Category: Blog

Do You Need an Industrial Printer for Your Workplace?

blogimage

Proper signage is extremely important for the safety and efficiency of any jobsite or warehouse. From reminding workers to wear important personal protective equipment (PPE) to marking inventory items for easy access, signs and labels provide the support you and your employees need to get the job done. 

Premade signs and labels are available from printing companies, and they can often be customized to fit your needs. However, accidents and confusion could happen while you’re waiting for your order to arrive. Plus, you’ll pay a premium price and shipping fees to have someone else do your printing for you. 

If you’re ready to start printing your own labels and signs onsite, there are several things you should think about before choosing which printer to buy. 

7 Things to Consider When Buying an Industrial Label & Sign Printer

1.The Type of Printed Items You Need

There are printers on the market today that can customize almost anything you can imagine, so it’s vital that you consider the type of finished products you need. Are you looking to make large, detailed banners with lots of colors? Do you need auto service reminder stickers? Or do you need more durable signs like floor markings, GHS labels, and pipe markers? 

Once you decide what items you need to print, consider the availability of different media for printing. If you need a vinyl label and sign printer, does the company offer vinyl media in a variety of colors and sizes? Do you need colors that are OSHA compliant? Maybe you’re looking to organize your warehouse, and you need magnetic vinyl options to easily rearrange your product storage. If you have areas that are sometimes dark, you may want fluorescent, reflective, or glow-in-the-dark options as well. 

2. Company Reputation & Customer Reviews

A company’s client list can tell you a lot about their brand and the service they provide. If they’ve been trusted by companies you recognize, you can feel confident about working with them yourself. Talk to people who have used printers made by the same company, and get their honest opinion. What do they like and dislike about the printer they purchased? Would they recommend it to a friend? 

If you’re used to shopping online, you know how helpful reviews can be. In fact, 93% of consumers say that online reviews influence their purchase decisions. And with good reason! These are people who have real-world experience with the product or service you’re looking to buy. So, when you’re looking for an industrial printer, make sure to talk with others who have used the product, and check out the reviews online as well. 

3. Print Quality

Depending on the type of items you’re looking to print, you should look at the print quality and durability before choosing a printer. For regular office printing, ink may be sprayed onto the item being printed (inkjet) or toner powder can be melted into place (laser). 

For more durable safety signage though, a thermal transfer printer is your best bet. The ink will not wash or rub away because it is melted into the print media. This creates a long-lasting design even in the toughest environments. 

4. Ease of Use

A printer is only a good investment if you can use it. There’s nothing more frustrating than opening a brand new device and finding out you have no idea what to do next. Make sure the printer company you choose offers detailed instruction manuals. It’s even better when there are video tutorials to get you on the right track. 

You should also consider where you’ll need to use your printer. Does it need to be hooked up to a computer to work? Can it easily be moved throughout your workplace? You should also consider if there are templates available or if you’ll need to create your own designs for things like GHS labels or lockout tags. Templates can save you a lot of time and give you a better finished product as well. 

5. Price

While it may seem a little expensive upfront, an industrial printer is a one-time investment that will save you money in the long run. That being said, it’s still important to compare prices to make sure you’re getting the best value possible within your budget. 

If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Often the lowest priced items will break easily and have no warranty coverage, which can be a huge risk. 

6. Warranty

Does the printer you’re considering come with a warranty? And if so, how long does it last? Some companies will cover manufacturer defects for only a few years, while others may offer limited lifetime warranties. These can be subject to regular service and maintenance requirements, so be sure to understand all the details before you make your purchase. 

Certain parts of any printer, like thermal print heads, are subject to normal wear and tear and may need to be replaced over the life of your printer. This is usually considered regular maintenance and is not covered by warranty. 

7. Customer Service

Because printers have so many moving parts and do require regular maintenance and troubleshooting help, you must find a printer company that offers top-notch customer service. Before you buy, try contacting a company’s customer service department just to see if it’s a fit for you. 

Do you prefer to talk to someone right away? Make sure your printer company has customer service representatives available regularly. Do you prefer to take care of issues on your own? Make sure the company has a comprehensive instruction manual for your specific printer. Either way, you need to find a customer service experience that matches your needs. 

Don’t Wait to Get Started!

Now that you know what to consider when choosing an industrial printer, it’s time to make your choice. If you’re looking for a high-quality, reliable sign and label printer or an auto service reminder printer, Cobra Systems has exactly what you need. We’d love to help you pick out the right printer for your business. Contact us today to get started! 

Filed under: Blog

10 Reasons Why You Need a Vinyl Sign and Label Printer for Your Business

Safety-First-Warning-Sign

On average, over 2 million people suffer work-related injuries each year. Most of these accidents occur due to slips, falls, and contact with heavy objects or equipment.

Often, injuries like these could be avoided with proper signage. This is especially true for fast-paced environments like warehouses. If your business doesn’t have a machine that prints the signs you need on demand, you should consider getting one. This can help you run a safer facility and avoid many common accidents and injuries as a result. 

Still not sure a sign and label printer is something your company needs? Let’s take a look at 10 reasons why you might need an industrial sign and label printer for your business.

Ensure OSHA Compliance

Safety is of the utmost importance at any workplace. By using the proper signage, you can communicate the required protocols for different areas of your workplace. Safety signs should alert your workers to key policies or procedures. This will help ensure that your workers know how to protect themselves. 

In many cases, clear and proper signage is required by OSHA. For example, every facility must have proper signage directing workers where to find the first aid kit or fire extinguishers. There must also be danger, caution, and accident prevention tags to help workers in a variety of situations. 

In a facility where things may change often, it’s important to notify workers right away. Instead of ordering a pre-printed sign and waiting weeks for it to be delivered, you could update your signs in real time.

Deter Workplace Injuries and Accidents

With an industrial vinyl printer, you can help prevent injuries and accidents from happening at the workplace. Many of these problems arise from a lack of clear labeling. 

For example, perhaps a liquid spill happens. Workers would need to know where to locate a clean-up kit and a sign that states there is a slippery surface. If workers are unaware of where to go for these things, then that spill remains on the floor for longer and longer. This increases the odds of a worker coming along and slipping on the spill and getting hurt.

