The Evolution of the Material Handling Landscape
As a plant manager or engineer, you likely strive to maximize productivity and worker safety while minimizing product damage. Achieving all these goals simultaneously has become increasingly challenging, especially with the changing composition of our workforce. However, the introduction of Gorbel Work Station Cranes makes it possible to achieve your production goals while reducing damage and workers compensation issues. Below is a look at the current demands of the material handling landscape and the ways that Gorbel Work Station Cranes address the key challenges facing material handlers.
"In the past decade, the average manual materials handler has gotten older, heavier and harder to hire and retain. Pair that with the rising costs of workers' compensation insurance and global pressures to increase productivity, and manufacturers, warehouses and distribution center managers are taking a much closer look at improving ergonomics in their operations."
- Sara Pearson Spencer, Modern Materials Handling
Today's material handling landscape is marked by a growing need to optimize safety within a workforce that is increasingly dominated by women and employees over the age of 55. At the same time, there is more pressure than ever on material handlers to maximize productivity while conserving resources. These trends are expected to continue, prompting manufacturers of cranes and lifting equipment to launch equipment designs that will accommodate these changes.
The primary challenges facing the material handling industry
Material handlers face a variety of barriers that prevent them from achieving production goals. Worker strain, a growing number of workers compensation claims, and changing industry regulations all contribute to make it challenging for companies in the material handling industry to thrive in a competitive market. The top challenges facing material handlers are as follows:
1) Worker strain and fatigue
"Today, there are about 25 million people over 55 years old in the workplace. By 2025 that number will rise to 32 million people. Plus, about 33% of all people in the United States are obese, weighing more than 30 pounds above their body mass index."
- Jim Galante, Chairman of the Ergonomic Assist Systems & Equipment (EASE) Council
An aging workforce and exploding productivity demands leaves workers more susceptible to injury than ever. Common injuries include strains and sprains, and are often related to repetitive-motion handling and typically affect the back, neck, and shoulders. Jim Galante, Chairman of the EASE Council, estimates that such injuries cost companies roughly $25,000 per incident. Notably, material handling issues account for nearly one-third of all workers comp claims, highlighting the need for safer handling equipment.
2) Shrinking facility space
Today's material handlers are often expected to accomplish more in less time within tight confines. Attempting to use cranes and other lifting devices within an overcrowded warehouse is a recipe for disaster. Many material handlers find themselves struggling to contend with shrinking spatial constraints, leaving the door open for worker injury and damage to product loads.
3) Ongoing changes to industry regulations
"Proper inspection and safe use of workstation cranes and patented track systems will avoid workplace injuries and will increase the ability of a worker to safely and properly perform a job. It is the employer's responsibility to train operators, and ensure the safe use of this equipment."
- The Crane, Hoist, and Monorail Alliance, An OSHA Cooperative Program
Company owners often struggle to stay abreast of changing regulations impacting the material handling industry. Businesses, engineers, and safety managers are responsible for ensuring that work station cranes are properly used, inspected, and maintained. OSHA safety violations can result in penalties ranging from costly fines to suspension of operations.
In spite of the severity of these penalties, OSHA violations persist as engineers and safety managers fail to properly manage the work environment or introduce the proper handling equipment. Accordingly, on January 2, 2018, OSHA increased its civil penalties of workplace safety and healty by 2% with a maximum fine of close to $130,000, highlighting the need to select work station cranes that have been designed with employee safety in mind.
How do Gorbel Work Station Cranes help alleviate these challenges?
I-beam Jib cranes have been an industry standard for years. And while they bring versatility and familiarity to the workplace, I-beam jibs exhibit shortcomings when compared to Gorbel Work Station Cranes. A study conducted by the Rochester Institute for Technology comparing traditional I-beam cranes with Gorbel Work Station Cranes found some significant differences in productivity between the two cranes.
