Staples DCs To Roll Out Automated Pick-and-Pack Nationwide

Photo by Stan Zemanek (via Wikimedia Commons)
Photo by Stan Zemanek (via Wikimedia Commons)

“That was easy!”

Now office supply retailing giant Staples is applying its signature catch phrase to its distribution centers throughout the US with an innovative new automated pick-and-pack system.

Traditionally, DCs and warehouses have used a “person to goods” system that uses human workers to pick and pack orders so they can be delivered to retail stores. But Staples’ new robotic system uses two “goods to person” automated guided vehicle (AGV) robotic systems to pick items with both high cubic velocity and low cubic velocity.

Reducing Robotic Tasks and Travel

The system — which was developed by Great Star Industrial USA — already is being used in one of Staples’ key fulfillment centers and will be rolled out to its entire nationwide network during the next 24 months, according to a company news release.

Unlike other systems used in warehouses and DCs, Staples automated robotic storage and retrieval system integrates two types of AGVs into an integrated system that requires less upfront capital investment than traditional materials handling systems while simultaneously boosting productivity and accuracy.

How It Works

The first robotic vehicle is engineered to pick from existing industry wide storage mediums and can retrieve up to five unique items per trip. That’s a lot more than traditional picking systems, resulting in fewer robot tasks and less travel across the warehouse floor.

A second type of AGV essentially replaces manual pick carts. These high cubic velocity AGVs pick cells to be fed by multiple AGVs simultaneously, eliminating the kind of downtime human order pickers typically experience. These vehicles can place products directly into the pick cell and then leave immediately to perform other tasks so they are constantly in motion.

Future Applications

The new robotic system should be in use throughout the Staples distribution network by 2019, but there already are plans to expand it even more, according to Mike Bhaskaran, the company’s chief supply chain officer.

“With Staples and Great Star each leveraging their strengths in design, engineering, and supply chain operations, we’ve rapidly gone from concept to production with a robotic solution that is truly ground breaking,” Bhaskaran said. “It incorporates concepts that have never been used before. In addition to rolling it out across Staples’ network of fulfillment centers, we’re excited for its potential applications beyond these facilities.”

The results will shatter industry norms, according to Great Star Executive VP Lily Chi.

“It offers a high degree of flexibility and capability that will provide a cost-effective solution for almost any order fulfillment and warehousing operation,” Chi said.

 

 

Zone Your Workplace with These Floor Striping Options

Courtesy: Steve at flickr.com
Courtesy: Steve at flickr.com

Maximizing efficiency and safety of warehouses, docks, and other work areas require designating specific areas for certain uses. For example, lanes that are used by fast-moving forklifts and other industrial equipment should be separated from pedestrian walkways.

Warehouse aisles should be similarly marked to prevent collisions, alert workers to overhead dangers, and maximized workplace order.

Painting Stripes and Lines

One of the simplest solutions is to paint lines on the floor of your work area to designate different areas for different uses. Spray paint and striping machines can make creating designated areas within your workplace quick and simple work.

Industrial striping machines can be used for everything from parking lots to dock and warehouse floors. Spray cans of paint fit simply into these convenient tools to create neat, straight lines.

Painting traffic lanes, safety zones, and other lines onto even large areas of workplace can be completed quickly and efficiently

The Problem with Paint

But there are a number of problems with using paint to mark lanes.

First, paint can be messy. Unless you use a template, free painting lines and other markings can look unprofessional.

Then there’s the need to keep people and vehicles off the paint until it can dry. If somebody accidentally tramples on wet paint, they can track it all over your warehouse or dock, creating a whole new set of problems.

Finally, there are the chemical hazards. Using spray paint indoors can create a cloud of unsafe fluorocarbons and other chemicals which can be dangerous if inhaled. Painting lanes and other floor markings need to be done at night by workers using ventilators or other breathing apparatus, a time-consuming and disruptive task.

Vinyl Floor Striping Paint

A less disruptive option could be vinyl floor striping tape. Available in a variety of colors and widths, striping tape can be applied neatly and quickly to most surfaces without the potential hazards of using spray paint.

Vinyl floor striping paint is even available with anti-slip surfaces, reducing the risk of workers tripping, slipping, or falling as a result of the tape floor markings.

For the straightest lines and maximum neatness, use a floor tape applicator to lay down the tape in the patterns you want. Tape applicators are adjustable to accommodate different widths of tape for different uses.