Help With Safe Chemical Storage

It is vital to the safety of workers to know where to store certain chemicals. A mix-up of certain chemicals could lead to serious problems. Some chemicals are combustible or corrosive and require placement within sealed bins. By using a label to mark where specific chemicals go, you can help workers avoid an injury or accident.

Prevent Mix-Ups

Does your business involve cataloging items or storing inventory or equipment in specific locations? If so, custom printed signs and labels can help with this! These labels will help workers identify the proper storage area fast and avoid any errors in the future.

There’s even a magnetic vinyl option that can be moved throughout your warehouse as often as needed, which ensures that your metal shelves always stay clean and organized.

Avoid Traffic Jams

If your business is a busy place filled with people rushing to and fro, or driving equipment, then traffic jams can happen. By using a sign printer, you can help identify the layout of the building. You can get creative in how you identify areas of the building, such as color-coding or pointing arrows toward exits.

Keep Track of Raw Materials

If your business has an assortment of raw materials, then labeling can help workers correctly identify each one. Certain materials can end up appearing similar. To avoid a worker using the wrong material or storing it in an improper location, labels will help avoid any confusion.

Organize Storage Areas

Organization is essential to helping the workplace have a smooth flow. Workers need to know where to place equipment and items. If they feel uncertain or become lost, this slows down production. You can use labels to help mark aisles and shelves.

Safeguard Heavy Equipment

Certain heavy equipment requires instructions for how to handle it. Sometimes these labels are required by state law or OSHA to help protect workers.

You can use vinyl signs or labels to help clearly show what the equipment is and to direct people toward instructions for handling. Equipment, like forklifts or pallet jacks, sometimes also require training before they can be used. If that is the case, stickers can also show that if a worker hasn’t yet received certification for using the heavy equipment, they shouldn’t touch it.

Create Durable Floor Markings

When used alongside proper signage in a building or warehouse, floor markings can help workers and visitors navigate the area safely. These markings can indicate storage areas, heavy equipment routes, passageways, trip hazards, and so much more. With the right printer and vinyl products, you won’t have to worry about your floor markings being damaged or removed with regular use.

Reminders for Clean-Up Procedures

Keeping the workplace clean is essential to preventing injuries and keeping production rolling. A messy environment can hamper activity and also cause accidents. With clear labeling, you can help direct workers on the steps they should take every day to clean up after themselves. By keeping the work environment tidy and following a daily procedure, workers will be able to stay to a schedule and avoid injuries.

VnM PrintersReady to Create a Safer, More Organized Workplace?

As you can see, there are a lot of benefits to having a machine that prints vinyl signs and labels. From labeling shelves and equipment to providing safety signage on demand, an industrial printer can help keep your business organized and safe. If you’re ready to start printing your own signs and labels fast, with no PC needed, contact us today!

Filed under: Blog

How to Improve Warehouse Efficiency

Warehouse,Interior

How to Improve Warehouse Efficiency

There are around 1.5 million Americans employed in the warehousing and storage industry, and with our love of online shopping, demand for these jobs will only continue to grow. A well-run warehouse will make your company more money and provide a safe and enjoyable workplace for your employees. But how do you make sure your warehouse is running as efficiently as possible? Here are our best tips to help you out! 

Maximize the Use of Available Space

Sometimes updating the way you use your space can be hard. It’s easy to get used to doing things one way and continue on because you’re used to it. To make the best use of your warehouse space, take a good look at your current shelving, storage, and traffic flow. Here are a few ways to make better use of your warehouse:

  • Use all horizontal and vertical space. Place lighter or less frequently used items up high, which can free up space down low. 
  • Get proper storage solutions. Smaller inventory items may need bins, while larger, stackable items will be fine on open shelves. 
  • Have the right equipment for your space. If special tools are needed for one step in your process, store them in a place that’s easy to reach. 
  • Clear the aisles. It may sound simple, but ensuring that items are always out of the flow of traffic will reduce wasted time and employee frustration. 
  • Go mobile. Adding mobile carts for receiving, processing, and picking items can save your employees time and energy.

Organize Workstations

Have you ever had to sift through a bucket of unorganized tools to find the one thing you needed all the way at the bottom? It can take forever! Don’t put your workers through this same frustration day after day. By organizing your workstations, you can significantly increase workers’ productivity.

Use the 5S workplace organization method to break this big task down into smaller pieces. The original Japanese words have been translated into sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain.

  • Sort. Create work stations that have everything employees need for a particular task. Find a different place to store items that aren’t used for this purpose. 
  • Set in order. Make sure that each tool has its own space, and clearly label where items go so they can be easily returned. 
  • Shine. Regularly clean the workspace and inspect equipment for signs of wear. Remove broken items until they can be fixed.
  • Standardize. Make sure everyone knows their responsibilities to keep the workspace clean and functional. 
  • Sustain. Train employees on how to use and maintain the space according to the 5S methodology. 

Use Available Technology

Make sure you’re using the best technology possible for your organization and budget. For example, using warehouse management system (WMS) software can completely streamline your warehouse operations. Use barcodes or radio frequency identification (RFID) to increase picking accuracy and reduce mistakes. Wearable technology like smart glasses or two-way audio headsets, can get workers the information they need to do their job instantly. 

Focus on Lean Principles

Lean management is just a system in which companies focus on eliminating waste to increase productivity and value. To create the most efficient warehouse possible, you’ll want to focus on cutting out waste, whether it’s in the form of time, effort, space, or materials. 

For example, you should avoid ordering excess stock unless you can store it in a separate location. The clutter you create by ordering too much inventory to store properly will end up costing you in workers’ time and energy spent dealing with it. 

Streamline Systems for Productivity

Take a look at the management systems you have in place for inventory, receiving, putting away, picking, and shipping. Where could you make changes to shorten the process? A great way to find out is to ask your employees for feedback. They are the ones carrying out these processes after all. Make sure to train your employees when you update something so that there’s no confusion in the warehouse. 

It also helps to place items strategically. Store the most popular items at the front of the warehouse and keep items frequently sold together close to each other. As buying patterns change, you will need to rearrange your shelves. Use magnetic vinyl for labeling shelves to make this process as easy as possible. 

Improve Safety

shutterstock_1875694372-scaledMost injuries in warehouses result from falls and slips, lifting or reaching, and material handling or forklift accidents. These incidents can cost companies thousands of dollars in medical bills, workers compensation, and lost labor. 

