The Flu and Productivity

Each flu season in America, between 5% and 20% of American’s contract the flu. This leads to 111 million lost productive work days, which costs American business approximately 7 billion dollars! Whether it’s in your accounting department or forklift operators, you want to limit an outbreak at your company and contain any outbreak that does occur.

The effects of lost productivity can have a great effect on your ability to deliver products and services and provide customer service, which can lead to a negative impact on your bottom line. But there are things you can do to lower the risk at the department level and facility level. It all starts with planning and communication.

  1. Developing a plan to combat influenza? Businesses plan for all sorts of calamities and naturally occurring disasters. Does your company have a preparedness plan to prevent a flu outbreak? A tremendous amount of information is available to help you plan for and combat an outbreak of the flu at
  2. Educate your employees and take steps to encourage vaccination. One study showed a decrease in over 71% in hospitalizations when a flu vaccination was administered to adults of all ages (source). Flu vaccines not only reduce the chances of contracting the flu, but it also reduces the effects of the flu if an employee contracts it, thus enabling them to get back to full productivity sooner.
  3. Proper sanitary procedures are also essential during the flu season. Placing hand sanitizers throughout your facility and encouraging if not outright requiring their use will help contain the spread of the virus, should an employee become infected. There are additional steps you can take to prevent the spread of the flu, including increasing janitorial services or assigning teams to assist in the sanitization of routinely used and shared points, such as water fountains, door knobs/handles, bathrooms, and kitchens.
  4. Send them home! If an employee starts to show the signs of influenza, it’s important to remove them from the facility as soon as possible and require that they remain home until symptoms have subsided, particularly a fever.

The effects of flu season can be dramatic if left unaddressed. But developing a plan to deal with the flu and spreading education before the flu spreads itself around your facility will help you maintain your business productivity during this flu season.

Our focus is frequently on productivity, and this is not always about equipment and processes. Sometimes peripheral components can have an impact on our bottom lines, and it is important to us to serve as your partner in addressing all facts of productivity. We encourage you to visit the site to learn more.

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Rental as an Equipment Procurement Strategy

When you procure your material handling equipment you assume the cost of the equipment (or a portion of it) and service and maintenance costs. How you procure your equipment though has varying impact on your bottom line depending on equipment usage and the financial structure of your organization. This month we take a look at various means of procurement and potential impact to your operation and financial condition.

Rental - Renting lift trucks and other material handling equipment has been utilized by most companies as a way to augment fleet needs during peak seasons or when specific equipment is needed for short term projects that the user does not own or operate. However we have noticed more people renting equipment for longer terms and long-term-rental has been a fleet procurement strategy for some organizations for a few reasons.

  1. Budgeting – No surprise costs. Most maintenance and repair costs are the burden of the equipment owner, or lessor. Renting forklifts usually results in one monthly payment and when service or repair is needed, the owner comes to the lessee’s location and performs repairs.
  2. Ease of Procurement – Rental equipment is usually readily available. No waits for production lead times.
  3. Flexibility – If needs change, equipment can be returned or swapped out for other units as needs change.
  4. Obsolescence – At the end of the rental period, you’re not stuck with equipment you no longer need or can be replaced with more modern units with more up-to-date features.

Leasing - Like renting, you enjoy some of the same benefits as leasing, but leasing equipment usually requires a longer-term commitment and agreement to keep the equipment. In return for that commitment, the rates are normally lower than rental rates. Leasing units has the flexibility of performing routine maintenance and repair on your own, or Full Maintenance Agreements can be added that will result in the same consistent monthly payment as renting.

The impact of leasing or renting on your bottom line is usually the same. Operating leases and rental payments are usually 100% deductible as business expenses. Of course we always recommend you consult your tax professional for your company’s status with regards to leasing and renting equipment.

Dollar Option Leases - These types of leases are typically viewed as purchases, but do give the lessee the option of simply returning the equipment with no obligation at lease-end. They also allow for the lessee to obtain late-model equipment with little or no down payment. These leases can include maintenance or full service agreements to obtain consistent monthly payments.

