Monday, December 21, 2015

Yours When You Need It, Ours When You Don't

What a grand idea.  The idea that I can have something to use as my own when I need it, and simply return it when I don't need it any longer.  That is the way it works for rental equipment here at ACT. We have over 500 pieces of equipment in stock for customer rental needs, including forklifts, narrow aisle equipment, sweepers, scrubbers, batteries, chargers, attachments, boom lifts, scissor lifts, and much more. Our rental equipment is available by the hour, day, week, and month with different rates dependent on the type of equipment needed and the rental term.

Renting equipment allows customers to continue to meet their customer demands while experiencing some anomaly in their business cycle.  Many times, work load demands exceed the ability of the current fleet. The amount of work requires more equipment, or different equipment with a special attachment or specification. Many businesses have seasonal work that demands heavy work volume for short periods of time. One good example is farming. The harvest time can be a very short period of time, and dependent on weather, change the style of equipment needed during that short period. Rental lifts make a great choice here, as you would only need to rent the equipment for a short period of time, and your needs change from year to year.

Other times, our customer's fleet age and condition may dictate a need for rental equipment. we deliver rental equipment with an average age of 3 to 4 years old, typically newer than our customer's fleet. When customer equipment is down for service, rentals play a vital role in keeping business flowing and product moving. This same rental can provide a great gap filler when replacing an older piece of equipment with a new model and waiting on factory delivery.

Renting allows our customers the chance to keep the latest equipment and technology without a great deal of investment and long term commitment. Customers love the ability to rent this equipment and verify the manufacturer claims on fuel savings, productivity enhancements, and product safety features.

Rental equipment - Yours when you need it, ours when you don't!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Salute to Service

Service personnel work behind the scenes, often going overlooked and under appreciated for their dedication and fine work. When we take our automobiles in for service, we get to see the service writers, and sometimes the service manager, and the cashier as we make our payment before leaving the dealership.  In the world of industrial equipment service, things happen differently.  Industrial equipment gets serviced by similar ASE Certified technicians, completing forklift safety training in addition to the manufacturer service training. These well trained technicians travel in dealer provided service vehicles, arriving at customer locations to complete the needed repair. Oftentimes, the forklift driver is the point of contact, and sometimes a manager. Few people see the technician performing work beside the service vehicle, set up, clean up, testing, and getting the equipment back into service. If service work is not completed at the customer site, it is hauled from customer site to the dealership, where ASE Certified technicians go to work completing needed repairs.  Our field and shop technicians use computer software to help troubleshoot some of the latest technology. Again, "behind the scenes" service workers getting customers back to work.

The forklift technicians are backed by a team of support staff that helps connect the events from start to finish. Our dispatchers use GPS software to optimize response time. Receptionists, dispatchers, transportation staff, parts clerks, service clerks, and managers make sure work is completed timely, professionally, and accurately.
We make a large investment in providing exceptional service, striving to exceed expectations. Experience based solutions, not just a slogan here at ACT, it's a way of life.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Forks - Safe and Secure

This is so basic, even a child understands it. We all use forks to eat meals, so we understand what a fork does for us.  It gets things I want from point A (my plate) to point B (my mouth). Enough said, forks on a forklift do the same thing. Got it.
So I need forks for my forklift to work properly. I get it, but once I buy a set with a new forklift, I am done, right?  The forks on the forklift play a vital role with safe and proper handling of products. Manufacturers of forks for forklifts have developed a lot of options, capacities, sizes, and styles.  An inspection of the application and use can help a professional determine the best match of forks to do the job properly and safely. The most common specification on the forks are length, width, and height. These three specifications help determine the capacity, and the distance between the hanger brackets determine what carriage class the forks will work on in the field.  What this means is that just because a set of forks will "attach" to a forklift, the capacity may be inadequate to safely handle the load. On Toyota forklifts, a base capacity forklift rated at 3,000 lb. has the same carriage classification (see inserted picture) as a 5,000 lb. capacity forklift. Some manufacturers use the same carriage class from 3,000 to 6,000 lb. capacity. This means the forks would physically fit and attach on either forklift, but could be rated for the wrong capacity. Additionally, heels of the forklifts can wear faster than other parts of the fork as the heels make floor contact most often. As the fork heel wears, the amount of weight those forks can safely carry is greatly reduced. 10% of wear on the heel reduces capacity by 20%.  Since it is almost impossible to visually inspect for 10% wear, fork calipers are available to measure this critical component of stability and safety.

