Conveyor sales are on the rise across the nation, with the Conveyor
Equipment Manufacturers Association (CEMA) reporting solid increases in
all sectors in March.
Booked orders for conveyor equipment rose 3.0 percent in March 2015
over the same month in 2014, said Bob Reinfried, CEMA’s executive vice
president, in a press release.
In addition, March booked orders were up 4. 5 percent over February 2015
numbers. Much of the gain was driven by demand for bulk handling equipment. Orders for bulk equipment rose 9. 7 percent month over month, compared with a more modest rise of 2. 1 percent for unit handling equipment.
Measured by another yardstick—shipments—March 2015 billed sales were
up 17. 2 percent over the same month in 2014 and 18. 6 percent over February
2015 numbers, CEMA figures show. With respect to the month-over-month
gains, bulk handling equipment once again led the way, with sales rising 21. 1
percent from February to March. Sales of unit handling equipment rose 17. 4
percent over the same period.
Conveyor sales are on a roll
William Dobbins, the president and owner of Caster
Concepts, is not your typical material handling guy.
In fact, his career path may be unique in the business. For more than 25 years, he was a family physician serving the small communities of Marshall and
Albion, Mich. Dobbins and his two brothers, also
doctors, handled “everything from delivering babies
to caring for the elderly,” he says. Because the towns
are home to a number of manufacturing plants, the
doctors often treated patients with work-related injuries like sprains, muscle strains, and back problems.
How did Dobbins make the leap from plaster
casts to rolling casters? When his father, a retired manufacturing executive,
launched Caster Concepts with three employees (it now employs about 110),
Dobbins became an investor. Intrigued by manufacturing processes and
enjoying the experience of working with his father, he gradually became more
involved in the business and eventually took over as president.
Dobbins’ medical experience is a good fit with the business, which makes
heavy-duty casters and industrial caster wheels. On visits to factories, he saw
how much force was required to push and pull carts around assembly lines
and through warehouses; in the exam room, he saw the physiological consequences of equipment that was difficult to move.
You might assume that a small thing like a caster wouldn’t have much of
an impact on health and safety. But according to Dobbins, casters that are
properly designed for the application can reduce the force required to push
or pull heavy loads by more than 50 percent. When it comes to reducing
rolling resistance, the most important factors include the design of a caster’s
swivel section, its “lead” (the distance from the vertical centerline of the caster’s swivel section to the vertical centerline of the wheel), and the material on
the surface of the wheel, he explains.
From medicine to … material handling?
Distribution center managers must
look beyond cost as they struggle
to meet rising customer expectations in the age of e-commerce.
Instead, they should look to adopt
modern tools like advance shipment notices, warehouse information systems, and optimized networks in their quest to maximize
accuracy and efficiency. That’s the
conclusion of a new white paper,
The ABCs of DCs, published by
researchers at the University of
“Logistics professionals who
operate distribution centers are
expected to improve custom-
er responsiveness, decrease cost,
and manage higher volumes every
year,” said Paul Dittmann, execu-
tive director of UT’s Global Supply
Chain Institute. “We found that
the most efficient DCs found inno-
vative ways to meet all three of
these demands rather than subop-
timizing one of the three.”
The report identifies best prac-
tices for 11 key areas: receiving,
lean warehousing, cross-docking,
metrics and planning, warehouse
information systems, warehouse
layout and space optimization,
warehouse network optimization,
safety and security, people, and
To compile the report, researchers at UT Knoxville’s Haslam
College of Business surveyed more
than 200 retailers, manufacturers,
and third-party logistics service
providers (3PLs), and interviewed
industry experts from study sponsor Kenco, an integrated logistics solutions provider based in
You can download the full report
for free from the Kenco website,
White paper looks at
“The ABCs of DCs”