Is Your New Warehouse Illegal?

From Southern California to Washington, D.C., new warehouses are springing up overnight to meet market demands. There’s one time-consuming phase of warehouse build-out, however, that shouldn’t be bypassed regardless of how much of a hurry you’re in.

As reported by Site Selection Group, the demand for new warehousing is spurred by e-commerce’s continued exponential growth, where volume and speed-to-market are critical success factors. Warehouses can be constructed relatively quickly – an average of 81 days in the U.S. – but the permitting process for racking systems can potentially slow your build-out to a crawl, extending your timeline and costs.

Of course, the short-term costs of a longer timeline are far outweighed by the long-term costs of injuries and product losses (not to mention fines) in the event of racking system failures. It’s important to work with an experienced storage consultant who will design and install safe, reliable storage racks. Their expertise could help you speed up permit sign-offs from the building department and the fire department.

Building a strictly legal environment for your employees and your products will ultimately save you big-time in terms of safety and liability. Read more here about permitting, and see a video showing what happens when unpermitted racking fails in a seismic event.


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Logistics Management – Legal Air Space for Drones

Concerns about safety and legalities are restricting the use of drones everywhere, except in one rather surprising place: the great indoors of mega-warehouses.

It’s completely legal to fly drones inside a private space, and logistics experts are putting drones to use inside large warehouses to automate certain tasks. Warehouses are finite spaces, and they can be mapped into drones’ programming for highly accurate flights. With the added ability to read RFID tags, drones can perform the mundane labor-intensive “cycle counting” that maintains an accurate inventory.

Walmart, one of the nation’s largest warehousers, has instituted a pilot program (no pun intended) to automate inventory management with drones. They estimate that a drone will be able to accurately check as much inventory in one day as a human employee can in a month – an impressive improvement in efficiency and effectiveness. And there’s the added factor of personnel safety: warehouse employees don’t have to climb ladders or operate lifts to count inventory.

Indoor drone usage isn’t right for every warehouse and every logistics manager. Ceiling height, interior walls, and racking systems all must be considered before moving to drone automation. And drones themselves are not cheap, particularly when spatial programming and RFID readers enter the equation. But for some businesses, it could be well worth the investment. Consult with a storage professional to see if drones are right for your warehouse operations.


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How Yankee Ingenuity Went The Extra Mile

Sharon, Massachusetts, is crammed full of history and historical artifacts. And like much of the area around Boston, it’s also densely built up. When the Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations decided to consolidate their scattered collections into a single facility in Sharon, there was no available land to build an expansive new storage facility to house their ever-growing collection of archival materials – everything from Native American treasures to old maps and deeds, early Colonial objects, and more recent historic photographs.

Creative use of available space was the only option, and a high-density storage system saved the day. This time-lapse video shows how over one mile of shelving was installed in a single average-size room.


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5 Tips to Treat Your Books Better

Got books? Maybe you’re a collector, maybe you’re a librarian, but no matter how or why you acquire books, you should know there’s a right way, and a wrong way, to shelve and handle them to keep them in perfect reading condition.

The Library of Congress offers these recommendations:

  • Clean hands, always!
  • Keep books upright, or lying flat; leaning them to one side will eventually break the spine.
  • Remove books from a shelf by gripping the spine on both sides, at the middle of the book; over time, pulling at the top of the spine damages the binding.
  • Keep books away from direct sunlight, heating/cooling vents, and high humidity; don’t forget to dust them, too.
  • Shelve books of similar size together; the covers of neighboring books will help support each other.

The LOC has additional advice on restoration and preservation on its website: Your storage professionals here at Systematics, Inc., can also provide proper shelving and storage information.


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Are Libraries Really Necessary?

E-books, e-readers, online access – perhaps the printed book is going the way of the dodo. Does this mean the death of the public library? Linton Weeks, in this story for NPR, responds to the question with an emphatic “No.” Public libraries function as far more than mere repositories for books. They are community meeting places; they offer language and technology training (free!); they provide computers for research and, yes, for reading e-books that aren’t physically available in the library.

Weeks quotes Tony Marks of the New York Public Library: “Public libraries are arguably more important today than ever before. Their mission is still the same — to provide free access to information to all people. The way people access information has changed, but they still need the information to succeed, and libraries are providing that.”

