Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Top 10 Mistakes When Ordering New & Used Pallet Rack:

As a complete material handling outfitter, we at +AK Material Handling Systems are acutely aware of the competitive market that exists in the new and used pallet rack sector of the industry. So, in an effort to help those considering purchasing pallet rack, our pallet rack system experts compiled a list of the 10 most common mistakes people make when purchasing new or used pallet rack.

Not seeking professional advice with layout and design. While it may be possible for some people to determine the optimal layout and design for their pallet rack system on their own, it’s often a process better left to professionals.  As AKMHS System Design Specialist Brian Koski puts it, “I see two main parts to this mistake: layouts that waste space and rack that wastes space or causes damage by improper sizing of the rack”

Purchasing the cheapest rack system in the belief that all pallet rack is the same.  Like virtually any product, pallet rack varies dramatically in quality and performance.  Many folks buy the cheapest rack they can get their hands on, and are subsequently disappointed when it needs replacing earlier than they had expected.  There are certain products that demand an investment in quality, and pallet rack is, without a doubt, one of them.

Buying racking that is not universal for future expansion and growth.  We frequently talk with customers who have purchased proprietary pallet rack styles that don’t fit with any other brand of pallet rack, and who must, as a consequence, replace the entirety of their racking because they’re unable to find a style to match their current system. Purchasing universal pallet rack, such as teardrop style, enables one to expand upon their current system using a variety of different brands.

Purchasing the wrong height of racking for their forklift and wrong depth for their pallet size.  Pallet rack is only useful if you can access it with a forklift.  Customers often make the mistake of failing to consider the height to which their forklift can reach, making part of their rack obsolete. In addition, people frequently miscalculate the depth needed for their pallets, also rendering a rack system partially or completely useless.

Guesstimating weight and capacities.  Some things are okay to guesstimate.  Pallet rack weight and capacities don’t fall into that category.  Taking a guess at how much your racking needs to hold significantly undermines the safety of your warehouse and product, and is, to state it mildly, not a very good idea.

Buying from a non-stocking distributor.  At AK Material Handling Systems, our inventory is in stock and ready to ship within 24-48 hours of order placement.  However, this is not the case with all dealers.  Many have to order their products from third party suppliers, a process that can tack on several weeks of shipping time and added cost.

Buying rack from an auction website where you are not getting exactly what you need.  In case you haven’t picked this up yet, it’s extremely important to make sure your pallet rack system meets your needs.  Your needs are yours only, and buying rack from an auction website will often result in the purchase of racking that only partially accommodates your unique requirements.

Not considering freight when comparing quotes.  In the competitive pallet rack market, the difference between quotes quite often comes down to just a few dollars.  However, when freight costs are considered, the formerly cheaper option can become vastly more expensive.  Inexperienced customers tend to make the common mistake of not factoring freight costs into overall price, and in turn unknowingly choosing the more expensive option.

Paying too much for freight. Freight is an inevitable cost associated with shipping pallet rack, and it will almost invariably be passed to the consumer.  However, you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for freight.  There are plenty of cost-effective options on the market.  AK Material Handling Systems, for example, offers customers the best available combination of shipping service and price.

Believing that a used pallet rack system is just as good a new system. While used rack may be ideal for some, particularly those whose top priority is immediate cost cutting, it simply won’t suffice for customers looking for optimal strength, durability, and usability.  Like any used product, used pallet rack typically incurs damage over the course of its lifetime.  The degree to which used pallet rack’s performance is compromised varies greatly, but it is rarely in the same pristine condition as new rack.

For more information and helpful tips on ordering pallet rack, visit our selective pallet rack homepage. Our pallet rack homepage offers a rack diagram that explains how to correctly order the right size pallet rack. Also, if you would like to speak directly to a pallet rack expert, give us a call @ 800-722-5908.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Meet the Faces Behind the Brand: Matt Johnson

This week, we’ll continue to meet the faces behind the +AK Material Handling Systems brand.  This week’s interview features one of our warehouse all-stars, Matt Johnson.  Having been with the company for nine months, Matt’s the newest guy around besides Dave.  Matt loves it here at AK Material Handling Systems, and we love having him here.  He’s also one of the many dads that are part of the AK team.  We enjoyed learning a little more about Matt as a person.

Matt Johnson
Shipping Specialist
Champlin, MN

What is your role at AKMHS and how long have you been with the company?

I am the Used/PA Warehouse Specialist and I have worked for the company 9 months.

How do you think AK was able to be ranked as one of the top 100 companies to work for for three consecutive years?

