Pharmaceutical facility’s dual-gate system increases productivity

The system has also improved employee safety and reduced fall risk.

  By ·

A pharmaceutical facility was looking for a new safety solution. The facility has a large, multi-level pick module that features a number of bays in which pallets are loaded onto two-deep pallet flow lanes in double-wide bays. Employees were picking from the pallets on the second and third levels of the module, leading to concern about fall protection and general safety. A guarding solution was proactively sought out that would ensure production operations remain the same, and wouldn’t impede any process in the facility.

To permanently secure the ledge, while allowing pallets to be loaded to meet industry standards, a dual-gate system was necessary. After various fall protection systems were examined, a rack-supported version of a safety gate was selected.

The solution uses dual counterbalanced gates that are interconnected, so one gate is closed while the other gate is open. The gates were designed double wide to capture the two lanes in the bay and double deep to capture the entire flow lane. They also used support panels that attach directly to the existing rack uprights to maximize space in the bay.

The dual-gate system assured that the rear side gate (at the end of the lane) was closed, while the ledge-side gate was open, allowing the lift truck operator to load pallets into the lane as a barrier was placed—one that would prevent the operator on the platform from entering the lane while the area was being replenished.

The gate system is also manually operated so the operator can open the rear gate when he is ready to pick from the pallet, which closes the ledge gate and maintains a safe environment. The facility has the option to have it be power operated in the future with push-button stations on the lower level or RF remotes on the lift truck.

After installing the safety gate and using it for six months, the pace of productivity was not negatively impacted. In fact, the gate helped speed up the process, as the gate system is now a signal between the employee on the platform and the operator on the lift truck.

When the picker is ready for the lane to be replenished, they close the operator gate, which then opens the ledge gate and signals (to the lift truck operator) that the area is ready for more pallets. Then, when employees pick from the pallets, the ledge-side gate is closed, thereby validating (to the truck operator) that those lanes are either full or in the process of being picked.

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