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.