We’re often reminded of the potential risks and dangers to our personal safety and health and those around us. Especially during times like these. We have become more aware of sirens and lights of emergency vehicles in a time of lockdowns, and the presence of police on the streets like never before. And until recently, the warnings from fire trucks in searing daily temperatures. These signals are embedded in us from an early age, and we respond accordingly. Warning lights however are not just a feature of emergency vehicles but are found in places with a high frequency of movement, both in people and materials. They are also present in large industrial facilities, where they safeguard employees from possible risks and harm and inform about processes taking place.
Metal has been the core material when it comes to making sturdy machinery as well as long-lasting solutions in construction and many other industries. From shelving units to gigantic steel structures, fasteners are made to hold things together. A fastener has been long produced before there were machines made of metal.
Just as ‘Neighbours’ was beginning to air to Australian audiences, my parents bought their first home, a 3 bedroom fibro, in need of some work. Quick renovations saw everything old ripped out and a few added walls and the new kitchen seemed to complete the picture. A blemish though remained, the flaking front fence.
If you’ve ever worked a job where the primary duty was material handling, whether retail, machinery or anything similar, you know how strenuous the process can be, and how it’s a demotivator at work. Luckily, there is material handling equipment whose use is straightforward. You use it to simplify the job, thereby making it easier and making the workplace more productive. Furthermore, it makes everyone happier and more motivated at work. No one likes to do a difficult job that can lead to an injury. But everyone enjoys using the machinery and constructions that make all the difference.
With that in mind, we decided to write this article about some equipment types that I consider vital for any business, especially the ones that come in handy for particularly tricky situations. There are many other guides, but I decided to focus on the three types I see as paramount. Specifically, I will focus on lifting and trolley equipment, drum equipment, and waste handling equipment. All three can be a game-changer for the organisation and function of your business.
Lifting Equipment and Trolleys
These are the most common and most helpful type of equipment for material handling. They’re simple to use with a push and pull mechanism, but certain types are better than others. That being said, always consider several factors to make sure you get the right one for you.
Before you even go through the available types, you need to define the characteristics of your workplace. First and foremost, figure out what materials and goods you’ll work with. More specifically, the weight, the dimensions, and peculiarities. Moreover, if they are fragile, you want to get equipment that’s extra stable.
Space and Organisation
Afterward, you need to see what type of space you’ll be working in. For example, is your facility spacious with plenty of room, or is it small and full to the brim? Depending on the size or the lack thereof, you’ll need to get a smaller one so that you can maneuver it around. Lastly, you need to analyse the type of shelving in your business.
As the purpose of lifting material lifting equipment and trolleys is to carry and move things around, the loading capacity is a crucial consideration. Further, it’s also one of the distinguishing factors between lifting equipment like pallet lifters and forks from trolleys. Trolleys can carry a maximum of around 500 kilograms, depending on their build and material. However, pallet lifters and forks can easily lift even 2500 kilograms. If you work with lighter goods and materials, then a trolley will do the job. Otherwise, lifting equipment is necessary.
Another distinguishing quality is that trolleys can only be loaded and pushed. You can’t lift anything with them if you want to reach something up on a shelf. But you can do this with pallet lifters and forks. However, even lifters and forks are somewhat limited, as most of them come with a certain maximum lifting height. Additionally, there is a difference between manual and electric models. Some of them need to be lifted by pressing downwards on the handle and pushed to move, while others are completely electric, and you need to press a button to do both of these things. On the downside, electric models have one major drawback – they require regular maintenance as the parts can be damaged over time.
Types and Extra Features
Depending on your line of work, you might want to get specialized material handling equipment. If you work with plenty of materials that need to be moved quickly, you can get an extra-long pallet lifter. Or, if you work in the food, pharmaceutical, or chemical industry, you can get one made with corrosion-resistant metal, like stainless or galvanised steel.
If you want to maximise the working space, you can get a trolley with multiple levels. But if you’re moving something that is extra-long, some trolleys come with an extra platform size. Finally, if you need to move something up stairs or ramps, there are heavy-duty appliance trolleys. All you need to do is put the product on the base plate, tilt it, and you’re good to go.