The picture to the left here shows another common fork issue, damages from forks that are too long. ANSI and OSHA mandate that fork lengths are at least 75% of the product length. For example, a common pallet is 40"wide x 48" long, so the forks would need to be at least 36" long to meet the industry mandate. One of the most common lengths of forks is 42" long because this allows a "buffer zone" for safety, allowing for product overhang on the pallet, as well as driver error in not placing the load against the fork. Add to this, the options for standard taper, fully polished and tapered, round tip, block, brick, and fork extensions, proper specification is best left to a professional working with customers to determine the best alternatives and options. Something that seems so simple gets complicated when you consider the variables, options, and ever changing products handled in the field.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Parts - Need them quick, need them right!

When a piece of equipment is down, response time is of vital importance. Finding the part quick is important, but finding the right part that is the right replacement is the most important consideration. When a part is needed, call the parts department and be prepared with the following things; manufacturer name, model number, and serial number.  It helps to provide company name, contact name, and return phone number, as these things help confirm customer account is set up, active, and ready to process an order. While the world grows ever more in love with high tech gadgets and communication methods, parts inquiries, proposals, and orders should be handled over the phone with a live person. Even if that means waiting on a call back from an experienced parts associate, the wait for human interaction can be invaluable. Experienced parts associates can help make sure the part is right by asking the right questions. They also may offer other considerations, additional items needed for replacement along with the single part, as well as options for freight and shipping to ensure the right part, at the right price, to meet the situation.
You might think a large company with a fleet of equipment would get preferential treatment and attention. All customers needing parts for a piece of equipment that is not operating are important. Sometimes, the small companies rely completely on one piece of equipment, and don't have a spare to use during parts wait time. If there are any questions about the part and location of the part, an exploded parts diagram can be provided showing the part detail, and that can help verify that part ordered is the right part. Other things to consider would be quality of the part, warranty coverage for the part, and assistance provided by the parts department. 
Getting the right part, at the right price, at the right time, that makes for a good combination for getting that piece of equipment back in operation.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Sweep, Scrub, or Both?

There are many variables to consider when determining the correct scrubber / sweeper for a specific application. We attempt to determine the “level of clean” the customer desires. We also review the current facility floor care program. Does the customer wish to have general dust/debris control requiring a sweeper? Or is a “squeaky clean” floor indicating the need for a scrubber the requirement? Is there a substantial amount of floor debris and also the need for a "squeaky clean" floor? If yes, the customer may need a combination sweeper/scrubber machine. 
For scrubber applications, floor surface is of vital importance. Application surveys help reveal floor surfaces as smooth, painted, epoxy coatings, or brushed concrete.  The type of debris, amount of debris to be collected, and the surface type help drive the proper machine to complete the work long term. Cylindrical machines are best suited for smooth floors, whether painted or unpainted. Disc machines are best suited for rough, uneven surfaces or tile floors with deep grout lines.

The next step is identification of the cleanable square footage of a facility, along with the aisle widths, facility obstacles, indoor and outdoor ramps, etc. These factors help to determine the right equipment size/model. Power options are to be considered as well, as models offered come in electric, LPG, Gas, or diesel powered models.  At this point, customers can consider demonstration of the proper and recommended unit, and typically a formal proposal follows the demonstration.

Benefits of clean floors:

  1. Aesthetics - companies care about the look of their facilities and want to present the right image to their associates and to their visitors.
  2. Light Reflection - brighter, well lighted facilities provide cost savings in power bills as well as safety related accidents. See here a before and after picture taken during a recent product demonstration at a customer location.

  3. Office cleanliness and appearance - warehouse areas with dirty floors can lead to dirt being tracked in the office, increasing the expense of office cleaning, and detracting from facility appeal.
  4. Employee safety - dust, debris, chemicals, and oils on the floor threaten safety due to slip and trip hazards.
  5. Employee health - dust and other particulate matter can include allergens so a clean facility improves air quality for all employees.
  6. Product acceptance - less dust and debris on stored products can lead to reduced costs and higher levels of customer satisfaction as shipped products are cleaner.
  7. Forklift maintenance cost reduction - removal of debris from floor reduces maintenance associated with repairs and replacement cost of wheels, casters, and load wheels on pallet jacks and some forklifts.

