Home » Archive by category "Blog"

Blog

Creating A Proactive Ergonomics Action Plan for Safer Material Handling

Why should you care about ergonomics? Worker’s compensation claims are likely a major expense for your facility, and even if you’re running a relatively small operation, you’ll eventually face an on-the-job injury caused by repetitive stress.

This is bad for the worker, the facility, and the quality of the product, which is why ergonomic material handling should be a primary focus at every operation. However, you need a forward-thinking approach to realize benefits. There’s no sense in waiting for a claim and the costs that come with it (such as training a temporary worker or stopping work on certain tasks until you’re able to fix the problem).

A proactive approach to workplace ergonomics will identify potential problems before they turn into worker’s compensation claims. This guidebook from the CDC recommends the following steps to create an ergonomic action plan:

  1. Look for Clues – While this is left somewhat vague, it’s not too difficult to find areas for improvement by watching workers in their element. Ideally, you can do this without standing in the same room, as workers tend to change their ergonomic habits when they’re being closely supervised.

    Look for repetitive motions that involve bending, twisting, or lifting. Notice how those tasks become less productive over the course of the day. This is a clear sign of fatigue, and it shows you that there’s room for improvement.

  2. Prioritize Jobs for Improvements – Make a list of the tasks that you’d like to optimize. Factors like the frequency of the task and the number of workers performing the task will affect the chances of a worker injury.

    Ideally, you should address all ergonomic hazards over time, but it makes sense to focus on a single task at a time.

  3. Make Improvements – Typically, this means implementing ergonomic training and/or replacing equipment.

    However, this latter point doesn’t mean replacing equipment with newer tools that serve the same function. For your plan to be truly effective, you should look at individual material handling tasks and try to determine how they can be simplified from an ergonomic perspective.

    Powered-Mobile-Lift-Tables-BHS

    For example, if your workers grab items out of bins or packages, make sure that they’re reaching at appropriate angles. By using BHS Powered Mobile Tilt Tables to tilt loads to an appropriate working height, you can greatly simplify certain tasks, keeping workers comfortable and minimizing movements. Lift tables like the BHS Powered Mobile Lift Table can prevent workers from bending at the waist, improving productivity and reducing the chances of an injury.

  4. Follow Up – The last point is crucial; without proper tracking and follow-up, you’ll have a tough time determining whether your changes were effective.

    You can measure your changes in several ways, but we’d recommend worker surveys, productivity tracking software (the BHS Fleet Tracker can be used for forklift change-outs), and direct video review of the targeted material handling tasks.

A proactive approach to material handling ergonomics will result in lower costs, higher productivity, and happier workers, often at a relatively low expense. Remember, however, that your strategy can only be called “proactive” if you take action before injuries occur. Get started right away and consult the CDC’s Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Material Handling for more information.

Sources:

Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Material Handling.” CDC. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007. PDF. 30 Apr. 2016.

Adjust the Angle of Work Surfaces to Prevent Repetitive Stress Injuries

By the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ last count, musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) made up 32 percent of all workplace injuries in 2014. That number is even higher in the warehousing industry, which has the highest incidence rate for MSDs in the nation — by quite a bit.

In fact, that year saw an incidence rate of 89.9 for MSDs in the transportation and warehousing industry. The next highest rate, found in the ergonomically-challenged health care and social assistance industry, only had an MSD incident rate of 46.9.

Part of the danger to warehouse staff boils down to repetitive packing and unpacking tasks. For workers who fill or empty containers, there’s a simple solution to reduce the ergonomic risk-factor. If you can find a way to position work within what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) call the “power zone” — the space above a worker’s knees, under the shoulders, and close to the body — you’ll go a long way toward preventing costly and painful injuries.

Ergonomic Work Placement May Require Both Lifting And Tilting

CDC-Power-ZoneNote that there are three factors in the CDC’s definition of the power zone. A Lift Table can position work between a worker’s knees and shoulders, but what about that third factor, keeping work close to the body?

