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Choosing a Distribution Center for e-Commerce Fulfillment

The e-commerce boom caused many distribution centers to shift from dedicated to multi-channel fulfillment. As consumers expect increasingly faster shipping times, distribution center managers are scrambling to find the optimal way to get goods to consumers. Where does that leave retailers who are just now entering the online market? There is no universal solution to this problem, but looking at the pros and cons of the basic choices can help you decide which setup will make distribution for your company the most efficient, whether you plan to handle logistics in-house or go through a 3PL provider. Dedicated Centers The traditional setup of having separate facilities for fulfilling orders from stores and online customers allows for efficient order fulfillment, but makes…more

Utilizing Vertical Space in E-Commerce Fulfillment Centers

Vertical space has been a hot-button issue in warehousing for a long time, but with the rise of e-commerce, boosting clearance height is virtually required for fulfillment operations to remain competitive. The increased value of vertical space in fulfillment centers stems from a sea-change in shopping culture, driven by online shopping. Mail-order catalogs like the iconic Sears, Roebuck, and Co. “Big Book” anticipated the current vogue for shopping at a distance. But unlike previous generations of shoppers, today’s online buyers expect lightning-fast turnaround, with two-day delivery quickly becoming the industry standard. That means fulfillment centers must be geographically closer to their markets. The larger the urban center, the more orders a provider can quickly get into the hands of buyers.…more

The 5 Biggest Differences Between Traditional Fulfillment and E-Commerce Distribution

Online shopping has officially overtaken brick-and-mortar retail. Every year, the United Parcel Service (UPS) consults more than 5,000 online shoppers to track trends in retail. The results of the 2016 UPS survey showed an anticipated but historic change: Shoppers made 51 percent of their purchases online in 2016, the survey said. This is the first time in the long history of retail that online shopping eclipsed traditional brick-and-mortar purchases. Behind the scenes, this change is affecting virtually every aspect of the fulfillment process including the way products move from their point of origin to the consumer’s home. In order to understand the changes e-commerce has inflicted on the warehousing world, we’ve compiled a few of the biggest differences between traditional…more

Efficient Forklift Battery Watering Without Single Point Systems

Integrated Watering Systems are the gold standard for watering forklift batteries. For industrial operations that have the means to install them, these automated watering systems are a great investment. But what about the many, many facilities that aren’t ready to move to a single point system? In 2015, industry publication Modern Materials Handling reported that 70 percent of North American forklift users still water batteries by hand. Is there a way to keep forklift battery water levels perfectly within spec, without resorting to time-consuming and hazardous methods of watering batteries? Of course there is. You just need the right equipment. Here’s a rundown of everything you’ll need to water forklift batteries as safely and efficiently as possible — without investing…more

Developing a Forklift Battery Watering Strategy that Works

Ask any battery room operator how often to water forklift batteries and you’ll probably get one of two responses: “Check them once a week and water as necessary,” they’ll say. Or they might say, “That depends.” The second response is about as accurate as it is frustrating, which is to say, totally. The fact is, battery watering can be tricky to nail down. It’s a good idea to start with weekly checkups and go from there, but ultimately, establishing an ideal watering schedule will take some experimentation. Watch out for the three major efficiency killers when you’re figuring out your watering routine: Don’t overwater. This can cause damaging boil-overs during charges. Don’t underwater. When cells dry out, they lose capacity…more

Prevent Boil-Over with Forklift Battery Watering Tools

Forklift battery boil-over is sometimes accepted as a standard risk of battery room management, but overflow incidents are far from unavoidable. In fact, if your operation has encountered multiple boil-overs this year, you should evaluate your equipment and make sure that you’re adequately outfitted. Boil-overs are dangerous for workers — and expensive for facilities. When battery acid contacts a sealed floor, it quickly eats away at the seal, causing long-term damage that eventually necessitates floor replacement. As we’ve covered in other articles, battery rooms require perfectly flat and level floors, so repairs or replacement can be prohibitively expensive. Battery acid can also damage lift trucks and battery casings, so to safely operate your facility, you need to manage your risks.…more

Forklift Battery Watering: Striking the Right Balance

Watering forklift batteries can sometimes feel like a high-wire act. Add too much water and your risk of boil-over skyrockets; too little, and dry cell takes hold. Stray just a little in either direction, and you’ll find yourself plummeting into a financial pit. That’s because either of those outcomes will wreak havoc on battery life spans. To keep electrolyte levels perfect, establish a battery watering routine that will allow you to extract every drop of power out of your forklift batteries. Here are a few tips to get you started: Choose a battery watering system that matches your fleet size. Integrated Watering Systems are the gold standard of forklift battery watering devices. These automatic systems thread throughout your battery stands…more

How Lead-Acid Forklift Batteries Continue to Evolve

With all the digital ink spilled over lithium-ion and hydrogen fuel cells, it can be easy to forget that manufacturers of lead-acid batteries continue to make improvements on the traditional chemistry of electric motive power. Here are a few of the advancements in lead-acid battery technology that will allow them to compete with newer power sources for electric forklifts: Integrated Supercapacitors – The traditional lead-acid forklift battery supplies plenty of energy, but power-heavy tasks — such as lifting and transporting heavier loads — can drain them faster. That can make it hard to predict the rate of discharge. Supercapacitors can store up to 100 times more energy per unit mass than a typical battery, which makes them perfect for supplying…more

Power Requirements for Tomorrow’s Counterbalance Forklifts

Nearly 60 percent of American forklift users rely on counterbalance trucks to meet the bulk of their material handling needs. Even more than 60 percent of the forklifts in North America run on electricity. (Both statistics date to 2014, the last year the Industrial Truck Association has compiled so far). But times are changing for electric counterbalance forklifts. New motive power technologies are on the horizon. Here are a few developing power sources that may power the industrial trucks of the future — but how will they work for counterbalance forklifts in particular? Lithium-ion batteries are driving progress in the personal electronics field, but that doesn’t translate into great benefits for counterbalance forklifts. Other industries love li-ion because the battery…more

Forklift Batteries: Lead-Acid vs. Lithium-Ion

In 2015, the first lithium-ion battery pack for an industrial lift truck hit the market. That’s astonishing, given that just six months prior, industry journal Material Handling and Logistics reported that lithium-ion batteries were “not available for lift trucks,” because “lift truck applications may have different requirements, such as lower voltage or higher peak currents than existing motive power applications.” The truck that finally brought the predictions of li-ion enthusiasts to life was a modest machine. Given the weight requirements of sit-down counterbalance forklifts, only a walkie pallet truck would work with a lithium-ion power source. Still, history had been made. A year after this bombshell dropped, however, lithium-ion has yet to overtake the lead-acid batteries of yesteryear. There are…more