Vinyl floor tape can be applied from long rolls or in slip-resistant patches in areas where weather, detergent, grease and other hazards are common.

How Smart Are the Pallets You Use?

packagingUp until now, most pallets were little more than a few scraps of wood nailed together to provide a durable platform to accommodate materials handling.

But some pallets used in warehouses and docks today are much, much smarter than that. Many are embedded with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags that allow global positioning systems to keep track of their payloads as they make their way through the supply chains.

But RM2 International, a Luxembourg-based pallet leasing company, has taken pallet tracking a step further into the future.

Pallets that Monitor Their Payloads

Officials at RM2 teamed with AT&T to create futuristic pallets that can communicate with each other, as well as with a centralized dispatcher. Using AT&T’s LTE-M new global wireless network that is engineered to support Internet of Things (IoT) machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, sensors embedded in the pallets can keep track of such things as temperature, water intrusion, unusual jolting, and more.

Plus, new sensors — which are called RM2ELI0T, which stands for “Electronic Link to the Internet of Things” — also leverages existing cell towers to pinpoint the pallets location to within a few feet anywhere on the globe.

This information can be critical to users like food and beverage manufacturers that need to ensure the quality of their products as they make their way from production facilities to the ultimate consumers.

Real-Time Data 

The information gathered by the RM2ELIoT sensors is Cloud-based, which means that businesses leasing the pallets can access it using a user-specific online portal and application program interface (API). Or RM2 also offers the option of providing regular reporting directly to its clients.

The bottom line is that the new pallet technology will help businesses understand what is going on with their products at all times, according to Chris Penrose, president of AT&T’s Internet of Things Solutions division.

“Our work with RM2 during our LTE-M pilot will show how this new technology can help the packaging and supply chain industries increase their efficiency and sustain the integrity of their products,” Penrose said in a news release issued when the system was first being tested. “This is a prime example of how innovations like LTE-M will help bring the IoT to more end points than every before.”

Enabled by Technological Developments

Just a few years ago, this type of global pallet monitoring would have been impossible. But thanks to recent technological advances — sensor batteries that can last up to 10 years without being replaced, for example — these “smart pallets” already are in use all around the world.

Improving Workflow in Warehouse and Dock Operations

A Pick to Light module. (Courtesy: https://www.wearethepractitioners.com/library/the-contributors-voice/2013/04/03/wms-and-picking)
A Pick to Light module.
(Courtesy: https://www.wearethepractitioners.com/library/the-contributors-voice/2013/04/03/wms-and-picking)

The rise in online shopping has put dock and warehouse managers under the gun to improve operations.

Mega-retailers like Wal-Mart and Amazon and package delivery services like UPS and FedEx can afford to spend billions on research and development of faster, more efficient ways to get products to consumers faster and more accurately.

The result is consumers who now expect to get their orders not in weeks or months, but in days or even hours after they submit their orders.

And it’s not just residential consumers either. Now the trend towards faster, better, and more efficient delivery systems is extending to businesses as well.

In the meantime, many small- or medium-sized business warehouse or dock managers are being challenged to develop ways to improve workflow and throughput without the benefit of the bottomless resources of multi-billion global corporations.

Throw Out the Rule Book

The problem that many operations have is their past. “We’ve always done it this way” is not going to cut it in the 21st  Century, when competition with fast, efficient, web-based businesses is ferocious.

“We’ve always done it this way” is not going to cut it in the 21st  Century, when competition with fast, efficient, web-based businesses is ferocious.

The first thing you can do to streamline picking and distribution operations is to forget everything you have done in the past. New solutions call for fresh ideas.

Have a Game Plan

Another challenge to efficiency is existing overhead.

If your business already has invested over the years in elaborate shelving, materials handling equipment, and other costly warehouse and dock equipment, it’s not going to be easy to write-off those expenses and buy brand new, state of the art technology like automated guided vehicles, digital warehouse management systems, and other big ticket items.

But you don’t have to do everything all at once. Instead, develop a long-range strategy to upgrade your picking, packaging, and delivery systems over time. Then build these updates into your budget so you don’t have to take the whole hit at once.

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

Businesses that have been in operation are always difficult to change, especially when compared to smaller, newer, and more flexible competitors.

One analogy frequently cited is that big companies are like big ships. They can’t change course easily and require time and patience for major changes to occur. Smaller, cutting edge companies are more like speed boats that can speed up, slow down, and make sharp turns more easily.