Many containers involved in warehousing, manufacturing, and lots of other industries are so deep that they require an extra bend or stretch to access. Those are exactly the types of motions that lead to MSDs with too much repetition.

The solution is to supply Tilt Tables to employees involved in certain packing and unpacking jobs.

How Tilt Tables Prevent Ergonomic Hazards

The CDC recommends avoiding specific motions while working:

  • Bending and reaching
  • Lifting from the floor
  • Placing repetitive stress on the back and shoulders
  • Requiring large amounts of force or effort to accomplish a task

Tilt Tables move work closer to the employee’s body, preventing these harmful actions. For applications that require work with large or heavy loads, a Powered Mobile Tilt Table protects workers from both repetitive stress and heavy-lifting injuries, and they’re available with load capacities of up to 6,000 pounds to handle any job.

Ergonomic specialists at the CDC and NIOSH advise employers to “choose equipment appropriate for the material(s) being handled.” They also recommend choosing powered equipment over its manual counterpart whenever possible. A great variety of material handling equipment is out there, and to realize the greatest ergonomic benefits, it’s best to match the machine to the job as exactly as possible.

In some cases, a standard Scissor Lift Table will do just fine. But for certain tasks, such as emptying containers, ergonomic work positioning isn’t always just about the level of the working surface. Sometimes, it’s also about the angle.

References:

Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Material Handling.” CDC. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007. PDF. 30 Apr. 2016.

News Release: Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away From Work, 2014.” BLS. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 19 Nov. 2015. PDF. 30 Apr. 2016.

How to Prevent Coasting, Drifting, and Leak Down in Hydraulic Lifts

If you work with hydraulic lift tables, you’ve probably encountered a frustrating scenario: You get the lift at the precise elevation you need for a job, and then the darn thing scoots upwards just enough to cause a problem. Either that or it dips down when you add a load.

These are unwanted side-effects of the hydraulic technology that powers industrial lifts. But with a little smart engineering, coasting and leak down can be reduced to near-zero rates.

Understanding Coasting, Drifting, and Leak Down

Prevent lift table hydraulic driftDrifting and leak down are two terms for the same problem; a small amount of hydraulic fluid gets around the cylinder seals or a check or lowering valve, changing the pressure in the lines. That lets the table drop until the pressure equalizes.

Coasting is fairly common for lower-quality lift tables, but it can be a real headache for applications that require precise elevations, like multi-level conveyor lines. It occurs when the table’s momentum drives it upwards even after users disengage the limit switch.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) sets limits for lift table drift at 3/4″ per hour with 36″ of travel. But for some applications, even this standard isn’t stringent enough. To totally eliminate coasting and drift, you need hydraulic systems that are built for precision.

Engineering a Solution for Imprecise Elevation in Lift Tables

Once a lift table is installed, it’s usually too late to build protections against over- and under-travel into the machinery. When you’re planning equipment purchases, ask for a no-coast manifold system from BHS.

This package adds a series of check valves into hydraulic cylinders. These valves are incorporated into the integral manifold along with the up and down solenoids, checking the load instantaneously when a user releases the foot pedals.

Most drifting is caused by leakage in hydraulic cylinders. Lift Tables from BHS prevent this problem in the simplest way possible: by using only the highest-quality hydraulic components on the market. Lines are braided with heavy-duty wire for durability, while hardened chrome piston rods create a superior seal. Purpose-built hydraulic cylinders are expertly honed to prevent leaking.

To protect against more catastrophic elevation loss, every BHS hydraulic system includes thermal overload protection and a velocity fuse that instantly locks lines in the unlikely event of a rupture.

Every Lift Table that BHS ships has been extensively tested by the time it reaches the customer. Technicians inspect each component above the specified load limit to insure reliable performance for the entire working life of the equipment. When you need exact elevations from a Lift Table, every time, BHS delivers.

References:

Casey, Brendan. “The Root Cause of Hydraulic Cylinder Drift.” Machinerylubrication. Noria Corporation, Nov. 2007. Web. 7 May 2016.

