Warehouse Manager's Handbook: 2013

Finding high-tech savings in traditionally low-tech places.


In today’s economy where costs are at or near all-time highs and profits are fighting to rebound, warehouse managers are forced to look at the bottom line on just about everything in order to find areas for new efficiencies and cost savings. In the days of bloated budgets, new capital expenditures were routine, but now companies are looking in every corner of the warehouse to find somewhere to shave costs without incurring big upfront costs in return.

Innovations in doors, racks, seals and shelters and other long forgotten items in the warehouse often offer greater value these days than ever before, with more and more companies choosing to update these and other areas of the warehouses for an improved bottom line at the end of the year.

Here’s a quick run-down on some of the easy to implement and affordable “low-tech” items that warehous managers are eyeing these days--items that offer an immediate impact on operations and faster returns on investment than robotics, automation and other more expensive high-tech products.

 

Impactable doors catching on

In food and beverage settings it’s important to maintain a “seal” on the facility to prevent contamination and spoilage, so whenever an overhead door is damaged it can compromise the facility in many ways. That is why more warehouses are focusing on the doors on the warehouse for cost savings, upgrading to impactable doors that eliminate damage and doors that utilize advances in speed to keep cold storage environments sealed and resealed quickly.

“In facilities where the temperature is zero or below, on the other side of the wall there can be a difference of 30 degrees or more,” said Kurt Angermeier of Rytec High Peformance Doors. “The door’s quick open/close operation helps contain and control temperatures and lowers refrigeration costs, so doors like our Turbo Seal Insulated door, one of the fastest cold storage doors ever built, is drawing a lot of interest for us.”

Door manufacturers are not only seeing more interest in impactable doors, but impactable tracks too. Since track damage is one of the leading causes of broken seals or gaps in doors, impactable tracks made from solid, ultra high-molecular weight plastic deflect forklifts and other material handling vehicles without damage or energy loss like traditional metal roller doors.

“Your dock door should be the last thing that comes between you and a productive, safe facility,” said Josh Brown, national sales manager at TKO Dock Doors. “More companies are finding out that investing in the right dock door is one of the easiest and best ways to keep facilities and products safe.”

Lastly, you can’t run all of the high speed doors without a digital system programmed with customized software. Angermeier also pointed out that systems designed to increase door functionality seem to go hand in hand with any warehouse door renovation these days. “These systems can be programmed to operate only during working hours, or inoperable on nights and weekends or whenever the facility is idle,” he said.

 

Seals and shelters

Advances in materials have allowed for inflatable seals and shelters along the dock to produce more energy efficiency, with longer life and less wear and tear than ones of the past. Today’s versions are more impactable and offer full-access around the entire vehicle, as well as systems designed to adjust and accommodate any size truck in the loading dock.

Both Kelly and Frommelt have come out with updated versions of the inflatable dock shelters for climate-controlled loading docks that don’t get standard traffic. Kelly’s new KI-450 and Frommelt’s ComboShelter are designed to stay sealed throughout the entire docking process, regardless of the size of the truck or how many forklifts go in and out of it.

Frommelt also offers an Under-leveler Seal that completes the fourth side of the environmental control seal by sealing the dock leveler pit.

 

High volume, low speed fans

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