Yet even established businesses can benefit from youthful thinking. Executives who encourage managers to be creative and give them the freedom to make decisions on their own often can see faster, better results.

 

Wearable Technology Offers Augmented Reality for Warehouse Workers

Graphic courtesy of DHL
Graphic courtesy of DHL

For years now, high-tech companies like Google, Vuzix, Ubimax, and others have promised that  wearable technology will make our lives better and easier. But how will it actually work?

Look no further than a pilot program from global package delivery service DHL to understand the answer.

DHL Supply Chain, a subsidiary of the German company package delivery company, handles picking and warehousing operations for client companies. It recently began using “smart” glasses that tells workers what, where and when to pick packages in the blink of an eye … literally.

Glasses Show Workers What to Do

The trial Vision Picking Program at the Ricoh facility in Bergen op Zoom, the Netherlands, has been highly successful. Workers wearing the advanced smart glasses could view a virtual display that told them where each picked item should be placed on a portable trolley.

Pickers wearing the glasses worked faster, made fewer mistakes, and were able to pick every order hands free. Plus, employee satisfaction levels rose significantly after the technology was introduced.

Now DHL will expand the program to use the high-tech glasses at facilities worldwide, including some retail distribution centers in the United States, according to John Gilbert, CEO of DHL Supply Chain.

“We are excited to further test and develop vision picking as a solution that can be readily available to our customers,” Gilbert said in a DHL news release announcing the program’s expansion. “More importantly, this technology is not just one step towards digitalizing manual processes on the shop floor, it also takes us one step closer towards Industry 4.0. Testing technology like augmented reality, robotics, and Internet of things will continue to be a big part of our DNA.”

Expansion of Wearable Technology

Vision picking and other types of augmented reality are just the first steps in using technology to make supply chain operations faster, more efficient, and more accurate. And many companies in a wide variety of industries are beginning to recognize its benefits.

By 2025, the business of augmented reality via wearable technologies is expected to top $80 billion, according to an estimate from Goldman Sachs. In the past two years alone, an estimated $3.5 billion was spent on 225 venture capitalist investments related to the technology.

Augmented reality — which provides users with the critical information they can incorporate mid-task via such wearable devices as glasses, watches, earphones, and more — is predicted by some futurists to be the next big thing.

Wearable technology could change workplaces during the next decade in the same way smartphones changed the  way people are entertained, shop, and communicate with each other during the last 10 years.

 

Is a Low-Cost Lift Right For You?

 

Good managers know that they need to depend on forklift fleets that have a mix of both low-cost low-cost and premium lifts. (Courtesy: CTF 70 at flickr.com)
Good managers know that they need to depend on forklift fleets that have a mix of both low-cost and premium lifts.
(Courtesy: CTF 70 at flickr.com)

Like many products, dealers are selling forklifts on a good, better, best strategy. Of course, the mid-range lift truck market will account for most of the sales. The larger warehouses favor the upper tier premium trucks that feature the bells and whistles including data capturing ability and integration ability with warehouse management software. The trucks that are supposed to cater to the low-end segment of the market don’t have the bells and whistles or many of the same features one would find on the mid-range models.

In recent years North American forklift manufacturers have been seeing a major increase in sales of low-cost models. More dealers who handle lower cost lifts as well as dealers who import low-cost lifts are popping up. In order to compete with the sale of the mid-range lifts, they are offering not just the lift trucks, but also parts and service. However, there are also dealers and manufacturers of low-cost lifts who do not provide the service or support. These dealers recommend that warehouses hire other forklift manufacturers to service the equipment. This may cause warehouses that buy the low-cost alternatives with no service to experience delays in the delivery of parts when they need them.

The top manufacturers who have already established a reputation that are expanding their lines to include low-cost lifts have made it a point to offer and emphasize support for their existing dealer networks.

The temptation may be there for a warehouse forklift fleet manager to go for the lowest up-front cost that does not include the support. So the issue of total cost of ownership concerning the purchase of new lift trucks continues to be an open one. Many dealers and manufacturers are of the opinion that some fleet managers are not thinking about this as they opt for the cheaper alternative. Those who are opting for the low-cost lifts need to be aware that these products may be using components with shorter life expectancy.

Good managers are aware that they need to depend on fleets that have a mix of both low-cost and premium equipment. In fact, savings that occur when purchasing low-cost trucks can be used to fill in the fleet with the upper tier trucks because they have the high-end features needed for some tasks the fleet is called on to perform.

