Proper training for any personnel on how to safely move slabs is Rule 1 for any shop fabricating stone/e-stone.
Pole racks can eliminate the danger of losing mass quantities of bundles. By spacing out the poles every four to six bundles, the risk factor goes down dramatically.
Bundles are subject to the domino effect, which is not only dangerous, but costly.
Mishandling slabs can INJURE and/or KILL YOU, your employees and your customers. Ensuring the safety of the people that move your slabs is more important that anything else, and as long as you keep that mind-set people will NOT get hurt — they’ll go home to their families and kids and come back to fabricate another day. There is NO substitute for a safe working environment for your folks. Ignore that fact, and I’ll show you a future with a fast dead end coming up to meet you. You HAVE to ensure the equipment that handles slabs meets OSHA safety requirements, and your staff who actually moves the slabs around are properly trained and know how to keep their focus when they are swinging a slab from a boom or a crane (see Figure 1). One wrong move and it can be a VERY BAD DAY.
Just as important as safety, organization separates the beginners from the pros. Regardless if you are a “mom & pop” shop, a “mega-factory” or anywhere in between, you must be organized in the way that you store your slabs. If you can’t find the slabs you have to fabricate today, you not only look like a putz, you will lose time and money while you hunt them down. I use a simple “log-in” file that lists when the slabs were received, and which storage area they are being held in prior to the “cut” date. I set up storage slips listing where slabs are slotted in. The slip number is painted on the pavement and when a slab needs to be located, we just pull the “pick ticket” that came with the slab and look to see which slip the slab was slotted in.
A day before cutting, the slabs are moved into the shop’s saw area and staged so that either the layout man knows where they are and which job they are for, or they go right up into the “cut for today” pole rack. We use an LT-55 XL digital templating system that enables us to eliminate having to trace out templates on the slabs themselves. We cut our slabs with an Omax Fabricator Water Jet, so the template is in an electronic format that inputs right into the waterjet’s software package. This shortens the amount of fabrication time a slab will spend in our shop.
TYPES OF STORAGE SYSTEMS
The primary methods of storing a slab of stone are either to leave the slabs in the bundle, break open the bundle and put the individual slabs on an A-frame or place the slabs in a pole rack (see Figure 2). The DANGER of not storing bundles properly is the potential for the “domino effect” — first Vietnam, then Cambodia, then Laos and Thailand, and so on and so on (wait a minute, wrong “domino effect”). Seriously, though, bundles can domino when one tips over and knocks the next one over and so on and so on (see Figure 3). All kidding aside, this can be a deadly event, and has been a number of times in the last eight years. If you are going to store bundles on your property, PLEASE use some type of anti-tipping devices to stop any inertia that develops from multiple bundles tipping over. I have found that 6-in.-diameter steel pipe used in pairs can eliminate the danger of losing mass quantities of bundles. By spacing out the poles every four to six bundles, the risk factor goes down dramatically.
When it comes to storing individual slabs, I am a huge fan of the pole rack system over A-frames. The only time I use A-frames is to show slabs in sequence when I do an individual layout of multiple slabs for a customer who is concerned about vein direction and overall appearance of the slabs and the relationship of the pieces that I will be cutting out of each slab. I offer this service to any customer who is using a stone that has movement in the slab. This way the customer (not me) is responsible for the final OK.