Hydraulic Cylinder Drift’s Impact on Control and Safety.” Liftandaccess. Heartland Construction Division, 28 June, 2013. Web. 7 May 2016.

Two Simple Solutions to Prevent Hydraulic Cylinder Drift.” Aggressivehydraulics. Aggressive Hydraulics, Inc., 27 Aug. 2015. Web. 7 May 2016.

Customize Lift Tables for Any Task With Tabletop Attachments

A Lift Table from BHS may be the most versatile piece of material handling equipment in your facility. These hydraulic-powered lifts incorporate into just about any production line, they allow you to create variable-height work stations for any task, and, of course, they effortlessly lift loads of up to 6,000 pounds. In short, Lift Tables are an ergonomist’s dream.

Thanks to a growing line of innovative tabletop attachments, though, they’re also the apple of any industrial engineer’s eye. While BHS can fabricate any tabletop you can imagine, the company offers ready-made solutions for common challenges in a range of industries. These existing designs, organized by application, should get your imagination going:

  1. Manufacturing – Assembly lines are constantly evolving. When you need to move heavy materials into a milling machine or a die, for instance, a Lift Table with a Roller Conveyor (LT-RC) makes the task easy.
    Scissor Lift Tabletop Attachment Options by BHS

    (Left to right) Loading Ramp (LT-LR), Turntable (LT-TT), Ball Transfer (LT-BT), Accordion Skirt Guard (LT-ASG)

     

    For even more versatility moving raw materials down the line, consider a Ball Transfer (LT-BT) attachment. These powerful load-bearers simplify material movement in any direction. A single worker can rotate and send blocks of steel or wood (or anything else) to the next stop on the line, even when there’s an elevation change in order.

    If you work with cylindrical materials, choose a V-Frame tabletop to keep objects safely in place until they’re ready to go to the next step in the production process.

  2. Automotive – Both repair garages and vehicle manufacturers share the challenge of moving large, heavy components safely around the facility. With the right tabletop attachment, Lift Tables make that task safer and more efficient.

    A Turntable (LT-TT) attachment, for instance, would give workers 360 degree access to engines of virtually any size, even while seated. The fact that Lift Tables also allow staff to adjust the work zone to match their proportions makes this setup the most ergonomic way to work on engines.

    Or, combine a Lift Table with the heavy duty BHS Loading Ramp (LT-LR) — you’ll have a variable-height workstation for motorcycles, scooters, or anything else you can fit onto the tabletop. By the way, BHS can fabricate larger tabletops for your Lift Table, if you’re getting ambitious.

  3. Warehousing – The Turntable attachment is perfect for the warehousing industry, too. One of the most common day-to-day tasks in material handling facilities is building pallets. Unloading pallets is no less common. A Self-Leveling Mobile Lift Table (SMLT) with a rotating surface is the ideal machine for working with pallet-loads.

    This configuration keeps pallet-work between every worker’s shoulders and waist, the area ergonomists refer to as the “golden zone.” Staying within this ergonomically-friendly range of motion will cut down on strains and repetitive-motion injuries, according to OSHA guidelines.

Tabletops aren’t the only accessories that can convert a Lift Table into a mission-critical part of your operation. Accordion Skirt Guards protect components from dust, metal shavings, debris, and whatever else you can throw at them. Mobile Lift Tables sit on corrosion-resistant urethane casters for total portability.

Whatever you need to get the work done, BHS can design and build a Lift Table to accomplish the task. For more information on how Lift Tables fit into virtually every industry, read our report on the subject here.

References:

Bond, Josh. “Ergonomics: Finding and maintaining the golden zone.” MMH. Peerless Media LLC, 1 Feb. 2014. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.

Guidelines for Retail Grocery Stores.” OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, 2004. PDF. 23 Apr. 2016.