To make your warehouse the safest place it can be, remove any unnecessary hazards as soon as possible. Make sure to provide proper signage when employees must use extra caution. This can include marking forklift paths and indicating when safety gear is needed. 

Also make sure to provide enough safety training for your employees. This can include training on how to:

  • Lift by bending the knees instead of bending at the waist.
  • Use safety gear.
  • Operate machinery. 

If you take the right steps to make your warehouse as safe as possible, your workers won’t need to take time off for workplace related injuries. A safer workplace will also improve employee loyalty and productivity.  

Give Workers Incentives for Productivity

Creating a program for extra pay based on productivity can be a great way to motivate your employees. Recognize your best workers with verbal praise, service awards, or preferred parking. This helps boost morale and gives employees new goals to work towards. 

Print Your Own Labels and Signs

From organizing work stations to marking aisles and caution areas, you’ll need a fair amount of labels and signs to keep your warehouse running like clockwork. With a VnM SignMaker from Cobra Systems, you can print exactly what you need when you need it. You’ll be able to make your own self-adhesive labels, magnetic labels, barcodes, safety signs, facility signs, durable floor markers, and more. Contact us today to get started!

Filed under: Blog

How to Choose What 5S Industrial Printer to Buy?

VNM8 industrial printer

When buying an industrial printer for your business, you need to consider several factors; you don’t just buy on a whim and hope for the best. If you choose the wrong printer, you will end up disappointed in the way it works or the way it prints. 

With hundreds of 5S printers available on the market today, you should take your time before purchasing one. While they all perform similar tasks, not all have the capability to produce the printed items you need. 

No matter what you’re after there’s a printer for you. This article will discuss what an industrial printer is and what factors you should consider when finding the best one for your needs. 

What is an Industrial Printer?

VNM8 industrial printer

Industrial printers are created to withstand demanding environments. These printers are made to print signs, labels, and tags to support the implementation of 5S and OSHA standards in your workplace.

Unlike dot matrix and inkjet printers, industrial sign printers use a heated printhead to create extremely durable images and text on premade signs or vinyl media.

Using direct thermal or thermal transfer printing makes a finished product that won’t smudge or rub off, even when placed in the most high-traffic areas. That’s why they’re mainly used in manufacturing, warehouse, and factory settings, where signs and labels need to be extremely durable for 5S purposes and minimizing workplace hazards

Some industrial label printers can handle printing at high volumes, typically around several thousand to over 10,000 prints a day. Other printers are portable and can print signs and labels on demand, wherever you need them. Some printers will require the use of a PC to create designs, while others do not.

safety signs reminders

What to Consider When Choosing an Industrial Printer for Your Business

With so many features and factors to consider when purchasing an industrial printer, it is easy to get overwhelmed. But no need to worry. The first step you need to take is to understand your printing needs. So, when evaluating various options, here are the things you should consider: 

Cost-efficiency

Does buying an industrial printer save your company money in the long run? Are you spending a lot of time and money finding and ordering the right signs for your facility? These are just some questions you should ask before you go ahead and make a big purchase. If the cost can justify the value it will provide, an investment like this can be the best way to go for your company. 

Printing Capability

Apart from the cost and value, you should consider how many labels and barcodes your company needs to print in a day.

Do you need to print your own designs on pre-made signs and vinyl media on a regular basis? Would you like to be able to print them from anywhere in your facility?

If so, you need to look for a printer that can accommodate your needs. Check the type of signs and labels the printer can produce and see if it can cover your daily needs.

Furthermore, you should also consider the colors you need for your prints. If you don’t need a lot of colors, finding a printer that can print the exact colors you need that are OSHA compliant for signs is enough. 

Print Quality

Another thing you should consider is the quality of prints you’ll get. Even if the printer can accommodate the number of printing jobs you need a day, it’s still no use if the quality doesn’t meet your needs. Make sure that the printer can produce prints that can adhere to 5S and OSHA standards so you won’t have to worry about your labels. 

Printer Size

Some industrial printers are large enough to take a lot of space in your office. If you have a smaller workspace, buying a huge printer can take away valuable space. This can be a massive hassle for your workers. If this is your case, buying a smaller industrial printer that can sit on top of a desk is your best option.

While it may not produce larger signs, it will still produce high-quality prints. There are also printers that are not only portable, but they also don’t require computers. These printers can be easily moved throughout the facility so you can make safety signs and labels wherever you need them. 

Sustainability

Whatever electronic device you’re purchasing, you need to make sure that it’s durable enough to withstand the work you need it to do. Printers are not an exception.

For example, many companies think that buying an old printer will save them money. But in the long run, repairs and maintenance can be more expensive than buying a new one. Modern industrial printers may seem like a considerable investment, but they can give you the reliability you need from them.

However, always check the reviews before purchasing to ensure that the printer you choose is as stable as you need it to be. 

Ease of use

Another important thing you should consider when buying an industrial printer is how easy it is to use. Many people who work in offices don’t have the technical capacity to understand complicated machines.

So, make sure that you’ll buy something that can cater to even the most technology-challenged person in your office. Find something that’s simple. From the login, connection, and printing, make sure that they don’t need to go through tedious and complicated processes. 

At the same time, check the interface of the device. Touchscreens, color screens, and screens that have high brightness settings should be on your list. You also need to consider one with a multi-language interface, especially if English isn’t the first language in your country. 

Uses and Applications

Apart from printing, do you need to cover other tasks in your business, such as scanning, memory storage, file transfer, etc.? If so, then many industrial printers offer more than just printing services and can perform other tasks mentioned above. List down all the things you need, and find a printer that can support those. 

Brand

The brand plays an integral role in your device’s reliability and durability. While famous brands may have an already established reputation, they can be expensive compared to lesser-known brands. But popularity doesn’t always equate to reliability.

In fact, many less famous brands can provide the same or better performance and dependability at a much lower cost than industry-leading brands. Choose wisely. 

Warranty

Warranty is a crucial factor to look at when purchasing any expensive machine. You don’t want to get stuck paying to repair a new printer that has problems. At the same time, you should check the coverage of the warranty.

What issues will the manufacturer cover? How long is the machine covered for? This will give you the information you need to properly take care of your industrial printer and get help fixing it if needed. 

