Distribution centers are where the ideals of streamlined logistics crash into the tough reality of 24/7 manual handling. Many beverage companies handle hundreds of different articles, and they process a high proportion of smaller orders involving less than a full pallet. These are picked and stacked by hand, and this is inevitably a tough job.
Jim Galante is Chairman of the EASE Council. Here he profiles a distribution center (DC) and describes solutions that can boost productivity and cut workforce costs.
The handler’s working shift
A typical case of beverages weighs up to 9 kg, while the cartons of syrup can reach 32 kg. Picking and placing 150-200 cases per hour, a handler can move 9 tonnes or more in a shift. Handlers move products from pallet to pallet, with a great deal of bending, reaching, and lifting. These operations are even more demanding when the handler is working with pallet racks. Furthermore, handlers work not only on orders, but also on the frequent stock rotation demanded by products with limited shelf lives.
A tough environment
Typical distribution center conditions are challenging. Air conditioning is unusual, and night shifts are common. This is a harsh environment for handlers lifting, bending, and stretching accompanied by constant fatigue. DC HR departments are therefore very familiar with the expense of recruiting and retaining personnel.
The challenge for HR
The pool of willing, physically fit applicants is shrinking. The tough conditions make retention difficult. Last but not least, there are the injuries. Order picking is a high-risk job. Quite apart from the human pain and suffering, injuries increase costly sick time. HR departments also have to deal with long-term injury, disability, and litigation.
The solution: PalletPal
DC operators should take a serious look at PalletPal. As a load-leveling turntable, PalletPal reduces both bending and reaching by as much as 50%. And with no need for intervention, action or height adjustment by the handler.
The boost to the handler’s efficiency and productivity is substantial, of course. But PalletPal also reduces fatigue and the risk of injury. By making the job less physically demanding, PalletPal not only expands the potential workforce but also improves retention.
Flexible, reliable, robust
PalletPal can be shipped fully assembled and ready for immediate use. It is free-standing, and needs no electrical or air supply. Ideal for open floors and also suitable for pallet racks, it is a highly flexible solution. PalletPal is simple, robust, and reliable, with the backing of a lifetime warranty. It needs no lubrication, or routine maintenance beyond occasional visual inspections. That means further savings on maintenance costs and the time wasted when external contractors have to be called in.
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