How Forklift Battery Handling Equipment Helps to Meet Federal Safety Regulations

There are a couple of basic regulatory safety issues to keep in mind when you outfit your battery room. OSHA regulations require a “conveyor, overhead hoist, or equivalent material handling equipment” to assist staff in changing forklift batteries. The reasoning is plain: Forklift batteries are heavy. Without the proper mechanical assistance, staff members are at a high risk of workplace injury when changing batteries out.

Complying With OSHA’s Material Handling Standard for the Battery Room

When OSHA wrote their key battery handling regulation, they probably had a gantry crane in mind. These standards were written when more lift trucks required vertical extraction, rather than the safer side-pull compartments featured in many newer designs.

If you use a gantry for changing-out batteries, keep in mind that you’ll be using it a lot and that many lift truck batteries weigh as much as a few tons. That’s why BHS offers both powered and non-powered Gantry Cranes with quality components and powder-coated steel construction. Capacities range from 4,000 – 6,000 pounds.

Meeting Federal Battery Handling Standards for Side-Extraction Lift Trucks

forklift battery handling equipment ATCFor lift trucks with lateral-release battery compartments, many operations have moved to Automatic Transfer Carriages (ATC) or Operator Aboard Battery Extractors (BE) in order to comply with OSHA’s “material handling equipment” regulation. These types of battery changers offer added efficiency advantages in addition to their compliance with material handling standards.

They also help businesses meet another crucial OSHA regulation, 29 CFR 1910.178(g)(5), which insists that “reinstalled batteries shall be properly positioned and secured in the truck.” Hydraulic-powered extraction arms easily maneuver forklift batteries into their proper position in the battery compartment, reducing the chances of operator error in this vital daily task.

Facilities that change around 20 batteries per day can take advantage of the efficiency benefits of Automatic Transfer Carriages. For safety’s sake, the ATC features dashboard sides that enclose moving parts, a battery containment bar to secure the battery during transport, and rubber bumpers for protection during battery change-out.

Safety Features Cover the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act

In addition to regulations written specifically for battery rooms, OSHA requires businesses to comply with an umbrella law that covers unspecified safety risks. The General Duty Clause of the OSH Act requires employers to remove “recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to…employees.”

The wording is purposefully vague, which turns out to be an advantage for workplace safety. When a series of legislative acrobatics forbade OSHA to issue rules on ergonomic hazards, the General Duty Clause still allowed the agency to prosecute companies that subject their employees to serious, ongoing risks of lower back pain and other musculoskeletal injuries.

Even the busiest battery rooms can stay on the right side of the General Duty Clause, avoiding both ergonomic dangers and other, lesser-known safety hazards. Operator Aboard Battery Extractors from BHS have fuse protection built into their lift systems, which prevents vertical drops in the event a hose is damaged. Other safety features to look for are three-point switches that will require proper gate closure, and floor-drive cutout systems that prevent the extractor from moving when the extractor arm is extended outside of the carriage.

Battery handling equipment from BHS covers everything federal regulators could throw at you. The safety of the equipment itself is protected, too. Each changer has a heavy-duty structure with a powder-coated epoxy finish that resists acid, scratches and other common sources of damage that can weaken its structural integrity. With the right equipment, there’s no need to fear a visit from the OSHA inspector.

References:

Batteries and battery charging – 1926.441.” OSHA. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

OSH Act of 1970, Sec. 5. Duties.” OSHA. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

Powered industrial trucks – 1910.178.” OSHA. Occupational Safety & Health Administration,

United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

The Three Basic Types Of Forklift Battery Handling Equipment and Their Benefits

When it comes to changing out forklift batteries, OSHA regulations have a lot to say. But of all the federal safety standards that cover the battery room, two stand out as the most vital. First, changing and charging forklift batteries should be done in a designated area of your facility. Second, forklift batteries should be changed using appropriate forklift battery handling equipment.

You can divide forklift battery handling equipment into three basic categories, each configured for different lift truck designs and operational challenges. Depending on these factors, one of the following technologies will provide the safest, most efficient battery changes available.

3 Types of Forklift Battery Extractors

Some forklifts are designed for battery removal from the side, which can be accomplished with a Battery Carriage or Operator Aboard Battery Extractor. Forklifts requiring vertical extraction need a Portable Gantry Crane for the task.

