Back-Belts are NOT Created Equal

June 18, 2010

The use of back belts in industrial settings is very controversial. Many companies have tried them and found that they either didn’t help at all, or possibly they made the situation worse. Traditional back belts just squeeze you into an existing poor posture.

Back-A-Line Belts are Not the Same!!

There is one product on the market that is truly different. While most back belts are just “girdles”, the Back-A-Line belt has a light-weight, yet firm lumbar pad that stops pain and promotes good posture, while strengthening muscles and preventing back injury.

There have been over 1000 tests on this belt, from numerous industries and there has never been a bad result!

The best part is that it is truly a no-lose situation. If you will agree to do a simple survey before the use of the belts begins, than one after 30 days, then you have a 100% guarantee. If the Back-A-Line doesn’t significantly decrease back pain, then the manufacturer returns them and pays the shipping too.

We have seen a great deal of success with these belts. I have a customer that calls each time they hire a new person in the warehouse and orders them a new belt. They don’t let any one work without the Back-A-Line!

The question is not if the Back-A-Line will decrease pain and injury or if you will get a good return on investment, but how great results will be? If you prevent one injury or decrease the discomfort for even one worker, the
ROI will be positive.  It’s a no-lose proposition.


Ergonomic Mats are a Great Investment

June 10, 2010

This morning I was greeted with several orders from the same customer for ergonomic mats. It’s a great way to start the day.

I think good Ergo Mats are the single most cost-effective investment for a company. The cost is very reasonable and the benefits to employees are huge.

We provided mats to an entire production area, and when I would visit the plant the workers on the line would yell at me “Hi, Mat Lady” and “I love my Mat”. I had one lady tell me that the mat had greatly improved her life. Since we provided the mats she and her husband had been going out dancing again.   A good Ergo Mat is $60-$70.  Amazing how a few dollars can really improve the quality of work and personal life!  Talk to someone that really knows ergonomic matting, buy some good mats and improve health, safety and morale at the same time.

Space-Saving Mezzanines

June 1, 2010

Business is on the uprise.  During the economic downturn, many multi-location distribution organizations closed and consolidated warehouses.  As the economy picks up, then space becomes a major issue for the remaining locations. 

In many operations, a mezzanine system is the ideal way to add floor space.  Many work operations  I see are packed at the floor level, but there isn’t anything above 8′ or 10′  in most of the warehouse.  Creating a second level above the main floor has lots of advantages.  Moving or expanding to another secondary warehouse should always be the last choice. 

Mezzanines can be used in several ways.  Some companies will place office spaces, conference rooms, spare parts or slower-turning inventory on top of the mezzanine.  For others, a mezzanine is an ideal way to place a work cell in a designated area.  For more industrial applications, a mezzanine can be used for mixing operations, with raw materials fed from the top-level to the lower level, improving productivity and creating safer walking and work spaces for workers.  Materials can be moved to the top of the mezzanine by forklift, vertical material lifts or conveyors. 

The space above 8′ is already paid  for in the monthly rent or mortgage.  It makes sense to use the space for operations.

Can Material Handling Products be Green?

May 26, 2010

A customer called to day to discuss their pressing need for more space in their warehouse. They have a company directive to improve their efforts to be “Green”. After learning more about the situation, I suggested that an In-Plant office with storage on top would allow them to clear some valuable real estate. The customer asked me why InPlant offices are green.

There are a number of reasons. The first is that the construction takes place in a manufacturing facility, so materials can be more effectively used with less waste.

Freight Elevator or Vertical Conveyor?

May 24, 2010

A potential customer called today with a dilemma.  He has a new building going up and will need a way to move material to a second level of the building.   He has been told that he will need a freight elevator, but he doesn’t have the budget.  He asked if we had any solutions.

An affordable alternative to a freight elevator is a Vertical Reciprocating Conveyor or VRC.  This equipment is designed to move materials, not people, so it is much less expensive (1/3 the cost) of a freight elevator. 

The VRC is generally designed for the application, to the load sizes, weights and characteristics of each operation.  We have worked on lifts as small as 30″ x 30″ up to giant VRC’s big enough to lift 2 cars.  One or more stops can be designed into the lift, with entries and exits on various sides of the platform, so they are very flexible.  We have even used VRC’s to replace old, outdated freight elevators.   Many VRC’s are used in applications where people have been transporting materials up stairways.  That can be a really expensive injury!

