January 7, 2013 | Written by: Brian Eccles
Categorized: Industry Insights
Have you every operated a fork lift? It’s fun. Imagine that you are. You’ve got your pick list, either paper or electronic, and drive into the depths of the warehouse to collect the goods. Often times these are full pallets of product. While you maneuver you approach the stacks of desired SKU or material, skillfully ease the metal forks into the pallet on which the goods are stacked, lift, back up and twist around. Then it’s back off through the warehouse, probably passing through a sectional door or two and making a turn or three until you reach your destination vehicle, dock or yard. There you approach, gently set the load down and then back up, turn around and drive off for the next pick. Now repeat, again and again. This occurs uncounted times every day around the world as companies and people load, ship, distribute, and sell to their customers.
In your mind you probably imagine a small fork truck picking up a single pallet, and that’s quite common. Now think about moving boxes in your house. You’ll try to pick up as many as you can stacked one on top of the other or perhaps side by side. If you are strong enough, you’ll be done more quickly and be able to do whatever you want with those boxes sooner. The same thing applies in commercial warehouses. It doesn’t matter what kind of product you are lifting, more is better. Deploying larger, more powerful fork trucks with two sets of forks and big lifting capacity allows operations to move more goods in the less time with fewer assets, saving capital and operating costs. Instead of picking up a single pallet, you can do two, four, or more, depending on the size and weights of the pallets, your fork trucks, and how they are load at the other end of the pick
These are the kind of hard savings that companies like. Sometimes this is complicated by needing to maintain records of which individual pallets are collected. This can be done through individual scans. That slows things down at the picking, but you are still carrying more as you drive off.
Another approach would be to maintain in your warehouse management system what product is at each particular pallet location. That’s a tougher problem to crack, but when you can your productivity is even more impressive. Have you solved this problem, or are trying to? Let us know!