Make organization a winter sport!

Business for some of us slows down in the holiday season and some of us are already on our winter breaks! This is a great time to organize and streamline the efficiency around your plant and warehouse.

So, itemize “organizing” in next year’s budget. Investing in specialized storage that is highly efficient for your particular product can create efficiencies that lead savings in both time and money. Not to mention increasing your safety substantially.

Look around your facility – do you have heavy slabs of stone or other large heavy slabs taking up valuable space and creating a handling hazard? Bluff’s A-Frame Slab Transport Rack is designed specifically to handle heavy slab material such as natural stone and provides a much-needed additional layer of safety for workers handling these slabs. Bluff A-Frames provide a secondary safety stop to the slabs when they are being separated for delivery, thereby significantly decreasing the risk to the workers handling them.Additionally, you can get the most storage in the least amount of space.

Organize your pipes or flat boards with Bluff’s Cantilever Racks – these don’t just free up floor space, they are also fully customizable to to increase your operational efficiencies. Best part – use them indoors or outdoors.

If you service the beer industry, organize your craft “sixer” kegs with our new keg flow racks. Not only is this a great storage system that keeps the kegs off the floors and opens up space, but it also helps make it easier to find what you’re looking for. It is a great handling tool innovatively designed to minimize worker injury. A worker can simply grab a keg from its more convenient ends and load it onto a pallet while the remaining stock rolls forward. To load the rack, the kegs are put in from the rear and roll gently to the front. Shallower racks can even be loaded from the front.

Move up! When you are really cramped for space in your warehouse, don’t go looking to expand your real estate horizontally, especially when you can do it vertically at a much lower cost. In keeping with its objective of increasing in-plant efficiency, space utilization and safety, Bluff Manufacturing offers mezzanines and stairways. They can be custom designed and built to meet your expansion/storage needs – whether you’re looking at 100 square feet or 25,000 square feet. A warehouse mezzanine is an ideal, economical solution for freeing up floor space while providing expanded storage capacity by clearing vertical spans up to 40 feet and load capacities up to 1,000 pounds per square foot. Eliminate the expense of moving to a new facility or leasing additional space by adding a freestanding mezzanine.

It’s always a great feeling to return to a fully organized and functioning workplace after a holiday rather than a chaotic, messy one. Think of how efficient and effective your new year will be! You’ll be off to a great start!

Resolve to be Safer in the Upcoming Year

A new year not only means new goals but also a time to reinforce existing commitments. Across all industries, it’s a great time for companies to renew their focus on safety. We invest so much on our people and our properties, we need to step up and invest in securing and protecting them as well. This is a great time to look back on 2013 and assess safety statistics. Achieving a “zero accidents in 365 days” safety record is one of the biggest challenges in a material handling world wrought with risks and tough working conditions. And for those of us who have managed it this year, that is a good record but there’s always room for improvement. What are the numbers when it comes to insurance and workers compensation? How much was spent in repairs and recovery? How can we beat the odds in the coming year and improve our safety figures? Where safety is concerned, and especially that of our employees and customers, we can never let our guard down.

Bluff can help in so many ways. Our wide selection of safety products is designed to secure several areas of your plant and office and protect personnel from hazards. Get a head start on improving your safety stats, lower your costs and protect your people.

Bluff’s Rack Guards – designed in high-visibility safety yellow to help prevent accidents, wrap around your racks and protect them from forklift impacts. Your machinery is valuable – prevent costly damage to them from forklift accidents with Bluff’s Machine Guards. Sometimes valuable assets like your machinery are situated in high forklift traffic areas, and human errors are possible even with the best drivers. Bluff’s machine guards act as a barrier to protect your assets and are available in different sizes and custom colors.

Our Modular Protective Barrier protects our most important assets – our people. While these barriers are tough and act as a shield to protect employees from accidents, they also offer easy access for employees to get around.

Bluff’s Tuff Guard says it all – this safety rail is manufactured with 3/16” thick ASTM A36 steel to protect and prevent loss and injury. Even though Federal standards for Safety Barrier testing require our safety rails to pass the crash test with an impact of 10,000 pounds (forklift truck) traveling at 4 miles per hour, Bluff Manufacturing increased our safety crash standard to 6 miles per hour. And even with the increased speed, Bluff’s Tuff Guard exceeded the crash test expectations with minimal rail deflection.