Manufacturer/Dealer Support

While warranty gives you peace of mind, manufacturer support provides you with the assistance you need from purchase to after-sales. If there are any technical problems that the manual can’t answer, you need the dealer to be available to answer specific questions and help you fix some issues.

no unauthorized access sign 

Why is Cobra System’s VNM Signmaker Industrial Printer a Good Option for You?

Among hundreds of industrial printers available on the market, the Cobra System’s VNM Signmaker Industrial Printer is one of the few that delivers on its promise. This high-quality printing solution is a stand-alone industrial label and sign printer that requires no computer.

It is easy to use and comes with built-in templates to make all your labeling applications easier and faster than ever. In addition, it is reliable, durable, and the most cost-effective industrial printer you can find. 

If you want to know more about the VNM Signmaker Industrial Printer, contact us today!

Filed under: 5S Methodology, Blog, News, Workplace Safety

6 Types of Workplace Safety Hazards: Identify, Prevent, Solve

workplace safety hazards card

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO,) more than 340 million work-related accidents and 160 million illnesses happen every year. To make matters worse, this number continues to grow over time. While you might not realize it, the reality is that safety hazards exist in every workplace. Even something as simple as wet floors can lead to accidents, injuries, or death if not addressed.

Given this, it’s essential to assess your workplace thoroughly to identify the hazards and put in place proper safety measures. Unfortunately, not all employers are aware of what hazards their workers are subject to, so here’s a quick guide to help you out. As they say—people are at the heart of your business, so it’s essential to protect them at all times.

workplace safety protective equipment sign board

What does OSHA mean? 

In 1970, the US government passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act to provide workplace safety standards for businesses and employers. This act led to the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). It’s a federal agency in charge of establishing these standards to ensure employees have safe working conditions. 

OSHA’s General Duty Clause requires all employers to create a hazard-free workplace to protect their employees from harm. OSHA health standards prescribed for general industry cover most businesses. But there are also more specific standards for high-risk industries like construction, maritime, and agriculture since workers here are more vulnerable to hazards.

Safety Hazards in the Workplace According to OSHA 

You might be wondering—what might a safety hazard include? The best way to answer this would be to go through the six main OSHA hazard categories. Here’s a quick run-through of each type to get an idea of what to look for in your workplace risk assessment. 

Safety Hazards

man slipping while at work

Safety hazards include substances and conditions that create unsafe working conditions and increase risks for accidents, injuries, and illnesses. These are the most common types of hazards since you’ll find them in every workplace.

Examples include:

  • Slips and trips
  • Falls from heights
  • Electrical hazards like frayed cords
  • Spills on floors
  • Machinery with moving parts
  • Confined spaces 

Biological Hazards

gloved hand holding a biohazard transparent bag

Biological hazards are substances that threaten the well-being of living organisms—in this case, people. They’re often found in more specific jobs and industries that involve working with people, animals, and plants. For example, individuals working in laboratories, hospitals, or healthcare centers will be most susceptible to this hazard.

Examples include exposure to:

  • Bacteria, mold, and mildew
  • Spores and fungi
  • Animal droppings
  • Blood and bodily fluids
  • Insect bites 
  • Dangerous plants 
  • Bioactive substances

Biological hazards can be particularly dangerous compared to other hazards since long-term exposure can result in severe health risks. Some substances can be so life-threatening that they cause asthma, tuberculosis, cancer, and other diseases that may lead to death. 

Physical Hazards

workers wearing protective equipment against chemicals

Physical hazards are environmental factors that can injure your workers—even without direct contact.

Examples of physical hazards include:

  • Constant exposure to sunlight and UV rays
  • Extreme temperatures 
  • Ionizing and non-ionizing radiation
  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Lights and lasers
  • Microwave and radio-frequency
  • High-pressure or low-pressure environments

One of the most common examples of physical hazards is noisy machinery and equipment that can harm your workers’ hearing abilities. To offer some perspective, occupational exposures are the cause of 24% of hearing difficulties in US workers—that’s millions of workers who lose part of their hearing due to hazardous noise, which can be prevented in the first place. Given this staggering number, it’s crucial to provide adequate hearing protection to avoid irreversible hearing problems. 

Ergonomic Hazards

woman setting boxes in order

An ergonomic hazard is present in jobs where working conditions can put a strain on employees’ bodies. It can lead to various musculoskeletal diseases (MSDs), which make up the largest segment of work-related injuries and account for 30% of workers’ compensation costs.

Common ergonomic hazards include the following:

  • Poor posture 
  • Lifting heavy objects 
  • Sitting for long periods
  • Poorly adjusted workstations
  • Repetition of movements
  • Manual labor like pushing and pulling

Unfortunately, these hazards are often harder to detect since the effects usually don’t present themselves immediately. Instead, they tend to progress and build over time. But if you’re familiar with the common ergonomic hazards, you can take action and prevent workers from developing MSDs. 

Chemical Hazards

man wearing personal protective equipment

As the term suggests, chemical hazards refer to toxic chemicals and substances that can cause injuries, illnesses, and possibly even death among your workers. Some substances can be so potent that they can cause health issues from mere inhalation, while others need direct contact. Here are some examples of the hazard:

  • Pesticides
  • Cleaning products and acids
  • Vapors and fumes
  • Gasoline and explosive chemicals
  • Flammable substances like carbon monoxide

Similar to biological hazards, chemical hazards come with a ton of risks, more so if workers are sensitive to them. Chemical burns, skin irritation, nausea, vomiting, and poisoning are just some of the many dangers that threaten your workers. Thus, it’s a non-negotiable to provide employees with proper protective gear if your workplace has chemical hazards.

Work Organization Hazards

a man separating two colleagues having a heated argument

Many are usually familiar with the above 5 hazards in the workplace, but there’s actually a sixth category to watch out for. Work organization hazards refer to stressors—any working condition that can cause stress to employees. They can be present in any workplace, but lone workers are especially vulnerable since they tend to feel isolated. To understand these hazards better, here are the most common examples you should keep an eye on:

  • Workplace violence and aggression
  • Intense workload demands
  • Sexual harassment
  • Flexibility 
  • Bullying
  • Social relations 
  • Control regarding decisions

Examples of Hazards in the Workplace by Industry

Now that you’re more familiar with the many types of hazards that exist in the workplace, here are concrete workplace hazard examples to show you how these risks manifest in different industries. This should give you a better idea of what risks to watch out for in your workplace.

