Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"GIVING MO THANKS" this Thanksgiving at AK Material Handling Systems

GIVING MO THANKS this Thanksgiving at AK Material Handling Systems

Part of our company culture at +AK Material Handling Systems is our commitment to giving back to the community and one of our annual traditions in that commitment is participating in the “Movember” campaign. (Visit the AK Movember Team Page)

Movember is a movement that encourages participants to grow out their moustaches for the month of November to help boost public awareness of men’s health issues and raise funding for programs directed at cancer research and awareness efforts. So this year for Thanksgiving we have decided to “GIVE MO THANKS” to all of you, our clients, friends and family in hopes of sparking conversations, generating donations and most importantly spreading awareness for Movember. So when you are enjoying Thanksgiving this year don't be afraid to spark conversations about these important men’s health statistics…

• Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men aged 15-35 years.
• 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
• A man with a father or brother who developed prostate cancer before 60 is twice as likely to also develop prostate cancer. Learn more here>>>

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at AK Material Handling Systems.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Top 5 Warehouse Safety Resources Available Online

The Top 5 Warehouse Safety Resources Available Online

As technology continues to advance, the workplace changes along with it.  Things that were done one way since as far back as anyone can remember are suddenly done a different, usually faster and more efficient way.  Tasks that used to be time and labor intensive are now done quickly and easily, often without the help of humans.  But, even with the constant flux of technological innovation and other changes in the workplace today, there’s one thing that remains constant: the importance of safety.  Warehouse safety, in particular. Like most things, safety practices and procedures can change and are subject to updates, so it’s important to stay updated by checking in frequently with reputable safety information resources.  To help you get started on where to look, we’ve put together a list of some of the most useful warehouse safety resources on the web.

 If you’re a warehouse manager hoping to increase the safety of your work environment, check it out:

OSHA Law & Regulation

While OSHA has quite the controversial reputation, it is nevertheless a useful resource when it comes to making sure you’ve covered the basics when it comes to implementing the necessary safety precautions.  Also important, particularly for warehouse managers, is that by knowing and abiding by OSHA regulations, you’ll reduce the risk of costly fines that can accompany failure to comply with these regulations.

Workplace Safety Toolkit

The Workplace Safety Toolkit, found at, is an extensive resource dedicated to educating readers about workplace safety at nonprofits.  This knowledge, however, is just as easily applied to businesses of all types.

75 Free Warehouse, Dock and Forklift Safety Resource

This is sort of a meta-resource.  That is, it is a resource that is an aggregate of a bunch of other resources.  This is why we think it’s so helpful – it’s a site where you can find 75 online safety resources only a click away.  Many of these are convenient PDF files and, like the title says, they’re free.  It can be found at

Warehouse Safety Checklist: 8 Things Every Manager Should Review

This checklist provides warehouse managers with a downloadable platform they can use to make sure they’re taking the necessary safety precautions to keep their warehouses safe.  The checklist consists of eight general guidelines, such as providing training and ensuring proper emergency signage.  It can be found at


Seton Safety

Seton Safety is a Canadian online magazine dedicated to safety in the workplace.  They’ve got a ton of articles, videos and other cool resources available on their website for anyone who’s interested in improving safety.  They’ve also got a website design that makes it easy to navigate and search for articles, which is a major plus.  Find them at

That’s all for now.  As always, we hope you found the information useful, and encourage you to check back for updates and informational posts.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

OSHA Regulations: What are they and how do I Follow Them?

OSHA Regulations: What are they and how do I Follow Them?

An Overview of OSHA

Ever since its conception in 1970 as part of the Occupational Safety and Health Act signed into place by then President Richard Nixon, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been using workplace regulations as a means of increasing workplace safety and decreasing the number and frequency of accident occurrences.  Over the years, a variety of opinions have formed regarding how well OSHA accomplishes this task, and whether or not the costs of the administration outweigh its benefits.  However, regardless of your opinion about it, OSHA won’t be going anywhere any time soon.  Because of that, it’s in your best interest as an employer to familiarize yourself with OSHA’s rules and regulations in order to avoid costly fines or legal action.  Since this isn’t always the easiest task, we’ve decided to provide a primer on OSHA and how to comply with its regulations.

OSHA Regulations

As mentioned, OSHA aims to increase occupational safety by implementing various regulations, or standards, with which employers must comply. Because workplaces are constantly evolving, OSHA standards are not static, but are added to and amended as OSHA sees necessary.  OSHA’s safety regulations are extensive, and include a variety of regulation types, such as procedural regulations or building regulations.  Of course, in order to ensure these regulations are followed, OSHA actively enforces them, primarily by inspecting work environments for failures to comply.  Failure to comply may result in a warning, but often leads to hefty fines.  Fines can be incredibly costly, especially for small businesses, so it’s important you do your best to comply.  How do you know what standards to comply with, you ask?

Where do I Look to Find out What Type of OSHA Regulations to Follow?