Purchasing - For companies with lighter-use operations that have a very low potential for equipment obsolescence, this is usually the method of choice for procurement. Whether it is a cash purchase or financing the purchaser takes possession of the equipment and is responsible for all maintenance and repair. However, maintenance and full-service agreements can be included in purchases to smooth out the monthly maintenance and repair expenses. For heavy-use operations, purchasing is usually not recommended as the equipment will rarely outlast the finance period.

The method of equipment procurement varies depending upon your company’s operation and financial status. For companies that prefer to utilize capital on other areas of business development, leasing or long-term renting may be the preferred method of procurement. While companies that can utilize equipment for many years, and have plenty of available capital, purchasing may be the best method.

We recommend that you refer to your tax and accounting professional for your best method. There are sometimes incentives that might make the decision more complex, such as the governments Section 179, that allowed for accelerated and immediate depreciation.

Regardless of your method of procurement, we would appreciate the opportunity to present our line-up of quality forklifts to serve your material handling needs.

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The UniCarriers Difference

You’ll see the difference in UniCarriers forklifts from the very start — in the fit and finish of every forklift they manufacture. And it’s a difference that will continue to grow over time — as you appreciate the value of the exclusive, innovative features that are only available on UniCarrier forklifts…as you experience the superior up-time performance they deliver…and as you profit from the bottom-line advantages that come from running UniCarriers forklifts.

State-Of-The-Art Manufacturing

At UniCarriers Americas, they understand that it takes a lot more than steel to build a quality forklift — that the most important components in the manufacturing process are:

  • State-of the art manufacturing facilities
  • A highly efficient production process
  • Strict quality control measures
  • A workforce that’s highly knowledgeable, skilled and passionate about the work they do

And they put it all together to build an organization that produces reliable forklifts and satisfied customers.

UniCarriers Americas ISO 9001:2008 certification is a testament to commitment to quality manufacturing, continuous improvement and customer satisfaction.

Advanced Engineering

UniCarriers Americas engineering takes a holistic approach to design, finding new ways to make our products easier to operate, faster to service, more reliable and more economical to run. As a result, you’ll find they engineer:

  • Components with fewer moving parts and less wear points
  • Service points that are readily accessible to minimize the time and effort of routine maintenance
  • Controls that are easy to learn, intuitive to use and ergonomically designed
  • Systems that automatically detect and alert the driver to system anomalies

Designs that provide better sightlines…systems that control speed, optimize performance, improve fuel economy…trucks that deliver more uptime, faster work cycles and greater bottom-line profitability — they’re all products of our advanced engineering and the advantages you get from working with UniCarriers Americas.

Awards & Certifications

At UniCarriers, they have put together a state-of-the art manufacturing facility, a highly skilled and motivated work force and a company culture that won’t accept anything less than excellence.

While we know UniCarriers has created something special, it’s always nice to have their efforts and accomplishments acknowledged by others. And they are rewarded every day by a growing list of loyal, satisfied customers — and the recognition of our community and our peers.

The Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award has recognized UniCarriers Americas as an organization that has demonstrated a commitment to our economy, society and environment through outstanding and innovative sustainability practices.

Green Supply Chain Award for efforts to incorporate a green initiative into our core supply chain strategy. The award recognizes companies making green or sustainability a core part of their supply chain strategy and working to achieve measurable sustainability goals within their operations and/or supply chains in the areas of sourcing/procurement, fulfillment/logistics, operations, and product life cycle management.

UniCarriers Americas ISO 9001:2008 certification shows our strong customer focus, the commitment of top management, and that advanced processes are in place to help ensure quality and continual improvement in the products we manufacture.

UniCarriers Americas ISO 14001:2004 certification was earned by minimizing our carbon footprint and reducing the impact we have on the environment. It demonstrates the commitment we have to our community, our customers and the world.