There was a time when forklift manufacturers were expanding their product range based on the latest trends so that they could differentiate themselves from the competition. However, now manufacturers are making decisions on expanding their range based on need. An example of this is a manufacturer that created a new reach model with four-directional travel capability. The manufacturer recognized a need for a truck that could handle long, bulky loads.

As a result of all this, dealers have to carry a wider range of lift models, brands, and services.

Lift manufacturers also note that dealers must become better prepared to handle the changes in their customers’ businesses as well as the growth and changes of the workforce. They suggest that larger distribution centers are concentrating on the cutting edge of labor productivity. So they are looking to rotate and rebalance their equipment every two to three years to take advantage of new technologies.

Warehouses that decide to go with low-cost equipment should focus on the product only.

OSHA Regulations Pertaining to Powered Industrial Trucks – Part I

If you are a warehouse manager, then you are well aware of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. government agency responsible for the safe use of powered industrial trucks also known as forklifts.

Forklifts can be dangerous if not properly used and maintained. OSHA Rule 1910.178 covers all aspects of the safe operation of a powered industrial truck. (Courtesy: Bryan Van Devender at flickr.com)
Forklifts can be dangerous if not properly used and maintained. OSHA Rule 1910.178 covers all aspects of the safe operation of a powered industrial truck.
(Courtesy: Bryan Van Devender at flickr.com)

The actual regulation that covers powered industrial truck use is OSHA Rule 1910.178, which provides a detailed explanation of all aspects of powered industrial truck use including:

·      Assignment of Responsibilities
·      Operator Training
·      Pre-Use Inspections
·      Operating Procedures
·      Fueling Procedures
·      Program Audit
·      Recordkeeping

We will be developing a series of articles that discuss the OSHA 1910.178 regulations. Each aspect listed above will be discussed so that warehouse managers are well aware of their responsibilities as far as OSHA rules on forklift use is concerned.

Assignment of Responsibilities

Of course, different warehouse executives and personnel have particular responsibilities in executing OSHA Rule 1910.178 including management, the program administrator, supervisor, and employees who operate the trucks. Here is a breakdown of those responsibilities.

Managements’ Responsibilities

·      Provide equipment that is safe to operate.
·      Discourage modifications to equipment except when authorized by the equipment manufacturer.
·      Provide adequate operator safety training on all equipment used to move materials.
·      Establish and enforce safe operating rules and procedures.

Responsibilities of the Program Administrator

·      Make certain that the equipment is safe to use.
·      Discourage modifications to equipment except when authorized by the equipment manufacturer.
·      Guarantee proper powered industrial vehicle/forklift training is offered and certify that each operator was trained and evaluated.
·      Create and enforce safe operating rules and procedures.
·      Conduct an annual review of the program.

Supervisor Responsibilities

·      Assign and identify employees who are responsible for operating powered industrial trucks.
·      Monitor the safe use of the equipment.
·      Make certain that no employees under their authority operate a powered industrial truck without proper certification.
·      Confirm that there is retraining of forklift operators when appropriate.
·      Make certain the equipment is inspected daily.
·      Make certain that damaged equipment is tagged “out of service” and removed from use.
·      Make certain that equipment is repaired when a malfunction occurs.

Employee Responsibilities

·      Operate only the equipment for which they were trained and authorized.
·      Perform daily pre-use inspections.
·      Report equipment damage or other unsafe conditions affecting the safe operation of the truck.
·      Attend training sessions
·      Follow all safety rules and operating practices.

(Next time: Training)

Right Sizing the Battery Room and Other Savings Tips

Research can identify waste in your forklift fleet. (Courtesy:
Research can identify waste in your forklift fleet.
(Courtesy: U.S. Department of Defense at flickr.com)

So far we have discussed identifying and measuring waste in the battery room, how proper battery rotation can help to reduce waste, and properly watering batteries. In this article we will discuss right sizing of the battery room.

When we refer to “right sizing of the battery room,” we are not referring to the actual size of the room. We are talking about having the proper number of batteries in the battery room to service a warehouse’s forklift fleet. You want to avoid having more batteries than you need or fewer batteries then you need to service your fleet.

A battery room management system will assist you in determining the proper number of batteries to have in the battery room to ensure efficient productivity.

What you want to measure is battery availability at any given time. This include when there are more batteries than needed, when the battery room is running out of available batteries, the length of cool down time, and battery cycles per week.