Door Track Protectors, Post Protectors and Bollards are all a part of Bluff Manufacturing’s safety product portfolio designed to safeguard against damages caused by forklifts and other powered and manual equipment. Depending on the site and the use, these products can protect your employees and/or your property. When you buy a product from Bluff’s safety line, you’ve taken the first, best defense against injury to personnel and plant, machine down time, insurance claims, and building repairs due to accidental collisions.

Places you could need Safety Barriers in your Warehouse or Factory

Safety barriers serve a number of purposes, from blocking off restricted areas to ensuring good traffic flow. If you operate a warehouse or factory, there are a few places you may want to consider putting safety barriers in order to prevent injuries and help your plant run smoother.

Walkways-You definitely want to make sure workers have a safe path to travel when coming to and from work as well as during breaks. Mark a clear walkway for them inside or out with the use of safety barriers, and you’ll never have to worry about them being struck by equipment.

Hazardous material storage areas-These areas should only be accessed by a select number of people, which is why you should mark hazardous material storage areas off with safety barriers in order to keep unauthorized personnel out.

Catwalks-Traveling on catwalks can be especially dangerous. To prevent falls, you need to have a safety rail that is at least four feet high across the entire length of a catwalk.

Construction zones-Avoid having forklifts or other heavy equipment travel into areas where work is being performed by placing safety barriers all the way around them.

Loading ramps and dock-Forklifts could easily drop off the edge of a dock or loading ramp when moving materials. Having barriers in place will not only ensure the safety of your workers, but prevent damage to your equipment as well.

Potholes or sinkholes-If employees or guests were to drive over these hazards, they could become injured as a result. Many times, potholes and sinkholes are difficult to spot, which is why you should place safety barriers around them as a warning.

These are only a few of the places where safety barriers could be useful. Here at Bluff Manufacturing, we have a huge selection of safety barriers to suit a variety of needs. Contact us today to find out more.

How American-made products fare better than Chinese made plates

Few things are more American than the tradition of Thanksgiving. Our country has also had a long tradition of manufacturing – everything from steel to furniture.  And although in recent decades manufacturing seems to have become a foreign notion to us, studies and reports seem to be telling us otherwise. A turn-around in manufacturing trends seems to be bringing production back to our shores. As noted earlier, manufacturing is set to see a marked improvement in the next couple of years mainly due to technological advancements in automation, rising wage rates around the globe and increased productivity and quality control within our borders. All of this combined with lower interest rates and a ready labor force have created a more favorable economic climate for domestic manufacturing.

Here at Bluff Manufacturing, we continue to design and build products right here in our Texas-based manufacturing plant. In addition, we source our materials from American partners. For example, Bluff is sourcing its high quality hose bridges from an American manufacturer with efficiency outside of our expertise.  This allows us to provide you with high-value, high-quality, American-made products combined with Bluff’s top-notch customer service.  These hose bridges are made of recycled plastic, and patented all-stainless joiners, and the innovative bridges offer a sturdy, dry, and slip-free crossover for pedestrians and vehicles. With its 14,000 lbs. per axle capacity, this is a great product for firefighters or at fracking and construction sites.

American manufacturing matters because quality matters. For instance, Bluff’s dock plates have met the most stringent MH30.2 standard set by the American National Standards Institute. The ANSI is an organization that helps promote global competitiveness and enhances quality in products by setting these standards written by the Loading Dock Manufacturers section (LODEM) of the Material Handling Institute of America (MHIA).

Our steel dock plates and boards are designed and produced to this standard for safety and performance, and Bluff can proudly state that we meet the MH30.2 standard. Recently, Bluff Manufacturing tested a plate manufactured in China on an ANSI testing machine to verify load capacity, and that plate did not pass the tests.  ANSI standards require a dock plate or dock board to undergo cycle testing at 100% of the rated load for 10,000 cycles. “The plate couldn’t finish the test because the deflection exceeded the acceptable amount shortly after the test started, which was approximately 150 cycles,” said Tom Hobbs, Vice President Operations at Bluff Manufacturing.

