Home » Archive by category "Industry Knowledge Base"

Industry Knowledge Base

The HVAC Industry Guide to Forklift Battery Room Ventilation Systems

Even for commercial HVAC technicians, installing a forklift battery room ventilation system is rarely a common job. Many HVAC workers have never confronted this unique area of the industry. Battery room ventilation can be a difficult field to jump into; because of the risks involved with charging forklift batteries, hoods, ducting, and fans must meet strict criteria in battery charging areas — and determining that criteria takes some extra preparation. Luckily, with a few helpful resources and experienced parts suppliers, any commercial HVAC provider can break into this corner of the market. Here’s what you need to know about ventilation systems for forklift battery rooms, along with a few shortcuts that can make the job much simpler. Why Do Forklift…more

Sustainable Forklift Fleets: Save Energy on Core Material Handling Tasks

Electric lift trucks are the best choice for green warehousing operations working to build a sustainable forklift fleet. But not all electric forklift fleets are equally green, and going electric is not a guarantee of sustainability. The switch from diesel or propane to electric lift trucks is a terrific first step in the effort to reduce a warehouse’s carbon footprint, but there’s still more that you can do to limit energy requirements — and the associated electricity costs — while still providing all the material handling capacity you need to keep a warehouse running all year round. The planet isn’t the only thing that benefits from environmental sustainability in the supply chain, either. The simple fact is that electric forklift…more

The Electronic Logging Device Rule Creates Opportunities for Shippers

The electronic logging device rule, which will be fully enforced beginning April 1, has ramifications that go far beyond the experiences of truck drivers themselves. In fact, this rule creates real opportunities — and risks — for shipper-owned distribution centers at either end of the supply chain. ELDs intensify something that has been true about the relationship between shippers and carriers since time immemorial: Shippers that detain drivers for too long at the dock get bad reputations with carriers. There’s no shortage of freight, and carriers often have the luxury of choosing which shippers they work with. So when a shipper becomes notorious for long loading and unloading times at the dock, they can expect to pay more to move…more

Battery Room Ventilation Code Requirements

Battery room ventilation codes and standards protect workers by limiting the accumulation of hydrogen in the battery room. Hydrogen release is a normal part of the charging process, but trouble arises when the flammable gas becomes concentrated enough to create an explosion risk — which is why safety standards are vitally important. But what are these ventilation guidelines, who issues them, and where can warehouse managers find them? In this article, we’ll explore some of the most widely used regulations that control hydrogen gas levels in forklift battery charging areas. We’ll explain which ones are binding, where, and for whom, ultimately proposing solutions that keep workers safe while also helping the reader comply with rules that could otherwise leave operations…more

Industrial Lift Tables: Choosing Between Hydraulic, Pneumatic, and Electro-Mechanical Designs

Lift Tables provide ergonomic and productivity benefits across a wide range of industries, and the market has responded with multiple designs operated by varying technologies. Every type of Lift Table can help workers position materials, reducing incidents of musculoskeletal disorders and improving overall efficiency, but the technologies that produce the “lift” that defines the tool provide different sets of strengths and weaknesses. Scissor Lift Tables rely on linear actuators to generate the force that moves them up and down. Three main technologies produce this motion: hydraulic, pneumatic, and ball screw, or electro-mechanical, actuators. For all but a few niche applications, hydraulic cylinders provide the greatest combination of lifting power, affordability, and — with the right protections in place — reliability.…more

Planning for Post-Holiday Reverse Logistics at Distribution Centers

All year long, busy distribution centers prepare for the holiday sales season. But no sooner does the glut of outgoing orders begin to decline than we’re faced with a second rush, this time in reverse logistics. Not every gift can be just what the receiver most desired, and all of those unwanted gifts will soon be heading right back where they came from — the distribution center. So how can you best prepare for the coming post-holiday rush of returns? Here are a few ideas, but in order to understand the challenge, we’ll need to look at the changes in customer expectations that are coming up just on the other side of the holidays. E-Commerce Continues to Grow Going Into…more

Using the 10 Principles of Material Handling in the Warehouse

If the work of a warehouse or distribution center can be boiled down to one activity, it is material handling. After all, getting products or materials or components or whatever they may be from the point of origin to its final destination is what the logistics industry is all about. Handling, packaging, transportation, and data tracking are all essential tasks, and they all require highly specialized equipment. Luckily, the warehousing industry doesn’t have to start from scratch each time. Industrial engineers have been studying material handling since the Industrial Revolution. The Material Handling Institute, the largest association for supply chain industries in the United States, distilled the insights of professionals and researchers down into a document they call “The 10…more

What Is the NIOSH Lifting Equation and How Can It Help?

By 1981, it had been clear for some time that musculoskeletal disorders caused by manual lifting tasks on the job were causing far too many injuries to American workers. That year, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published a technical report titled Work Practices Guide for Manual Lifting in an effort to reduce the number of injuries caused by unsafe lifting tasks at work. The conclusion of this nearly 200-page guide was a set of equations that would determine the “maximum permissible limit” and the lower, preferable “action limit” for the weight of a given lifting task. These equations included six variables that evaluators could use to figure out the ultimate limits of a given task. A…more

Improving Safety at Electrical Prefabrication Shops

These days, it’s rare to meet an electrical contractor who doesn’t do at least some prefabrication before heading to the jobsite. Many larger outfits run their own prefabrication shops. There are distinct advantages for contractors who operate in-house prefab teams, but there are also challenges, especially in terms of safety. Hazards in the shop environment can be quite distinct from those of an installation job site. But when did prefab get to be such a big part of the industry? Is dependence on a prefabrication shop really more efficient than completing pulls, cuts, and bends at the job site, as they arise? Most importantly, how can contractors reduce the risk of injury while prefabricating components? In this piece, we set…more

Ergonomics in Agriculture

Farm workers suffer from musculoskeletal disorders and lower back pain at a disproportionate rate. This won’t be a surprise to anyone who’s worked in agriculture; the job often involves awkward postures and repetitive motions. Musculoskeletal disorders caused by these workplace motions make up a third of the injuries that cause farm workers to take sick days. Back injuries make up a full quarter of them. This isn’t just tough on families and disastrous for productivity; it’s expensive for growers. In 2001, when the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied ergonomics in agriculture, workers’ compensation for farm workers cost more than $20 million — in the state of California alone. The…more