Taking care of business – Achieving materials handling excellence

Welcome to our Materials Handling feature. There’s no getting away from it – whether you’re running a cash & carry or a delivered wholesale operation, you need an efficient storage and retrieval set up in place in your warehouse, so you can receive goods coming in, store them and supply them to your customers.

bill-new-greyBut successful materials handling isn’t just about either maximising productivity and throughput or reducing picking errors, you also need to focus on safety and environmental impact.

Forklift trucks are the single biggest potential cause of accidents and injuries in a wholesale warehouse, with common scenarios including part loads dropped from height onto workers and visitors, impact damage to racking, collisions between forklift trucks and fork trucks falling off the docking bay.

Even when you move goods around without forklifts, you still need to think about your staff’s well being. According to the HSE, over a third of injuries needing at least three days off work are caused by manual handling, moving goods by hand pallet trucks instead of using powered ones. On average each sufferer affected in this way took 20 days off in a year, resulting in massive inconvenience and ultimately the risk of prosecution, if the employer ends up being taken to court for neglect.

Thankfully help is at hand from the forklift providers themselves.

Warehouse truck supplier Mitsubishi has created an on-line checklist to identify whether you are working safely or, if you aren’t already doing so, you should consider moving to power pallet trucks.

Whether you’re concerned about your workers’ health or you need more trucks in the short term, say what you expect from your materials handling equipment – and don’t hold back! Yale forklift national distributor Briggs Equipment believes a frank and open exchange with the ‘MH’ supplier is by far the most important factor for wholesale businesses who want to temporarily boost their forklift fleet to cope with a surge in demand. Briggs has a special video on its website all about short term hire, to help make sure people hiring in extra machines get the right trucks for the job.

You can even ask your forklift supplier to help you design your warehouse. In our case study narrow aisle truck specialists Aislemaster worked closely with Luscombe Drinks to design the optimum layout for their warehouse, packing in as much storage density as possible and enabling their business to benefit from the more efficient, faster location based picking system.