Raw Materials Industry

cantilever loading logs

The raw materials industry is in charge of extracting and processing inputs and raw materials used for manufacturing. Businesses in the industry specialize in a particular type of material, such as steel, aluminum, copper, lumber, gasoline, plastics, ceramics, porcelain, or others.

The health hazards in this industry will vary based on the material being handled, but here are the main types to watch out for:

  • Noise from equipment
  • High temperatures
  • Exposure to chemicals 

Manufacturing and Construction Industry

man looking at construction site

The manufacturing industry transforms raw materials into new products. Conversely, the construction industry works on designing, building, and maintaining buildings, infrastructure, and industrial properties. When you think of health and safety hazards, these two will probably come to mind since you always hear about accidents happening on the job.

Both industries involve working environments with high places, machinery, and chemicals, so they’re unsurprisingly prone to many hazards. Employees are particularly vulnerable to the following:

  • Slips and trips
  • Falls from heights
  • Electrical shocks
  • Hearing damage from loud noise
  • Confined spaces like tanks
  • Exposure to asbestos
  • Injuries from repetitive movements 
  • Handling flammable substances 
  • Moving objects 

Service Industry

customer service executives staring at computer screens

The service industry differs from the manufacturing industry in that it creates value through intangible products or services. For example, marketing agencies don’t sell products directly to customers. Instead, they offer their expertise, knowledge, and skills in crafting marketing plans and campaigns for clients.

Service businesses are extremely susceptible to ergonomic hazards —workers tend to stay in the same position for prolonged times, perform repeated movements, and maintain awkward postures, so you can imagine the strain that’s placed on them. Beyond these issues, there are also other risks like:

  • Chemicals from cleaning agents
  • Fires
  • Mental health issues
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Biohazards from toxic waste 

Information Services Industry

man looking at clipboard

The information services industry specializes in collecting, storing, processing, and analyzing different types of information. Examples of businesses in this industry include business process outsourcing (BPOs), consulting, research and development, and others. Generally, companies seek the help of this industry for their expertise and knowledge.

Like the service industry, information service jobs are also prone to ergonomic hazards. Many times, workers stay seated in one place for a long time, increasing the risk for back injury or neck pain. Other hazards common in the industry include:

  • Hearing difficulties from workplace noise
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Electrical hazards 
  • Heavy machinery 

Human Services Industry

caregiver assisting an elderly with a cane

The human services industry is a sub-category under the broader services industry. It covers the businesses that deliver services to benefit and help people, address their needs, and improve their quality of life. Well-known examples include child welfare services, elderly assistance, counseling, personal care services, and the like.

Since this industry usually involves close contact with other people, workers tend to be at risk of contracting biological hazards like mold and pathogens. Aside from this, here are other possible hazards in the industry:

  • Workplace stress and violence
  • Repetitive movement
  • Awkward posture
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Lifting and carrying people
  • Chronic fatigue 

7 Ways to Avoid Workplace Safety Hazards 

Here are some helpful ways to avoid workplace safety hazards. The best practices will vary for every work area, but these should give you a good starting point.

  • Implement a health and safety program for workers
  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety equipment, if applicable
  • Monitor employees’ health condition regularly
  • Adjust working stations to ensure proper ergonomics
  • Find industrial printers to make hazard safety signs
  • Inspect electrical systems regularly for potential hazards
  • Perform regular maintenance on your equipment

Beyond this, you can also consider finding a company that specializes in workplace safety solutions for helpful tools to monitor workplace safety effectively.

man using a forklift

FAQs About Safety Hazards in the Workplace 

What factors affect safety and risk?

The main factors affecting workplace safety and risk are people, equipment, processes, materials, and environment. For one, it’s important to educate your employees about the importance of safe work procedures. Likewise, the safety of your tools and machines, materials, and process design can affect the severity of workplace risk. The last factor—environment—is more external, but it’s the main cause of physical hazards. 

How to report a safety hazard?

The federal law protects workers and grants them the right to a healthy workplace. Thus, anyone who is subject to safety hazards without protective measures may file a confidential complaint with OSHA online, in person, through telephone, or through email. The agency will then conduct an inspection to assess the matter and take proper action. 

How do you correct a safety hazard at work?

Managing risks in the workplace starts with identifying hazards. Once you spot a hazard that hasn’t been addressed, assess the risk to determine its potential impact and the workers who are most likely to be affected. From there, you can come up with procedures to fix or mitigate the hazard. If you can’t eliminate it completely, consider substituting or isolating the hazard, providing PPEs, or adjusting work practices. 

Who is responsible for correcting safety hazards?

Employers are in charge of managing safety hazards and correcting them accordingly. As mandated by OSHA, employers need to conduct assessments for hazard identification and install measures to provide a hazard-free environment for workers. In most cases—especially in high-risk industries—companies will delegate the work to a safety department that oversees workplace safety and protocols. 

How should hazards be reported in the workplace?

Should employees notice any hazards in the workplace, they should immediately report this to their supervisor or safety manager, if applicable. If you don’t receive a response from them, you can escalate the issue to the OSHA. As much as possible, try to settle the issue internally before moving up to the government.

Reduce Workplace Safety Hazards With Cobra Systems’ Solutions

While there are many decisions involved in running a business, you can’t ever discount the importance of your people and their safety. It’s extremely important to highlight the safety hazards in your workplace and put in place countermeasures to protect your employees from them. 

By emphasizing the mitigation of workplace safety hazards, you can contribute to reducing the hundreds of millions of work accidents and injuries that occur each year.

If you need someone to help you print safety signages and labels, Cobra Systems offers high-quality printers for workplace safety purposes. Contact us or give us a call today at 805-243-3335 to learn more!

Filed under: 5S Methodology, Blog, News, Workplace Safety

What is 5S: Ultimate Guide To The 5S System

5s methodology

Every workplace has its own set of systems and management techniques to create an efficient work environment. However, there seems to be one specific methodology that stands out: the 5S Methodology. But what is this 5S system?

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), over 100 deaths a week in the workplace were recorded during 2019. In most cases, these accidents in the workplace happen due to unsafe working conditions.

Of course, safety can be challenging to maintain, especially in hazardous industries. But it’s not impossible.

You can create a safe workspace for employees while maximizing productivity and profit. One example is adopting a new system or protocol that can transform every workplace into an organized, efficient, and safe environment. One such system is called the 5S methodology.