This is where things get a little tricky.  There are a lot of regulations out there, and they vary from industry to industry.  For example, there are specific regulations for construction, maritime, and agriculture.  When visiting the regulations page, you’ll see a list of regulations, as well as tabs for the construction, maritime, and agriculture industries.  If your business doesn’t fall into one of these categories, you can view regulations under “General Industry.”  Here, OSHA provides an organized list of regulatory requirements employers must meet.  Each item on the list has a link that you can click on to see what is included in the regulation.  While it is a bit convoluted, to be sure, this is probably the easiest way you can research and comply with OSHA regulations as an employer.  OSHA’s website also provides a search bar if you’re looking for a specific type of regulation.  Of course, it’s not the only way – just the one we’ve found most convenient.  If you’ve got what you believe to be a superior alternative, let us know.  We’re interested in providing readers with helpful information, so we’d be glad to consider your opinion in a follow-up article.

Friday, November 7, 2014

How to Repurpose Your Pallets

Repurposing, AKA “Upcycling” – Saving Money and Decreasing Waste

If you’ve spent much time at all perusing the internet, you’ve probably noticed the developing trend of “upcycling” or “repurposing.” Essentially, these are fancy ways to refer to using used wooden pallets to create something new, whether it be a piece of furniture or a piece of art.  With a growing number of people becoming interested in DIY projects and a shift towards sustainability, these wooden platforms are making the move from landfill to living room.  If you’re like most people interested in repurposing pallets, you love the idea but have no idea where to start or what to create.  While we’re not do-it-yourself experts or arts and crafts aficionados, we can provide some ideas to spark your creativity, as well as provide a few tips on how to find quality used pallets.

Where do I get Pallets, Anyway?

Unfortunately, there isn’t one definitive answer to this question.  There don’t seem to be a lot of large, consistent, widely available sources for quality used pallets.  Of course, this doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of sources around, it just means you may have to poke around a bit.  Often times, small businesses, particularly ones with warehouses and which deal with bulk materials, will have used pallets available for you to pick up.  We say small businesses, because the larger the business, the more likely it is that processes such as materials disposal are automated and efficient, leaving no pallets for DIYers like us.  Another great place to look is the internet – platforms such as craigslist are often ripe with used materials that can be obtained for free or very cheap.  More than likely, your first step will simply be to call any local businesses or internet listings you think may be promising, and ask them yourself.  You’ll have pallets ready for repurposing in no time.

What do I do with Them?

Say you’ve managed to get your hands on a few good quality pallets from a local business.  You might be wondering what you’re supposed to do with them now.  Well, as far as specific projects go, there’s an infinitude of them available online.  So many, in fact, that it would be impossible to outline any in this blog that aren’t readily available with a Google search.  However, what we will do is suggest a few different types of pallet projects to get you thinking about how you might be able to repurpose yours.

One of the most popular ways to utilize used pallets is to make tables out of them. This isn’t particularly surprising, because the pallet’s natural shape lends itself well to being converted into a table.  There are a wide array of pallet table designs out there, as you may have guessed, but the most common seems to be the coffee table pallet.  The coffee table pallet consists of a glass sheet that’s connected to one side of the pallet and wheels that are connected to the other, making for a sleek, low-to-the-ground design that most DIYer’s could master. 

Couches, sofas, davenports -- whatever you call them in your neck of the woods – can also be made from pallets, and it’s not as complex as you might think.  In fact, simply stacking a few pallets horizontally, then attaching a vertically oriented pallet to the back for a back rest, can be enough to form the basis of a pallet couch.  This may sound odd, but, as you can see below, it actually looks pretty cool.  All you need to do is add cushions, paint to your liking, and lounge the day away.

Wall Décor
Repurposing pallets doesn’t necessarily mean making them into furniture.  In fact, it turns out that one the most handy and visually appealing ways to repurpose pallets is to make them into wall décor.  This can take any number of forms, from utility-based projects, such as wine or DVD racks, to more artistically-oriented projects, such as a surface on which to paint or write quotes.  When it comes to wall décor, the result of your project will be, more than anything, an expression of your own creativity.

Whatever you may choose to do with your used pallets, you can be confident it’ll be a success.  If what you make is a masterpiece, you’ll obviously have succeeded.  If it doesn’t turn out so well, then you’ve learned what not to do when repurposing pallets, and you’ll make something great next time.
Check back with our blog for more useful tips, information, and other helpful content.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

How Can I Store My Stuff off the Ground?

Storing Things on the Ground Isn’t Always an Option

Here in Minnesota, like many parts of the country, it’s not always a good idea to store things on the ground, given the elements and limited space most of us contend with. Whether in your garage or somewhere else on your property, storing things on the ground can leave them susceptible to getting dirty, incurring water damage, or taking up an unnecessary amount of storage space.  Certain types of items, such as firewood, engines or automotive parts, various types of tools and machinery, as well as a host of other materials, would be best served not to have to endure the moist, dirty surface of a garage floor.  Firewood, for example, often cannot sit directly on the ground because it will eventually become too moist to burn.  Snowmobile and ATV storage can be tricky -- they can be stored on the ground, but will often take up an unnecessary amount of space. And, because of their oblong shape, you’ll be unable to stack or store anything on top of them.  There is, however, a convenient, cost-effective solution to your storage problems.