Learn more about UniCarriers Equipment at their website. To get a quote on a UniCarriers forklift, contact us at 636-583-3689.

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Beating the Heat in Your Warehouse this Summer

The hot summer months are upon us. With increased heat and humidity workers become more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Workers who are not accustomed to working in the heat can quickly become ill and experience heat stroke, which can lead to serious illness and even death. There are a few things to keep in mind about heat-related illness and what you can do to help prevent it in your workers.

  1. Train your employees about the dangers of heat-related illnesses. OSHA has excellent training information and materials to help you relate this information to all of your employees who work in the heat.  Part of that training should be to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and to act upon them immediately. Never brush it off and continue working. The symptoms exist for a reason!
  2. Understand that all employees are not equally able to resist the heat. Employees should be able to assess their own conditioning and how well they handle heat. Employees who are taking certain prescription medications or have certain chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, need to pay special attention to how they feel while working. Employees who are new to outdoor jobs are often most susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Try to ease them into the normal workload gradually, until you’re confident they are acclimated.
  3. Provide additional water stations during the hotter months, at more convenient locations, and encourage employees to drink water every 15 minutes or so, based on temperature. Never wait until you are thirsty to start re-hydrating.
  4. Provide for more frequent breaks. In the long run employees will be more productive in the heat if they are getting proper rest to allow their bodies to cool down while also keeping themselves better hydrated during these breaks.

OSHA has provided a wealth of information to help you provide a safe atmosphere to deal with the summer heat. While OSHA does not have a standard pertaining to preventing heat illnesses, it is up to us to be sure we have done everything that we can to help our employees stay safe and avoid heat-related illnesses.

Well-trained and equipped employees are more productive employees. Keeping them safe from the heat during the summer months ensures better productivity for tomorrow and years beyond. But it is ultimately up to us as the employers to be sure our employees are prepared to understand and act accordingly to ensure their own safety.

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Shocking Truth About Electric Forklifts

For decades, internal combustion engine forklifts have dominated market share in North America. Over the last five years or so, that is changing, for many reasons. More and more companies are realizing the benefits of switching to electric forklifts from internal combustion, which are:

  • Reduced fuel costs
  • Longer forklift useful life
  • Reduced maintenance costs
  • Improved ergonomics for the operator
  • Zero emissions in the facility

In fact, electric forklift now count for 65% of the North American market share of new forklift sales. Recent years have seen dramatic improvements in:

  • Electric motor technology and performance
  • Charging technology, particularly fast-charging systems
  • Outdoor performance and durability
  • Increases in maximum capacities of electric forklifts

One of the big advancements has come by way of fast charging technology. Conventional charging means multiple batteries for each forklift as it would take 8 to 10 hours to charge a batter, then 6 to 8 hours to rest and cool, then discharging during a regular 8 hour shift. However with new fast charging technologies, electric forklifts are often able to remain productive with a single battery. Fast charging stations are placed throughout the facility where operators take breaks, this allows for fast charging during non-productive times.

In addition smart charging systems are truly that, smart; they recognize the type of battery being used in order to charge it safely and efficiently. In addition, many smart charging systems feature automatic watering and equalization capabilities. This ensures cell balance and proper battery care, keeping the battery within manufacturer’s recommended conditions and validating the warranty.

Recent studies of electric forklifts vs their internal combustion counterparts have revealed dramatic savings. With increased useful life, reduced maintenance and fuel costs one study showed that a fleet savings of over $200,000 by switching to electric forklifts. But electric forklifts are not for everyone just yet. Be sure to consult with professionals that understand electric forklifts, charging systems, their benefits and limitations.

Contact us at 636-583-3689 to speak with one of our fleet professionals about the viability of electric forklifts for your application.

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If Mining, Construction and Forestry can Trust Komatsu, so Can YOU!

Komatsu Heavy Machinery and Forklifts

Machines Counted on to do the Toughest Jobs
For decades, Komatsu heavy duty equipment has been a mainstay for some of the toughest industries in America. From giant excavators, wheel loaders, and bulldozers to our own forklifts, Komatsu builds quality into the product and supports it with some of the best warranties in the the industry.

