The University of California at Berkeley began building its reputation for paleontology research in the early 1900’s. The early collection included sabre-toothed tigers, mastodons, giant sloths, birds, mollusks and, rather amazing, the long-extinct North American camel. Many of the fossils were donated by oil companies as they explored for petroleum in such places as the La Brea Tar Pits and the Baldwin Hills of Los Angeles, which once resembled an African savanna.
Even in 1913, when the collection was assembled, the university was hard-pressed for storage space. Coincidentally, in 1913 a bell tower was being built on the campus. An unknown facilities manager had the bright idea to turn all the vacant space in the hollow tower into fossil storage. Shelves, cabinets, and racks were built against the interior walls of the tower’s first five floors, and the fossil collection remains in the tower to this day, a valuable resource for paleoecologists and paleoclimatologists. An added bonus: Researchers get a daily noontime carillon concert. The full story is at NPR: http://n.pr/1xLHSZv
As storage experts, we have to wonder if this is the safest long-term storage for this unique collection. Any paleontologists care to weigh in on the question?
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As warehouse management systems become widespread, racks and shelves are delivering efficient space utilization and superior fulfillment speeds. Amazon’s reputation for light-speed deliveries have encouraged other e-tailers to emulate Amazon’s fulfillment productivity. You may be tempted to retrofit your warehouse with used shelving racks, yours or someone else’s, with cost savings in mind.
Writing in Modern Materials Handling, Josh Bond cautions that re-using a racking system can cost far more in the long run. An existing system rarely fits in a new materials-handling design, particularly when you’re looking for space savings and picking efficiency. Enlisting an expert to help you plan for the short term and the long term may seem more expensive at the outset, but you’ll save costly disruptions when it’s time to expand storage capacity or add an automated materials handling system. Read the discussion here: http://bit.ly/1ClAb3e
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In dense urban neighborhoods with small living spaces, multi-function furnishings are becoming the norm. Borrowing from these space-efficient urban homes, office interiors are creating workspace “neighborhoods” and using transformative furniture to increase productivity within compact office footprints. Design magazine Sourceable.com (bit.ly/1E6wUQi) reports that an architecture firm in Melbourne, Australia, is using customizable furniture to accommodate fluctuations in staffing. In Silicon Valley, Google Garage filled its space with wheeled furniture that can be rearranged to suit changing work activities. In southern California, a community college is using reconfigurable workstations to adapt common areas for multiple uses.
And the payoff for businesses? Cost savings through efficient space utilization and multi-purpose furnishings. If you’re getting ready to switch to multi-function furnishings, we’d love to hear your story.
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The e-commerce juggernaut shows no signs of slowing, as Target demonstrated when it threw down the free-shipping gauntlet to Walmart and Amazon. Many retailers are finding that their online sales outpace their in-store sales to such an extent that they are reducing their expensive retail space and increasing their storage space – a smart move that saves money as well as accommodating shifting consumer habits. This report in the Toronto Globe and Mail discusses the new paradigm: http://bit.ly/1E7oewL.
The move from malls to mail order raises other questions for retailers, however: Where will their e-commerce products be stored – Overhead lifts? Multi-level industrial shelving? And how will inventory tracking systems function for online-order fulfillment – can an existing RFID tagging system be adapted for fulfillment? If you’re a retail operation making the storefront-to-storage shift, how are you handling the transition? We’d like to hear your story.
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“Never event” is the term for a surgical error that should never, ever occur, such as operating on the wrong body part or leaving surgical instruments inside a patient. Hospitals have worked steadily to reduce such devastating mistakes, but surgeons, the rock stars of medicine, have been notoriously resistant to changing their practices. Now a number of hospitals are using new surgical safety protocols – data-intensive patient briefings and checklists – to improve outcomes and rein in surgeons’ intimidating behavior.
Added to these new protocols is the innovative use of RFID tags to track surgical implements in the OR. At Houston’s Memorial Hermann Health System, surgery patients are RF-scanned before closing to make sure no stray sponges have been left in the incision. The Wall Street Journal reports on this trend, and lists national statistics of surgical errors: http://on.wsj.com/1GqQMkl. As RFID becomes a common part of surgical protocols, expect these numbers to drop.
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