As there are many types of materials you have to move, your materials handling equipment must also adapt. If, for instance, you work with liquids, you know how heavy and impossible it is to lift a 40-gallon drum. You can’t carry the drum without it moving back and forth with your hands, and there aren’t any ways to lift it using the handles. It’s also incredibly easy to get hurt should it fall on your feet or legs. To avoid this burdensome task, you can put the drum on a regular pallet lifter or roll it down, but there is a better way – specialised drum handling equipment, which mainly comes in two types.
The first type is the electric drum lifter and rotator, and the second option is the manual one. With both options, the first thing you should pay attention to is the load capacity. Then, you need to check the type and the dimensions of the drums they can carry. If your goal is to carry drums long distances and lift them high to put them on shelves, it’s best if you get an electric drum lifter and rotator. If you need to move them and put them down, then a manual carry and rotator will do the job.
Waste Handling Equipment
The handling and disposal of trash is never easy, and no one wants to do it. It’s always smelly, and even looking at it can be sometimes unbearable. As a result, equipment that is designed to do away with it can be of great help. Luckily, there are three main types of waste handling equipment that you can get.
If you work with non-corrosive regular materials, you can get a plastic bin. This bin can come in the standard wheelie form that stands upright, and you tilt to move it. But, if you need to move heavier garbage, you can get a waste bin trolley or dumpster with wheels on it.
If, however, you work with corrosive and heavy-duty materials, you can get a steel one that is built to withstand both. Some of these can also be moved with forklifts, which you then open at the bottom to dispose of everything. An example of such is a drop bottom pin.
Regardless of whether you’re doing woodwork, metalwork or basic construction, there’s nothing more bothersome than manually working with many of the small parts. I’m talking about the pesky bolts, fasteners, screws, etc. Instead of torturing yourself trying to fit these annoying parts with a wrench or screwdriver, there is an alternative solution – impact drivers. These are lightweight power tools that weigh very little, are convenient to use and are super-efficient. Impact drivers are automatic, easy-to-use thanks to their simple commands, and they improve the quality of the work being done.
There are many types of impact drivers, all of which feature different technical characteristics and uses, and there are even more brands. Regardless, almost any impact driver will speed up your work, especially when that work involves dealing with screws and fasteners. It can save you a lot of time and nerves. That being said, let’s discuss the different brands that specialise in manufacturing high-quality impact drivers, one of which is the Milwaukee impact driver (my personal favourite), and more technical specifics and uses that you should be aware of as a first-time buyer.
As with any other industry, some manufacturers stand above the rest and are considered premium quality. The Milwaukee fuel impact driver models, for example. If you’re looking for a high-quality, yet budget-friendly version, their M18 is the ideal choice. It’s very compact and light, weighing only two kilograms with the batteries put in. Still, what truly makes it stand out are its three impact modes. Depending on your needs, you can change to the setting that suits the particular task most. The two decisive factors for this are rotations per minute and impacts per minute (RPM and IPM). Another crucial feature that makes a difference is the torque, which changes based on how much force you’re using. If you need to do precise work, you can go for the first, lowest torque setting. Meanwhile, the second one is for preventing damage to fasteners or materials, and the third one is for the hardest applications. As you change settings, the RPM and IPM increase, resulting in a more powerful torque. Therefore, if you’re looking for an efficient all-rounder the M18 impact driver is a great option.
There are many other great brands like Makita or DeWalt, but the chief difference is the price and options. While these brands might offer more options and possibilities, the price goes up as well. What are the other differences between an impact driver and other tools? And why is it more beneficial to have an impact driver?
There are many different types of drill power tools, like hammer drills, power drills, which are then categorised as either corded or cordless. So where do impact drivers fit in? First and foremost, it’s important to distinguish between corded and cordless power tools. Will you have an available power source close by or not? This is the question you need to ask yourself before you make a choice. Based on whether you choose a corded or cordless model, the possibilities and power the tool demonstrates will be different. Impact drivers are almost always cordless, so you can use them for lighter construction applications like making a hole, driving a screw, or tightening a small bolt or nut. On the other hand, corded power tools are great for heavy-duty work, as they provide a more consistent force. Furthermore, cordless tools come equipped with a clutch that stops the drill’s drivetrain when you’ve reached a certain torque.
With that in mind, the two other technical characteristics that set them apart from other tools are the torque and the ability to work with hex-shaft bit drills. Both of these characteristics are codependent, so they usually come hand-in-hand. Due to this, they exhibit more torque and force as they release a lot more rotational power in quick bursts.