To learn more about Komatsu forklifts, click here. Then visit their warranty page to learn more about their warranties. Want a quote on a new Komatsu forklift for your fleet? Give us a call at 636-583-3689.

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Four Traits of Safety-Minded Companies

As managers and owners, we want a safe work environment for all of our employees. Unfortunately, all too often it escapes us. Time passes quickly, and initiatives that were once important standards become guidelines or even merely suggestions. How can we ensure that when we put safety measures in place, they will stay in place as employees come and go in a business climate that is constantly in flux?

While we lack the space to answer this question in full detail here, there are a few major approaches to providing a safe work environment that transcend industries, equipment and facilities. We outline these “hows and whys” of workplace safety below.

Since 1970, OSHA has worked to create a safer workplace for all employees, and their mission has been very successful. However, accidents still happen, and not only at companies willfully violating OSHA standards. Sometimes safety goes beyond meeting standards due to unique circumstances in certain operations.

The following are a few approaches to safety that have helped both large and small companies to achieve better workplace safety, fewer incidents and accidents, lower costs, more productivity and better workplace attitudes.

Safety is integrated with company mission – Safe companies put as much emphasis on doing things safely as on doing them productively. From day one, every employee knows they are working for a company that would rather they do their job safely than quickly. These employees will lockout a piece of equipment when something goes wrong, will replace light bulbs that need it instead of ignoring them and will report unsafe behavior or unsafe conditions.

Training never ends – Employees are involved in ongoing training – how to lift more safely, how to sit properly in a chair, how to operate a certain piece of equipment and so on. Your business is fluid: things change; equipment changes; and equipment, building space and employees are added. As your conditions change, your training must address these changes. Training for the safest work environments is never a one-time event or a two- or three-day training initiation. It is an ongoing pursuit of the safest possible work facility. It should be a goal of all employees to see that their coworkers go home safe every night.

Involvement at all levels – While involvement in a safe work environment must start from the corner office, the mission and strategy it is also important to ensure that every employee knows that they are involved and responsible. It is a good idea to create safety teams for every facet of your business, to revolve people in and out of those teams, and to have them conduct frequent facility or department reviews to identify potential threats. The most successful companies have reward systems for reporting anything that could be a potential threat, even if it is as minor as a sharp corner on a coat rack. This keeps all employees engaged in creating a safe work environment.

Accountability – Once you have established your safety mission and mapped out your strategy, everyone involved must be held accountable. No one can shirk their safety responsibilities. If a sharp corner on a coat rack is missed and someone gets cut, find out why no one noticed. Are they doing regular inspections? If safety standards are not being met, it is the leadership’s job to find out why and fix it. Everyone must know that if an accident happens on their watch, it must be accounted for and a plan must be designed to ensure that it will not happen again.

A truly safe, productive and profitable workplace is attained through ongoing efforts, and these are just a few of the major strategies that play out in successful organizations. We encourage you to seek the assistance of OSHA, NIOSH or other private safety consultants to help you organize and strategize your safety plans.

If there is anything we can help you with in regard to your equipment and its operators, please contact us. We would be happy to assist you!

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Eastern Missouri’s One Source for Materials Handling

Union Machinery is your complete source for all your materials handling, machinery moving and storage needs.

Since 1987 we have served the greater St. Louis area and beyond with our machinery moving and storing services. As we grew and expanded our services and products we added forklift sales and service in 1993.

We now represent three high-quality lines of forklift equipment, provide service and parts for all makes and models as well as rentals for nearly any material handling application! We have prided ourselves on listening to our customers and providing the products and services that they need to improve their materials handling operation.

We have even added warehouse products, commercial warehouse equipment and attachments to our mix,  giving us a well-rounded product supply for all our great customers.

If you have yet tried Union Machinery for your materials handling or equipment moving and storage, consider giving us a call at 636-583-3689 and give us the opportunity to earn your business. We have a feeling you will be glad you did!

