Archive for the ‘Material Handling’ Category

Column Guards: Are They Necessary?

March 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Column Guards Installed By HIS Installation, Inc.A lot of buyers of rack systems don’t take into consideration one important component.

Column guards.

I know, I know. You’re thinking “Come on, really? I mean rack is made of steel, right?”

Well, yes. Rack systems are generally made of steel. However, as shown below, upright columns are often struck by lift trucks directly or by the loads (loaded pallets, drums, reels, bundles of raw material, etc) being carried by the lift trucks.


Damaged Column - Call HIS Installation today!

Column guards are the common solution to protecting rack columns from possible collision damage.

How do column guards work?

Column Guard Designed By Ridg-U-Rak

Column guards are often installed in front of each exposed rack column to attempt to minimize the damage to the rack columns. As shown here, most have an angled front to divert the oncoming fork or load to reduce the risk of damage.

Column guards are normally made of heavy-gauge structural steel allowing for increased “blow” absorption. Some incorporated a 4 or 6-anchor design providing even greater support.

You either already have or are about to invest a fair amount money into your rack storage system. Why not protect that investment with cost-efficient protection, that’s right…with column guards.

Visit the HIS Installation website for more information or just give us a call (770-478-4506). We’d be happy to assist you.


Rack N’ Roll: What Type Of Rack Will Work Best For You?

February 24, 2011 Leave a comment

So you are in the market for a rack storage system? When determining what type of system to invest in, you should consider the different racking options as well as your particular storage needs.  It is advisable to take into consideration your inventory management method and product specs.

The three types of rack include – Pallet Rack, High-Density Rack, and Specialized Rack. Let’s look at each one.


Pallet rack is by far the most popular type of rack system. It is the most versatile and virtually limitless when it comes to sizes available. It allows for immediate pallet availability. There are normally three pallet rack options – slotted, tear drop, or structural (heavier duty rack made from solid steel channel).  Slotted and tear drop refer to the way the upright channel is punched for the horizontal beam connections.


High-Density rack is ideal when the goal is the maximization of warehouse space as well as the minimization of warehousing costs. There are a number of high-density rack options. Knowing your particular application will best determine which fits your specific need. We’ll consider a few of the more popular options here:

  1. Drive-In or Drive-Thru Storage Rack – limits the number of aisles needed by providing depth. The rail design of most Drive-In/Drive-Thru rack systems allow forklifts to drive into the system to place pallets. Ideal for “last in, first out” applications.
  2. Push Back Storage Rack – makes use of the “cart-on-rail” design. Unlike Drive-In Storage Rack, Push Back Storage Rack allows the next pallet to always come to the front of the rack system thus reducing pick times while maximizing space usage. Ideal for “last in, first out” applications.
  3. Gravity Flow Storage Rack –  is the ideal system for “first in, first out” applications. This is especially true where a facility is handling a large of number of common SKUs. The dense Gravity Flow Storage Rack makes use of roller tracks to move pallets from the back of the system to the front. The pitch of the roller tracks allows for gravity to carry pallets through the system.
  4. Narrow Aisle Storage Rack – minimizes aisle space requirements while allowing 100% product selection ability throughout the system. Newer lifts allow for this to be possible (stock selectors, standing lifts, etc).
  5. Double Deep Pallet Rack – requires deep reaching forklifts but does minimize the number of aisles needed to maximize available pallet positions. Popular in throughput operations.

Please note: All High-Density Rack systems can be made of structural steel if your application necessitates that.


Specialized rack systems are ideal for the storage of items that won’t fit in more traditional rack systems. Items like lumber, PVC pipes, cable reels, rebar, electrical conduit, dies, engines, etc are best stored in specialized rack systems. Here are few of the more popular options:

  1. Cantilever Storage Rack – implements a “tower-arm” design allowing open, frontal access to items without side limitations. Ideal for lumber, steel channel/angle iron, rebar, PVC, etc.
  2. Wide-Span Shelving – is the right choice when traditional shelving is too light, but standard pallet rack would be too much. Providing versatility and adjustability, Wide-Span Shelving is often used in retail/commercial applications or when easy hand access to merchandise is needed.
  3. Reel Storage Rack – is specifically made for the storage of reels of cable and wiring. Reel Storage Rack has the capability of holding multiple reels as well as various weights.
  4. Roll-Out Shelf Racks – are ideal for the storage of heavy dies, fixtures, or industrial/mechanical parts. Shelves extend to allow for complete access to the particular item.

Again, these are simply some of the more common options. When it comes to rack storage the possibilities can be limitless given that custom design is an alternative as well.

There are certainly many variables that need to be looked at when determining what rack storage system will best meet your needs. It is always advisable to seek the expertise of a material handling consultant to assist you in making the right choice.

    Facility Planning: Two Steps To Making A Better DC Decision

    February 15, 2011 Leave a comment

    Your business is growing! Growth is good, right?

    Absolutely, but not having adequate facility space can be a real nightmare. This is especially true if by facility we are talking your DC (that’s Distribution Center for those not fluent in supply chain lingo).

    “Our current warehouse is too small for additional pallet positions to be added.”

    “Our current warehouse isn’t close enough to the highway or best trucking routes.”