 

Portable Gantry Crane Systems

A gantry crane is the classic machine for handling forklift batteries. Before side-extraction designs took over the forklift market, batteries had to be lifted out of compartments vertically — and there are plenty of trucks in operation that still require vertical extraction. Gantry cranes accomplish this task quickly and safely, and are available in a variety of manual and powered configurations. Powered gantries offer more safety and efficiency benefits because they reduce operator fatigue and the chance of injury to personnel and equipment.

BHS offers both powered and non-powered gantries in a variety of beam spans and capacities to fit your warehouse’s needs. BHS gantry cranes provide safe and easy vertical extraction for most standard lift truck batteries.

Battery Carriage Systems

Not all forklifts are built for vertical battery extraction. In fact, these days, most aren’t. Lateral battery changes require dedicated equipment such as Battery Carriages.

At the very least, every owner of an electric forklift needs manual equipment to safely remove and replace forklift batteries. Walkie Transfer Carriages (WTC) allow users to change batteries in side-extraction applications safely and quickly — but for really fast battery changes, you’ll need some electric power. That’s why higher-output warehouses turn to more automatic means of handling forklift batteries.

Battery Transfer Carriages (BTC) from BHS are available with every possible combination of powered functionality, from a manual travel with winch-powered extraction to fully powered lift and extraction actions.

BHS’ Automatic Transfer Carriages mount on pallet trucks, which allows a warehouse to cut equipment costs by using existing equipment. Their hydraulic-powered push-pull extraction cuts down on the time it takes to change out forklift batteries manually and provides OSHA-compliant safety benefits.

For even larger fleets, Mobile Battery Extractors can travel anywhere in the facility to change batteries truck-side. Their hydraulic-powered extractor arms effortlessly handle up to 5,000 pounds of steel, lead, and electrolyte, and they’re designed for a minimum of maintenance.

Powered transfer carriages reduce the time it takes to change out forklift batteries. They make a shipping and receiving operation more efficient. For larger and busier operations, at least some degree of automation is a must in order to keep up with the competition.

Operator Aboard Battery Extractors

For large and busy warehouses that frequently change dozens of batteries per day, Operator Aboard Battery Extractors (BE) provide the quickest and safest means to seamlessly change out batteries, reducing downtime for every truck in the fleet.

Larger-scale warehouses will naturally have busier battery changing areas. Many battery rooms take advantage of vertical space by using multi-tier forklift battery charging stands, up to four levels high. For the sake of efficiency and safety, a systematic and comprehensive approach to battery change-outs is particularly important for these high-volume battery rooms, and Operator Aboard Battery Extractors provide the solution.

Operator Aboard Battery Extractors substantially reduce the time that it takes to change out a forklift battery. Additionally, there are applications that can track each battery on the shelves and in the forklifts to instantly inform forklift operators which battery to choose during change-outs. Such applications make it exponentially easier to maximize the health and efficiency of a forklift fleet.

Operations of all sizes benefit from BHS’ operator aboard battery extractors, which are available in models ranging from single-level to quad-stack.

No matter the size of your forklift fleet, you’ll need one of these three types of forklift battery handling equipment in order to comply with OSHA regulations. Some trucks require gantry cranes, while others can only be served by Battery Extractors. But either way, the heavy duty steel construction of BHS battery handling equipment will get your forklifts back out onto the floor as quickly and safely possible, boosting efficiency overall.

References

Powered industrial trucks – 1910.178.” OSHA. Occupational Safety & Health Administration,

United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklift).” OSHA. Occupational Safety & Health Administration,

United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2016

Understanding How Forklift Battery Handling Equipment Improves Safety in the Workplace

Successful warehousing and logistics operations put safety first. It’s the right thing to do for employees, their families, and your enterprise’s competitiveness in the market. There are just a handful of industries that have more workplace injuries than the shipping and receiving industry, and with those injuries come lost time, increased costs, and decreased efficiency — to say nothing of the devastating human cost.