The skills and experience that most of us have makes it easy for us to prosper and succeed to where we can focus more on team building and grow as a group. Al and Josh are great leaders and know what it takes for us all to be happy and I couldn't have asked for a better group of leaders. I love my job and we are a great company to work for.

What excites you the most about the future at AK? 

The fact that it has grown so much in the past few years (what I have been told) shows the vision in what Al and Josh are trying to do with the company and what we are capable of. Moving forward and growing is the best and challenging thing for a smaller company like us and I am so excited to be a part of whatever comes of us and the future!

What are some of the things you do for fun?

Parks and playing with my kids, hanging out with my friends, relaxing on patios with great weather, yard games and softball.

Do you have any role models you truly look up to?

My grandmother is a big part of my life and I have always thought of her as the most caring and giving individual I know. Her family comes first before anything, including herself. I try to pride myself and do what I can everyday to be like her. She's great!

In Five words of less describe Matt Johnson: 

Fun, Caring, Organized & Proud Father.

  Matt Johnson Fun Facts: 

-Was named Homecoming King in high school

- Oldest brother to seven siblings

- In High School he lettered in Baseball, Football and Weightlifting at Columbia Heights High School 

- Has two children (Riley 7, Jaidan 5)

- Once ate 4 Tostinos Party Pizzas in one sitting

- Was a Menards Team Member of the Month three times

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Craft Beer and its Impact on Warehouse Operations

By: Brian C Neuwirth of Unex Manufacturing

The craft beer business is booming,  In 2013 sales grew by 18% and the continued growth now comes from over 2,700 U.S. breweries.  With growth comes an introduction of  new SKUs and suppliers which presents a unique opportunity for beer wholesalers.   According to the NBWA, in 1996 the average beer distributor carried 190 unique SKUs from an average of nine different beer suppliers. By 2010 that number had ballooned to 536 SKUs from 18 different beer suppliers. Most estimates place the average SKUs today in the thousands. SKU proliferation has had a widespread impact on warehouse operations and is leaving beer wholesalers asking what can be done to accommodate this 10-fold increase in SKUs?  There is the opportunity for increased revenue derived from a larger product offering but the challenge of being able to store these products efficiently in a warehouse that was designed to house 190 SKUs.

At +AK Material Handling Systems (Unex), we work with beer wholesalers and have seen first-hand the challenges that our customers have faced integrating these additional SKUs into their warehouse. The biggest obstacle to overcome is that wholesalers can’t use the same day-to-day processes and pick styles that they used when they had 190 SKUs. It just isn’t feasible and there are way too many items. The processes and design of the warehouse and the actual path that pickers take to select items has to change in order to be more efficient and evolve with the times. Beer wholesalers have to take a page from the grocery distributor’s playbook. Grocery distributors deal with thousands of SKUs and have figured out an efficient way to store and pick those SKUs.

The first thing to do is to analyze your product mix  based on throughput to determine the best storage method Your slow to medium moving kegs (or cases) should be stored on keg racks. Keg flow is a wonderful space and cost-saving alternative to palletized storage. A 1/6 keg can be stored in much the same manner as you would store cases, on flow rack. For example, in this picture
you can see that there are 8 kegs stored across the bottom of this rack. Keg flow helps consolidate floor space and improves stock rotation with FIFO storage. When you pull a keg out for distribution, there is another one that slides in right behind it. And because each lane is labeled, it minimizes the chance of a mis-pick and reduces overall operating cost by not having to correct orders.

The craft and microbrew boom isn’t showing any signs of slowing down or stopping any time soon. Wholesalers need to either expand their warehouses or figure out how to efficiently use the space they already have. Looking to the grocery business gives us a blue print in how to handle this increased SKU proliferation.

If you are interested in maximizng your space with a Unex Keg Flow system make sure to contact AK Material Handling Systems.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Pallet is a Pallet… Right?

By: Nick Wenner Pallet Service Corporation

All too often, we have new customers call us up and say one of two things:  “I need a price on a pallet” or “How much for a 48x40 pallet?”  We use the analogy that this would be like walking in to the local Ford dealer and saying “I need a price on a vehicle” or “How much for an SUV?”  Similar to almost any other industry, there is a lot more that goes into the making (and pricing) of the right pallet for an application than what most people think.  Granted, while some people need just any “Pallet” to get their product from point A to point B, just like some people similarly need any “vehicle” to get them around, most customers have a specific set of needs for both.  This is where we believe that it is crucial for us as a pallet supplier to partner with the customer and take the time to learn and understand each application so that we can provide the right solution for the customer at the best price. 