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New Aerial Lift Safety Resources

While aerial lifts are used frequently at construction, warehousing, and many other job sites, they can pose potentially fatal hazards to workers. Aerial devices include boom-supported aerial platforms, such as cherry pickers or bucket trucks, aerial ladders and vertical towers.

The major causes of injuries and fatalities are falls, electrocutions, and collapses or tip-overs, such as the one that killed Kevin Miranda in Taunton, Mass., on Aug. 18, 2015. Skyline Contracting and Roofing Corp. was fined more than $100,000 after OSHA inspectors found that the aerial lift was positioned on unleveled ground and determined that the company had not trained Miranda to recognize this hazard.

Learn about the fall-related risks and recommended safe work practices associated with this equipment by visiting the new NIOSH Aerial Lifts webpage. The page includes a Hazard Recognition Simulator designed to help you acclimate to aerial lift operation. Additional resources on aerial lift safety are available from OSHA.


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Forklift Purchase Price vs. Total Ownership Costs

When you are purchasing a piece of equipment, you obtain competitive quotes, verify specifications and generate a purchase order. For that matter, just about anything we purchase goes through the same process. However, there is much more to purchasing forklifts and other material handling equipment. We have found, over the years, that often there are variables that can greatly affect the total cost of ownership of anything, be it an automobile, forklift or a giant cargo container.

The price you pay for your piece of equipment, by most accounts, reflects about 10% of the total ownership costs of that piece of equipment. This leaves 90% of your total costs up in the air. Depending on many variables, you could pay much more for the equipment than you needed to, or much less. These variables include:

Performance and Reliability of Equipment – Comparing cost per hour to operate can give you a good idea of what competing pieces of equipment will cost you over their useful life. When comparing cost per hour to operate, you should be sure you’re comparing similar models under similar circumstances. A lift truck operating 1500 hours a year for a light weight product manufacturer will cost far less over its lifetime than the same lift truck operating at a recycling facility. This cost should reflect general maintenance requirements as well as fuel costs.

Fuel Consumption – While this is often a part of performance and cost per hour, knowing the fuel costs for each comparing brand and calculating total costs over the life of the equipment can sometimes be quite an eye-opener. In addition, what are your fuel alternatives? Can you use electric models? Thinking outside the box may result in lower costs to power your forklift and other lift equipment.

Specifications vs. Operations – It is rare that two 5,000-lb-capacity forklifts from competing brands will have similar specifications. Knowing what your facility will accommodate and comparing that with each model will give you insight into how each model will perform, given your operating parameters. Factors include: aisle width vs. turn radius, draw bar pull, suspension and ergonomics compared to your floor condition, indoor/outdoor use and ceiling height/rack height vs. max lift height. You will also want to compare features between brands to ensure that each lift truck model is equipped with the proper components to meet your operational requirements. For example: Can it operate properly inside your ice cream freezer?

Ergonomics – A comfortable and smooth-running piece of equipment will provide you with increased productivity. These are costs hidden in equipment that are quite real in daily operating conditions. How much time and research and development, does each brand put into the comfort and ease of use of their equipment? Happy, comfortable operators are simply more productive.

Safety – Never underestimate the safety features of your equipment. What equipment is being specified and what equipment is optional from each manufacturer is very important to know. Reducing your accident costs or product/facility damage can make a big difference in your total fleet operational expenses.

Useful Life – Finally, how many hours can you expect from each piece of equipment until the cost to operate becomes cost-prohibitive? This can vary widely depending upon brand and model. But having some qualitative and quantitative information on hand, if possible, will help you make a better decision about the total cost of operating each unit/model.

There are many factors beyond price tag or lease rate that can help you make good decisions about the equipment you purchase. Having a partner that listens, evaluates and fulfills your needs is essential in building a fleet that is most productive and less costly in the long run. Contact us at 636-583-6389 to speak to one of our material handling professionals about the right forklift for your operation.


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