Safety has always been a major concern at Bluff, and our focus on quality products is our way to help ensure safety at the facilities of those who use our products.  When we source our materials and make our products, mostly all in America, Bluff Manufacturing can control the process and the quality that ensure the highest quality. Our products speak for themselves as quality can be seen from design and sourcing, all the way to the finished product.

Industrial Mezzanines are Flexible and Affordable

Mezzanines Create More Space

The decision to expand your business facility is, while extremely exciting, also fraught with many uncertainties. Does the prospect of increased business merit the expense of acquiring and modifying a new building? Should we find and develop a location for a new facility? What about the disruption of day to day business as we move?

The answers to these dilemmas are right above you. Affordable and flexible, an industrial mezzanine system can add floor space to your shop using the space between the floor and the ceiling. Found often in industrial settings as storage areas the mezzanine can also be used as office space or break room facilities.

Bluff Manufacturing’s industrial mezzanines are constructed with heavy duty steel,and are usually free standing. The systems offer a great deal of flexibility in that most can be dismantled and moved. The flooring is dependent on the intended use and varies from a wood finished deck to heavy duty steel grating. Depending on what is required mezzanine floors can handle a load of up to 1,000 pounds per square foot.

The mezzanine system should also include stairways, railings and landings to provide both easy access and address safety issues, complying with OSHA, IBC and other agencies regulations.

Rather than moving out, you can avoid the expense and inconvenience of expansion by moving up. The design and engineering experts at Bluff Manufacturing are available to help increase your plants efficiency; using the space available in the most efficient and safe manner possible. A custom designed mezzanine, built to meet your specific needs, is a cost effective and safe way to expand your facility to meet the growing demands on your business.

From dock plates to warehouse safety systems, contact us for the latest innovations in material handling, safety and storage.

Keg Racks To Improve Storage and Flow

Even if it’s filled with “light beer”, sixer beer kegs can be quite heavy. Weights can vary according to what’s stored inside, but a sixer can weigh in at around 55 pounds with most typical beers. OSHA and the Department of Labor and Industries recommends a lifting limit of 50 pounds, so even allowing for varying liquid weights, the typical sixer is still pushing the envelope of official limits.

Loading and unloading sixers off of rack can become pretty strenuous after even a short while. Back injuries caused by warehouse work are fairly common due to the lifting and shifting of heavy loads. Among those heavy loads is the wrangling of beer kegs, such as the loading of racks, taking inventory off of the racks, and moving product from the rear of the rack to the front.

Bluff Manufacturing has created a system of keg racks that alleviates much of the wrangling, reducing the risk of injury, while increasing your storage space. Many keg storage systems are simple shelves requiring the keg to be stored upright. Removing these kegs requires them to be dragged along their flat edges. Bluff’s keg racks store them on their sides with the back of the rack being slightly elevated to take advantage of a keg’s cylindrical shape. A worker can simply grab a keg from its more convenient ends and load it onto a pallet while the remaining stock rolls forward. To load the rack, the kegs are put in from the rear and roll gently to the front.

Bluff’s keg racks range in length from 38 inches (warehouse rack length 42 inches), holding 4 kegs, to 116 inches (warehouse rack length 120 inches), holding 12 kegs. They are easy to install, requiring no welding or bolting, and are virtually maintenance free. Contact us to see how we can help improve your craft beer keg storage and flow.

Keep the Pressure Off With Pipe and Hose Crossover Ramps

Many industrial and construction job sites, whatever their primary task is, will have one thing in common; they will need conduit running here and there. Many times that conduit will lead across roadways and other places where heavy equipment is sure to have to roll. The sudden pressure of a heavy rig rolling over a high-pressure hose can lead to catastrophic results, while PVC piping is sure to disintegrate beneath the weight of even a forklift.

Pipe and hose crossover ramps can alleviate those dangerous hiccups in a well-traveled path. By providing a smooth transition for wheels of all sorts, from forklifts to Freightliners, pneumatic to solid, productivity can carry on without worrying about losing a load to a bump in the road. Built to handle various ranges of pipe and hose sizes, many are sturdy enough to handle even the heaviest vehicle traffic. This means that valuable conduits can be laid across a road with no fears of an interrupted flow.