So, here is everything you need to know about the 5S principle and approach and why every workplace should adopt this system.

What Is 5S?

5S refers to a systematic work methodology that uses visual management to build a quality work environment. It involves 5 steps that workers need to follow systematically to create an efficient workplace with fewer injuries and wasted downtimes.

Furthermore, its purpose is to maintain order and cleanliness within the workplace to yield maximum productivity and value.

What Does 5S Stand For?

what is 5s methodology

Originally, 5S comes from 5 Japanese terms starting with the letter S: Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke. Below is the 5S Japanese to English translation and their definitions.

Japanese word English Translation English Version Definition
Seiri organized  

Sort

Sorting through materials to remove unnecessary things from each workplace area.
Seiton orderliness  

Set in Order

Organize the remaining items in a way that will make tasks easier to do.
Seiso cleanliness  Shine Keep each work area clean and orderly.
Seiketsu standardize  

Standardize

Turn seiri, seiton, and seiso into a permanent work routine by standardizing them. 
Shitsuke discipline  

Sustain

Maintain discipline to sustain the newly placed standard procedures.

How Does The 5S Methodology Work?

The 5S method focuses on removing clutter and waste in each working area. Its goal is to give a designated place for necessary materials in the workplace to achieve organization and orderliness.

As a result, workers can enjoy a safe working space where they can do their jobs efficiently and productively. The 5S approach aims to do this by following a specific five-pronged methodology: the Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain.

This framework can only work if it’s implemented in its proper sequence. Generally, it will start by removing the clutter and waste in the workplace and organizing the remaining essential items. Next is to clean and inspect the recently-organized work area regularly. Then comes the standardization of the best practices implemented, performing maintenance, and maintaining discipline until 5S becomes a habit.

This methodology applies in any workplace, whether it’s in a healthcare facility or a factory. It is designed to improve an industry’s working environment, which enhances the workers, their output, and the company’s profit and image. 

5S: Before and After Implementation

Here’s a good example of what 5S looks like in action even in a simple desk workspace:

a comparison between two desks before and after 5s implementation

Before 5S, you can see the space as a complete mess of jumbled documents and other office materials. But after implementing 5S, everything is in its proper place with labeled folders to organize and easily track the documents. Plus, there’s now a clean open space where work can be done efficiently. 

Now, imagine this kind of system implemented in a larger setting, such as huge storage locations or factories. Wouldn’t that be a pleasant sight that encourages productivity and safety?

Origin of the 5S System 

Initially, the 5S system started as a part of the “Toyota Production System or TPS” built by the leaders of Toyota Industries (previously known as Toyoda Automatic Loom Works). 

The company created TPS during the early 20th century to solve its increasing manufacturing waste and inefficiencies. The TPS system involves many methodologies that we now know as jidoka, just-in-time manufacturing, kaizen, kanban, and 5S. 

In fact, the 5S became a foundational part of TPS and Toyota, where they believe a clean and organized working environment can consistently yield the best results.

As TPS began to significantly change Toyota Industries for the better, many businesses and industry experts studied the system and implemented it in different workplaces. 

Finally, a JIT expert and engineering educator named Hiroyuki Hirano devised the five pillars of the visual workplace inspired by the TPS and other methodologies within the system. This then evolved into a concept that we now came to know as the 5S methodology.

The 5S system gained more importance as it became the foundation of another systematic methodology called Lean Manufacturing Techniques. Now, 5S can often be heard together with Lean since the former serves as an organizational tool for the latter.

What Are The Benefits of Lean 5S?

Implementing the Lean 5S in the workplace allows both the company and its workers to reap several benefits, such as:

  • Less clutter – organizing the work area and removing unnecessary items results in less clutter and better space storage.
  • Increased work productivity and less idle time – without all that clutter, employees can now do their jobs efficiently and become more productive during their work time. 
  • Improved quality and consistency – standardization of work processes and procedures means decreased product or service mistakes and variations.
  • A safer workplace – a well-organized and clean workplace makes way for a safe working space.
  • Improved employee satisfaction – 5S ensures seamless work processes and procedures, boosting employee morale and satisfaction. 

How Do You Use 5S in the Workplace?

The 5S system is more than just a concept or a five-letter acronym. It is a hands-on tool that establishes workplace organization to benefit both the company and the employees. 

So, here’s an in-depth look at the step-by-step process of the 5S system that safety officers, managers, and business owners can implement.

Sort

worker labeling boxes

The first step of the 5S methodology is the Sort/Seiri. This step aims to clean the working area by removing clutter, waste, and other things that add NO value to a space. 

The ultimate goal of the Sort step is to clear the workspace of unnecessary items to provide an area where you can carry out the next 4S steps. Here’s how it works:

  • The first thing you need to do is go through every item in the working station to evaluate its importance.
  • Use some guide questions to know which items need to stay or be removed. Some examples include: “How frequently do we use this material?” or “When was the last time this tool was used?”

To accurately sort the items, it’s important to categorize them in four ways:

  • Keep – items in this category are essential to your workplace’s daily operations.
  • Remove – unnecessary items that need to be thrown away to make more space in the working area (e.g., broken tools, expired chemicals).
  • Probation – during sorting, you will likely encounter some unknown items on the way. In this case, it’s important to note these materials or “red-tag” them and keep them in a separate space. Other employees may assess the red-tagged items to see if there are items that originally belong to their workstations. Items may only be placed in the probation area for a specific number of days. After that, you need to either sell, recycle, or discard them.
  • Recycle – items in this category are those that may still be useful for other employees or departments in the workplace. 

It’s important to remember that the best people to do the “sorting” process should be the ones who actually use the working area.

Set in Order

orderly workplace

Next is the Set in Order step, wherein workers should organize the remaining items in the work area. Here are some pro tips on how to organize things efficiently:

  • Arrange the tools, materials, or equipment in a systematic and logical way. This means that you should think about the specific tasks that the items will be used for when arranging them. For example, you should place tools near the place where it’s frequently used. Or store materials in a central location if other teams need to share them. 
  • Make sure to arrange materials in a way that makes sense. This way, employees can work seamlessly without obstructions or blocking one another.
  • Utilize a 5S diagram or floorplan to strategically arrange large pieces of equipment or storage areas. You can also use shadow boards that feature the outline of specific materials so people will get familiar with their rightful place.
  • Another consideration you should make is the people who work in the area. For example, are they tall, short, left-handed, or right-handed.
  • Once everything has its designated place, it’s time to label their storage bins and specific locations. 