There is much to consider, but very much worth the time, as these units bring great value and reduced costs for the facility for many, many years.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Industrial Doors - Tis the Season

Industrial Doors

With a continuation of the story line from last week's blog, I want to review last week's introduction again today.  In the industrial and manufacturing workplace, products move in and out of facilities with the idea of creating profits for business. Product movements pass through doors and across docks in the normal course of travel in, through, and out of the facility. Customers that have strong partnerships with vendors that provide installation and service for dock and door equipment can realize better return on investment. Vendors that understand product movement, forklift specifications, throughput, and cycle times provide solutions that meet the need, just not a specification.
In this week's blog, let's take a look at industrial doors. Industrial doors in workplace serve as a passage way between work areas, often for security, climate control, dust control, and noise abatement. These doors vary in design and style from metal roll up doors to mesh screen for flying insect barriers.  The method the doors work varies as well. The methods vary from manually controlled, control box, pull cords, and motion sensors.  Regardless of style and material, doors serve an important purpose in the work place, and proper door maintenance and installation are important for maximum production and cost control. 
Many industrial work places have the need for fire doors. These doors protect one area of the building from another area in case of fire, and provide time for workers to safely exit, and also save the company assets in the protected area while the fire department arrives to put out the fire. Have  you tested, adjusted, and certified the fire doors in your facility?  Take a look at this short video of a fire door and the proper adjustments so the door closes at the proper speed.
If you don't know the current condition of your industrial doors, or you know there are issues that need attention, now is the right time to address those concerns.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Safety Solution, or just another trend?

Trendy or Safety?  We have experienced a huge uptick in interest and orders on the Blue Light safety device, which leads me to wonder if this is a safety "phase", or a real answer for workplace safety. When a device increases safety awareness and offers distracted pedestrians a warning of forklift traffic, it seems to be a positive solution.  We conduct customer demos of the lights, and the demos have resulted in immediate sales and installations.  Below is the ACT video of the blue light.
You will  notice references to specifications, and as I review the specifications, I wonder what will happen during an OSHA inspection.  Will there eventually be regulations on the warning time?  The unit comes with an adjustable bracket and mount, and offers a range of 10-30 feet. Who determines the proper distance, and therefore warning time, in the specific workplace?  What factors should be considered in mounting and setting the angle?  Once the angle and warning distance are set, is that something that needs to be periodically inspected for assurance that the warning distance is consistent?  If I have a fleet of 5 forklifts, am I required to have the device installed on all forklifts at the same time?
We have installed these safety devices multiple times and some customers have them set for both forward and reverse direction. If facing forward, should I have two forward facing lights, one on each side of the forklift to insure the load doesn't block pedestrian vision of the blue light? 
Historically, OSHA requires refresher training for operators to explain new safety equipment as well as pedestrian training so that everyone understands the new device and the effect on safety. I believe this is the case with the blue light as well.
As you can see, there are a lot of questions to be answered. However, the lights seem to be performing well and increasing pedestrian awareness of forklift traffic, so safety seems to be on the increase.  We talked to a OSHA Standards Office for the North Carolina Department of Labor. We were told the blue lights did not constitute a recognizable hazard, so OSHA would have no issue with the blue light. Additionally, this officer told us that adding the device was not a violation because it does not  affect capacity or operation of the forklift.
Hope your week was a safe one, with or without a blue light.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Hello, and thank you for checking out the blog post. ACT specializes in providing solutions through equipment and services for customers in the material handling equipment industry, industrial cleaning (Sweepers and Scrubbers) equipment industry, as well as general warehouse and manufacturing areas. Personally, I have been in the industry since 1988, and I hope this blog will provide industry insight and best practices from experience and solutions. I hope ideas and thoughts shared here will provide solutions to common industry problems while helping you see a return on investment and increase efficiency and safety. Please feel free to share comments, thoughts, and to contact me directly at with specific questions or suggestions for future posts.  Or, call me directly to discuss ideas at 336-397-5010.