The sturdiest ramps are made of steel, though some ramps are made from a good, durable rubber or aluminum. Our steel ramps are built to protect conduits up to 12 inches in diameter and can withstand up to 160,000 pounds of pressure. They can even be custom made for your particular job site’s requirements. Coming in sections, they are designed to be portable as well.

Contact us for a complete listing of crossover ramps and other industrial, construction, or warehouse needs. Whatever you need, Bluff Manufacturing is sure to be able to provide durable, well built answers.

Here’s what’s brewing at Bluff

Did you know there are currently 2,031 breweries in the United States? That’s up by 1,983 breweries in the last 30 years. Amongst them, the craft beer industry is one of the fastest growing segments with 97% fitting the Brewer’s Association’s small and independent craft brewer definition, and representing 10.2% of American overall beer sales.

What is Craft Beer? According to the Brewer’s Association, craft beer is small, independent, and traditional. Small translates to an annual production of six million barrels or less; independent means the brewery cannot be owned by a larger alcohol entity that is not a craft brewer (or ownership needs to be 25% or less); and traditional, according to the Brewers Association “a brewer who has either an all-malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50 percent of its volume in either all-malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.”

Craft beer, as its name suggests, appeals to the creativity and passion of the brewer, as well as the complexity and versatility of the fermented beverage. Craft beer has been described as “10 minutes of pleasure,” “pure happiness in a glass,” “authentic,” and even an “intellectual beverage”, all in moderation.

This industry has its fair share of success and challenges. Passionate beer lovers supporting their local breweries have fueled its growth in the United States and elsewhere in the world. One of the industry challenges involves handling of the “sixers” or smaller 5-gallon kegs. Craft beer patrons tend to like their beer “on tap” or drought. The smaller size allows breweries and other places serving craft beers to offer more flavors and brands of craft beers. Bluff worked with North American Handling to devise a solution for easy handling of the kegs based on the simple law of gravity (move over, Newton).

Bluff Manufacturing’s Keg Flow Rack is the optimal storage and handling solution for “sixers” and different keg sizes. It’s the best solution for craft beers because it allows storage of a variety of beers and smaller kegs. It’s flexible, durable and maintenance-free! Because the Keg Flow Racks sit at an angle – with an elevated rear and front sloping downward, gravity does the rest, and employees have easy access to the kegs at the front of the rack. As soon as the front-most keg or “sixer” is picked, the next one rolls down and replaces it. Pallet racks up to 60” deep can even be front loaded allowing the rack to be pushed up against a wall to create additional space.

We have been selling the units through North American Material Handling and will be showcasing them at the 76th National Beer Wholesalers Association convention and trade show in Las Vegas on October 1– October 2nd, 2013 at booth #619. If you are in town, drop by or contact Bluff for information about this great unique product that creates storage and efficiency while providing an ergonomic solution to picking sixer kegs.

Hot upcoming markets to look out for in the next decade

If we were to divide America based on geography, demography and socio-economic factors, we would come up with nine regions. An interesting read on Yahoo finance categorized the U.S. into semi-nations and city-states based on the above-mentioned factors.

The Inland West is driven by lifestyle – a strong population of “youngsters” under 20, beautiful natural landscapes and easy access to it. This has led to a booming real-estate which is still cheaper than the neighboring West Coast, and adds up to solid economics.

The Left Coast, or more popularly known as the West Coast will always be the tech-hub where some of the greatest minds, that incidentally educate themselves in the East Coast, eventually migrate. You can’t beat the weather here, but as tempting and beautiful as this region is, the real-estate bubble is sending folks in droves towards the Great Plains and the South East.

The City State of Angels – Los Angeles, is still the land of dreams – the entertainment nucleus of the planet and the weather in LA is near perfect. However, LA has its own set of problems, like dwindling or quickly disappearing industries and a decline in the under-15 and migrant populace.

