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With the launch of our new web site, we’ve added a blog. Here we’ll keep you updated on the latest news and trends for safety in the material handling industry. That may cover many topics, from the latest forecasts for manufacturing and material handling, updates in regulations and standards from OSHA and ANSI, as well as some of our safety gate installations and custom work.

On the blog you’ll also find updates from some of the organizations we belong to, like MHEDA and MHI, as well as MHI’s ProGMA Committee.

We’re looking forward to sharing our news and views with you, and if there is a topic you would like us to touch on, just let us know.

A Rack Supported Open Top safety gate in a pallet flow system

Fall Protection for Cluster Picking Applications

To say e-commerce grew rapidly in the last year is an understatement. To keep up with demand, material handling and warehousing facilities have been changing to make operations faster and more efficient. Increasingly, pick modules are being used in order to better utilize space and cluster picking applications are being used more frequently within the systems.

Within multi-level rack supported pick modules, multiple deep pallets are pushed into pallet flow systems. In cluster picking operations, there are typically one or two flow lanes in a bay with an aisle between the lanes. Employees on the platform enter the lanes to pick from various pallets on either side of the aisle, putting items on a takeaway conveyor to be packaged and shipped.

Because the employees picking within the system are working at heights and often along pallet drop areas, it’s imperative to provide a safety system that keeps them from falling from the ledge. However, freestanding safety structures may not work within cluster picking applications in busy distribution centers or material handling facilities because there is normally little space within the rack system.

Rack supported safety gates work well within cluster picking applications in busy distribution centers or material handling facilities because of the limited space within the rack system. The dual-gate systems attach directly to the rack uprights in rack systems or pick modules, which maximizes space in the area and creates a secure connection without having to anchor the gate into the decking. The safety gate can be designed to match the depth of the pallet flow lane to capture multiple pallets.

We have recently designed two safety gate systems with cluster picking applications in mind: a Rack Supported Open Top model and the Rack Supported Roly model in a multiple pallet deep configuration.
The Rack Supported Open Top safety gate uses dual, counter-balanced gates connected on the side to maintain a safe pallet drop area at all times while operating with no overhead mechanics. When the ledge-side gate is open, allowing material to be delivered to the pallet drop area, the rear-side gate is closed, protecting the worker from falling off the ledge. When the rear side gate is raised to gain access to the pallets, the ledge-side gate closes and compacts into the rack bay, maintaining a safe environment during all stages of the operation and keeping the area clear for traffic to pass along the aisle while providing room for employees picking from pallets on either side of the lane.

The Rack Supported Open Top design prevents pallets holding the gates open when the lane is full and are ideal in areas with that feature extra tall pallet loads. The design, which can be configured for 90 degree access to pallets on both sides, can be customized to fit specific rack configurations and existing or new structures.

The Rack Supported Roly multi pallet deep safety gate configuration uses dual, counter-balanced gates to secure the ledge and keep employees out of the flow lanes while the lane is being replenished with pallets. When the ledge-side gate is open, allowing material to be delivered to the pallet drop area, the rear-side gate is closed, protecting the worker from falling off the ledge. When the rear side gate is raised to gain access to the pallets, the ledge-side gate closes flush with ledge of the rack bay, maintaining a safe environment during all stages of the operation. If the rack does not extend above the decking on the top level of the pick module or if the pallet flow lanes are located on a work platform, the gate can be designed in a free-standing model.

The extra deep dual-gate system prevents pallets holding the gates open when the lane is full and creates a completely enclosed workstation while providing fall protection for the workers in picking positions and around the empty pallet or tote return bays. The system also prevents the pallets from being pushed into the legs of the operator on the platform because they are restricted from the bay access while the areas are being loaded.

We’d love to help you make your cluster picking applications safer for your employees. Call or email us with any questions, and if you know what you need, great - just fill out our quote request form. If you don’t know what you need we’re here to help you. We’ll get right back to you with the right safety gate solution for your needs.