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Cold Storage

Switching from Liquid Propane to Electric Forklifts in the Produce Industry

In the mid-1990s, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) noticed an alarming trend. The state is the country’s largest provider of 11 types of produce, including apples, Concord grapes, and pears. In fruit-packing warehouses across the state, workers were being exposed to dangerous — and sometimes even poisonous — levels of carbon monoxide on the job. A major cause of this exposure turned out to be the operation of internal combustion (IC) forklifts in controlled atmosphere rooms, a mainstay of the produce handling industry. Ventilation doesn’t really work in cold rooms; they’re designed to hold in cold air, which also traps the carbon monoxide released by IC engines. Between 1994 and 1999, about 41 percent of the…more

What Type of Forklift is Right for Your Warehouse?

When it’s time to build a forklift fleet, start by choosing the right power source. The choice between electric and internal-combustion (IC) trucks is not just an issue of expense. It’s also crucial to running a safe business. That’s because internal combustion engines — whether they’re powered by diesel or by propane — emit carbon monoxide. This dangerous gas can accumulate in enclosed areas, poisoning anyone in the vicinity. Electric forklifts, on the other hand, have close to zero emissions, and they don’t produce any carbon monoxide at all. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other safety regulators recommend using electric forklifts in all enclosed areas. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries is very clear about the…more

Forklift Battery Handling Equipment for Smaller Fleets

Not every forklift user operates a vast fleet of hundreds. In fact, most don’t. A 2010 survey by industry journal DC Velocity found that the bulk of their respondents (57 percent) operated fewer than 25 lift trucks. Only 12 percent regularly used more than 100 trucks. The same survey uncovered another key statistic: almost 90 percent of the respondents said that their fleets included electric forklifts. When electric vehicles are in your fleet, care and maintenance of batteries becomes a crucial part of your operation. Battery handling equipment that’s up to the task is a must. For modest fleet-owners, that equipment probably includes a forklift battery carriage. But with so many models on the market, which one should you choose?…more

Avoiding Forklift Collision Damage in Cold Storage Warehouses

According to the industry journal Frozen Food Age, forklift collisions are more frequent in cold storage warehouses than in traditional facilities — partially due to the unique challenges of operating in colder environments, but also due to unique issues that tend to accompany warehouse design and layout in these operations. As forklift accidents can damage equipment or infrastructure, cold storage warehouses need to limit incidents in order to see a better return on investment (not to mention a safer work environment). The good news is that in many operations, a few key improvements can make a dramatic difference without heavy expenses. Industry experts recommend the following ways to reduce damage from forklift collisions: Separate Forklift Traffic with Appropriate Structural Barriers…more

Promote Staff Retention in Cold Storage Facilities with Better Equipment and Practices

For managers of cold storage warehouses, employee retention is nothing short of essential — it’s a crucial factor in developing a leaner, more efficient operation. Unfortunately, lift truck operators in cold storage facilities leave for other positions more frequently than equivalent job holders in conventional warehouses. The turnover rate for material handling positions in the refrigerated storage industry has soared as high as 40 percent according to industry publication Frozen Food Age, and while analysts have not published exact data on the causes of this disparity, the discomfort of working in subzero temperatures is clearly a contributing factor. Quoted in the trade journal Modern Material Handling in 2011, industry insider Perry Ardito put it this way: “Imagine you have to…more

Choosing Better Lift Truck Battery Management Practices for Cold Storage Warehouses

For cold storage facilities, accurate planning is critical. A difference of a few degrees can mean significant product losses, and a few inches of unused vertical space can translate to substantial operating inefficiencies. This is why most cold storage operations perform extensive calculations when choosing material handling equipment and infrastructure — a properly outfitted facility needs to maximize vertical space, match lift truck fleets with appropriate battery handling equipment, and manage safety while perfectly controlling temperatures. Temperature is an especially serious challenge for logistics managers when considering battery management practices. Many operations store different types of products at different temperatures; standard frozen foods might meet the Frozen Food Handling and Merchandising Alliance’s recommendations of 0℉, but some products such as…more