How is Product Moved in a Warehouse?

posted on: Thursday September 20, 2012

There are typically three ways to move heavy items across a warehouse floor.

1.   Manually:    Loads that are put on carts or dollies are moved around a warehouse by pushing or pulling by one operator and sometimes with additional helpers.

Disadvantages:

  • One operator – One cart
  • Operator fatigue with heavy load or long distances.
  • Load is limited to Operator Fatigue & Push/Pull guidelines.

2.   Pallet Jack:   A wooden pallet sits on the floor until a pallet jack is positioned underneath the pallet. The pallet jack is hand pumped to lift the load a couple of inchesoff the floor. At this point the load can be pushed or pulled as the load rolls on the small pallet jack wheels. The operator maneuvers the load into the new location and then lowers the pallet and then pulls out the pallet jack.

Disadvantages:

  • Physical workout for operator with repeated heavy loads.
  • One pallet jack – one pallet.
  • Pallet breakage easily done with pallet jacks.
  • Small wheels of pallet jack stops rolling with a little obstruction on the floor.
  • Operator needs to be physically strong enough to maneuver load.

3.   Fork Lift:    A wooden pallet sits on the floor until the forklift forks are positioned underneath the pallet. The operator, moving a control lever to position the forks, lifts the loaded pallet off the floor. At this time the loaded pallet can be driven to its new location and then lowered to the floor or put on a shelf.

Disadvantages:   Forklifts are large, heavy, bulky, and expensive.

  • One forklift – One pallet
  • Load is stationary until forklift moves a loaded pallet.
  • Pallets break after repeated moves.
  • “Forklift Free” in a work environment with personnel is difficult.
  • A forklift operator is a machine driver in a pedestrian filled production environment.

A forth method, which is gaining industry support, is the use of a Load Mover in conjunction with rolling carts or dollies. The above moving methods have been around for many years but they have not progressed to address the following issues. With labor costs increasing, a skilled labor pool shrinking, and the high cost of injuries and accidents have all caused companies to rethink how product is moved throughout industrial environments.
A Load Mover is a self-contained, battery powered, walk-behind unit that aids production personnel in moving heavy loads in an industrial environment. The Load Mover is a tool used to offset the physical strain that is felt by an operator in pushing or pulling loads that personnel experience in a work place environment.
A walk-behind Load Mover has many advantages over a cart, pallet jack, or a forklift:

    • The Load Mover is a small compact designed unit.
    • The Load Mover can easily be maneuvered through tight places in a warehouse.
    • The Load Mover is built and designed to push and pull heavy weight but not carry it.
    • The Load Mover operator is in tune with the surroundings because they are close to the
      obstacles and other personnel on the shop floor.
    • The Load Mover cannot go faster than the operator can walk. A 3 MPH pace is a fast
      walking clip to go through an industrial facility with other people and equipment.
    • The Load Mover operator will get a healthy walking exercise throughout the workday.
    • The Load Mover fits any size operator and promotes a comfortable walking posture.
    • The Load Mover can pull several carts that are trained together to maximize efficiencies.

A safer and more efficient method of moving product around a production floor is with a LoadMover and carts or dollies on wheels. The following example is one way a Load Mover can increase safety and efficiencies.

Typically, product comes into a facility on pallets and is off loaded from delivery trucks and put into inventory. Inventory can be pallets of product on the floor or put onto pallet shelves. Once the product is needed for production then the pallet can be placed onto a wheeled dolly and placed into the production staging area. All of the lifting of pallets can be done in the inventory and receiving area of the facility. This keeps the heavy equipment away from the production personnel and reduces the chance for injuries.
When product is needed in production, an operator with a Load Mover goes to the inventory staging area and attaches the Load Mover to the wheeled dolly. The inventory loaded dolly is pulled out of the staging area and walked to the production work cell. If a production job requires several pallets of parts then the dollies can be outfitted with tow bars and coupled to one another. A single operator with a Load Mover can then pull a train of carts to the work cell. A return of empty pallets can also be trained together to minimize trips back to the staging area.

With the operator walking in an upright position and at a comfortable pace fatigue is minimal. The Load Mover is doing the physical work of pulling the load while the operator is concentration on guiding the load through the production department. Speed is easily adjusted by the thumb of the operator and the load is stopped by taking the hand off of the throttle assembly.

With forklifts out of the production areas the risk to the production personnel is greatly minimized. Work can also continue by other production personnel while product is being restocked in the work cells. A Load Mover and its carts take up less room than a forklift and are easy to maneuver. The product also sits on the cart and the cart always stays safely on the floor. This again minimizes the risk to the production personnel by having the weight of the parts close to the floor.

With an operator controlling a Load Mover that can pull a train of carts manufacturing companies are realizing the benefits of a safer work environment and increased efficiencies. These two benefits can easily be tracked by reviewing injury reports and with labor time studies.
Load Mover Inc. manufactures a variety of Load Mover sizes from 200 to 1000 lbs of draw bar pull.