On the other hand, hammer drills and power drills differ from this in several aspects. Hammer drills, like the name states, do not use as much rotational force. They focus more on vibrating the bit drills back and forward, mimicking a hitting notion. Therefore, they’re a lot better to use with brick, stones or blocks. Lastly, power drills are best for drilling holes in which you can put the fasteners or screws afterward. Some power drills even come with a screwdriver mode. Regardless, the impact driver thumps them due to it being made specifically for driving screws.
Technical Features and Uses
Lastly, there are some crucial technical features to take into account when buying an impact driver. First, as aforementioned, you should pay attention to the IPM and the RPM. The impact driver functions on these two characteristics, as they ensure that the impact driver can successfully drive in screws even through the toughest materials. While the RPM represents the speed at which the screw rotates and drills it in, the IPM represents the impacts per minute, or the driver’s ability to transfer the power from your hand to the screw. The IPM is a concussive force that hits the screw to put it through the material that makes sure they’re well-put and level. If you want to check the surface of your work to ensure everything’s level and plumb, you can get a laser level.
Furthermore, you need to check the motor and the modes, as previously mentioned with the Milwaukee fuel impact driver. Motor-wise, it’s generally better to get a brushless motor, simply because it performs better and lasts longer. In line with the motor, the voltage is also important. If you want a more powerful machine, 18 voltage versions are better as they have more IMP. When it comes to modes, you should ensure that your choice of impact driver includes all the modes you need. You won’t always need the most powerful torque, while other times, you’ll need all the torque you can get. A mode can save you time and energy as you can switch it up. Finally, you should check the ergonomics and controls. The tool you buy needs to be easy to use with little effort. After all, you’re buying power tools to make the job easier, not harder.
Warehouse management boils down to a few simple and straightforward operations: receiving, storing, packing and shipping products. However, there are a few other steps to ensure the in-house organization is also implemented to streamline the workflow, reduce costs, eliminate errors and avoid injuries. Basically, everyone is after making the most of the space available, while having to do as little manual material handling as possible. Efficiency and efficacy in warehouse settings pretty much come down to having your cargo well organized and your workers putting their effort where it matters.
The loading dock in your warehouse is an important node of activity. And most loading operations are handled with forklifts. They stack up pallets with cargo and then the pallets themselves go onto a vehicle. But what about the products that are too light to be processed by a forklift and too heavy to be loaded manually? Well, there are a few pieces of material handling equipment that can prove to be invaluable when it comes to improving your loading dock’s efficiency.
When I talk about manual lifts, I’m talking about appliances, small boxes and loads stored in tight and confined places. When the ubiquitous warehouse workhorse – the forklift – is not the best choice for your loading bay, you have to turn to alternative solutions. Fortunately, there are many other options out there. Warehouse pulley systems and cranes are a very reliable option, but they are not fit for all purposes. And more often than not, they require physical effort to work properly. Then, there is the electric manual lift that works with the push of a single button. They are handy across all sorts of industries, and you can use them away from the docking bay as well because most of them are easily portable.
These are the epitome of movable manual lifts. Their overall capacity is around the 100kg mark and most simple configurations have a winch capable of holding the load at any point. The frame is made of aluminium (and reinforced with steel cable – so no pinching) and the wheels are puncture-proof. Lift trolleys are able to handle different kinds of loads, but are ideal for loading small appliances onto a vehicle. You can even take it in the vehicle if needed, as many of them are foldable.
This would be your ultimate hydraulic platform stacker lift. The load capacity is 400kg and it’s operated via a foot pump. It can reach heights of up to 1500mm. You can remove the platform and use the two fork tines to lift small pallets. Manual stackers come with wheels and are usually used for stacking goods at ceiling level, tweaking machine parts and lifting packages.
Electric Platform Positioners
With lifting and lowering speeds of 55mm/s, this is one of the best types of electric lifts on the market. You can use electric platform positioners to transport and deal with pharmaceutical supplies, catering and delivery services, or use them as part of your packing line. They’re easy to maneuver around narrow aisles where goods need to be lifted at shoulder height and higher. Most models are powered by a 12×2-10Ah battery and fitted with an overload protection system.