Many management systems that use the cloud automatically report the state of charge data. Appropriate people in the warehouse can get reports via the Internet.

Some management system includes a subscription to a web-based service that stores these reports. These reports can verify that there is a proper number of batteries to service a warehouse’s forklift fleet.

The system can also result in faster and less frequent battery changes, longer battery run times, increased battery life and increased productivity. Using a battery room management system can save warehouses as much as $100,000 or more a year.

While you’re at exploring more ways to save on warehouse operations, you should also consider the forklift. For example, there are forklift fleet optimization systems (FOS) that provide such data as the basic status of batteries and forklift maintenance. Knowing this information can help a warehouse save even more.

However, before exploring on ways one can save on the proper operation of forklifts, you should try to answer these questions:

·      Do I have too many or too few forklifts?
·      How many hours are the forklifts working per shift in a day?
·      Do we have the right mix of forklifts with the right capacities and functionality requirements?
·      How much are we spending on forklift maintenance?
·      Are operators properly maintaining forklift batteries?
·      How and when are we charging our forklift batteries?
·      At what point do we start replacing forklifts because of their growing maintenance expense?
·      Should we change out our older forklifts because of high maintenance costs and/or reliability issues?
·      Are our vehicle checklists being filled out properly to comply with OSHA regulations?
·      Have the credentials of the forklift operator expired?
·      Are there accidents that take place that are not reported?
·      Are there more damaged forklifts than previously?
·      Are operators lifting loads beyond the capacity of their assigned lifts?

Besides the battery room, don’t ignore your forklifts when considering cost savings. For most warehouses they are the largest capital expenditure and can become a major operational cost.

Proper Rotation Enhances Battery Run Time and Life

Forklift batteries and chargers. (Courtesy: Steve at flickr.com)
Forklift batteries and chargers.
(Courtesy: Steve at flickr.com)

In the story entitled Tackling Waste In the Battery Room I discussed how warehouse managers can limit or eliminate waste in the battery room by identifying the waste, creating a plan to alleviate it, measure progress and evaluate performance and make adjustments in the plan.

One specific action that can be taken is to create a more efficient way to select batteries from the battery room. This can be done with the use of a battery management system.

To achieve better results in the run time and life of batteries warehouses should adopt a battery rotation method.

Proper battery rotation is actually up to the forklift operators who make their own battery selection to take the correct battery from a collection of batteries in the battery room.

It is not uncommon for forklift operators to take the closest battery to them to perform the quickest change or the newest battery thinking that they are getting one with the longest run time.

Actually, the proper battery to select is the one that has had the longest cool down time since charging. The fact that these batteries may be in the back of the battery room discourages their selection.

Selecting the wrong battery can be costly. Tests have been performed that show that when battery selection is left up to a forklift operator, about 30 percent of the batteries will be underutilized and 20 percent of them will be overused. The result of all this is that battery usage will be uneven and this can lead to premature battery failure and lost productivity.

The key to ensuring proper battery selection is to select the battery that has had the longest cool down time since charging. Making the selection of the right battery should be easy to do and the person doing the selection should be made accountable.

When proper battery rotation is performed, the results are dramatic. In a study of good battery rotation practices in which data was collected for three months before and three months after proper battery rotation procedures were introduced it was discovered that the average battery run time increased from six hours 30 minutes to six hours 57 minutes. Some who advocate proper battery rotation say that there is no reason forklift fleets can’t achieve eight hours of run time from their batteries.

An advantage of performing proper battery rotation can also help determine exactly how many batteries a forklift fleet needs, thus avoiding the acquisition of too many batteries.

A good method of battery room management ensures proper battery rotation and thus reduces waste in the battery room.

The best battery management system measures the charger to determine which battery has had the longest cooling time since charging. Once charged, each battery is placed in a queue. A simple read and react display should be used that tells the operator which battery to choose. An audible alarm that alerts the operator when he is selecting the wrong battery could prove beneficial.

Some systems directly measure the charger to obtain accurate data on the state of charge of each battery and automatically report that to the Cloud. The Cloud can then generate easy-to-understand reports that can be conveniently available using any web browser. These reports offer feedback and can caution managers when certain alert conditions are triggered. These conditions can include:

·      Availability of batteries. This assists managers to determine if they have too many or too few batteries.
·      Cool down. This shows how much cool down time the batteries have obtained. Keep in mind that hot batteries shorten life and run time.
·      Utilization. Detailed data on charger utilization can signal an uneven charger use and identify faulty equipment.
·      Mispick. Data can identify operator accountability by detailing the date and time of a mispick.
·      Energy usage. This indicates when and how much energy is used in the battery room that can help in adjusting load shifting or peak shaving activities.