At Pallet Service Corporation, we start by looking at a few key pieces of information that can help us match (or design) the right pallet for the customer’s unique unit load:

• Weight of the load being placed on the Pallet

• Type of load being placed on the pallet (Boxes,  Bags, Pales, etc.)

• Storage configuration (Floor storage, Floor Stack, Rack, etc.)

• Handling Requirements (2 way or 4 way entry)

• Plans for International Shipment (requires ISPM-15 Compliance)

• Sanitary Requirements (Sensitivity to mold, dust, bugs, dirt, moisture, etc.)

• Aesthetic Requirements (usually impacts Species, Grade and condition of wood – new or used)

• Budget (how much are you looking to pay per pallet)

• Anticipated order volume

We use all of this information to either design a custom pallet using a piece of software called Pallet Design System (PDS) that meets or exceeds your requirements or provide “stock” pallet options that can meet these same requirements, but usually at a lower cost to the customer.  This software was developed by the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA) and allows us to provide the customer with an actual “spec” which allows us to analyze everything about the pallet to tell us things like:

• Safe load capacity in common storage configurations (Floor stack, rack, etc.)

• Dimensions, Grades and species of all of the wood components

• Help us remove waste from the pallet design to reduce cost for the customer.

• Exact spec on the fasteners being used (nails, screws, etc)

• Predicted life cycle analysis

• Estimated pallet weight

• Optimized Unit Load configuration (how to stack boxes, pales, bags, etc. to maximize the capacity of the pallet while protecting the product as much as possible)

Below is one of several pages from the software which shows the overall design and layout of the pallet.  More information can be found on the subsequent pages of the pallet analysis report.
 Image provided by NWPCA:  http://www.palletcentral.com/pallet-design-system

While we use this information to help us provide the best solution for the customer, once identified, the customer can use this information to use as a benchmark when getting competitive bids on their pallet orders.  This can help the customer be sure that they are not trying to compare a “Honda Civic” pallet to a “Cadillac Escalade” pallet.

Pallet Service Corporation is a family owned business that has been around for more than 45 years.  With 3 plants servicing the Midwest, we specialize in meeting all of our customers wood packaging needs.  We are also active members in our industry’s association (NWPCA) because we believe that it is part of our job to not only provide the right solution for the customer, but also to help educate them so that they understand how their needs affect the design of the packaging they choose.  We hope that this allows them to make more informed decisions when it comes to their wood packaging needs. Please contact Pallet Service Corporation with any or all of your pallet needs.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Getting the Most for Your Used Pallet Rack

Sell Your Used Pallet Rack 

While +AK Material Handling Systems may be known for our warehouse and pallet rack system design, consultation, and installation services, as well as our selection of high quality pallet racking, we also buy and sell used pallet rack.  In fact, we take pride in making sure you get the most for your used pallet rack when you sell it to us.  However, there are certain factors that play a role in exactly how much we’re able to offer, and which can help you get the best possible offer.  We talked to inside sales guy and pallet rack specialist Adam Hansen about this topic, and it turns out getting the most for your used pallet rack comes down to a few simple conditions.

One of the first questions a person looking to sell their used pallet rack should ask themselves is “Is the product down and palletized, and does it require minimal sorting?”  This is an important question to ask, as it directly affects how much we’re able to offer you for your pallet rack.  Put simply, pallet racking that is disorganized not palletized takes longer to process and sort through.  In turn, the person selling the used pallet rack will bear the cost of this additional labor by not getting the most for their product.  Used pallet rack that is palletized and organized, however, will help sellers on their way to getting top dollar for their product.

Another important question is that of shipping.  Are you able to deliver the product yourself?  If so, this is yet another factor that will help you on your way to earning top dollar for your used pallet rack.  If not, who will pay for the shipping?  If you choose to pay for the shipping, we will, of course, be able to offer you more for you product than if AK pays for the product to ship to us.  Regardless of shipping, however, assuming the product is organized, palletized, and in good condition, you will be offered an excellent price for your pallet rack.

Of course, the condition of your used pallet rack is important as well.  If your pallet rack is not in usable condition, we will not be able to compensate you for it.  However, if it is in good condition, you have one of the steps of getting the most for your pallet rack covered.  In order to save time and effort for all parties, as well as to verify the quality of the used pallet rack involved in a potential purchase, we request pictures of your pallet rack.  That way, you can avoid potentially relinquishing your pallet rack without compensation, and we can avoid the potential hassle of having to dispose of it.