Some time ago, I had a customer call and say that they had been lifting barrels to a mezzanine level with a forklift and that they had dropped a barrel.  It caused a huge incident, with the local fire department, HAZMAT, EPA and the associated clean-up.  They were lucky that no one was hurt.  We quoted and installed a VRC for them.  They were so happy with the improvement in safety and productivity that they bought a second VRC for another location. 

A VRC can be a big savings, not only in the initial project cost, but in the longer-term for process improvement and a much higher level of safety.

Securing Dock Doors

May 20, 2010

Summer must be near! I had a call from a customer that needs to secure their dock doors. They recently added a second shift, and sometime during the evening, an intruder entered and pilfered a power washer from their building.   A good way to secure dock doors is with a folding gate.

Folding gates expand to cover the opening of the dock and then contract or fold back when not in use. Folding gates come in single panels for “people” doors, and in pairs up to 24′ in width for dock doors. Gates are also available in smaller, portable versions to block of aisles or other areas of the plant.

Folding gates provide access control and security, visibility and air circulation for the facility. The summer months always generate interest in folding gates, so that more dock doors can be opened to improve ventilation.

High-Performance Industrial Shelving

April 29, 2010

It’s nice to be appreciated.  I had a customer call yesterday afternoon to tell me how happy he was with the quality of the industrial shelving we shipped to his facility.  In the past, his company had purchased small amounts of shelving at the local home center.  It was falling down and shelves were bending, so he called us for some industrial-grade shelving. 

There is a big difference between Industrial rated shelving and consumer.  If you look on the label at the big box store, most of those shelving units are only rated for 200 lb. TOTAL.  Our lightest-weight shelving is rated for 450 lbs. PER SHELF up to a maximum of 10,000 per unit.  No problem with that bending or falling over. 

And the capacity increases for other applications; as much as 2000 lbs per shelf.  Getting industrial shelving is worth it and the cost difference isn’t that great.

Buying Pallet Racking- What you should know

April 27, 2010

This morning a customer called looking for some old Penco rack beams in an odd size.  It is mostly impossible to find this stuff any more.  A standard developed in the rack marketplace about 1996: Teardrop Style.  For companies that buy used rack for their warehouses, it is important to know what you are buying.  If you buy most any other “style” of racking, then it is highly likely that it has been in use much longer than the RMI ( Rack Manufacturers Institute) guideline for life span.  You may also find that it is very difficult to find additional rack or components to match. 

Most companies will no longer accept used rack due to the liability issues.  Used rack doesn’t come with a warranty, so the buyer is on the line for failures.  Some insurance companies will walk away from covering used rack since there really isn’t any way to verify the load rating of the rack.  If you are trying to save money by buying used rack, then take the time to get educated on the specifications for this product.  Make sure that what you are buying is not damaged (particularly at the base of uprights), industry standard and originally had enough capacity for your products.

Modular InPlant Offices

April 23, 2010
In Plant Office

In Plant Office in Warehouse

Today has been all about InPlant offices. A modular office can be a big bonus in industrial spaces. For a company that needs a warehouse office, lunchroom, storage areas or wants to cut noise and dust from a manufacturing area, modular InPlant offices offer many advantages.

Some companies think that general construction is better, but there are many disadvantages to stick building a structure. Modular offices ship in about 4 weeks and are fully assembled on the site, often in a couple of days. There is no mess, drywall dust or paint needed. If your company moves, then you can just take that structure along. Not so for constructed offices. Changing configurations or adding additional space is a breeze with modular systems. Since the IPO depreciates as equipment, your ROI is much better than 39.5 years of depreciation for construction.

A big benefit of InPlant offices is the sound reduction quality. A standard office can reduce the noise level 32db from the ambient plant noise. There are special panels available at a nominal cost that offer a 41db decrease.

Spring-Loaded Dock Plate

April 22, 2010
We got a product announcement today from Bluff Manufacturing. The new product is a spring-loaded dock plate. The aluminum plate is fitted with a spring-loaded mechanism that fixes it in place to the dock floor. The springs allow the plate to be safely lowered into place for use and then easily returned to a vertical position for storage. No more injuries from handling dock plates and no chance of losing it! In addition, the plate in its vertical stored position serves as a guard from items rolling off the dock. 

 The spring-loaded dock plate is ideal for a dock situation where the same type of trucks service the dock and the materials are unloaded by non-powered equipment, such as a a dollie, manual pallet jack, cart or hand truck. This product is not meant for use with forklifts or powered equipment of any kind.

This type of dock plate is designed specifically for each application, so a survey of the site must be completed. This is a great product solution to a common loading problem. It is an excellent addition to Bluff’s quality product line.