The Great Plains – the land of the American cowboy. This once underestimated and undervalued region recently posted some of the best job growth numbers and some of the lowest unemployment rates in recent times despite economic turmoil.

Fracking in this oil-rich region, prosperous agribusinesses, and growing technology sectors in urban and cosmopolitan cities have created a growth rate double that of the Northeast. Cities like Dallas, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Sioux Falls and Fargo lend to a very diverse and migrant culture that is likely to grow by 6% by 2023. Bluff Manufacturing, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, is part of the Great Plains, and helps support the energy industry, which is largely driven by major shale finds such as the Bakken formation in North Dakota and the Barnett and Permian in Texas. Learn how Bluff Manufacturing’s heavy-duty steel fracking ramps help protect hoses, pipes and cables at fracking and construction sites.

The Third Coast, which stretches from the Gulf of Mexico through south Texas to western Florida, also boasts low unemployment rates. While a major metropolitan city like Houston is now home to the largest medical center in the U.S., it is also the nation’s most racially and ethnically diverse city. Other cities like New Orleans and Corpus Christi enjoy their own unique cultural aspects as well as the concentration of energy jobs five times the national rate, and those jobs that have an average annual salary of $100,000.

The Great Lakes – The Great Lakes were once the second most populous “American nation” but is now a region with aging population and a declining under-5 population. This region was once the heartland of American manufacturing, but with millions of manufacturing jobs having been off-shored or cut, the Great Lakes suffered a major setback. But with the revival of the auto industry in Michigan and shale boom in Ohio, not to mention access to plenty of freshwater, things might just be looking up for the Great Lakes.

The Great Northeast, not including the city-state of New York, is the brainchild of the United States. Housing some of the best universities and drawing the brightest brains from all over the country as well as the world, this region enjoys a population that is highly educated and dominant in business services. It is also the “whitest” population with anglos making up 70% of the population and is mostly a child-free zone, which means it might need to start attracting more migrants and families to sustain its population and to continue to hold onto its political clout.

New York, New York – the city state of New York is the financial backbone of the country – the port of American dreams for immigrants. However this much-clouted world financial center is losing its influence to other strongholds and upcoming economies in the West Coast and Inland West, and even some cities in the Great Plains. Soaring taxes and unaffordable housing are some of the predominant factors that are the causing the downward curve in economics for this great city.

The Southeast Region – the manufacturing belt second after the Great Lakes includes promising economic pockets in cities like Nashville, Raleigh, Birmingham, Richmond and Charlotte. Investments pouring in from Asia and Europe, and migration of families and immigrants, among other factors, might just mean a changing economical and political canvas for this region.

The City State of Miami is known as the Capital of Latin America for a reason. It boasts a strong Spanish-speaking population and the largest Cuban-American community. This beach city not only attracts tourists but also is a major center and a leader in finance, commerce, culture, media, entertainment, the arts, and international trade. Population-wise, Miami is the eighth most populous and fourth-largest area in the U.S. according to Wikipedia. However, this is also a largely aging and childless population and can only continue to grow based on its migrant community from both outside and inside the United States.

So, there you go – the “hot pockets” of economic growth, prosperity and potential within the United States. Following this holy grail of socio-economics might just lead us to improved prospects within our own borders and outside as well.

Bakken Oil Workers & Oil Service Expo

Bluff Manufacturing recently exhibited at the Bakken Oil Workers & Oil Service Expo in Expo Minot, North Dakota from August 20th-22nd.

The Bakken Oil Workers & Oil Service Expo brought together oil companies, oil products and service suppliers, and supporting business. This show included vendors presenting products and services of particular interest to oil workers. Businesses and services related to community growth and infrastructure support were also a part of this event.

The show was a success for both the Bluff Manufacturing sales team and the product team. They were able to meet and talk with different branches of the oil field industry. This gave us an insight to the field challenges and product needs in Bakken, and the product solutions that Bluff can offer to the oil and gas industry. Having a member of the production staff at the show gave them prospective enhanced our perspective on how to take Bluff’s core product and modify it to fit the needs of the oil industry as well as possible future product development.

Learn more about Bluff Manufacturing’s fracking hose ramp for the oil & gas industry on our website.