If you have used pallet rack you’re looking to sell, look no further than AK Material Handling Systems.  Use our simple "Sell Your Pallet Rack" form and We’ll offer you top dollar for your quality used pallet rack.  Looking to buy used pallet rack?  We’ve got you covered on that angle as well, with a large in-stock selection of quality pallet rack.  Give us a call or send us an email, and we’ll be happy to discuss helping you sell your pallet rack or give you more information about our current inventory of used pallet rack.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Meet the Faces Behind the Brand: Jerry Fredrickson

Today we continue our blog series, “Meet the Faces Behind the Brand.”  This week we talk with Systems Design Specialist Jerry Fredrickson.  As one of +AK Material Handling Systems  warehouse system design experts, Jerry is a valued member of the team and a major player in AK’s success.  A long-time veteran of the material handling industry, Jerry uses his knowledge and expertise to deliver exceptional value to AK’s customers.  Jerry’s got some pretty interesting hobbies, skills, and advice, which he discusses in this week’s blog post.

What is your role at AKMHS?

Systems Design Specialist - Assisting customers to find the best solution for their material handling requirements and to best utilize their existing space.

As a 30 Year Material Handling Veteran, How can you summarize the last 30 years in Industry?  

It has been a great learning experience, starting out in the installation side of the material handling business for 10 years and moving into outside sales for  the past 20 years.  Working closely with customers to make their warehouses and distribution facilities more productive and efficient has been very rewarding.

Can you name any projects in particular during the last 30 years that have been the most challenging or rewarding?

Several projects come to mind, a 20,000 SF Mezzanine for Merrill Corporation in Sartell was very challenging, having to integrate a 2 Story Existing Office, 30’ x 40’ into the middle of the mezzanine and have the mezzanine floor and 2nd story floor match in height.

What is the most intriguing part of your position?

Finding the best solution with the customer and providing my CAD Skills to achieve the best layout design

Rumor has it, that you are the Freddy Couples of AK Team on Golf Course. What other hobbies do you enjoy outside of work? 

Playing my 1968 Martin D-18 guitar or catching Walleyes & Deer Hunting

Do you have any advice for young professional entering the material handling industry? 

Find out what excites you the most in the industry and follow your passion to do your best.

  Jerry Fredrickson Fun Facts: 

  • 3 Daughters (Stella, Sophie, And Maddie)

  •  Grew Up International Falls

  • Played most of his hometown hockey games in Fort Francis, Ontario (International Falls did not have a hockey Arena until his 10th grade) 
  • Lived in Bangkok, Thialand for 6 months when he was 19
  • Started a Long Term Treatment Program for hard core juvinal offenders in 1976
  • Owns a 2006 Toyota Camry with 400,000+ miles on it. (Purchased it with 13,000) now that is some sales miles…
  • Studied ZEN with Roshi Katagri
  •  Is a proud cancer survivor 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Giving Back: AK Material Handling Systems Helps Sponsor Rising Senior

Lately, things have really been getting exciting for the team at +AK Material Handling Systems.  At a recent Minnesota Business Magazine celebrating Minnesota’s 100 Best Companies to Work For (AK’s third consecutive year receiving this recognition) AK Material Handling Systems was awarded the “Fun Award” for cultivating and fostering a fun, friendly and exciting work atmosphere.  As if this weren’t enough cause for celebration, we have also recently been made aware of Brian Bellin, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Superior and recipient of this year’s Howard Bernstein Industrial Distribution Scholarship.

AK Material Handling Systems, along with TEKLYNX, +Material Handling Wholesaler Magazine, and CMH Services, took pleasure in having the opportunity to help sponsor the scholarship.  The UWS senior has big plans for his academic and professional future.  Brian, who excels academically at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, plans on becoming Certified in Transportation and Logistics (CTL), and would eventually like to earn a Master’s degree.  As far as long-term career goals, Mr. Bellin plans on entering the workforce upon graduation, and would like to work for a multi-national company with a focus on international logistics and the global supply chain.

Brian is also a member of the Air Force ROTC, which he credits as having helped him form the leadership skills that will help him succeed in his career endeavors.  We have no doubt he’ll do just that.  The AK team wishes Mr. Bellin all the best in his plans for the future, and are honored to have the chance to help contribute a little to the future of one of the industry’s rising stars.

As part of our mission here at AK Material Handling Systems, we’ll continue to strive to contribute and give back to the community in meaningful ways.  Charity, volunteering, and other contributions will remain  an integral part of our vision for AK Material Handling systems as both a well-rounded company and leader in the community.