Gorbel Workstation Cranes were designed in response to the challenges outlined above. Throughout the design process, the engineers with Gorbel considered the growing need to help workers reduce worker fatigue while increasing productivity. Here are the top five ways that Gorbel Work Station Cranes address the challenges outlined above.
1) Facilitate positioning and movement of loads
Gorbel Work Station Cranes feature a unique design with a high strength to weight ratio. Their enclosed track design allows operators to move a load with ease compared to traditional I-beam cranes. Additionally, with their modular design, users can easily expand their runway length by adding sections as needed to complete larger jobs.
2) Minimize damage to goods
Workers who struggle with heavy loads are more likely to err in their operation of cranes. The result is damaged inventory and a loss of profit. Gorbel Work Station Cranes enable operators to move and position loads with ease. As a result, goods are less likely to sustain damage during the manufacturing process and fewer components are rejected.
3) Easily expand to meet specific project needs
Scalability and adaptability are essential qualities for material handlers who regularly tackle a variety of projects. Gorbel's Work Station Cranes have a modular design that allows for easy expansion of runway length and additional bridges as required by the project. Additionally, the modular design of Gorbel's work station cranes enable users to remove a bridge to adapt for smaller jobs or tighter confines.
4) Optimize workplace resources
Loads of 4,000 pounds present major safety challenges for 90% of men attempting to use manual I-beam cranes. Gorbel Work Station Cranes, on the other hand, can be safely used by more than 99% of men to handle 4,000 pounds loads, thereby bolstering employee utilization and productivity.
Gorbel's WSCs also bolster employee productivity by preventing injury. Workers who suffer sprains or strains often must be pulled from their production teams, requiring workers from other teams to assist with the injured employee's responsibilities. This results in poor utilization of workplace resources and puts strain on the remaining workers. With Gorbel's WSCs, employees struggle less handling loads and are less likely to sustain injury.
5) Enhance productivity
"The use of the work station crane has also allowed workers to remain extremely productive and eliminated delays in the overall production process. In the past, workers had to wait up to 45 minutes for a forklift, but now there is no waiting so production continues throughout the day. At times, forklifts may even sit idle for a short time."
- Gorbel Inc.
Ease of movement, minimal damage to goods, versatility, and greater utilization of workers combine to result in a 28% increase in productivity for females and a 27% increase among males who use Gorbel's Work Station Cranes as opposed to I-beam cranes. This increase is even more pronounced among facilities with high cycle time applications.
A Bright Future for Gorbel Work Station Cranes
"The U.S. bridge crane market is expected to reach USD 1.42 billion by 2025. The market is expected to witness a lucrative growth in the coming years owing to growing construction project and wide application in manufacturing and automobile industry...Benefits such as smooth operation results in reduction in product damage, smart features, and multiple speed options is anticipated to create more demand over the forecast period."
- 2018 Business Wire, ResearchAndMarket.com
The innovative design and versatility of Gorbel's Work Station Cranes combine to make them a superb addition to manufacturers and material handling companies seeking to enhance their operations and mimimize product damage. Gorbel's WSCs can benefit users in a variety of industries, including automotive, aircraft, farm and garden machinery, and a variety of others. In addition to their ease of operation and ability to minimize injury and product damage, Gorbel's Work Station Cranes will continue to gain popularity because they offer superb convenience and can be used in facilities with congested floorspace.
The Bottom Line
Gorbel Work Station Cranes are a cutting-edge solution to business owners and plant managers seeking to bolster productivity while optimizing worker safety. Additionally, production lead time is typically short, and cranes can typically ship within 5 business days. Gorbel has manufacturing facilities across the United States and also in China to help ensure that our customers across the globe receive their cranes promptly.
To learn more about the many ways that Gorbel Work Station Cranes can help you safely generate the results that you need, please contact us. With over fifteen years of experience with customers across a variety of industries, Gorbel has become the most trusted name in the material handling industry. We look forward to serving as your single solution for work station cranes and lifting devices!