BHS forklift battery handling equipmentAlthough users of electric forklifts benefit from lower-cost operation and environmental advantages, they also incur additional safety hazards. Luckily, these risks are easy to control with adequate staff training and the right battery handling equipment.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration lists four discrete hazards for handling forklift batteries:

  • Batteries can weigh more than a ton, and with this weight comes crushing risks as well as ergonomic challenges.
  • As the name implies, lead-acid batteries contain corrosive electrolyte. Employers must take steps to ensure that staff members don’t come into contact with sulfuric acid when working in the battery room.
  • At the final stages of charging, forklift batteries emit hydrogen, which becomes explosive at a concentration of four percent or greater.
  • If employees touch battery cells, they might create an electrical short circuit, which can cause serious burns.

Ergonomics and Spill Prevention

We’ll tackle each of these concerns in order, starting with ergonomics. Some warehouses still have personnel change batteries by hand, with insufficient equipment, and that requires the kind of lifting and twisting that can seriously injure an employee’s back — or worse.

In order to prevent costly injuries, both from “lift-and-twist” muscle strains and the danger of a falling battery, provide employees with adequate battery handling equipment. BHS’ Automatic Transfer Carriage (ATC) comes in several models, including versions that don’t require you to dedicate a pallet truck to battery-changing full time.

Even the heftier Operator Aboard Battery Extractor has available features that enhance workplace safety by reducing the risk of injury to personnel. BHS’ operator aboard battery extractors include anti-fatigue mats, a thick PVC sponge surface to prevent slips and falls while getting in and out of the extractor.

Sulfuric Acid in Forklift Batteries

The second big issue with battery handling is dealing with sulfuric acid. Of course, any time personnel handle forklift batteries, they should wear the proper acid-resistant safety gear.

The battery handling equipment that your warehouse uses should also be acid-resistant. If floors, battery extractors, and battery racks aren’t properly protected from acid splash and spills, then the equipment will degrade and malfunction in ways that pose risks of workplace injury. All BHS battery room equipment features an acid- and scratch-resistant powder coat finish built to withstand contact with electrolyte.

Preventing Hydrogen Gas Accumulation

Dealing with hydrogen is a simple question of ventilation. The central OSHA standard dedicated to battery handling and charging, 29 CFR 1910.178(g), requires employers to provide “adequate ventilation for dispersal of fumes from gassing batteries. A comprehensive Battery Room Ventilation System (BRVS) from BHS detects hydrogen at a concentration of just one percent, automatically activating fans to keep gas from accumulating.

Eliminating the Risk of Burns From Forklift Batteries

This hazard basically comes down to good training. As OSHA recommends, battery room staff shouldn’t wear metallic jewelry, and metal tools must be kept far away from the tops of uncovered batteries. Provide your staff with personal protective equipment (PPE) including rubber gloves to further reduce this risk.

When you’re selecting forklift battery handling equipment, it’s important to keep in mind how your choices will affect overall workplace safety. Selecting the proper equipment will help your operation run safely, which prevents injuries while also creating a much more efficient operation overall.

References:

Powered industrial trucks – 1910.178.” OSHA. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklift).OSHA. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

Seamlessly Transitioning to Electric Power for Forklifts

electric-power-forkliftBy 2014, over half of the forklifts in the United States had already made the shift to electric power. Only 36 percent of the U.S. forklift market stuck with fossil fuels that year. Reluctance to make the switch to a greener, more cost-effective source of motive power usually boils down to two things: anxiety about higher up-front costs and fear of productivity losses during the transition.

However, nearly every warehouse, big or small, can join the 64 percent of forklift users who have already made the move to battery power. The key is to work with a provider that can get your facility outfitted for electric power without having to shut everything down for installation.

Efficiency Gains from Forklift Battery Handling Equipment

The biggest difference between gas and electric forklifts is that the fuel source for the latter is reusable. That means each battery you buy provides you with 5-7 years worth of power, but it also means you need a comprehensive strategy to change out forklift batteries for charging and maintenance.