    “We are operating out of too many buildings.”

    “We can’t add automation due to space restrictions.”

    We know all the problems, but is there a quickly, cost-efficient solution? Probably not, but there are two steps you can take to insure that the process is properly managed.

    1. Get Involved/Get Others Involved – It is vital that ALL relevant parties be involved in the facility planning process. That includes internal (shipping & receiving, purchasing, IT/IS, manufacturing (if applicable), HR, facility management, maintenance, etc.) and external (material handling experts, equipment dealers, landlord[s] or real estate specialists, energy and community advisors) parties.
    2. Do A Feasibility Study – It is recommended to consider the five common factors (TELOS): Technology and System feasibility, Economic feasibility, Legal feasibility, Operational feasibility, and Schedule feasibility. However, many companies also look at Market and Real Estate feasibility, Financial feasibility, Resource feasibility, and Cultural feasibility.  ULTIMATE PURPOSE: To provide ownership or board of directors with a clear understanding of the problem, a detailed description of the solution, a quantitative and qualitative synopsis of the business’ physical requirements, the conclusions/consensus of management, as well as potential alternatives.

    Many times, the answer might not be in moving to a new distribution center. It might be the realization of a creative way to maximize cube or an expansion of the existing facility.

    Taking the time to get the proper parties involved and to do a feasibility study provides a greater level of certainty and vision.  It gets the “right” people engaged. It also creates a thought process that allows for creativity and innovation in considering the problem and possible facility solutions.

    Ethics In Business: Right Is Right

    January 6, 2011 Leave a comment

    Right is right. Do it right the first time.

    When did doing work right the first time become relative? Our company, HIS Installation, Inc., is, at times, called in to determine whether or not a particular rack system, conveyor, mezzanine, or other material handling system was installed correctly. It always disappoints me to see how some companies attempt to “cut corners” or “rig things” to finish the job. When problems arise with the storage system the answer to the customer’s questions goes something like this – It’s the manufacturer’s fault. or That’s just the way these things work.

    HONESTY MATTERS. Sometimes the manufacturer is partly or entirely to blame, but in the material handling industry, as in most service-based industries, the company responsible for the installation has to make sure that (1) the material they have received to be installed is correct and (2) that they, as the installer, install it right the first time. If the material received isn’t correct, it is far better to point this out immediately before the project is completed. Being honest is so important because your word has to mean something or you won’t be in business for long. Equally significant is the reality that being honest falls directly in line with the Golden Ruletreating others the way we would want them to treat us.

    The driving force behind unethical behavior in business is one of two things (in many cases both things – fear and greed. Those companies and/or individuals who act unethically fear the consequences – “Will I be blamed?” “Will I lose money?” “Will my reputation be ruined?” and so forth. Fear disconnects us from reality. You will be blamed if someone else discovers that you tried to cover something up. You will lose money and your reputation will be damaged if you are dishonest, if not on a particular project certainly over time. Our actions always catch up with our reputation. If our actions are bad, our reputation will inevitably be bad. If our actions are good and honest, our reputation will be one of good work and honesty.

    We always win by doing good work and being honest – the first time and every time.

    Warehouse Storage Solutions

    December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

    Maximizing warehouse space. Improving inventory management. Increasing operational efficiency. All of these can be reasons for exploring the wide world of warehouse storage solutions.

    So what storage system is right for you? Here are several things to consider when determining which warehouse storage system is right for your company.

    1. Existing Storage Systems – What existing storage system do you have in place? Are you wanting to add to it, replace it, or move it? Is it compatible with a different system? A qualified material handling expert can assist in determining things like compatibility and application in a new design.

    2. Equipment – What equipment do you have – forklifts, pallet jacks, pallets, etc.? What are the lift capacities (height and weight) of the forklifts? What are the dimensions of the typical pallets used?

    3. Facility – What is the spacing and size of the structural building columns? What overhead obtrusions exist – heating units, rafters, sprinkler pipes, etc.? What is the overall square footage and height of the facility? Is it a cold storage (cooler or freezer) environment?

    4. Location – Is there any permitting required in the area your facility is located? Is it a seismic zone?

    5. Needs/Purpose – Identify the priority of needs. Is the purpose tied to increasing the number of pallet positions? If so, how many? Or are you trying to add pick locations for a retail/online distribution operation? Maybe you are trying to achieve both. Are you adding to meet current needs or are you planning for future growth? Some companies plan for up to five years of expandable growth when deciding on a warehouse storage solution.

    6. Inventory Management – What is the inventory management objective? Is a true First-In, First-Out (FIFO) storage solution the goal? Or is there a need for a pick system with overhead-overflow storage?

    7. Inventory – What inventory is going into the storage system? What is the height and weight of each pallet load? Is there a standard size or will there be pallet variation? Maybe you will be storing something special like wire/cable reels, conduit/pvc tubing, lumber, angle iron, or other raw materials.

    These are some of the more important things to look at when considering different warehouse storage solutions. Other factors can come into play so it is important to seek the input of a material handling expert during the planning process.

    Adding a warehouse storage system can increase operational efficiency, maximize cube usage, provide warehouse organization, and much more. Finding the right warehouse storage solution is an important step on the road of business success.