When the weather gets really hot, reduce workloads and increase breaks. Gradually increase the length of time between breaks as workers become more acclimatized and build a tolerance for working in the heat.

It’s important, however, to pay attention to workers so you can watch for signs of heat illness. Heat cramps, rashes, and exhaustion can indicate that a worker is suffering from heat illness. Take them out of the hot conditions and cool them down immediately to prevent their condition from escalating to heat stroke.

If conditions worsen or the person remains uncomfortable due to the heat, call 9-1-1 and seek emergency medical treatment.

In the hottest weeks of summer, everybody has to be aware of the dangers of heat illness.

 

 

 

The Four Steps of Successful Shipping

Today more than ever, customers expect businesses to deliver their products directly to their door. And thanks to high-volume, rapid response online companies like Amazon, people want their packages sooner than ever.

If your retail or wholesale business doesn’t currently do a lot of direct shipping to customers, that’s likely to change in the coming years. A recent study showed that about 79 percent of all consumers in the US routinely buy products online. So if you want to keep up with the competition, you will need to acknowledge this transformative trend.

Direct-to-Customer Shipping

Mailing online purchases to customers is different than sending pallets or even cases of products to retailers. For one thing, the packages are smaller. For another, there are more of them.

The object today is to get deliveries to customers’ doorsteps as quickly as possible, with minimal damage, and with the fewest shipping errors possible.

Also, it’s critical to reduce shipping costs as much as possible. Thanks to Amazon, many customers now want free shipping. If you offer it, every penny you pay for shipping comes out of your profit margin.

Materials Handling Solutions for E-Commerce

A shipping program needs to check all these boxes. To achieve this, today’s businesses need to follow a four-point plan for shipping success.

  1. Plan Your Shipment — Whether you are mailing hundreds of packages or only one, it pays to have a plan in place. Pack the same product or similar products at the same time to reduce labor costs and reduce prep time. Organize your shipments from the most- to least-complicated to streamline the packaging process.
  2. Prepare for Packing — Make sure you always have everything you need on hand to package the products you intend to ship. If you are missing essential pieces like cardboard boxes, packing peanuts, shipping tape, or labels, every minute you waste collecting these items extends the delivery time past your shipping window estimate.
  3. Package Products — To reduce damage during shipping, make sure you use in-box cushioning, blocking, banding, stretch wrap, pallets, and other tools and equipment to secure your packages.
  4. Ship Your Products — The delivery service you use matters. Options include the US Postal Service, FedEx, UPS, and other delivery services. Choose the one that gets your products where they are going fastest and at the least cost to you.

Shipping products has become a significant part of any retail or wholesale operation. And it’s only going to become more important as time goes on. Preparing today for expanded shipping operations tomorrow will only help your business grow faster and more profitably.

Marketing to a Millennial Customer Base

Millennials may be self-absorbed and have short attention spans, but they are tomorrow’s key consumers. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

While older generations like to mock Millennials for being over-protected, over-privileged, and unmotivated, the reality of time dictates that today’s newest generation is going to be tomorrow’s key demographic for businesses everywhere.

Someday in the not-to-distant future, Millennials will run just about everything. So learning the latest generation’s buying preferences and online expectations will only help today’s businesses prepare for the next wave of commerce.

Millennial Strategies

According to a new survey conducted by Radial, an online omnichannel commerce and technology company, young people who were raised in a world where online ordering and free delivery were the norm are only going to be more demanding when it comes to speedy delivery times, order status, and ease of returns.

While many older adults may find Millennials self-involved and short-attention-spanned, today’s younger generation will be tomorrow’s primary consumers. And according to the Radial survey, they are going to want their deliveries faster and without having to pay extra for the privilege. In fact, 33.5 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds surveyed said right now it generally takes too long to receive their online orders.

Of the same group, 20.6 percent said paying more for faster priority delivery wasn’t worth the convenience. And 12.6 percent said they had concerns about their packages being stolen.

Rising Consumer Expectations

But Millennials aren’t the only ones who are becoming spoiled by the eCommerce revolution. According to the survey, 74.9 percent of US respondents across all age groups said they prefer to have their packages delivered to their front doorstep rather than allowing drivers access to their home, having to go pick up their deliveries at a locker, or letting a neighbor sign for them.

And 44.1 percent of survey participants in the US said they expected businesses to proactively update them on the status of their delivery, rather than having to check on it themselves. Plus, 36.8 percent said they wanted their deliveries shipped in environmentally-friendly packaging.

Preparing for Tomorrow’s Consumers

Online ordering, free same-day delivery, and enhanced interaction with the consumer throughout the fulfillment process are quickly becoming the norm rather than the exception for eCommerce retailers. To be successful, businesses will need to adjust to this new reality, according to Sean McCartney, Radial’s executive vice president of operations services.

“Fulfillment is one of the biggest elements impacting customer experience today, but unfortunately many businesses still approach it as an afterthought,” McCartney said. “To execute a successful door-to-door strategy, companies must shift their mindset to be channel agnostic, offer seamless execution, and real-time communication across any commerce medium.”

The expectations of Millennials, Baby Boomers, and consumers or every generation are evolving. Smart companies would do well to pay attention.

Improving Delivery Time and Accuracy

Consumers and retailers today both want their orders faster than ever before.

Just a few years ago, 3 to 5 business days would be considered an acceptable delivery window for online orders. Today, the expectation is closer to 24 hours or less. Call it the “instant gratification” effect.

Big companies like Amazon are in the process of developing all kinds of sophisticated, high-tech ways to meet consumers’ shrinking delivery window expectations, including pilot-less drones, floating warehouses, and even underground tunnels.

Even if these are all still years away from reality, huge online retailers still have the advantage over small businesses because they have more resources they can allocate to expedite faster delivery. But there are still a few tricks small businesses can use to speed up delivery, minimize loss or damage, and keep their delivery system both fast and efficient.

Damaged and Missing Products

One of the easiest ways to lose a customer for life is to deliver their products broken or damaged or shorting them on their order.

Any time you physically move objects from one place to another, there is a risk of damage and loss. But it’s possible to minimize this risk by using a simple solution: Doubling down on the amount of plastic wrap you use to wrap pallets.

Most in-transit damage is caused by products falling from the pallet during transport. Similarly, products that go missing are frequently found later in the back of the delivery truck because they fell off the pallet. But using more plastic wrap and wrapping the pallet all the way to the top so that all the pallets are covered can help prevent these issues from occurring.

Wrong Products Delivered

Another common problem is retailers getting the wrong products when they unpack their pallets. Often this is a picking issue. But it also can be a delivery problem as well.

Taking more time to properly pack pallets at the warehouse or fulfillment center can help with the former. But taking care to load the delivery van so that the pallets are in the proper delivery sequence can ensure drivers are dropping off the right orders at the right places. This not only cuts delivery time, but improves order efficiency and accuracy as well.

It’s also a good idea to place a copy of the invoice or order sheet inside each pallet’s plastic wrapping so that drivers can see at a glance which orders go where.

Retailers and other customers are always going to want their deliveries to be fast, undamaged, and accurate. Taking time and care can help small businesses compete with the big players even in the age of instant gratification.