Scissor lifts are on the heftier side of movable lifts and the units themselves weigh more than 200kg. It comes as no surprise that setting up a scissor lift able to deal with 400kg loads takes some serious hardware and effort. The electric variety is powered by two 12V 33Ah batteries and they are very useful for lifting heavy objects. You can find scissor lifts rated for a range of loads, but they mostly excel when the cargo is heavy. With pneumatic wheels and a 400W motor (both driving and lifting power), they are a low-key substitute for your typical forklift.
One of the most traditional solutions to lift goods in your warehouse is the gantry crane. These days, the frames are made to be lightweight and easy to assemble. Because of all this, the gantry crane is portable if you need it to be. Just put together the two A-frames, cross beam, castors, trolley and the hardware. Weight capacity is up to 2 tonnes and the distance between the wheels can be adjusted.
Loading Dock Efficiency
Having a versatile range of manual lifts and forklifts will not result in improved loading efficiency by itself. Warehouse managers have to find ways to make picking orders and dispatching parcels as simple as possible. Unfortunately, preparing cargo for shipping involves a lot of paperwork. Lifting packages is easy, keeping track of it is not.
There are many schools of thought in logistics, however, every single one of them includes at least 3 W’s (what, when, where). Some systems not only add another W (who) but also need to know the H (or how). Without going into much detail – having the relevant data on your cargo in a timely fashion and in a manner that is most useful to you is crucial for efficient warehouse management. Many turn to solutions in the digital realm (software and programs) instead of piling up a mountain of paper. In fact, having a program for managing stockpiles, picking orders, and delivering goods has become industry standard.
No warehouse manager should tolerate lousy loading dock efficiency because it will ultimately affect the success of the company. General clients shopping on the internet are used to instant gratification and when you fail to deliver on time they will turn to others. It’s the most challenging aspect of logistics, as you not only have to deliver the goods to the end-user, but it’s imperative you do it right on time.
Whether for storage or shipping, adopting efficient process improvements can play a significant role in your business’s cost savings in the long term. This is especially true for managing effective supply chains, where securing products on a pallet is a big part of everyday operations, but is oftentimes overlooked. If you don’t know the full benefits of pallet strapping, the different types of strapping materials available and their distinct advantages and disadvantages, it’s understandable why you might think of it as an extra expense.
Implementing the right warehouse shelving and racking units is one of the most important business decisions you’ll ever make. Your shelving and racking systems provide a great return of investment by allowing you to maximise your space, while minimising product turnover at the same time and delivering a safe working environment for everyone involved.
If you’re looking to buy shelving units and racks, you should know that there are a few different types that serve different purposes. Regardless, all shelving and racking systems are made up of three parts – frames that include beams and uprights, the decking components that are made up of wire decking and support bars, and protective pieces that protect the rack frame against damage.
The beams and uprights, plus the shelving parts work together to support the loads. The protective pieces aren’t essential, but they serve as a type of insurance against damage. Warehouses are busy environments, so forklift and other material handling equipment strikes aren’t a matter of if they happen, but rather a matter of when they happen. Let’s explain what all the parts of a shelving and racking unit do so that you can have a better understanding of what you need to look for when you set out to buy shelving units.
The vertical components of the shelving system – the uprights or frames, take the structural load from the system and transfer it to the concrete floor. That being said, it’s important to consider the load capabilities of the unit. Loads can be either dead or live. The dead load represents the weight of the shelving unit itself, whereas the live load refers to the entire weight of the items sitting on the racking or shelving unit.
The beams, uprights and decking work together to manage heavy loads of products. If properly designed, these components will safely hold the capacity they’re rated for. For that reason, make sure each part of the shelving or racking unit you buy is strong enough to perform its intended job.
The uprights, also known as frames or verticals, are your shelves’ outer component. The two most important dimensions to consider are depth and height. The height is the distance from the warehouse floor to the top of the shelf. The height of the upright can range from 2.5m up to more than 10m, depending on how much vertical space is available in the warehouse. The depth represents the width of the frame from front to back. The depth of the shelf unit can vary from 90cm to 150cm.
The horizontal shelf parts are called beams. The beams are usually made of steel and take the downward forces of loads and transfer them horizontally to the uprights whereas the live load moves vertically to the floor. The two most important dimensions to consider are length and beam depth.