Pallet Rack for Personal Storage

Pallet rack isn’t the first thing most people think of when running through their personal storage solution options.  In fact, most probably wouldn’t think of it at all.  It isn’t readily apparent that those big metal shelves we see at Home Depot could be bought in the right size and quantity to fit in your garage and be used to store things off the ground.  It seems more likely they’d be sold to large companies who need them for storing inventory and stocking sales floors.  However, while they certainly do serve well in their more traditional roles, they work extremely well as a means of storing personal belongings.  One can store large, long items on racking without wire decking, or outfit their rack with wire decking for smaller items or to increase stability and provide a flat surface.

New or Used Pallet Rack – Which to Use?

If you’re wondering whether to buy new or used pallet rack the answer is that it is largely a matter of personal preference.  Because it is fresh from the manufacturer, new rack is guaranteed to be as strong as the manufacturer states it to be, and will not have endured any previous use or abuse.  Used rack, on the other hand, offers a cost-effective storage solution for those simply looking to convenient way to store their stuff off the ground.  The pros at Pallet Rack Now can supply you with as much new or used rack you’ll need to get your storage project underway.  Just give us a call at 888-578-1578 or shoot us an email at  We’d love to hear from you.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Movember is Almost Here... What it is and Why We Do It

“Men’s health.”  To many of us, the term might seem oxymoronic.  There are some things a lot of us men would just as soon not address – the need to update our wardrobes, preparation for a visit from the in-laws, going to our significant other’s friend’s dog’s birthday party, and of course, men’s health issues.  Topics relating to prostate and testicular cancers, as well as men’s mental health, are frequently swept under the rug, or worse, people lack awareness of them in the first place.  The Movember Foundation is trying to change that, and they’re gaining momentum every year.

What Is Movember?
For those who aren’t yet up to speed on what Movember actually is, we’ll provide a quick primer.  Started in the early 2000’s in Australia, Movember is a movement that encourages participants to grow out their moustaches for the month of November to help boost public awareness of men’s health issues and raise funding for programs directed at cancer research and awareness efforts.  According to the official website, “The Movember Foundation is the leading global organization committed to changing the face of men’s health.”  Participants are encouraged to register with the official Movember website and form fundraising teams.  Here, Movember participants can show off their mo’s and compete with other teams in fundraising battles.  Of course, just growing out a moustache and telling others why you’re doing it contributes to the cause as well, and everyone is encouraged to contribute in whatever way(s) they can.

Why Do We Do It?

Really, once finding out about Movember and its efforts to heighten awareness of men’s health issues, it’s hard not to support it in one way or another – whether that means making a donation or simply growing out the gnarliest ‘stache one can muster.  The Movember Foundation is perhaps the most widely known men’s health awareness foundation in operation, and has the potential to improve the quality of life for countless men over the coming years. 

Part of our company culture at +AK Material Handling Systems  is our commitment to giving back to the community, and there are few better ways of doing so than to show our support for a foundation such as Movember.  Who knew simply growing out a moustache could help save so many lives?  At AK, we have a great time growing out our ‘staches and getting creative with our facial hair, and encourage anyone and everyone to join us in spreading the word by whatever means available.  Nothing beats having fun and contributing to an important cause at the same time.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

An Employee Celebration By: Al Boston

An Employee Celebration By: Al Boston

Recently, we were able to celebrate the the arrival of two employee milestones at +AK Material Handling Systems.  Senior Project Account Specialist Brenda Harrison and Systems Design Specialist Brian Koski celebrated their 25th and 20th anniversaries, respectively.  In celebration of these milestones, the AK team attended a Minnesota Vikings game together.  It was a fun event, and a great way to celebrate two AK employees who’ve been working hard for the betterment of the company for 2+ decades.  The recognition of Brian and Brenda got us thinking about our company culture.  To be specific, the value placed on members of the AK team, both as employees and as people.

To work over 20 years for the same company is nothing to sneeze at.  It takes diligent work and loyalty on the part of the employee, as well as faith in and appreciation of the employee by the company for whom they serve.  Brian and Brenda have served AK Material Handling in exemplary fashion over the previous decades, and it was truly an enjoyable experience to be able to to celebrate their years of service with a group of 40 people, consisting of AK employees, family and friends.  At AK Material Handling Systems, we firmly believe that our success is due to the tireless efforts of our employees.  Without our awesome team of loyal employees, we’d be only a fraction of the company we are today.  Many companies say similar things, but at AK Material Handling Systems, we do our best to actually show it.

Below is a picture of the AK Material Handling Systems team at the Minnesota Vikings game on Sunday, October 12th.  It was a beautiful day, and a wonderful opportunity celebrate two of the employees we’re proud to have as a part of our team.

By: +Al Boston