Shine

out of service tag for broken equipment

Shine or seiso refers to the “cleaning” phase of the 5S methodology. Once the clutter has been removed, and everything’s arranged, it’s time to remove the dirt and polish the working space. 

The Shine phase’s main goal is to clean the workspace to work efficiently while producing quality products or services. Furthermore, Shine also makes cleaning a habit that every worker should do regularly. Some examples include regularly sweeping the area, weekly quality control checks, or monthly tools and equipment maintenance. 

Additionally, a thorough and regular cleaning eventually leads to a safer work environment. Plus, regular maintenance will make it easier to spot problems or defects before they even get out of hand.

Standardize

woman setting boxes in order

Standardize or seiketsu simply refers to the standardization of the practices implemented in Sort, Set in Order, and Shine. The Standardize phase is where you will make everything official by putting it into writing, such as creating an SOP or standard operating procedure. 

Having a standard procedure or process for everything helps people maintain cleanliness and orderliness. Moreover, the best practices implemented will become the universally understood system for every employee, which helps maintain the consistency and quality of every output.

Additionally, standardization helps prevent both employees and employers from sliding back to their old habits. Here are some pro tips on how you can easily enforce this in the workplace:

  • Create daily, weekly, and monthly schedules so workers can get familiar with their daily tasks before, during, and after their work duties.
  • Create an individual step-by-step procedure for every work process, or you can use a checklist.
  • Provide visual cues of procedures or steps to remind employees working in that specific station. Some visual tools to use include labels, posters, floor marking tape, and tool organizers.

But remember, standardization of procedures should not be set in stone. Companies should be open to changing their SOPs if the current ones don’t serve their purpose anymore. 

Sustain

employees walking inside the warehouse

Lastly, there’s Sustain or shitsuke, which means discipline. This phase focuses on cementing all implemented practices to make them a habit. Moreover, Sustain encourages workers and employers to keep all the steps and rules in the previous 5S to maintain a smooth-sailing working environment.

The main goal here is to establish discipline and commitment among everyone for continuous improvement. Here are some pro tips on how to execute Sustain and yield positive results:

  • Both employees and employers should abide by the rules or systems in place.
  • Companies should invest in seminars and training that can help employees follow the standardized procedure in their work areas. 
  • Tools and equipment needed in specific working stations should also be provided to get jobs done correctly. 
  • Create specific objectives and measurable goals to track the progress of the implemented 5S system. You can also implement regular audits to assess workplace efficiency. 
  • Establish employee performance evaluations to see if the system works. Make sure to celebrate great team performances and make it a point to get their feedback on the implemented 5S system.

The 6th S: Safety

workplace safety - safety first sign

Companies can reap plenty of benefits by successfully implementing the 5S system in the workplace. One of the best outcomes that the 5S lean manufacturing method can achieve is the 6th S, which is Safety.

Furthermore, safety can also stand on its own and be implemented in the workplace as a 6th S. This phase prioritizes employees’ physical and mental safety in their workspace. It aims to give value to human resources by removing potential risks and hazards that come with labor. 

This can range from simply labeling chemicals or eliminating waste to providing quality HVAC systems to avoid aerosol contamination in clinical laboratories. 

Aside from valuing the safety of your workers, it’s also mandated by the law to keep the workplace free from safety hazards. 

How To Implement The 5S System

After understanding the positive effects and impact of the 5S Methodology in a company, it’s time to implement it. Fortunately, a successful implementation only requires the open willingness, cooperation, and contribution of two parties一both employers and employees.

These two should have a unified goal and the heart to put in enough effort to make the 5S system work. Here is some information on what tools and techniques can successfully help launch, implement, and sustain the 5S method in your workplace.

Who Is Involved in 5S?

The simple answer would be everyone. It’s true that employee involvement plays a critical role in the success of 5S, but so does the participation of company leaders (e.g., manager, supervisor) and business owners. 

Other team members may play a bigger role in the implementation, but that doesn’t mean that other workers won’t be involved. This way, there would be no confusion, and everyone in the company would be up-to-date with significant changes.

What Industries Can Benefit From 5S?

workers with tools

Popular industries that already implement the 5S system are manufacturing companies, factories, warehousing, and related industries. But of course, other industries can also significantly improve their work quality and efficiency by using the 5S. Some specific ventures include:

  • Healthcare industry
  • Hotel and restaurant industry
  • Office jobs
  • Information and communication technology
  • Housekeeping or homemaking services
  • Grocery, market, and retail stores

5S Training

Everyone in the company should receive proper training in 5S methodology一from entry-level workers to the upper management department. The 5S training should cover the important pillars of the 5S system, its application, the role of each staff member, and how it can benefit both the company and its employees.

Companies may conduct the training in a classroom setting, virtually, or by using actual demonstrations in the working area.

Additionally, 5S training should be done whenever there are updates or changes in the company SOP and for new employees.

Common 5S Visual Tools

One of the essential parts of implementing the 5S system in the workplace is visual tools. 5S and visual cues work hand-in-hand to create a clean and orderly place that generates productivity within the workers. 

Visual communication tools definitely help people get familiar with spaces and make a place more well-organized. Plus, having these visual reminders and tools greatly reduces the health and safety risks, especially in dangerous work settings.

You can make your work setting a visual workplace by using some of these helpful visual cues:

Floor Marking Tape

You can usually find floor marking tapes in large facilities since OSHA requires some industries to have this. Floor markings are brightly-colored adhesive tapes used in floors to divide spaces, mark hazards, and provide directions. 

floor marking tape

Industrial Printers

Another helpful tool that makes visual communication easier is industrial printers. These high-tech devices allow you to print out different kinds of industrial labels, safety signs, and stickers. You can use them to create a visual workplace by labeling hazardous chemicals or the contents of a specific cabinet. You can even print standardized labeling tags or signs without the help of a PC using the VnM4 Pro Signmaker

Vnm8 industrial printer

Shadow Boards 

A shadow board refers to an organizing tool that outlines the shape of a material to indicate its designated place. This helps workers identify where to place specific tools or what items are missing.

shadow board

Toolbox Foam

A toolbox foam is like a shadow board, except that the latter uses a foam that has its top layer cut out. This way, workers can easily fit specific tools inside the foam to organize and protect them from damages.

