Boxes loaded on cart

Replacing each of the 4,000 carts used across the store network would have been expensive. But Les Hanzlik of the Ottawa Retail Service Centre came up with a better idea. March 2013

Smart Carts

Homegrown fix saves LCBO $750,000.

(MARCH) 2013—New handles being installed on material handling carts, better known as blue carts, will make them more ergonomically friendly and easier to use.

Blue carts were introduced to the LCBO in 2002 to assist in handling product. The carts have undergone upgrades and enhancements to improve functionality for our employees over the years, with the latest modification being a new ergonomic handle and bumpers on all eight corners of the cart.

Replacing each of the 4,000 carts used across the store network would have been an expensive proposition. Fortunately, LCBO’s Les Hanzlik, maintenance supervisor, Ottawa Warehouse, is a licensed welding inspector and former ironworker. He was approached to come up with a solution because of his experience in “prototyping widgets and gadgets,” he says.

“I was asked to develop a retrofit solution that would avoid the need for any welding, and that could be attached and installed by store staff,” Les explains. “I picked up a cart from the store next door and, after about a week, drew up some ideas and made a prototype version.”

Made of steel tubing, the new handle, dubbed “the Hanzlik handle,” slides on to the existing handle and a clamping mechanism with two bolts cinches the two together. It sits nine inches higher, which means users can keep their arms straight while pushing, making it more ergonomic for employees of every height.

“Thanks to Les and those he collaborated with, the organization found a great solution, at a fraction of the cost,” says Andy Dowhal, senior manager, Supply Chain. “After reviewing a few handle solutions, this one was chosen because it ultimately will save the company $750,000 in installation costs.”

The prototype received the thumbs up and was tested in several stores. It passed with flying colours. Staff provided feedback that resulted in improvements to the final product.

“It was very satisfying to be presented with a challenge, come up with the solution, making a prototype and seeing it rolled out,” Les says. “It was also a pleasure collaborating with people in Supply Chain and Retail to reach a solution.”

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