Plan to set aside a dedicated space in your warehouse for this. Of course, warehouse space is a valuable commodity, and batteries can be quite large. In order to minimize the footprint of your battery room, you just need to take advantage of vertical space. Multi-tiered battery stands provide the solution.

You will also need to determine what kind of equipment is best for changing out your batteries. If your lift fleet is small to medium-sized, a pallet truck-mounted automatic transfer carriage, such as the BHS Automatic Transfer Carriage (ATC), might fit your needs.

Larger or busier fleets demand multiple battery change-outs per day, and pallet-truck-mounted equipment just won’t be able to keep up. So, larger fleets will require an operator aboard battery extractor that reduces change-out times to the absolute minimum. Operator aboard battery extractors require a clear “track” to move back and forth between the battery racks, so you’ll need to place your battery changing area where there’s sufficient space. BHS offers operator aboard battery extractors that safely navigate up to four tiers of stands.

Smooth Battery Room Installations, Without Productivity Loss

Once you have a plan for a safe and efficient battery room, you still need to build it — preferably without work-loss for a single shift. Project managers at BHS have decades of experience planning and implementing battery room installations in working warehouses. A phased install allows your facility to continue meeting all productivity goals while your battery room is being built; it’s the proverbial building the plane while it’s in the air.

When you make the move from fossil fuels to battery-powered lifts, it’s important not only to think about your warehouse’s current needs and demands, but those of the future. Battery powered lifts will save most every operation cost both day-to-day and in the long run. Just make sure you choose a provider who can not only provide the finest equipment, but can create a strategy that will keep your operation growing in the midst of this valuable transition.

References:

Batteries and battery charging – 1926.441.” OSHA. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web 11 Apr. 2016.

Faust, Brian. “Electric Forklifts Gain Acceptance, Driven by Sustainability Features.” Foodlogistics. AC Business Media, 2016. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

LPG vs. Battery Electric Forklifts.” Aalhysterforklifts. Adaptalift Hyster, 2016. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

Talvery, John. “Advantages of Electric Forklifts (with a few drawbacks too).” Theforkliftcenter. The Forklift Center, 2013. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

How to Choose The Right Operator Aboard Battery Extractor for Your Operation

choose-the-right-operator-aboard-battery-extractorIf your forklift fleet continues to grow, the time will come when manually changing out batteries just won’t make practical sense. That’s when it’s time to make the investment in an Operator Aboard Battery Extractor.

There are many types of Battery Extractors out there, and the many larger and finer points among them might seem a little bit confusing. When you’re shopping for what will be such an important investment, pay close attention to these five characteristics. Finding the perfect combination of each will keep your battery room humming along at an astonishing rate.

  1. The extractor arm – Look for a T-shaped extractor arm with enclosed components. A T-shaped extractor arm, as opposed to a dangling above-battery extractor arm, is more stable and more sturdy. An extractor arm that has enclosed components will perform better and require less maintenance because contaminants won’t gum it up.
  2. The battery grip – Most of today’s Operator Aboard Battery Extractors use one of two technologies to grip the batteries: a vacuum cup or an electromagnet. Vacuum cups are the ideal grips because they cause much less wear and tear on batteries. However, if your fleet uses smaller-than-average batteries, you might have to choose a system that uses electromagnets.
  3. The roller bed – Some systems’ roller beds are powered while other systems are free-rolling. For the safety of both your personnel and your equipment, powered roller beds are ideal. When a powered roller bed isn’t rolling, it acts as a brake for batteries on the bed.
  4. The lift mechanism – There are several types of lift mechanisms available, including rack-and-pinion, tube-in-tube hydraulics, and complex lift chain systems. Look for a lift system that puts the least amount of stress on the components and has built-in safety features in case something goes wrong during a lift. One such safety feature to look for is a velocity fuse, which immediately shuts off flow when a hose breaks and keeps the carriage safely suspended.
  5. The drive system – Each and every battery change requires floor travel, so you’ll want to look for an Operator Aboard Battery Extractor that’s reliable in this regard. An extractor that has dual independent motors works best because it can still run even if one of its motors requires repair. This way, the whole system isn’t offline and you can schedule repair during downtime.