The length dimension represents the clear span between uprights, whereas beam depth represents the thickness of the beam. Both dimensions play a huge role in the beams’ ability to transfer and take weight. Usually, the longer the beam, the thicker it should be. Beams are available in two profiles – square and step beams.
The support bars often come as extra accessories, and they basically run between the beams to support the structure. These bars support the structure all across the centre and prevent it from sagging, flexing or breaking. Some support bars are compatible with step beams, while others work with square beams.
The wire decks are a substitute for support bars. These accessories provide a lot of load support and act as a net to prevent items from falling in between the beams of the shelves. The wire is usually made of steel, and they’re available as either flared or step wire decks. Flared decks are also known as universal decks, and they feature a design that makes them compatible with both step and square beams. Step wire decks, on the other hand, are specifically made for step beams, and they provide an extra, snuggly-supported deck surface.
No warehouse shelving system is complete without a rack protector. These small but important safety devices are your first line of defence against impact from forklifts. They’re indispensable and inexpensive components that protect against forces that can topple or damage your shelving unit.
There are various different types of rack protectors, and most of them are made from either plastic or steel. They’re typically placed at floor level, as that’s where forklift tines hit upright edges most. However, you can also install rack protectors higher up to provide additional protection.
You can choose from a broad range of shelves and racking systems online, suitable for a wide range of applications. All of these systems will come in different sizes, load capacity and other specifications, so it’s important to pay close attention to the parts that make up the unit in order to make sure you get one that suits your needs.
Creating a pleasant working environment for your employees and an enticing office aesthetics for your clients can be a challenge. Flooring plays an important role in the overall design and feel of a room, which is why there are various factors to consider when choosing a model for your office. You can find a wide range of flooring options on the market but not all of them are suitable for a working environment.
Whether you need to patch up a leaking pipe, insulate an exposed wire or just secure an object to a surface, the right type of adhesive tape can be a quick, affordable and simple fix. In many heavy-duty jobs such as plumbing and construction, adhesive tapes are increasingly replacing the role of fasteners and glues. Why is that so?
If there’s one piece of protective gear that you can’t be without once you clock in, it’s a pair of high-quality work boots. They’re of great importance to have no matter what industry you’re working in. The right pair of work boots will keep you safe from whatever the job throws at you and will help make sure that you stay comfortable during your workday. However, not all work shoes are made the same. There are many different types of work boots with different features to suit different needs and styles.
Whether you’re working in an office, a factory floor or a distribution facility, you’ve probably used or needed a label printer at some point. Labeling printers aren’t just useful for managing and labeling stock, but they also play a crucial role in managing internal files and documents to make sure they don’t go missing. With that said, if you’re on the market for a brand new commercial label printer, there are a couple of important factors to consider in order to ensure you buy the best one.
“Muffins should always be eaten quite calmly, as it is the only way to eat them!” – Oscar Wilde
Agreed. Nothing beats a morning coffee and the smell of freshly baked muffins. Wholesome recipes, quality ingredients and a whole lot of love … that’s what it’s all about. For us consumers at least it is. For the players on the other side of the counter, it’s not as simple.
Packaging is the last but arguably one of the most important business operations. The constant innovations in the plastic industry have a huge impact on the packaging industry. Bundling stretch film, in particular, has made packaging much more easy and convenient in a wide range of industries. It’s made by polymerising ethylene in a high-pressure reactor. The resin is subsequently blown, slit and wound to create thin film rolls, which are used by product manufacturers for a wide range of packaging purposes.
The purpose of material handling equipment is pretty straightforward – to make material handling in commercial settings more convenient, more efficient and safer for the workers who are handling a broad range of products. Lifting heavy materials can take a toll on a person, which can result in serious injuries, followed by a sick leave and possibly getting sued. All of these things can leave your business financially strained, and employee satisfaction may drop significantly, which in turn can reduce productivity. A safe worker is a happy worker, and all managers have a duty to ensure their employees are safe from harm and happy with their jobs. For that reason, investing in material handling equipment such as trolleys, trucks and racking systems can be one of the most valuable long-term investments.
If your facility deals with liquids on a daily basis, then a spill kit is an absolute must-have. Picking the right one is important when dealing with leaks and spills. However, with so many choices available, how do you know which spill kit is best for your business? Determining that isn’t as difficult as it seems, as spill kit manufacturers have made it quite easy. In fact, it’s quite easy only after you have the answers to the following questions.