Costs Involved with 5S Implementation

Costs may vary depending on the size of the company and how you plan to execute it. But here are two kinds of expenses that your business will probably encounter when starting and implementing the 5S system:

  • Redirected labor cost – providing training for the workers will definitely result in loss of labor hours, which
  • the company can quickly recoup.
  • Cost of materials and goods – this pertains to the expenses your business will probably make to successfully implement 5S, such as visual tools and storage containers.

FAQs About 5S

What is the purpose of 5S?

Ultimately, the 5S system aims to achieve workplace safety, organization, work efficiency, and maximum productivity.

How can 5S be used in different industries?

The 5S methodology isn’t limited to industrial and manufacturing facilities. Any company in every industry can implement it by following the step-by-step process of the 5S so you can discover the solution to your workplace problems.

How does 5S help the business to grow?

Successfully implementing and continuing the 5S program allows companies to increase their productivity and reduce wasted resources. This, in turn, will help the business grow and thrive in its industry.

How does 5S improve safety?

5S enforces cleanliness and orderliness in the workplace to reduce or eliminate safety hazards and health risks.

Is 5S different from kaizen?

Kaizen’s goal is to increase efficiency by making “continuous improvement.” On the other hand, 5S improves efficiency by eliminating waste to establish order and productivity. But they do go hand-in-hand in implementing the lean manufacturing system.

Is there a difference between 5S and Six Sigma?

5S is a strategy that lays down the framework to achieve improvement in all areas of the workplace. It starts from cleaning, organizing, maintaining, and then standardization of these processes. 

On the other hand, six sigma focuses on improving work processes by determining the problem area or removing defects. 

Who should implement 5S?

Companies that want to boost their work productivity, efficiency, and profit can benefit by implementing the 5S.

Why does 5S fail sometimes?

Some factors that can cause the 5S methodology to fail include: wavering employee commitment, lack of direction, and lack of financial resources.

Where do I start with 5S?

Start by understanding how 5S can benefit your company or organization. Next is to pitch the idea to the management and get support from them. From there, you can easily follow the 5S implementation using the details discussed above.

workers sorting boxes

Conclusion

A detailed understanding of the 5S process and 5S procedures brings you one step closer to achieving operational efficiency. So, if you think the 5S methodology can positively benefit your company, then we’re happy to offer our services to you. 

Cobra Systems is the leading provider of unique industrial printing solutions. We can help your company implement the 5S system or lean manufacturing by supplying high quality printers for your 5S signs and labels.

Additionally, our company currently supports customers for their 5S signage that operate within warehousing, distribution, shipping, and logistics.

Get started with your very own stand-alone, seamless signage and label printing solutions by giving us a call at 805-243-3462.

Filed under: 5S Methodology, Blog, NewsTagged with: ,

5 Reasons Why Safety Signage is Important for Your Business

Caution,Sign,For,Hazardous,Area,On,Metal,Fence

Did you know that an American is injured every minute by a preventable accident? By identifying risks and taking steps to avoid them, you can drastically reduce the number of accidents and injuries that happen in your workplace. While it may seem simple, adding proper safety signage will help workers identify and keep clear of potential hazards on the job.

Let’s take a look at several reasons why you should prioritize safety signs and labels in your workplace. Whether you print your own or buy them from a printing company, safety signs are something you can’t afford to overlook in your business.

Regulatory Compliance

Every business is subject to rules and regulations that will include the implementation of safety signs, tags, and labels. For example, workers must be given a safe environment to do their jobs under guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA).

In addition to removing known hazards when possible, workers must be trained to navigate the dangers of their workplace. Part of this process includes providing proper signage to indicate where workers should take precautions. As such, it’s critical that your business complies with these safety regulations.

Health and Safety

If you are wondering how to make your business safer, safety labels are one answer. These labels identify potential hazards to keep workers safe.

For example, for loud machinery, the safety label should identify what personal protective equipment (PPE) employees need while operating the equipment so that they can better protect themselves.

Furthermore, these labels also improve facility safety, and you should consider using them to designate the flow of traffic in your space, mark the paths of heavy machinery such as forklifts, and help workers locate safety equipment.

These safety labels and signs can even be made from reflective or glow-in-the-dark materials for areas where there’s not always enough light.

Legal Liabilities

Under the law, businesses have the responsibility to keep workers safe on the job and visitors safe in their facilities. Incorrect labeling or lack of safety signs can lead to expensive legal action, such lawsuits and workers’ compensation if anyone is harmed.

Posters printed on standard office printers are not durable enough to stand up to the warehouse or jobsite environment. By using an industrial printer, you can make sure your safety labels and signs are displayed correctly. Thermal printers like the VnM Signmaker will print high-quality, adhesive labels that won’t tear easily and stay put exactly where you need them—on floors, walls, pipes, and storage containers.

Efficiency

If workers can locate PPE and the tools necessary to complete their work, they’ll be able to get the job done quicker while avoiding costly accidents. This not only saves your workers time if they know where to dispose of hazardous materials and store items, but there will also be less clutter in the workplace.

You can mark floors to keep traffic in your warehouse flowing smoothly, and you can also use magnetic vinyl to easily label and then rearrange shelves in your storage facility.

Workplace Pride

One of the best ways to create a sense of pride among employees is to provide a positive working environment. When people enjoy being at work, they are more efficient, make fewer errors, and are less likely to be absent.

There are several ways to make your workplace a great place for your employees. For starters, you’ll need to make sure there are open lines of communication so workers can point out concerns, get support if they need it, and suggest updates to procedures. It also helps people feel valued when you recognize them for a job well done.

Finally, ensuring your workspace is clean, safe, and comfortable will help workers feel proud to be part of your organization. By always providing the necessary safety signs and labels, you will help your employees feel like a valued part of your business.

vnm-product-line2

Use Cobra Systems Printers for Your Business

Proper signage helps keep everyone safe, and as a result, maintains business efficiency. However, it’s essential to ensure that your signs and safety labels are done right.

When you use our industrial printers, you can make your own safety labels and signs as soon as you need them. You’ll never have to worry about ordering signs and waiting for them to arrive. Our printers are portable, and most safety labels can be done without a PC. Contact us today to get started!

Filed under: BlogTagged with: , , ,