It’s also important to pick an extractor that has a drive system that’s quick and easy to service. The fewer bolts and fittings that need to be removed in order to service the drive system, the better. This will reduce downtime and prevent the orders from piling-up too much while the extractor’s drive system is serviced and/or repaired.

So, keep these five basics in mind when you’re comparing Operator Aboard Battery Extractors that are out there. Any good sales rep should be able to give the answers about any of these five basics. Remember that Operator Aboard Battery Extractors from BHS provide the ideal combination of these factors, and are available in models that travel up to four tiers high to accommodate battery fleets of any size.

References:

Comparative Analysis: BHS Battery Extractors vs. the Competition.” BHS1. Battery Handling Systems, Inc., 23 Apr. 2015. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

When to Upgrade From Battery Carriages to a Complete Operator Aboard Battery Extractor System

When it comes to forklift battery change-outs, a small warehouse operation with just one or two forklifts can get by with minimal battery handling equipment. Portable battery transfer carriages take the risk and strain out of battery handling, and they continue to pay dividends — as long as your fleet isn’t too large. But as your business expands, you’ll need a more comprehensive system to keep up with your growing battery collection.

It can be a painful decision to upgrade equipment. But efficiency gains quickly pay back initial investments, and a skilled installation team can make the transition seamless. So when does it become worth it — even mandatory — to make the jump to a system that can handle the greater workload?

Start with a simple question.

forklift battery change-outs

How many times a day will you change out forklift batteries? When you only have a few lift trucks, and they aren’t used constantly, you might only require one or two battery change-outs per day. In that case, carts or carriages are the perfect solution.

But when your fleet expands to 10 or 20 or 100 forklifts, you’ll need to drastically reduce the time your staff spends on motive power needs. You don’t want your team bogged-down with changing batteries when they could be filling orders. And trying to keep up with expanding demand using existing equipment is a dangerous road; a transfer carriage just isn’t built to handle dozens of change-outs per day.

Factor your team’s workload into the decision.

Some operations can use a BHS Automatic Transfer Carriage (ATC) up to its maximum recommended limit of 20 battery changes per day. But an Operator Aboard Battery Extractor System can easily cut change-out times in half compared to the ATC. If you rely on lift truck operators to change their own batteries, that extra time may make the transition worth it, since it will keep the fleet focused on revenue-generating tasks.

While every facility has a unique set of requirements and challenges, you’re generally ready for an Operator Aboard Battery Extractor System when you start to notice forklift drivers queuing up for changes. Idleness is a symptom of insufficient equipment, and it can be incredibly harmful to your bottom line.

Plan for the future growth of your battery collection.

A 2015 study by Peerless Research Group recommends choosing all material handling equipment based on your projected needs over the next five years, at minimum. (The report is available here, behind a free paywall). That’s good advice.

Companies benefit from a little prescience in their battery room design. If you expect to continue growing your forklift fleet, the sooner you move to a higher-capacity battery handling system, the better. Even if growth doesn’t match your projections, the increased efficiency and safety of a top-notch battery room will provide plenty of benefits, no matter what size fleet you end up with. This brings us to the next important question.

Which Operator Aboard Battery Extractor System works for you?

The point deserves repeating: every business is different, and there are hundreds of factors that will go into your decision on upgrading your battery handling plan. Generally, though, you can follow these guidelines to choose the size of your Operator Aboard Battery Extractor System.

An Operator Aboard Battery Extractor not only allows your warehouse to keep up with the work, it also helps you to get that work done as efficiently as possible. And efficiency can make all the difference between you and your competitors.

References:

What You Need To Know When Choosing Material Handling Systems.” MMH. Peerless Media LLC, 16 June 2015. Web. 17 March 2016.