Forklifts, Warehousing, Materials HandlingMarcus Warner is Director of Strategic Accounts, NITCO, 800-225-7956Some common warehouse problems don’t get the attention they deserve. This is usually because the work needs to get done as soon as possible, leaving little time to step back and look at the big picture.Let’s dive into seven of the most common warehouse challenges and explore potential solutions to help make your warehouse operations efficient.Narrow AislesProblem: Narrow aisles can make navigation with equipment hard, and can potentially slow down operations. Not to mention the occasional damage from bumping into things. Solution: There are a wide variety of forkliftsavailable that are specifically designed to operate in narrow, tight spaces. These narrow-aisle forklifts allow the operator to stand up, instead of sitting down. This can offer an improved view of the material they are working with, reducing accidents and making navigation easier.High ElevationProblem: Some warehouses require workers to put themselves in high-elevation situations, creating a need for stable, portable work platforms.Solution: Personnel lifts can help employees get their work done in high-elevation situations. For example, telescoping boom lifts extend vertical reach and can be controlled by an operator from atop the work platform. Articulating boom lifts are drivable at full elevation and can reach positions that a telescoping lift can’t. Also, scissor lifts are a great option when you need more workspace and lifting capacity since they offer larger work platforms and can handle heavy loads.Higher ReachProblem: When it comes to picking orders, you need more vertical reach.Solution: Many types of order-picking equipment work well for low-level needs, but can lack in ability when it comes to accessing higher items. Try using a mid-level or high-level order picker. Then the operator can move about the warehouse easily while also gaining the ability to reach upper-level racks.Labor IntensiveProblem: Employees are always needed to transport items from Point A to Point B, which takes up valuable time that could be spent on other tasks.Solution: It might be time to consider equipping your warehouse with a weasel, a conveying system that helps automated carts navigate an optical tracking system to move goods throughout your facility.Battery ChangeProblem: Your warehouse is busy. Changing and maintaining the batteries for your electric forklifts and other materials handling equipment is becoming a pain.Solution: It might be time to switch to lithium ion batteries, which charge much faster than lead-acid batteries and require no maintenance. While they are more expensive, they will provide significant savings in annual maintenance costs.Costly RefuelingProblem: You’re concerned that you’re spending too much time and money on just keeping your vehicles charged and fueled.Solution: The solution might be hydrogen. By powering your fleet with hydrogen, you have the ability to create your own fuel right in your own facility. Advancing technology is making this option possible even for modestly sized facilities. On top of instant refueling that eliminates downtime, you’re also able to reclaim the space that is being used for battery charging and maintenance rooms.Leveraging AutomationProblem: Even though your operations have been running smoothly, you’re concerned that you aren’t taking full advantage of automation opportunities to increase efficiency.Solution: Consider robotic vehicles that are self-guided. The system utilizes laser mapping to create a unique map of the layout in your facility, and the advanced software then enables self-guided trucks to perform tasks while working with employees. These devices can be programmed to know exactly where and when to pick up an item, and will then move it to the correct location. Plus, the technology can analyze the rack to determine the best possible position for placement.
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