How Warehouse Safety is Changing with E-Commerce

posted on: Wednesday April 26, 2017

logistics-852935_1280We recently highlighted how manufacturers are buying equipment in 2017, noting that the greatest increases in spending are a result of the e-commerce boom. No doubt, e-commerce is something every manufacturer wants to take part in. MMH recently released Bridget McCrea’s article, “Conveyors and Sortation Keep up the Pace” where she points out that:

 Forrester anticipates by 2020, revenue will be at $523 billion in business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce sales and $1 trillion in business-to-business (B2B).

McCrea’s article highlighted the fact that e-commerce demands greater efficiency, meaning that old pieces of equipment need to be replaced with those that can save labor and speed the process of moving and sorting large volumes of product. She quotes Boyce Bonham, chief engineer at Hytrol:

“With all of the goods that are being shipped direct to consumers, a lot more individual packages have to be sorted and shipped. Whenever you run into a situation where single-item goods—not cases—have to be handled by a DC, the only way to do that efficiently is by using sorters and conveyors.”

The need for both speed and volume is creating changes to the workforce structure that, in turn, are also forcing everyone to put safety under a microscope. The primary reasons are twofold:

  • There is higher volume and more stress, so the opportunity for mistakes leading to injury is greater
  • Companies are adding more labor, but they’re choosing contract workers.

Temporary employees get less training and have less experience with the specific equipment and protocol in play than do seasoned employees.

This is also changing the requirements for equipment manufacturers. For example, McCrea quotes Tim Kraus, manager of product management for Intelligrated:

“We’re now seeing requirements for more guards and/or for areas to be blocked off from people getting next to the equipment, where in the past it was common in the industry for [workers] to be closer to that operating equipment.”

These safety issues should not be taken lightly. The more people who are working in an area, the higher the chances of injury occurring. All equipment and its accompanying personnel should be evaluated for potential safety improvement. For example, how many forklifts are in operation, and are they all used for lifting? If you can replace horizontal movement with electric tugs or cart pushers, you give productive jobs to employees with little to no training while removing hazards and putting your lift truck operators on other duties that temp employees aren’t suited for. The equipment surpasses the current safety standards, and it eliminates the risks associated with lift trucks. Using these tugs optimize the expertise on the floor, increases safety, and boosts productivity.

Electric tugs are excellent tools for any manufacturer hiring temporary employees. They are also an integral part of many lean operations and forklift-free strategies. To understand how much work can be accomplished with this equipment and by whom, contact Load Mover Inc. We understand the industry as well as strategies to create efficiencies. You’ll know how much or how little your operation would benefit from this equipment: 952-767-1720; info@loadmoverinc.com.