Think Moving House is a Pain? Try Moving Furniture Every Day! An Expert Guide to Heavy Lifting in the Furniture Industry
Growth in the furniture industry
Recent research has shown that an improving housing market and a more design orientated customer is driving growth in the furniture industry.
European furniture manufacturers lead the way
The industry is a labour-intensive and dynamic sector dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro-businesses. European furniture manufacturers have a good reputation worldwide thanks to their creative capacity for new designs and responsiveness to new demands in the market.
The industry can combine new technologies and innovation with cultural heritage and style and provides jobs for highly skilled workers…the sector employs around 1 million workers in 130 thousand companies, generating an annual turnover of around EUR 96 billion. Furthermore, Europe is a world leader in the high-end segment of the furniture market, with nearly two out of every three high-end furniture products sold in the world being produced in Europe.
Global competition is fierce
It’s not all plain sailing.The furniture sector has been severely hit by the recent economic crises and has faced a significant drop in the number of companies, jobs, as well as revenue. The European furniture sector faces huge competition from countries with lower production costs such as China. China’s penetration into the European market is growing rapidly and it is now the largest furniture exporter to the Europe, accounting for over half of total furniture imports to Europe.
In addition to increased competition, reliance on innovation and design combined with an increase in global trade and digitalisation, makes the furniture sector more vulnerable to weak protection of intellectual property rights. European furniture producers also face duties on imports of raw materials and tariffs on exports of finished products. Moreover, operational costs in Europe are relatively high in comparison to the rest of the world.
The power of sales promotions
eCommerce is undeniably expanding in the furniture industry. Sales promotions offered by companies selling items such as sofas, beds and dining room furniture, seem to be in constant rotation of different offers.
The economic climate since the recession has led to a price focused and promotional led marketing strategy for items such as furniture. This has been intensified by the growth of eCommerce and the nature of online research and product comparison. In the UK, in addition to traditional sales periods such as Boxing Day (Selfridges recorded the most profitable hour in its 100-year history on Boxing Day 2015), further promotional events, such as those originating in America, like Cyber Monday and Black Friday are indicative of the current retail trend of sacrificing the value of sales to increase volume.
Sales spikes can be challenging!
Such promotions put an incredible amount of strain on furniture businesses as they can experience dramatic sales spikes which may look great the order books, but can be difficult to manage on a practical level. Try getting 2000 sofas or beds dispatched on the same day!
With many retailers experiencing success on these seasonal promotions year on year (John Lewis saw an increase of 17.7% on online orders on Boxing Day 2016 compared to 2015,) proactive companies are starting to put the necessary tools in place to help them manage in these particularly busy periods.
Fancy carrying a sofa up 4 flights of steps?
So, how do you quickly and safely move large and heavy furniture items in and out of storage for dispatch and when accepting new deliveries? It’s hard enough when all goods are stocked at ground level, but when, like most companies, you are moving these items between the ground floor and one, two, three, or even four mezzanine floors that’s when things start to get interesting. Carrying a sofa up four flights of steps…I don’t think so!
Don’t forget the regulations
With incorrect manual handling being one of the most common causes of injury at work, this is where manual handling regulations come in. According to the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 2002, no man should attempt to lift anything heavier than 25kg and a woman's maximum limit is less at 16kg. It's also important to consider other factors which can change the maximum safe weight too, such as how high an object will need to be lifted.
The regulations state that wherever reasonably practicable, manual handling should be automated and the use of mechanical aids is encouraged.
Mechanical handling aids for the furniture industry
A wide range of mechanical handling aids for furniture warehouse applications are available from; pallet trucks, to scissor lifts, overhead cranes and even manual stackers. But it’s perhaps the most sophisticated devices, called mezzanine floor lifts that are quickly becoming an essential component in the working processes of all reputable UK furniture retailers.
Mezzanine floor lifts are specialist goods lifts for mezzanine floors. The lifts are hydraulically powered platform lifts, offering up to 1000kg capacity that enable users to move furniture alone, or on crates, trolleys or pallets, safely and efficiently between two or more mezzanine floors. Mezzanine lifts, also known as Mezz Lifts suit numerous requirements and applications within buildings, such as furniture warehouses, furniture factories and production spaces and furniture retail outlets.
Mezzanine lifts for moving furniture such as; sofas; dining sets and beds, allow the items to be quickly and safely transported between mezzanine floors, to keep potentially dangerous and unnecessary manual handling to a minimum. Mezzanine lift owners typically see a large boost in productivity as a result of using the lift too…very useful when getting those sofas dispatched following the Boxing Day sales!
Benefits of using a UK manufacturer
Unlike many other companies, award-winning lifting equipment manufacturer, Penny Hydraulics Ltd, actually manufacture all their lifting equipment in the UK at a purpose-built facility in Derbyshire and the company’s range of mezzanine floor goods lifts, called MezzLifts are no exception. This has many benefits such as high quality standards and the ability to design and manufacture bespoke items, such as bespoke platform sizes to suit different types of furniture. One of the major benefits, however, is the short lead times available on the lifts which are typically manufactured within 6 weeks.
A rapid installation service ensures all lifts are typically installed within a time-period of just two days. The lifts are expertly designed to be completely free-standing, meaning no time-consuming, disruptive and expensive structural changes to the building are necessary.
You’re in good company!
I’m sure that you’ll be interested to know that we’re already “in bed with” (haha!) the biggest furniture manufacturers and retailers in the UK and we boast names including; Hypnos Beds; Sofology; Furniture Barn and Buoyant Upholstery on our client list.
We would love to hear from you about your furniture moving woes and chances are we’ve heard it all before and we’ve already developed a goods lift to suit the application. Just give our specialist Goods Lift team a call today to discuss your mechanical handling challenge further on +44 (0) 1246 811475.