Make Regs Work For You

You can take responsibility or wait until it's thrust upon you.

I know what you’re thinking. So this is MHM’s Regulatory issue. How exciting. If it’s excitement you want, don’t pay any attention to what goes on in the regulatory world. Just continue with your cookie- cutter approach to material handling systems projects and keep shipping and receiving product as you’ve always done. Eventually some excitement will overtake you.

You’ll thrill in the knowledge that your new building’s five-inch slab isn’t acceptable for supporting your new racking system. At least not according to the version of the International Building Code that’s followed in your municipality. Then you’ll be even more excited by the prospect of starting from scratch or scrapping the project entirely.

That’s not such an unlikely outcome, according to Sal Fateen, president of Seizmic Engineering, Pamona, California. The way he describes the permitting process, local regulators seem to pick from the codes they follow the way the rest of us order from a Chinese menu: one from Column A, two from Column B. And there are several codes from which to select.

“There's a new International Building Code, IBC 2000, that is supposed to replace all the codes that have been working all along,” Fateen told me. “ However, some of the states that were involved in generating that code decided not to adopt it because of political reasons. So we have codes that were supposed to be made obsolete but are not.”

That’s why instead of having three model codes to confuse us, now we have four. No, wait. Five. Fateen told me the fire chiefs in California were not involved in writing one of the sections of the latest code, so they're writing yet a fifth code.

We’re in a new world of regulations. This is a world where cookie- cutter approaches don’t apply any more. What worked last year won’t necessarily work today. Don’t rely on the years of project expertise your vendors and dealers have accrued. When it comes to building codes, all politics is local, and the rules change every day. That’s why it’s up to you to contact the municipality where you want to build or add on. Get commitments from them on what they’ll expect of your project. Then consult the dealers and OEMs. Take responsibility.

That applies to what you’ll be receiving and shipping in this facility, as well. As I said, this is a new world. Thanks to global terrorism, homeland security is also your responsibility. If you source from overseas, it might pay you to get interested in the latest U.S. Customs Service initiative: the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT). This is a joint government-business effort to strengthen overall supply chain and border security. Participants are required to conduct a comprehensive self-assessment of supply chain security using C-TPAT security guidelines encompassing procedural, physical and personnel security. The guidelines also prescribe education and training, access controls, manifest procedures and conveyance security. You’d be expected to communicate these guidelines to your supply chain partners and build them into your relationships.

What’s in it for you? Fewer inspections, fewer delays, an assigned account manager, access to the C-TPAT membership list, and an emphasis on self-policing rather than Customs verification. The biggest potential benefit is a safer global supply chain. For more information, go to www.customs.gov.

Regulations can be confusing. They can be frustrating. They can even be infuriating. But now that responsibility for dealing with them is coming your way, you’ll soon be relieved of the boredom.

Hang onto this issue of MHM. We’re in for some interesting times.

Tom Andel, chief editor

[email protected]

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