Some battery management systems use a barcode scanner so that managers can track, organize and report individual battery run times, individual forklift utilization and dead man hours.

(Next: Right-Sizing the battery room)

Tackling Waste In The Battery Room

All businesses want to be “lean and mean.” That is, they want to minimize waste in the operation of their business.

In the world of warehouse management, one sector that has been ignored in the battle against waste is the battery room.

No doubt, many of you believe that battery room activity is subordinate to the main purpose of a warehouse –- storing and distributing products. Waste that may occur in the battery room is relatively insignificant to the total operations of a warehouse.

Forklift batteries and chargers. (Courtesy: Steve at flickr.com)
Forklift batteries and chargers.
(Courtesy: Steve at flickr.com)

The truth of the matter is that battery room waste can have a major affect on the entire warehouse.

One major way to eliminate or manage waste is to be able to measure it. There is an old adage in business that says, “You can’t improve or change what you have not measured.” Feedback and where you stand in the continuous process of improving can only be achieved by knowing where you have been, where you are now and where you need to be. Measuring progress is how you do this.

The process of achieving improvement in reducing waste in the battery room is based on four steps:

·      Identify the waste and create a plan to combat it.
·      Execute the plan.
·      Measure performance.
·      Evaluate performance and make adjustments.

If you properly study the battery room, you will discover that six of the eight types of waste reside there.

·      Transportation. A look at battery room activity is sure to reveal that there are unnecessary trips there to change batteries because of inadequate data on the charge state of the battery being used.
·      Inventory. Many warehouses make the mistake of purchasing more batteries and chargers than are actually needed.
·      Motion. Many activities that occur in the battery room including watering require more movement than is necessary.
·      People. On many occasions your warehouse just may have too many people involved in the watering and charging of batteries when many of them can be used in other sections of the warehouse where personnel is needed.
·      Waiting. It certainly is a waste of an employee’s time and thus money to the warehouse when that employee has to wait to charge or water a battery.
·      Defects. An employee selecting the wrong battery can lead to a shorter battery life that costs money for the warehouse; too much or too little watering of the battery can shorten a battery’s life and could cause a dangerous condition because of electrolyte boil overs.

Studies have already shown that waste in the battery room can cost large warehouses and distribution centers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year; smaller warehouses with as few as 10 to 20 forklift trucks can be wasting as much as tens of thousands of dollars because of waste in the battery room.

In order to tackle the problem of waste in the battery room, warehouse managers need to understand six basic elements of battery maintenance and use. They include:

·      Charging. Batteries need to be fully charged to ensure that the electrolyte is properly mixed. One should not disconnect charger cables from the battery during the charge because the connectors could be damaged and an explosion condition could occur. Allowing batteries to cool down before re-using because excessive heat shortens battery life. A rule of thumb in the industry is that a minimum of eight hours is necessary to cool down a battery.
·      Discharging. Batteries have to be fully discharged. Incomplete discharge increases the number of cycles and decreases operator productivity. Over-discharging can cause permanent battery damage.
·      Cycling. If a battery is under-cycled, then it could create corrosion even when batteries are not in use causing the waste of cycles. Over-cycling, which gives batteries inadequate time to cool down, results in corrosion because of increased heat and that shortens battery life and reduces the number of cycles of the battery.
·      Watering. If a battery is under-watered, then its lead plates are exposed to air and that causes the plates to sulfate and lose capacity. If a battery is over-watered, then capacity is reduced. In fact, there can be a 3 percent capacity loss with each electrolyte boil over. Moreover, batteries should be watered with de-ionized or distilled water because dissolved minerals in most tap water can cause battery damage and that reduces battery life.
·      Cables and connectors. It is suggested that broken cables be repaired. Short circuits are a fire and safety issue. Repair broken connectors because intermittent contact can damage chargers and create dangerous arcing.
·      Washing. Regular washing reduces short circuits across the surface of the battery and that reduces energy loss and tray corrosion.

In order to eliminate waste in the battery room, warehouse managers need to focus on rotation, rightsizing and watering.

(Next time: Battery Rotation)