While basic off-the-shelf carts are useful for accomplishing a wide range of activities within any manufacturing facility or distribution center, there are specific situations where custom-designed carts make much more sense. The 7 most common scenarios we see where custom carts in manufacturing or distribution pay off are as follows:
1. Moving large, fragile components that are expensive or difficult to replace
Standard carts come in some pretty standard sizes – mostly 34” x 17” up to 42” x 25”, with a height of about 31” or 32”. These sizes work for many smaller components; but if you have fragile items or larger objects that hang over the edge of the top or a shelf, you may be setting yourself up for inadvertent damage. We work with a lot of companies that use large expensive, fragile parts such as aerospace composites, electronic boards, medical devices and robotics. Often they need larger, lower, or specialized drawers or housings to protect their products. If items are bumped or run into during the manufacturing process – the quality of the final product can be compromised. Unfortunately, when items are accidentally bumped or banged into, the incident is often not reported and a quality issue could sneak undetected into the final product. So many of these companies have learned the hard way that standard carts result in an increase of damage, which has a cost & consequence to it. In some cases, damage can lead to production delays which inflicts an additional, overlooked cost into the business. Custom carts made from 80/20 t-slot aluminum can be made to fit tools, components or assemblies perfectly – often with improved padding and vibration reduction. If properly designed, custom 80/20 carts can reduce damage, schedule delays, costs, and the number of quality issues going out the door.
2. Transporting components that need to be precisely calibrated
Standard carts are available with a limited range of heights, widths, drawer/shelf spacing, caster types, and strength ratios. Consequently, they are not always optimized for keeping precision instruments or components safe until they are assembled or packaged. For some of our customers, calibration costs are almost as much as the item itself – so ensuring that they are not knocked or bumped during internal processes is critical. With a custom 80/20 cart, you can optimize the items placement on the cart and the way it is secured – whether it is with lock-down mechanisms, custom locking drawers or trays, or specialized foam compartments. Besides keeping items safe as they flow through the company, the main goal here is to also prevent any type of bump, hit or vibration that would require the unit to be re-calibrated.
3. Specific actions need to be mobile in a large facility
Sometimes, the main goal of a custom cart is not to protect an asset, but rather to provide a highly efficient workstation for a very specific human task that needs to be done in multiple locations throughout the facility. We design and manufacture a lot of custom tool benches, tool boxes, workstations, and packaging stations for both manufacturers and large distribution centers. By tailoring an 80/20 workstation to the exact business and function of the worker, we can improve employee efficiency and employee morale over using a standard workstation. Often, companies allow their workers a chance to input on how their job could be improved so they could work faster, with less effort and frustration.
And the result of these collaborations are improved efficiency/lower operating costs for the business owner, and improved morale and effectiveness for the worker – the ultimate win-win scenario.
4. Transporting heavy objects
Moving heavy objects with standard carts is not advisable as they are usually not built strong enough to transport objects over 100 – 500 lbs. Most are composed of plastics or thin sheet metal to keep costs low, and they will bend quite easily when a certain amount of weight is added to them. When we build custom 80/20 carts, we check deflection rate tables before recommending what size framing materials to use – and we make sure it will last for many years under the weight requirements of the actual task. A cart specifically built for heavier loads will not only be easier to manage, but infinitely safer.
5. Getting items to where you need to go
In certain manufacturing or distribution facilities, standard carts cannot be rolled safely to where they need to go due to some obstruction or other impediment. This is not uncommon in large aerospace, automotive, or other mass production manufacturing facilities. When a cart needs to be small enough, or higher than normal to deliver items efficiently, a custom cart makes sense.
We see many cases where a large conveyor system may prevent a normal cart from bringing critical components all the way to the storage area – forcing workers to manually carry items the last 10 feet; same thing in certain clean room environments. Some carts are moved from building to building over parking lots with bad asphalt surfaces (requiring specialized casters or wheels). In all of these cases, we can customize a high quality 80/20 cart to deliver the payload more efficiently.
6. Clean room environment
Anodized aluminum carts offer a surface that is less susceptible to corrosion, and thereby produces much less air particulates than stainless steel or painted steel. That’s why 80/20 aluminum industrial framing is the #1 framing material for carts destined for clean rooms, laboratories, and clean manufacturing facilities.
7. Injury reduction
Injury reduction is big part of almost every manufacturing or distribution facility we go to nowadays. Many companies have invested in Safety Officers and Ergonomic Advisers/Consultants/Managers whose primary focus is to reduce costly injuries to their employees. Often we can make simple adjustments to a cart to improve working condition and reduce injuries.
Something as simple as reducing or increasing the height of a workstation or cart top at the beginning of each shift can help both short and tall employees avoid back injuries. Incorporating heavy-duty sliding shelves can make lifting heavy items from cart to cart, or from cart to workstation safer. Pushing and pulling carts, lifting items onto and off of carts, and using a cart regularly can all be optimized for a specific business to reduce employee injuries.
Customized 80/20 carts for manufacturers and distributors makes sense when one of these 7 conditions applies to your business. Generic carts are great for many things and they can be a good investment for many tasks. But for more specialized activities, taking the time to purchase a cart that is optimized for your business will be a great investment with many benefits. Whether you want to protect company products better, reduce internal labor or improve the safety and morale of employees, custom carts can make solid business sense.
F&L Industrial Solutions, Inc. is a designer and manufacturer of custom industrial carts using 80/20 brand t-slot aluminum extrusions and components. As the largest t-slot distributor in the southwest United States, we support hundreds of companies by providing the bars and parts, or complete solutions to meet their industrial framing needs. We offer free CAD design services, quick turnarounds and low pricing. For more information, visit our website at www.fandl8020.com.
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