Given their vital community-services mission, how can libraries be designed to store and present their book collections while simultaneously making space for information-seekers and modern technology? An excellent example is this library in West Tisbury on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, where creative storage and shelving have accommodated old tech, new tech, and community events. See the amazing video here.


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Buying A Racking System? The Wrong One Will Cost You Extra

As warehouse management systems become widespread, racks and shelves are delivering efficient space utilization and superior fulfillment speeds. Amazon’s reputation for light-speed deliveries have encouraged other e-tailers to emulate Amazon’s fulfillment productivity. You may be tempted to retrofit your warehouse with used shelving racks, yours or someone else’s, with cost savings in mind.

Writing in Modern Materials Handling, Josh Bond cautions that re-using a racking system can cost far more in the long run. An existing system rarely fits in a new materials-handling design, particularly when you’re looking for space savings and picking efficiency. Enlisting an expert to help you plan for the short term and the long term may seem more expensive at the outset, but you’ll save costly disruptions when it’s time to expand storage capacity or add an automated materials handling system. Read the discussion here:

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Storing Spare Parts for Facilities Infrastructure

Facilities managers know time is of the essence. Whether it’s a burned-out light bulb or a burst pipe, repairs have to happen fast. Supplies of spare parts, strategically distributed around the facility, allow for quick response. But where and how are these spare parts stored?

Writing in FacilitiesNet, Frank Murphy, CPMM, recommends analyzing the unique needs of the facility before deciding on storage. Do you have an older building requiring hard-to-find spare parts? Are there a number of buildings spread over a campus? With a needs analysis in hand, a facilities manager can then allocate storage space in optimal locations, and choose the right storage fixtures for the job, whether it’s a high density system to keep many spare parts in a compact area, or an adaptive modular system for frequent changes, or a heavy duty rack system for industrial parts. With ready access and a sufficient parts inventory, you can be prepared for the next broken HVAC unit, or faulty circuit board, or broken door handle, or any of the thousand things that facilities managers deal with every day. Read the complete story at .


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Publishers Find Solitude, and Savings, in Open-Plan Offices

modern open office

Book publishing is experiencing the biggest business-culture upheaval since the invention of the printing press. Competition, slumping profits, and rising costs – including the cost of office space – have all contributed to belt tightening on a scale that the old-school expense-account private-office occupants have never seen before.

To reduce real estate costs, many publishers are turning to open office systems. Reading and writing, the basic activities of publishing, require privacy and quiet, something open-plan offices aren’t known for. But publishers seem to be making it work, using “pink noise” to cover distracting sounds, and providing small “quiet” rooms where employees can find silence. Editors’ book-filled “trophy cases” have migrated from private offices to an array of modern shelving in the conference room, where they still can impress visiting authors and agents.

Like open-plan workspaces themselves, the old business attitudes are proving to be flexible. One editor who was dead set against open-plan found that she changed her mind after touring an open-plan space, likening it to a college library during finals week. The New York Times has the full story:


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Can Automation Systems Keep Customers Happy AND Save Money?

Remember the old days, when you’d send in your Lucky Charms box tops for a magic ring, and the order form said you’d get your ring in six to eight weeks? In Kid Time, six to eight weeks was forever. We wanted that magic ring right away!

Maybe it was the memory of that “want it now” feeling that spurred the development of modern material handling systems capable of routinely delivering shipments in just one to five days. These dramatically reduced fulfillment times are due in large part to automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS). In addition to improved efficiency, AS/RS improves space utilization through increasing storage density, both vertically and horizontally. It can be a great way to keep real estate costs under control. Chelsea Tarr discusses the benefits in MHLnews:

So kids, send in your box tops now, and that AS/RS system will ship your ring in just a few minutes!


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When A Good Storage System Can Be A Matter Life And Death

When police investigators examine a crime, they collect bits and pieces of evidence by the dozen, everything from DNA evidence to the proverbial “smoking gun.” Every item has to be catalogued and stored for the use of detectives and courts, and without a well-organized high density storage system, key evidence can go missing. In cases involving capital murder, missing evidence can send the wrong person to death row, or set a murderer free. Evidence expert John Vasquez discusses several such cases in a story for The Austin Chronicle, including that of accused murderer Hank Skinner and the blood-stained jacket that could exonerate him, or send him to death row – a jacket which has disappeared from the police evidence room:


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